LIFE BY LOUIS: Encounter with a digital ‘Mama Fua’

Tuesday October 08 2019

She described herself as a Mobile Laundry and Hygiene Executive which is another polite title for Mama Safi. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH


Have I been sleeping or has digital marketing gone up a notch? Saturday afternoon found me reclined on the sofa with an undisclosed beverage in my hand.

I was trying to internalise the sentiments made by a panellist at the 17th session of the UN General Assembly. When I am at peace with myself, my mind wanders off and takes a walk to deal with global matters including protection of extra-terrestrial organisms.

My reverie was broken when someone knocked on the door and I was greeted by this lady who introduced herself as Faith.

She described herself as a Mobile Laundry and Hygiene Executive which is another polite title for Mama Safi. She presented her resume that included meticulous washing of clothes, cleaning the house and scrubbing the utensils until they shone.

She added that she does other light duties upon request including ironing clothes and preparing meals as per the client’s request.

She claimed to make the best culinary wonders from all corners of the country but specialising in rice and cabbage stew.


Upon further prodding, she confessed that she had gotten my contacts and prospective customer needs from a social media forum posted the previous night where I had indicated that I was home alone and feeling tired of performing household chores.


I was impressed by her business acumen. I figured out that she could smell business from a mile, or her referral system was high gear and the envy of a top insurance agents.

She must have caught wind that the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Domestic Affairs was on prolonged leave and Mama Brian had travelled to the village.

She must have rightfully concluded that I was alone on 8th Floor with a mountain of dirty laundry, heaps of garbage in the kitchen and a murky bathroom.

As I stood there at the doorway interviewing her for the task at hand, I was aware that Mama Kui of 7th floor was watching the proceedings from her window waiting for me to welcome this guest into the house. She was ready to create breaking news in the estate as to how I was busy destroying my marriage and breaking matrimonial vows with an unidentified female visitor.

I therefore maintained my composure and kept a professional look on my face.

Due to good parenting from Wa Hellen and strict Catholic upbringing, I avoided direct eye contact with the laundry lady and fixed my gaze towards the skies from where my help comes.

I leaned easily on the door frame, crossed my arms across my chest and tapped my foot thoughtfully on the floor, reminiscent of a prospective employer in a hotly contested job interview.

I cleared my throat and tried to be as polite as possible.

“Madam, water here has been disconnected and I can’t seem to locate the buckets for the cleaning tasks. Moreover, the soap is finished and I only have two dirty shirts that need cleaning. I have also had my lunch and I intend to leave for town in the next fifteen minutes.”

I know from my catechist that lying is evil and attracts the fire of hell, but I also know from the same catechist that welcoming unidentified females into your house when alone is a suicidal act.

To my relief, she took the feedback very positively and left me with her contacts in case 8th floor needed her outsourced cleaning services in the future.

She sauntered away whistling a jolly song of the holy spirit and minutes later she was knocking at Baba Ryans door. He was also on solitary home confinement and I doubted whether he could stand the impending challenge as meticulously as I had just done.

I collapsed back into the sofa and thought about life.

I thought about Faith, trotting away happily after an unsuccessful afternoon looking for work, probably going to face her hungry children and a demanding husband. I took my glass and tried to focus my gaze on a cockroach that was walking lazily down the wall across.

It must have been feeling the crunch too, the fridge where it was used to going for its dinner now only had a solitary bottle of an undisclosed beverage. And that presented a bigger problem because the cockroach is a teetotaller.