DEAR SON: Why you ate Mexican maize and other things about your birth year

Saturday September 30 2017

If possible, you can also be the judge who will

If possible, you can also be the judge who will nullify big politicians’ elections mutatis mutantis because it is not always that de minimis non curat lex. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 


Dear Jijee,

I don’t know exactly when you’ll be reading this, but I reckon it will be a decade or so down the line and a number of things that were fashionable when you were born will be so 2017.

I would like you to know that in 2017, one of the trending terms was “slay queen”.  Maybe by the time you hit your teens in January 2030 it will be an old, toothless term but it was quite a word when you were born. It referred to the ladies who knew what to wear and where to wear it and how to ooze swag. Okay, swag may also be in the indices of history books by the time you are a teenager. It meant class, though the dictionary said it meant something else.

It will be worth noting that your mum was a slay queen until you arrived. Well, she was not exactly slaying anything but she used to ooze some swag until you were born. The birth added her so many spare tyres that she had to depart from her slaying ways for quite some time.

“Team Mafisi” was another term going strong when you were born. It had been in the Kenyan lingo for quite some time before you were born. There were even rumours that your dad was once the national Solicitor-General for the team. I wish to categorically refute those rumours as baseless, crass and vexatious. Ignore them should you come across any.

In case the term will have undergone weathering when you are a trending teen, Team Mafisi was the collective noun for all hot-blooded men, especially those who had or were seeking multiple sex relationships, just like the fisi (hyena) seeks to eat anything it finds.

Your YOB was also the time when Kenya ran out of maize, which saw the price of packaged flour soar exponentially. To intervene, the government had to import maize from Mexico then sell it to millers who ground it then sold to Kenyans at Sh90 for a two-kilogramme pack.

When you reached six months, the ugali you were weaned with was from Mexican maize. That’s why I expect you to grow up to be a hunky, romantic chap like the Mexican men your mum liked to watch on TV acting one soap opera or another.

Mexico was also known for drug lords. Having been weaned with Mexican produce, many are the times I feared that you had been nourished by maize that had been pollinated by air breathed by El Chapo, a notorious Mexican drug lord.  Touch wood.

Two thousand and seventeen is also the year when Chief Justice David Maraga, who is a brother-in-law to the great grandmother of the niece of the sister-in-law of your father’s neighbour, led a bench of four judges in nullifying the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta. It was a historic decision world over.

I am hoping that by the time you are reading this, one of your dream careers is to study law so that you can, inter alia, be the future deponent who will be averring using strong terms in courts of law and win cases.

If possible, you can also be the judge who will nullify big politicians’ elections mutatis mutantis because it is not always that de minimis non curat lex. Don’t ask me what that means, son. It was said in court by one famous lawyer called PLO Lumumba one evening in August 2017 as you pranced up and down the house looking for toys and utensils to smash.

In 2017, one of the top songs globally was "Shape of You", sung by Ed Sheeran. When you’re 13 and notice your dad stroking his ageing beard as he plays the song on auto-repeat, know that he is going back to the good old calm days when he was not stressed about paying anyone’s school fees — same as the songs "Despacito" and "Unforgettable". Kenyan musicians also brought us words like “bablas” (hangover) and gave us lines like “mbinguni hakuna degree” and “sigwembe ya Yesu”.

Dear son, your year of birth was also a time when the suffix “bae” was being used on overdrive. When the CEO of the electoral commission Ezra Chiloba tickled the fancy of Kenyan ladies, he was nicknamed “Chilobae”. And when veteran politician Kenneth Matiba was awarded Sh504 million for torture under the Moi regime, he was christened “Matibae” by money-loving womenfolk. Son, I know you will be bright enough to guess what nickname your dad got when he boarded a plane for the first time in May 2017.


This series brings you writings by PETER MOGAMBI, a Nairobi residentwho became a father in January 2017. By the time his son is old enough to read and comprehend, which is at least 11 years from today, a lot of water will have passed under the bridge. So, he has decided to preserve happenings in black and white so that when the boy can finally comprehend, he will get to follow his father’s feelings.