I haven’t been in Mwingi a full day but i've noticed it’s not unusual for traders to leave their expensively stocked shops unattended. That would be risky in many other-a-town and suicidal in Nairobi. I enquire what drives levels of security in this transit town that is a rainbow collection of tribes and nationalities. The fear of Kamuti, witchcraft famed along Kamba land to punish thieving mortals deters the urge to pinch or pilfer. Its a safe town, I decide, my guard coming some notches lower. It’s a welcome reprieve from Nairobi’s thieving, shoving, pushing, cursing, erratic fares, general indifference and all ills a society cruising at rat race speeds spews forth.
The town I envisioned as we drove toward in the night is different from daylight Mwingi. Last night, driving up an incline, the splendour of Mwingi was suddenly revealed, electricity lights forming a milky way like swathe in the great expanse of darkness, a promise of human companionship ahead. Daylight reveals bare nude the shades the cloak of night chose not to reveal, competing new and old architecture, colors and a representation of the rainbow tribes of Kenya. The easy life of the provincial towns is evident; no hurry no worry as people go about their business at a relaxed
As the eye roves over the country side where dark green shrubs beautifully roll into the distant far, it’s the imposing rocks, jutting above all else and at times forming into small hills that make their ancient presence felt. White and brown against a seasonal green landscape, the bare rocks seem to be reminding people that lush season is inly a visitor while sand a stone is the perennial king. Not that this ancient rocks don't have challengers to their legacy; gigantic masts tower over the highest rocks as lazy power pylons snake and disappear into the horizon. These gigantic steel structures seem to spell that short may be mans life span, but he lords supreme during his short sojourn on earth.
Mid morning we take a stroll around town and the sun is making a show of force, blazing in all its glory, hot. A mad ass randy wildly kicking donkey has us squeezing out of its way a young man, stick hand hot beyond its flying hoofs. Phew!. The young man in pursuit of the riotous donkey reminds me of a thousand other young men aboard chinese motorcycles sending old women diving out of their roaring way in every track, path or rut in Kenya. My host and I head toward an eatery as the sun starts to stamp its supremacy. Its over some of the juiciest ribs I notice a peculiar thing about the town's vegetation.
Stunted yet aged looking trees withered at the very tops blossoming from mid trunk line the towns main street. I wonder aloud and the riddle is solved. ‘This is the cool season, when the dry season is here it literally rains sun and the expanse you see covered in green is usually covered by bare rock and sand’, am told. I shiver at the thought. The nights have been hotter than what I have ever experienced. The mosquitoes too are notoriously relentless. As I board a Nairobi bound bus early morning a day later, I know I will be back to test the so called temperatures of Mwingi while unwinding amidst a people who make you feel home away from home.
Mwingi, I will be back.