This week marks one year since one of the leading lights of Kenya’s second liberation-Kenneth Matiba- walked on to bright lights. This has reminded me of a story about Matiba that one of my uncles told me some years ago. I may not have had much in my childhood. But one thing I never lacked is colourful uncles who regaled me with equally colourful tales- original, imaginary or made up- which are forever tucked in some hidden archive of my mango shaped head.
I wont vouch for the authenticity of this story from one of my uncles, but still I will tell it.Theres no pain greater than living with an untold story in ones heart.
The year was 1959.Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba, like all mortals, had fallen head over heels with a girl called Edith Gitau.Edith was a school teacher.Matiba was a dashing Makerere graduate. Matiba was from Murang’a.Edith was from Kiambu.Traditionally,boys from Murang’ a rarely married girls from Kiambu.But not Ken.She would marry Edith even if she came from Pluto.
One sunny morning, Edith is teaching Nature Study to her Intermediate class.Ken’s( or his dads) immaculate white Mercedes rolls into the compound, purring like a well fed mountain lion.Ken is in a tweed jacket, Oxford loafers and a hairstyle straight from those 60’s Negro movies.At this time, my uncles and his ilk were walking around barefoot,hairy chests exposed like proud Neanderthals.
Ken goes straight to the white Headmistress office.Head held high,one arm in his pocket.
I want to speak to one Edith Gitau.
He says with the awesome confidence of just graduated from Makerere with distinction.
The headmistress coldly tells Ken that he cant see her but will have to wait.Ken goes back to his immaculate white Mercedes.After waiting for a while, he decides love cant wait.He goes straight to Edith’s class and tells her he wants to see her.Edith is aware that the white headmistress is watching her so she ambivalently tells Ken to go away.At the same time winking at him.Women for you.
Ken goes back to his immaculate white Mercedes and waits for Edith.But Ken is not the type to wait for things to happen- he makes things happen.So he bursts into the class and tells Edith:
Its either you forget the chalk or forget about Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba.
Then he powers the immaculate white Mercedes out of the compound
Several months later, Ken and Edith got joined in holy matrimony, the immaculate white Mercedes inscribed “ just married”.
Much has been said about the late Kenneth Stanley Njindo Matiba.I will not repeat the tired platitudes about him.But the above story, which I was told to me by my uncle Kiarie as we sipped spicy goat soup at Karai butchery in Nyamakima back in El Nino of ’97, just sums up Matibas brand of manhood.
The story exemplifies manhood from a generation when being a man was a duty first, honour second.A manhood which was about keeping rules,breaking them and making new ones.
And by extension, that was Matibas life.
Too sad that such brand of gallant men are, by and by, being replaced by sissies who have nothing to stand for, let alone die for.
Rest in peace Ka Njindo, the