Art of the goof: How we gave away best friend’s daughter

Friday March 17 2017


A couple embrace each other during their wedding. Our baby, the one we had come to give away, was so ravishingly beautiful, we jumped on our feet and cheered. FILE PHOTO 

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My friend and I are complete idiots. Over the last 25 years, we have made more mistakes, especially in business, than the rest of the country, and it is an error-prone country, combined.

I mean, only my friend would imagine that it is a hot idea to go and buy a World War II Volkswagen beetle, called Adrenaline, no less, and not bother to enquire under what circumstances he expected to get the logbook, then in the custody of the District Commissioner (or was it the magistrate), Kiambu.

Not to be left behind, I have sunk a king’s fortune in an old, beaten Mercedes. Getting one to idle without the carburetor exploding in the face of the mechanic is cause for celebration.

Long before the age of pyramid schemes (in which, by the way, our folks played a starring and, inevitably heartbreaking, role) were among the very first people to be conned.

Together we lost a million shillings in a land transaction. Calestous Juma yesterday tweeted Tom Paine’s quote that “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead”.

He was referring to us. Somehow, we arrived, by the use of means other than reason, to the conclusion that it was wise to leave all that land, which was available in Nairobi, Timau, Laikipia and all other parts and instead journey to Kitalale Settlement Scheme in Kitale, where there was cattle rustling and squatters and attempt to build castles in the air, supported by Eucalyptus trees.

Somehow, the small details such as the fact that the land had no papers, there was a succession matter pending and that squatters had established a beach head in the property didn’t seem to register as important.

After we had poured years of income into the purchase and fencing, the beefy chairman of the squatters kindly explained that this was their ancestral land, we should go back to Central – wherever that is – and if we ever showed up to bother them in the peaceful enjoyment of “their” property, they would separate our heads from our shoulders.

What convinced me that our brain waves have the tendency to cancel out had to do with the small matter of the marriage of my friend’s daughter.

This is a big deal. This is a very big deal. But, of course, we didn’t see an important issue that we didn’t want to create comedy out of.

Our clothes for the ceremony were templated for us. All we needed was to get a tailor. The other folks approached the matter of clothes systematically.

They went to a lovely, charming designer and we went along for the entertainment. The selected materials, were given samples to compare.

A day was set aside for taking measurements at the designer’s studio where the folks had a tape measure placed practically on every inch of their bodies.

We nodded in admiration at this attention to detail.

Another day was set aside to discuss the specifics of the clothes, every line and fold and tuck.

We contributed passionately to the disagreements, as we tend to both be quite animated in our opinions, particularly when we have no idea what the hell we are on about.

Then started the fitting sessions. We were knocked back by the outfits.

Having been bred and brought up on supermarket stuff, these are the most beautiful clothes we had ever seen. The silk was amazing.

We attended and participated in the numerous fitting sessions, then the outfits, now ready, were sent to the cleaners. This was a few days to the big day.


Then someone asked: Hey, aren’t you guys also supposed to getting your own clothes? And fear coursed through our bodies, acid flooded our stomachs.

The wedding was here, one of us was father of the bride and we didn’t have clothes. My friend, who fancies himself a solver of problems, hustled up a tailor whom he must have settled on by interviewing people who had the most disastrous wedding clothes made for them.

He took my measurements, just a few not many, in the middle of my office. I noticed that he was not recording anywhere.

I asked him what material he was going to use. He looked puzzled. My friend’s measurements were taken at the car park at Sarit Centre at a peak shopping hours.

The tailor, with great wisdom sent the waistcoats to the cleaners, but not the trousers.

And, you know, white clothes tend to come from the tailor rather dirty. I learnt of this a day before the wedding and as folks were heading to the airport.

I saw my “wedding clothes” on the day of the ceremony. I couldn’t get into the waistcoat, the trouser was an abomination, the get-up made me look an orphan wearing his late dad’s hand-me-downs.

Our baby, the one we had come to give away, was so ravishingly beautiful, we jumped on our feet and cheered.

Beside her I thought I saw Abdullah Ocajalan, the Kurdish patriot, with his shirt open at the neck, a shining pate, a dying home made flower on his heart and resplendent in pantaloons of such generosity he appeared to be floating in mega-tents of nylon.