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TRAVEL

Namanga Is A Sweet Mum

Of life, road trips and chicken

BY Pauline Katethya

Feb 20, 2021, 03:04 PM

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I love traveling. It turns me on. I was relaxed at home the other day, when a friend asked me if I’d hop into a car for us to sample Namanga. Namanga is a town located at Kenya and Tanzania’s border. I didn’t say yes. I just muttered, why not? The thought of visiting Fred’s Ranch, Maasai Ostrich Farm, and Amboseli National Park which are on your way there, excited me, but unfortunately, we didn’t visit any.

The call was a surprise because I’m a boring person, and I couldn’t understand why someone would want me to accompany them. I’m what people call a wet blanket. No one invites me to parties. I might fall asleep on a table. But give me a bottle of Chardonnay and ask me to sing for the guests, they’ll never want to hear anyone else sing. I was excited though because I needed to breathe and feel more alive.

Namanga is like a good mother. She invites you with happiness and warmth. And the minute she smiles, you want to embrace her tightly. She is peaceful and loving and has huge green hills and mountains. A beautiful view that is breathtaking and memorable. Namanga feels like home. She doesn’t judge whether you know what vichokonoo (toothpicks) are, No. She understands that her children are different. 

Of Chicken And Plantain

I know time will pass and most of my memories will fade away, but I will not forget the delicious kienyeji chicken and fried plantain served at Sacha, an eatery across the border. 

This popular dish is a story of contrast. Of one country, Kenya, with loud people, the British of East Africa, and another, Tanzania, with calm and kind people, a country that would not have allowed Mary Mother of Jesus to deliver our savior from the manger. 

You will not eat the chicken and plantain from a big hotel with serviettes and table clothes and cutlery. No. The magic of a delicacy comes from a poorly sheltered third-class eatery where the chief chef is the cashier, and the waitresses double up as “ass flaunters”. And who wouldn’t like a woman tying up a leso on her bottom like that and wagging it as if she knows that it would save the world?

Cheap Beer

Countries with good people and good histories and intellectual fathers know how to take care of a few things; food, beer, and etiquette. Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania left the country the legacy of good beers, cheap beers, and tasty beers. Everyone can afford a beer at the Tanzania side of Namanga town. Even the man pulling his cart can cool off over a cold Kilimanjaro beer whose taste reminds you of the existence of a supernatural being. 

My first sip of the beer caught me by surprise. The second sip, even a bigger surprise. Because, how can something be so good? My friends were over the moon because we were taking three beers for the price of one in Nairobi. How did we become so toxic as a country? 

Humble Submissive Wives 

A cop we met at the border, told us the town has good hotels, good food, and good wives. He said Kenyan men drove down there to get wives. He confessed they were loving, caring, submissive, washed their men’s feet when they arrived home from work, and fed them well. It wasn’t clear whether he was trying to sell us good wives, but I though I could use one. I mean, if she can cook for me and wash my feet in the evening, what more could I ask for?

Beaded Ornaments 

Save for good wives, tasty food, and cheap beer, I found some beautiful affordable ornaments sold by maasai women. Or rather the women and the ornaments found me. The only problem is they tried to sell me everything, from things I had already declined, to things that looked like food. I didn’t know whether to chew them or throw them away. But if you like shangas, you'll love them.

Good Music And Family

Nothing makes you feel more alive than when you are on the road with a good playlist and friends who are family. It’s even better when you haven’t spent any money. We had fun and joked about how good it felt to be out of the country yet we were just a few minutes away from the border. 

I was happy to have traveled to Namanga for the second time and to have seen my former primary school. I’ll never forgive them though for the one time they cooked tea using water they had washed beans with.

In the evening, we took pictures as the yellow and orange sun disappeared in the horizon and everything at that moment felt calm, relaxing, and magical. I didn't want to go back to the busy, suffocating crazy Nairobi life. 

Someone Take Me back 

Namanga is the place to visit to explore and have fun, or when you need a long drive to clear your mind. The road from Isinya is smooth. It gets quieter. Peaceful. And holy. It feels as if you have entered another universe. And you can almost hear God telling you to relax. To let go of your worries and enjoy what nature has to offer.

I will visit the town again to try and find a woman, eat the chicken and the plantain, and take more beer. This time dressed more freely, a jeans and a t-shirt because Namanga welcomes you with open hands and loves people even those with awful legs. 

Namanga is the home you visit , that reminds you that it’s never that serious and sometimes in life to go forward, you have to slow down.

Read: Girl, Stop Apologizing All The Time