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BY Juma Hemedi

Of all the ninjas we were with in primary school, Chos was the "ninjaest" of them all. He had the ability to convince you to follow him into the valley of mischief and get you out of it in one piece.

Chos lived near the place where 'Kaengo', Ntoiti, and 'Aron' used to sell the twigs from the slopes of Nyambene around the hills that sorround Maua town. These twigs had their names that included 'giza asili', kangeta, and 'Alele'. All these were names given to 'miraa twigs' to separate them from each other and give them class. "Giza" were short miraa twigs that would be packed in about eight and ten small bunches and then rolled into one big bunch reffered as "kilo".

Kangeta twigs were a bit longer, they were given that name because of the place they were grown, a small stop over town on your way to Maua town, called Kangeta. Kangeta was a bit more classy and more expensive than 'giza'. It belonged to the people with class and money. 'Alele was the most classy and most expensive. Anyone chewing' Alele' miraa had to be given his respect. Some high class hotels in Nairobi and Thika had designated places where this category of people would sit undisturbed and chew away their twigs as they engage in conversations. If only all these conversations and ideas that were being generated during these chewing sessions were fully implemented, then Kenya would have achieved the vision 2030 before we even knew what the vision was about.

The family of Chos owned a 'hotel' called Biafra Super Cafe. Located near 'Ngabu Hotel' along the walls of Bible fellowship church. You should know that during those days TVs were scarce commodities especially in the Ghettos where we grew up. The entrepreneur spirit of chos and the family had helped solve a very big gap of providing a hall, seats and a 21 inch colored TV and a 'Video' (VHS) for showing movies at a fee of five shillings.

Reuben or 'Rube' was the no nonsense guy tasked with ensuring the operation of the video place was conducted in order. Reuben had made his name as a mechanic near Jamhuri Primary School. He was the only guy who had engraved a lion tattoo on his arm. Rumour had it that he did it himself. He was also rumoured to be a 'black-belt' karate thing and that he had once beaten three guys himself and broke some few bones in their bodies. Those guys had refused to pay for mechanical services rendered and had instead 'talked bad'. He also watched a lot of karate movies and would sometimes confuse himself for a movie star. He walked like the guys in the movies, talked like them and even wear their attitude at times.

Reuben was the only guy who would interpret Indian movies to us. We all believed he not only knew 'Kihindi' but also understood it and had spent some time in the land of Mahatma Ghandhi. So when the movie called 'Ajooba' was released featuring 'Amitabh Bachchan, Reuben would even translate the songs in the movie.' Ajooba was the Indian version of the movie "mask of Zoro" that had this outlaw character saving guys from tyrants and overzealous rulers and oppressors.

Anyway compulsory morning and evening tuition had been introduced when we were in class seven before we repeated. So since obviously we did not want to remain in class people had made a habit of jumping over the school wall into the 'chochoro' that would lead to U-Shop and would disappear into Majengo. Some enemy of development also known as 'kamati ya roho chafu' had alerted Mr. Kabuka, the toughest headmaster this part of the country. He decided to lay trap.

Chos came and told me "twende home" (lets go home) that meant we skip the evening preps. Some other fellows heard that too and followed chos and I in disappearing into Majengo, but chos wanted us to go to his home, where we found his mum. She had prepared some nice tea and 'mkate na blue band'. When we were through with eating Chos suggested we go back to school since the mum was around we couldn't stay there.

We were just on time to be back in class since Mr. Kabuka came a few minutes later and took the names of those who were in class. The following morning he came and said that "if you know you were not in class yesterday evening, come forward before I call out your name". The names of those that were in class were read out loud and you should have seen the shock on the faces of the other 'ninjas' who had followed Chos the previous day in going home.

The beating they received that morning did not pain them as much as the question of how Chos and I were not part of those receiving the beating. Chos the ninja had saved the day. Or was it the 'mkate blueband' that had brought us back to our senses?

Juma Hemedi

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