Life After Burying a Chagga

So you get married to a Chagga man. You live through the name-dropping, big houses, big cars and big hair … ofcourse being a Chagga man’s wife you might find yourself getting forced to go big too. Afterall how else will they show that you are well fed and taken care off. If you manage to pull the diet stunt, you just wait until you fall pregnant. Bwana wee, the mtori you’ll get fed will be laden with butter ati in the name of making baby’s food. Sasa your mother in law who is probably Chagga too won’t just put a tablespoon of butter in your bowl of mtori, but the whole tub! Staring at the bowl, you will see all the cellulite that will soon be knocking on your door in slow motion.

Okay, so the big car, big house, big name with big children and a now as big as a house wife, finally — Mungu amrehemu — passes on. The funeral naturally takes place in Moshi! All the Mangis and babu za Mangi are there. The best caterers are there, the best florist and TBL will move there – up front under the lily white marquees sit the big names with their big wives, big children and big girlfriends – yes, Chaggas are quite notorious for that – every now and then big wife will find herself brushing shoulders with big girlfriend as if they live together.

          “Sasa baba yangu, I have given her a mansion, a salon, a boutique, a butcher, a Mercedes, a BMW and a Vogue, four cell phones and she goes overseas twice years on holiday, what else does she want?” Big name explains as he sips on his VSOP, when asked about not being attentive to his wife.

Now, back to TBL being at the funeral – well, a Chagga gathering without booze, uwii, it’s like a West African gathering without kola nuts! With Chaggas booze always get 50% of the festivity budget chunk and meat get 25% of the chunk – I kid you not – the rest will go to the food, decorations, sijui tables and chairs; and if there isn’t any remaining for music, some shangazi will offer to sing the famous ‘ulee ulee!’ Okay, so I’ve exaggerated a tab bit about the songstress shangazi, but I swear I won’t be surprised if such has happened. Lol.

The self-made big names are also seated under the marquee wearing the ugliest but most expensive tweed jackets and spotting Stratton hats, smoking Cuban cigars and pipes. Self-made through car jacking, mining Tanzanite at Mererani, robbing banks and some from honest hard working. We might be the business-oriented and money-mongers ethnic group in Bongo, but we are not all thieves jamani!

Anyway, now in the migomba, the small names are seated, few lucky ones will be seated on chairs. By the way, beers and brandy don’t go under the migomba, these poor small names will be drinking mbege from one calabash which gets shared among ten small names.

So there are the mourning women seated in the lounge, on mats that are scattered randomly on the deceased’s floor – tumekaa matanga. Everybody is sitting there looking gloom and sad – some shaking their heads in sadness; others trying to shake away the headache that was slowly creeping from too much beer. Since it is a Chagga funeral, so naturally there will be enough beer to wipe away the tears.

Anyway, as others are sniffling away and others whispering, a shrilly is suddenly heard at the door. Naturally you all turn in shock. This woman stumbles in, shaking with laughter like a crack-high hyena, clutching on her big tummy – she’s Chagga too – as she chuckles away. Mouths drop – I mean, you are supposed to be mourning, now what is up with this mad woman?

          “Eeh! Now the name is gone, let’s see how your mother is going to survive!” Big crazy woman tells the big red-eyed daughters of the deceased.

The three daughters who have just flown down from the UK, Canada and Switzerland where they go to school look up at the crazed woman wide-eyed.

          “Uwiii! Aunt Rose!” Someone tried to hush her.

          “I know, you all hate me because I always speak the truth!”

          “Aunt Rose,” someone whispers at crazed Aunt Rose. But the hushing and tugging at her khanga doesn’t seem to faze her at all. You see, she has been there.

Aunt Rose was once married to a big name Chagga man. Whenever there was a celebration somewhere, invitation cards were always personally delivered to their place by the groom’s parents. At the parties, Aunt Rose and her late husband always got the royal treatment – ushers would quickly attend to them as the host quickly found them the best seat in the house. During speeches the host would always acknowledge Aunt Rose and late brother, stressing on ‘how they would always be indebted by their kindness and how they would never be able to pay them back.’ The parking bay at Aunt Rose house was always filled with Mercedes, Land Cruisers, Rovers of visiting friends. Aunt rose even started walking with a swagger, snorting at the small names she met, her nose proudly pointing to the heavens.

Now big name passed on. Life took a total different turn after that. Nobody visits her house anymore, it is so bad that the beers that they always stocked up in their fridge are now getting mouldy. The gates have gotten cranky as they are hardly ever opened since no convoy of big cars has driven in ever since his passing on – the only thing that has ever passed through the gates is the bicycle of the Juma who sells her fresh fish. Forget about the fleet of visitors who always visited her house, even her late husband’s family have forgotten her. Invitation cards are now delivered by the invitee’s houseboys – tena on the last day, after somebody had remembered that there is a Rose.

          “Yes, we would like to thank kaka John and his wife Thecla whose Mercedes drove the bridal party, kaka Joseph and his wife Maria whose house we are using now for the reception, kaka Peter and his wife Vivian for the TShs. 10 million contribution, shemeji Thomas and dada Sarah for the thirty bottles of Bollinger vintage Champagne, Grand Annee and …”

As the Master of Ceremony calls out each name, the mentioned couple seated at the high table would stand up and wave their hands to the invitees proudly. Their women wearing so much gold, they could blind you stretch plastic smiles smugly.

          “Rose,” someone whispers to the Master of the Ceremony.

          “Huh?” the Master of Ceremony who is one of the brothers stares at the interrupter angrily and blankly.

          “Wifi Rose,” the wife continues, “you forgot wifi Rose!”

          “Oh yes! Rose,” raising his voice he goes on, “and Rose, she was the wife of our late brother Steve. May the good Lord rest his soul.”

A murmured ‘Amen’ is heard and glasses and clinked – Aunt Rose already forgotten. Nobody bothers to look for Aunt Rose, who is seated near the entrance way of the marquee, as nobody had ushered her in, smiles weakly.


~ by saharasoulfood on August 12, 2007.

7 Responses to “Life After Burying a Chagga”

  1. Sandra U scare me now:-)

  2. Lol. You shouldn’t get scared. All makabila forget the widows jamani. Atleast with Chaggas, the widow will always be taken care off. Wengine shun you kabisa.

  3. That is very true!I think as time goes it will get even worse.Individualism will prevail. Si unajua tena , sikuizi siwezi nikakutokea tu na kuexpect everything is going to be fine kwasababu babu yako na babu yangu walicheza pamoja!

  4. 😉

  5. I love your have cracked me up.My friends are chagga’s and been there for both weddings and funerals…how true?thanks for making my day!

  6. Been mchagga from big clan you know what i; mean its like you have to follow the tradition. Si unajua tena mangi na pombe na girls, what a life. Nimecheka sana leo kusoma ukweli. One more thing about wachagga yes pombe pesa girls and in my time education. Uza kahawa somesha watoto. Siku hizi elimu chini sana.

  7. I LIKE THIS and I appreciate,
    (though fiction)
    much of the story’s incidents are true and often happen in Chaggas’ daily lifestyles.

    They are much seen true stories than fictional

    I AM CHAGGA TOO. (with Paternal&Maternal ancenstry purity)

    “People have to learn from us (Chaggas) only the good things and leave the bad ones go as no-comunity can be 100% civilized&perfect.”

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