My Love For Kalenjins; Those racing machines!


In this small town of Nyeri, your ethnicity matters. Matters a lot. Just as it does anywhere else. What with all the stereotypes that follow. But not like in the days past when you were shunned, no. Nowadays, it brings with it some sort of fascination. So some the Kamau’s, Ng’ang’a’s, Wanjiru’s will definitely pick up on the ‘out-of-place’ Kip-someone’s, Abdi’s and those awesome sons of the Lake. Don’t blame us, it’s small town life (or as @JohnGithiri calls it, STS, Small Town Syndrome). We always latch onto anything of interest, however immaterial; just to get rid of the monotony.

So when a couple of months back I noticed a new family moving in next door, the first thought that came to mind obviously was do they have a daughter  ‘I sure hope they are interesting’. In a show of ‘good-neighbourliness’, I walked out, greetings abounding. Quick observation: hubby and wife, 2 boys and a cute lil daughter (to my disappointment, she was under-18… I don’t want police knocking on my door). Then I heard the accent. The legendary accent! “Hapari yago, Gichana?”

Now on this note, I must insist, I am the worst guy at keeping straight faces. But thank God they took my humongous grin for hospitality (which it actually was, or partly). As a campaigner against all this tribalism hulla-ba-loo, I was quite delighted to have descendants of the legendary Koitalel arap Samoei as neighbours. Maybe I would even get to learn a new language! (sic!). Or they would share us some mursik, I always wanted to drink it.

But it didn’t take long for their true colours to show. No silly! Not that anger and fighting stereotype you got. I mean their RUNNING! RUNNNNNING! It’s like all their life is a race! I often meet the 2 boys as they are sent on errands. Oops, I mean that they DASH past me. And trust me, those errands take them almost 2km away from home! 2 KILOMETRES! A distance I do in 30-40 minutes, they breeze past in 15, without even struggling on their breath!

And it’s either the Kalenjins or the Meru who came up with the Need for Speed concept. The Meru for obvious reasons. But for the Kalez, it’s quite possible that with the running and all, even the tarmac might look like just another racetrack! Or how else would one explain this neighbour crashing his car 4 times in an year! And NO, he’s not a rally driver! So it’s either those running genes, or his ridiculous drinking habits.

And the other day, the merciless weather and its conundrums (I heard that on Rango and I just can’t stop thinking of it) the weather decided to unleash its love on this baked soils of ours. And there I was, running like I had to save my just blow-dried hair *God-forbid* and one of the kids had been left by the school van. Picture this: me, a stooped lone figure running into the grey horizon praying that those puddles stay out of my way, running at Bolt-like speeds. Then WHOOSH! Their goes the kid, head held high as if he’s loving the feel of the sleet-like rain on his young face. Then when he’s left me agape, for good measure, he turns around, smiling “SEMA JAMES! SIKUKUONA! NA SIUKIMBIE HARAKA, KWANI UNAPENDA KUNYESHEWA?” then whoosh, off he goes again, leaving me with that innocent yet malevolent smile stuck on my mind. The little bugger! But at least he left the gate open for me, saved me like 10 raindrops worth of wetness. God bless him.

And since then, I got newfound respect for these guys with running and all. Ain’t so sure if DAFID RUDISHA is one of them, but he’s the only one I ever remember. (and those others who were bought by Qatar et al.; screw them!) I just pray this kiddo turns out into just that…or better. Then I’ll be pointing at him as he cruises past the next Kenenisa Bekele at some Olympics and I’ll be like “I once raced that kid, NA NILIMSHINDA!” Who said you must always say the truth. I have an ego to protect, hahaha! Hope he’ll be breaking records and biting gold medals on telly soon enough.

And why on Earth do athletes bite their medals?

what does gold taste like? Fried Chicken?

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