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Sunday, August 21, 2011

the spring calender

The flowers bloomed, reds, yellows, purples and blues, lilies, roses, bourganveillas and sunflowers(though to be honest I can only recognize a rose the rest are just flower names I have heard before.). The second week of august is when they decided to bud forcing their way out and showing themselves to the sun and with the bravery of the flowers spring had begun.

But it was late, it was off by a couple of months this year and I had no idea why, when we should have had a spring in our steps as well as our seasons weeks ago we instead had a winter in our bones, at least in Kenya. The month of July, the month of June, the month of August were all dreary and cold, water leaked from the heavens and the mood that created in people matched the weather full suit. The country was filled with surly and sullen youth in no mood to throw parties or even accept that they should. A lot of people blame global warming, and they may be right, they probably are but that’s not the reason there was no spring in our heart, the reason for that can be found in the Mututho ripples.

The Mututho ripples are simply the butterfly effect of reactions caused by the passing of a law a couple of months ago that restricted alcohol sale to evenings in bars and daytime in supermarkets(still providing almost 24 hours in which one can get alcohol if they are industrious.) well to be fair the moving around of our seasons is due to more than just over-zealousness of this one man, long before he gained infamy there was already a push to criminalize alcohol in the country, it has been seen as a moral imperative to reduce the number of drinkers for a long time the way this was to be done was by banning alcohol ads on TV and sponsorship of events by companies that sell alcohol. But it was not till the Mututho laws passed that an event that says Kenya as much as safari does, as much as tusker does, as much as rugby sevens does was changed forever. This was the tusker safari sevens. Well it’s not the tusker safari sevens anymore, now it’s sponsored by safaricom. And it’s no longer in late June and therein lies the problem with our seasons.

Saying that safari sevens was the biggest social event of the year for the youth of Nairobi is almost an understatement. They were so sure of the crowds they would pull that every year the ticket prices went up by 200 shs. In just five years they had doubled from 1000shs to 2000 a rate of inflation threatening to rival Zimbabwe’s at around the same time. And the god of weather got his cut of these amazing profits. Anyone who imagines sevens sees the sun shining down at the rugby players, yellow sun and green grass, rugby added as an afterthought for most of the attendees, and the tusker village...

It was huge, sprawling even and walking into the tusker village it was easy to immediately realize the best thing to match to a yellow sun, hundreds of beautiful, skimpily clad women, food of all types from nyama choma to pizza, chicken grilled and dripping with taste, burgers cooked to perfection, meat here and there and every damn where(no one should take this mean the girls were meat.) in addition there were all these drinks by the time anyone entered, I once went very early and the tusker village was the same as evening people sipping their alcohol right and centre or hauling around six-packs. Sevens was the only event that people would come out in their true colors with no reservations. I had friends who after the last world cup carried a vuvuzela to the event and used it as a horn, not a blowing horn but a drinking horn as if they were Vikings of old. I liked the size of safari sevens. Detaching yourself from your friends, your ride was always an interesting affair cos, at least for me, it would allow me a chance to go ranging not for wildlings but for wild things walking back and forth and getting distracted by the sights and sounds of the place, old friends crawling out of the woodwork, new ones made in an instant because of a shared joke and this sense of living in the old days because there would be so many people crowded in this place that phones just wouldn’t work. It was the wild, it was beyond the wall. Then there were surprises all the time.

I went forsevens once and as the sun surrendered its dominion to the stars and the heavy dark blanket that has holes to let them shine through a performance began on stage. This man was energetic and commanded the stage with an ease that looked to be genetic. His voice boomed and waned; his music pulled you in and kept you entertained. They always have a concert on Saturday night in sevens and as the night progresses this is the thickest place there is, thick with humans having fun, thick with the limbs of dancers swaying back and forth and thick with lust, drunkenness and a fair amount of debauchery. Yet when Femi Kuti stood on stage that sevens all those years ago and performed the classic bang bang bang everyone stopped to listen and take the lesson toheart before continuing to find a way to practice what he preached.

The crowds would swell at night since once the sun began to go down it was possible to get in for 100shs. And so an infusion would begin as the rest of the masses poured in to the place. People who were already drunk and willing to have fun, people who were pissed off at the high ticket prices and would now have revenge by having more fun than anyone else. The crowd would swell in all the key areas, size, ferocity, recklessness, fun. By the time sevens was done any attendee would be bone tired. Oh and some rugby was played too.

And the Mututho ripples took away this bookmark from us. This beginning of the spring season is now tucked away in November or December if there. Sevens marked the beginning of social spring in Nairobi as much as the blossoming of flowers marks the beginning of an actual spring. This was the official release to party, all your friends who had gone to uni abroad were around, all your friends in uni here were on holiday and the timing of sevens could not have been coincidental. For a month or so it would occupy people’s minds, no one ever wanted to pay the entrance and so everyone who had an uncle of a cousin of a friend who worked around the event would try their best to find a ticket that would let them in for free. And when it was done the holiday had began. But this year there was no reminder, the beginning of spring came and passed unnoticed and unacknowledged, the city had not engaged in its pagan ritual. A pagan ritual involving the wholesale slaughter, roasting and frying of meat to be offered up to the supplicants of the god of spring, a ritual that involved the spilling of libations right, left and centre as drunkards became too drunk to hold all the drink in their plastic glasses, a ritual that involved dancing and gyrating, that involved revelry and ranging and rugby, a ritual that was so important to the spring god that for a time even telecommunication devices wouldn’t work since the receiving of sacrifices probably involves a screwing around with electromagnetic frequencies.

The ritual was taken away and now we are months into spring and no one knows, no one can tell. recently there have been a lot of other rituals, but none the size of a safari sevens, graduation parties abound and finally the flowers are blooming, but not completely. A lot of people will say that spring came late this year because of global warming and that’s why the weather is by turns hot, cold, frigid and steaming. But maybe, just maybe it’s because we forgot our gods and the sacrifices demanded of us, perhaps if we had had safari sevens in the right time, in the right way we would now be basking in the warmth of the yellow sun. but I guess we’ll never know.


  1. Interesting theory ... though my mind pretty much froze as I tried to figure out how to drink out of a vuvuzella ... unless it's those pint-sized ones, pun intended...

  2. never saw the vuvuzela thing being done, but the drunk will find a way most times