MWALIMU ANDREW: Fiolina leaves me over Magufuli-style austerity

Saturday December 19 2015

As everyone knows, my pockets, like those of

As everyone knows, my pockets, like those of any honest Kenyan teacher, are perpetually suffering from economic kwashiorkor. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH 

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As everyone knows, my pockets, like those of any honest Kenyan teacher, are perpetually suffering from economic kwashiorkor. And, with my fees and Fiolina’s fees to be paid, I have had to implement serious cost-saving initiatives without which making

ends meet would have to be a humongous challenge. It already is a challenge. A few weeks before schools closed, top on my mind was how I was going to save money so as to be able to pay fees for both Fiolina and myself.

Reluctantly I sold Lando, the only cow I have. It was not easy letting go Lando. I had planned to sell it in January for Fiolina’s fees but decided to sell it for my university degree fees, which you will all agree is more important that Fiolina’s TTC certificate.

Based on the English she speaks and her math, I am convinced that selling a cow to take Fiolina to school is equal to selling a cow to take a cow to school! It has been difficult to get her to show me the report forms but come January, she should forget about going back to school unless I see her report forms.

Although I was on an extreme cost saving mission, after selling the cow, it was imperative that I thank the body that works for me. I took some Sh400 and off I left for Hitler’s place. By the time I arrived, it was getting dark but, unlike other times when

people were seated in the house, this time every one was seated outside Hitler’s house. Luckily for us, the moon was up and visibility wasn’t bad.

“Hitler si tuketi ndani?” I asked as he served me, upon my arrival.

“No, we are OK here,” shouted Rasto, although I had not talked to him. If you ask me, it was all about him announcing his presence so that should I be sufficiently philanthropic, he would be a beneficiary. “Sisi tuko sawa.”

“I won’t waste paraffin on you people if the moon is around,” said Hitler.  I also noticed that even inside the house, there were no lights. Hitler had some small torch that he was using to check the drinks and money as he continued serving us

“Hapo umefikiria kama Makafuli,” said Rashid. “Save whatever little you have.”

“Makafuli ni nani?” asked Nyayo.

“Kwani wewe unaishi wapi?” wondered Rashid. “Do you even listen to radio?”

“Rashid wewe unajua kila kitu, tuambie Makafuli ni nani?” said Nyayo

“Makafuli is the President of Tanzania,” I said.

“But that is not what we learnt in GHC,” said Nyayo. “I remember we were told that he was called Ahmed Hassan Mwinyi,”

“You are right Nyayo but that is 1988 na Mwinyi alikufa kitambo,” said Rasto. “Makafuli was elected by the Pope when he went there last month.”

“Huyo jamaa hana mchezo,” said Rasto. “He is doing everything to save costs.”

 “The government has a lot of money and cannot be broke?” I asked. “Any way how is saving costs?”

“That is a tough guy,” offered Rashid. “He has banned taking breakfast in Tanzania. People only eat twice a day.”

“Wacha uwongo,” said Rasto. “How can they even check if I take breakfast?”

“Wewe unacheza na Magafuli,” said Saphire who had just arrived. “If you take breakfast you will be known and arrested.”

“Is it Makafuli or Magafuli,” I asked after Saphire had given a different name.

“It is Magufuli,” he said. “A former teacher like me. Dre ukikuwa serious you can become president.”

People don’t  know but I will be president one day just like Magufuli is. “Magufuli is no joke,” added Sapphire, “other than banning breakfast, he has also banned holidays and weekends, people are working every day in Tanzania.”

“That is not possible,” said Rasto.

“What do you know you?” Saphire asked him. “Do you know what is going on outside Mwisho wa Lami?”

Saphire told us other cost-saving measures that Magufuli had initiated. They were simple things that were saving Tanzania millions. That evening, I sat down and came up with clear cost-saving measures that would be implemented in my home. At the time, Fiolina was still at school but she did not have much option but to adhere to them once she returned. Am I not the head of the house?

Below are some of them …

Meals – There will be no milk tea in my house. If anyone really wants milk tea, they can always visit my mother and our neighbours who have money to waste. Luckily for me, Branton had already aligned and took his breakfast at my mum’s. In fact, there was even no lunch at my place, it will only resume when Fiolina returns.

As for lunch and supper, I banned meat of any nature. We will only be taking green vegetables, most of which come from the small little shamba. Taking advantage of the El Nino rains, I planted some vegetables that are doing well.

Washing – Whenever Fiolina is around, I noticed that she wasted a lot of water and soap washing. Washing is not bad but she at times shocked me by washing some of my Kaunda suits after I had worn them just three times. Going forward that will not be the case. My clothes will only be washed after they are fully used. I am looking at wearing each suit at least six times before considering to wash them. Even then, it is not necessary to use soap to wash them. I never go to the farm with them.

Light – Since we all sleep early and wake up late, I immediately cut down on fuel costs. I had observed that many times, the lamp would stay on yet no one was using it. To ensure that we strictly adhere to this rule, I would only buy paraffin in small quantities, for use on the days when we needed light. As for the rest of the days, I expected everybody to jump into bed as soon as darkness stepped in.

Hair – On the day Fiolina came from Mosoriot, I personally took her to a salon. And had her hair cut short. She was quite lucky as I had initially planned to shave her hair down myself, to save further costs! She protested but I convinced her it was a new style. And with that, I saved myself salon money.

I then took her through other cost-saving measures that we would have to implement.

“I will be the one doing shopping for the house,” I told her. “I have realised that we waste money buying unnecessary things like tissue paper when we can use old newspapers and when El Nino has blessed us with green soft leaves all over.”

“Remember we are role models here so you do not expect people to use leaves after visiting our toilet,” she said.

“They will,” I said. “We should be role models on cost-saving,” I said. “We also will not buy any Vaseline here. After bathing, we should use soap to apply to our bodies. We did it as children and never died.”

“I won’t do that,” said Fiolina. “You are a deputy earning a lot of money. Where do you want to take it? Have you married a second wife?” she asked.

We had a tough discussion and she only agreed on some things after I told her that I was doing all this to save money for her college fees come January. Other than the little that I spent at Hitler’s, we survived on zero budget for a week before I left for KU. I only left her with Sh400 which I expected to last her the whole of December holidays. She was lucky that there was Christmas in between, otherwise I would have given her much less!

I had not been in KU for even two days before Fiolina started calling me incessantly asking for money. I firmly said No since I was keen on cost-saving but most importantly because I did not have money. Last Thursday, my sister Yunia called me and said

that Fiolina had left and gone to her home complaining that I had not sent her money. I asked myself what Magufuli would do in such circumstances and the answer was crystal clear: I will let her stay with her people until January when she will come back

and immediately go back to Mosoriot. That way I will save on costs!