THE DAY THE PINEAPPLES TRAIN DERAILED.

BY: Juma Hemedi
23/12/2019

If you grew up in Thika and you have never heard the story about the day the pineapple train "fell", then you probably haven't met those who were still around when the pineapple train derailed.

The day before the train derailed, we had been taken to the shop at Jamhuri market belonging to "Nyaganga Aduwa" to have our clothes 'measured' (kupimisha Nguo). The shop had his name inscribed just above the entrance door.

Nyaganga Aduwa was the only man North and South of the Garissa highway who was the most popular 'fundi' for clothes. No one really knows when he migrated to Thika but the man had an eye for details and style. So all of us had been taken to his Shop to get our uniforms sizes taken and then Nyaganga would embark on the production and manufacturing process. This process would take many weeks and once in a while one of us would be sent to go check on whether Nyaganga had finished making the clothes and every time we would bring the feedback which was very simple, "bado angalia Kesho".

'Fundi wa Nguo' and "watu wa picha"  had one thing in common, their products took forever to be complete, and we had no option other than wait for them. These guys had monopolised the business.

Anyway all of us were 'measured' for clothes and we were back home, but I was left at the KANU youth Office where there was "the trial of the century". I can't remember all the details but someone had stolen slippers belonging to their neighbour and the other one was found wearing someone else's trousers and the complainant and defendants needed to prove that those items were indeed theirs.

The following morning the 'boys club' gathered to plan the program for the day in our assembly point. There had been rumour that we needed to "impeach" our defacto leader 'wakapogi. Gitau had brought the motion on the floor of the meeting base. But before the motion could be seconded, Wakapogi appeared and Gitau froze.

Wakapogi told us that people are going "chini" at river Chania, and that others are coming up with cans of pineapples and that they are saying the train had "fallen". We abandoned the "Impeachment motion" by Gitau and hurried to follow Wakapogi.

We passed Biafra, Fort Jesus and before long we saw it. It was so long and part of it was on the rail and the other part had overturned and cartons of pineapple cans were all over.

Everyone from Majengo, Starehe, Ofafa, Biafra was there, even the 'changaa' people were there too.

I Saw Amadi Binza walk past us carrying somethings under his jacket he was followed by Swajo who had a sisal sack full of items his two dogs in tow.

The train was transporting canned pineapples from Kenya Canners (Del Monte) and derailed there.

It was a field day as everyone carried cans of pineapples while others ate from the site. Our fearless Gitau pushed his way through and came back with some cans which we opened using stones and started eating. The work of carrying the pineapples took the whole day until the police arrived later.

That evening as we were all asleep, we heard loud knocks on the doors, apparently the police had mobilised their colleagues from nearby stations and were having a door to door operation recovering every tin of pineapple that was missing and was to be found, it was the end of "pineapple parre after parre" . I never knew that we had some in the house since none of us had carried any, but I later learnt that Amadi Binza had passed by and gave mum a few cans.

And just like that "mananasi ya mkebe" went. We continued visiting the place where the train "fallen"  hoping that another one would derail and pineapples would be on board but none has ever "fallen" since. And thats how the "impeachment motion" for Wakapogi was defeated he continued to lead the 'boys club' and myselefu remained his loyal assistant.

Blessed Festive season and happy New Year.

Juma Hemedi

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