Over the years, comedy has changed. Nope, it’s not the genre that’s changing. It’s actually getting better. It’s the comedians that are changing. The standard comedians are bland and predictable – my tribe this, my tribe that. My school this, my school that.
Enter the politicians, closely followed by their bed fellows, and clearly gunning for The Most Outrageous Award, the clergy. It’s not for nothing that video montages like NTV’s Bull’s Eye trend all the time, and never age.
If I want a hit of healthy laughter to ease up some tension, I don’t do past re-runs of The Churchill Show. I search for old school Bull’s Eye.
The clergy, with their antics have slowly weaned us from “Whaaaaat?” level to the desperation phase – “oh, okay” level.
Every day, like clockwork, we are slapped with a new stunt by some self-proclaimed ‘Man of God’. In a bid to remain relevant, they outdo each other with stunts that leave us questioning their perception.
Buy a miracle. Resurrect the dead. Rise up and walk. Et al.
When I was eleven, I had an encounter with a traditional healer that probably scarred me for life. It’s probably her fault that I shower the collective clergy with a healthy dose of skepticism.
She was middle aged, perhaps 40 or so, but smart, and perceptive. She had almost tangible mind-reading skills. I couldn’t know it then, but who was I, all of eleven years old, when educated adults were jumping when she said jump?
Anyways, my father had just passed away, and as it always happens to widows all over debt-ridden Africa, the extended family descended on her. There was all sort of victimization and harassment over property rights and whatnot. I was young, I can’t really tell what it was all about.
But it was easy to tell she was under a lot of stress – her health was on a downward spiral, her teaching job suffered, friends thinned out one after the other as purse strings kept drawing tighter. The friends left a vacuum that other ‘friends’ moved in to fill.
But not all these other friends were really friends. One had a solution for all her problems – let’s get a traditional healer, she’ll clean this home free of demons and evil spirits.
In ordinary days, mother would have LMAO’ed, threw in some funny emojis and memes to boot and went back to peeling eye-stinging Kitunguu Saumu for her pilau. But android hadn’t been thought of, yet.
But the lady, usually of character thought to be smelt from titanium, was desperate to save her family.
On the material day, mother cancels all our Saturday afternoon (mis)activities. She scrubs my younger brother from head to toe, like she did on Sunday school days. I knew something was up. Soon enough, a group of four women rush into the compound, and three of them have green scarves. The traditional healer with a bright yellow scarf has aides!
The healer doesn’t speak to no one. She seems to be in some sort of trance, murmuring incorrigible rhymes under her breath. We are waiting to welcome her, by the front door, kitted out in our Sunday best clothes – like cabinet secretaries waiting for the president. Even mother is in her favorite Kitenge.
She zooms past us and disappears round the corner, then appears again. She goes round the house four times. Four times. We are still by the front door. Her aides are by now spread around the compound – if they had dark shades, you’d mistake them for the presidential security detail.
The friend who had introduced us to the healer arrives, short of breath.
She confides that the healer gets so agitated when she senses some really bad ass evil spirits. Mother starts to tear up. My brother and I are bored, non-committal. We missed a rabbit hunt with the gang for this?
The healer gets into the house, darts in and out of the rooms, getting more and more agitated. After a while, she just sits. On the cement floor. No much ado. Then she points in mother’s direction and utters a string of words so fast, and in a language so strange aliens would find hard to decipher.
The senior aide says: Fill every container in this house with river water.
Senior aide: Fill every container in this house with water.
We are struck deaf. We are immobile. Mark you, if it were this day, you’d just pop the tap on the sink, connect a hose and flood the darn house.
It was the early 90’s. Mwai Kibaki was still in the opposition and we didn’t have millennium goals. Piped water was a dream. We had to trek to the river and fetch it to fill every container.
Need I mention that ‘every container’ meant literally everything? Poor mother had to line up the plates, cups, sugar dishes, name it. It was a sight to behold to see her precious China plates lined up on the floor getting filled with water!
Looking back, I realize the smart witch wanted us all busy, and too tired to exercise our faculties.
After an hour or so, the senior aide halts the water fetching exercise which by now even had neighbors ‘donating’ water from their households. No one wants the evil spirits anywhere in the village.
We return to the house and find the healer perched on a table, with half her torso in the ceiling – through the vent usually left to access the ceiling. Her aides surround her, and orders everyone to shut up.
After what sounded like a scuffle in the darkness of the ceiling, and some serious shrill sounds from the healer, she ducks out, all dusty and clutching what seemed like a rat’s nest in her right hand. It had a few feathers, a ribbon, some human hair and lots of ash.
“Hawa wanataka kukumaliza….” She says, and throws the specimen down. There’s a mini-stampede as neighbors dash out of the house.
Mother collapses in a heap (somehow, the aides had by now come within reach to grab her, just in case).
I am stunned.
(Check out for part II of this story).