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THE WANJIKU vs GITAU FIGHT - (Great piece of Thika's History)

BY: Juma Hemedi

If you grew up in the 80s and 90s and you grew up in starehe, Ofafa, biafra or Majengo in Thika, and you are a boychild then you probably witnessed or took part in those boy fights that took place either at the starehe grounds (buutu) or at kyamusi (the partly dusty play ground for muslim primary school). These fights usually took place when schools closed and would be used to settle some score with that guy who irrtated you or held you in contempt. They were also used to determine who was tougher than the rest and who would be respected more. In a group of boys it mostly determined who eventually became the defacto boys leader. 

The fights had rules. First you had to declare that you have served "a wanted" notice to the boy you had an issue with and declared the reasons for that "wanted notice" the rest would determine whether the reason was sufficient enough. Then the other guy had to accept the "wanted notice". And also issue his own. Kyamusi was the ground for most fights and on the appointed day and time you would all meet there. 

"wekelea Njata" the referee of the fight would declare and some small pieces of stone would be placed on the backside of your stretched hand and your opponent would have one too, alternatively a line would be drawn on the ground and each of you would be standing on either side of the line and the one who would pass his foot to "rub" the line... that would be it the hand to hand combat would begin. And the one who is beaten to the ground looses the fight. The problem was all of you would arrive home looking like you were swimming in soil. 

The interesting thing in these fights were the inciters they would incite and tell you that you can beat this and that person and you end up getting yourself beaten properly. These peer pressures never worked sometimes. 

But none of those fights were as interesting as the Gitau vs wanjiku fight. It was a rare spectacle to see a boy fighting a girl. Most girls would just get scared by threats but not Wanjiku. From the outside wanjiku was everything one would imagine in a girl pretty and with a warm smile. She was friendly and quiet and always would run home to do her chores after school. 

Wanjiku looked harmless but had a no nonsense look. She had a face that would make a bully pick on her. She spoke with a polite tone, and had a very nice voice, she lived with her grandmother and they had moved into that house near our home from some place we didnt know about. Wanjiku spoke luo and kikuyu so fluently. 

Gitau schooled in the neighbouring  Primary school, he was everything you would dislike in a person. Bully, uncouth and violent. He also had a sense of entitlement and thrived on his bullying. He always came last in his class and had a bad handwriting too. His other friends in school would say that he would not understand anything and that he slept most of the time in class. But Gitau lived a few plots from where we lived and was an asset to our "boys club" anytime we went to play football in neighbouring estates or even hunting in Chania river, landless areas, munyu and delmonte farms. 

Gitau was fearless and was always the first one to enter 'danger zones' and the last one to get out of a fight. He was that guy you always wanted to avoid and stay away from but cant because he keeps showing up on your doorstep even when you had told him that you never wanted to see him again. So if we were to go anywhere without Gitau we would initiate a hide and seek game. The one that would involve a "kasuku" tin and a stick where you had to tap the "kasuku tin with the stick fast. We called it 'tingiso ya mkebe'. So we would make Gitau be the guy to seek while we hide. 

But he had to close his eyes and count to 50. By the time he was through counting we would be somewhere near kimathi on our way to broadways bakery where we would camp there and ask to be given the rejected breads. After which we would go swimming at a pond near metalbox (today Nampak) we called "kadimdim ka metal". The place today has the engen jua kali stalls. 

Gitau would look for us the whole day and he would go home in the evening with the "kasuku Tin" anyway I met gitau and the other gang on their way to a fight and I was quickly briefed that he was going to fight Wanjiku, because there was something wanjiku said that offended Gitau. I curiously followed and tagged Iddi along. How could I miss this fight? 

Gitau had been coached on what to do by some guy who adviced him to throw a cross jab at wanjiku and hit her near the neck and that that would catch wanjiku by surprise and confuse her.

Now I forgot to tell you that Gitau was also a bit fat and short. Wanjiku emerged from the tap where she had gone to fetch water and when she heard that some guys were waiting for her outside, she came out and walked towards the crowd of boys and faced Gitau. I cant remember what was said but Gitau's surprise cross cut jab as adviced by the guy I cant remember, didnt work. 

Wanjiku side stepped and avoided the suprise blow and gave Gitau one in the stomach and another one in the head. Then there was a slap that sounded like a tyre burst from a bicycle. We didnt know where Gitau was since wanjiku was shouting and asking him to come back and see dust. Thats when we were informed that the zooming air we felt was Gitau running at top speed heading home. 

The following day wanjiku came to class innocent and calm as she has always been. Only myselefu and Iddi knew what had gone down the previous evening. We decided of importance is life and it should originate from the owners (reke cìume na èène) 

If you see wanjiku tell her "I still Know" 

Juma Hemedi

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