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By Bernard Wainaina

I once took my Jalopy Corolla AE 100 to this garage in downtown Nairobi known as Makaburini,next to Kariorkor Muslim Cemetery for panel beating and general upgrade.

For the seven days that my jalopy was resident in the garage, I fell in love with the true face of Kenya, literally.

Even though the “main contractor” for the job was one Omollo guy, he quickly assembled a rainbow of
Kenyan tribes to fix my car.

Njoroge was given the task of fixing the engine, a certain Omondi was to lead the panel beating team, Mutiso took care of the upholstery, Kama(Kamau) did the wiring, while welding was the work of one Kisii
guy who was a genius at his work.

A Kamba expert was at hand to look at the “spacers” and “bushes.”

A man I later learnt was a Mchagga from Tanzania did the paintwork.

In the midst of the organised chaos was a horde of young lads who were
apprentices of the experienced workmen.

Often, the apprentices would be sent for errands to the surrounding auto parts shops, or to buy the much needed monzo (cigarette).

GARAGE LANGUAGE

The language spoken in the garage was strange to my ears.

Having worked together for a long time, the workmen at Makaburini Garage had their own lingo that gave vehicle parts and repair tools names that you will never find in any dictionary or even in Baraza JM’s motoring column in the Daily
Nation.

Disputes were quickly settled over a cigarette or a mug of uji peddled on credit by a horde of food hawkers who milled the garage from morning till sunset.

Otherwise the tools that the muscled men used in their trade would easily start a small civil war if the workmen did not manage their anger or if any of them brought their tribal egos to work.

At the end of the seven days, I gladly paid Omollo the balance of his dues.

He in turn paid his handymen what he owed them.

The cycle ended when the workmen paid for the mayai boilo and uji that they had taken on credit the previous day.

Everyone went home happy, and my shiny Corolla served me well for a couple of more years.

WELL-CRAFTED MOSAIC

I paint the image of Makaburini Garage to emphasise the fact that Kenya is a well-crafted mosaic of 42 communities and hundreds of sub-
tribes and clans that bring to the table different talents and gifts.

You can bear me witness that when the whole nation holds its breath waiting for Ezekiel Kemboi or Rita Jeptoo to finish first during global athletic meetings, no one, repeat that, no one says,“Mschew! Another Kalenjin has won, NKT!” .

Instead,we high-five total strangers and exclaim, “Kenya has done it again!”

Have you seen anyone switch TV channels when “Churchill Show” is on NTV ostensibly because
Daniel Dambuki is a Mkamba?

Nobody cares so long as he tickles our ribs on Sunday evening.

In my day, some of the best mathematics and science teachers came from a far off community, so
were the best doctors, surgeons and professors.

I am yet to meet anyone who harbours hatred against their Luo teacher after getting grade A in
mathematics at KCSE, or a heart patient declining treatment by Dr Betty Gikonyo because she is
Kikuyu.

MYOPIC TRIBAL LENSES

Now, if we trust our future and life to people from communities other than our own, how come we look at the world using myopic tribal lenses?

For when Wakanesa opens a small tire repair business in Limuru, he has no intention of emasculating the business community in that town.

The same applies when Njoroge opens a small butchery in Mararal, or when Dr Omollo opens a paediatric clinic in Nyeri.

It is the well-oiled machinery of a nation in motion, as it should.

But you and I know that this is an ideal situation.

We speak ill of other tribes in front of our children,who in turn form prejudices based on what they
hear.

Our media gives tribal warlords airtime and space to vomit their hatred towards other tribes.

Until when will this continue happening?

Call me ignorant or naïve, but I have harboured a longing for this cancerous cell called tribalism to be
buried by my generation.

It is sad to report that I have been wrong.

The ship christened MV Kenya is still wobbling in the murky waters of tribal hatred and bigotry.

But until when?

Sovereign power to bury tribalism forever is within the reach of ordinary citizens,but the biggest losers if tribalism was eradicted is your favourite local an national politician,as well as mine!

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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