On ‘Thiong’o, the Githeri Boy’ By Anne Gathoni

Last Sunday while at mass, our priest hared with us, a hilarious story from his childhood. In primary school, he...

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Last Sunday while at mass, our priest hared with us, a hilarious story from his childhood.

In primary school, he had a classmate by the name Thiong’o. Now Thiong’o, like the rest of all the school aged kids, would carry a packed lunch to school. Since these were the post-colonial days, packaging of said food would mostly comprise a paper bag with the food expertly packed inside; these foods were usually the infamous Gikuyu dish, that is, githeri, or some piece of ugali from the previous night’s supper. Thiong’o however, had the most unique packaging method; he would carry his githeri in the safety of his trouser pockets.

The other kids despite having their own meals, were always interested in getting some of Thiongo’s pocket githeri; maybe the oddity of the whole situation made the githeri somewhat sweeter, Lol. However, Thiong’o was a mean fellow, and was not so forthcoming with his ‘snack’. So his classmates resorted to more shrewd tactics; they would steal some from his pocket! So each day, one of them would walk up to Thiong’o (who understandably liked to keep to himself, in the comfort of his githeri), and distract him as someone else, silently put his hand in his pocket and withdrew a handful  of githeri, to the bewilderment and silent cheer of the rest. This became a daily routine, each child getting the chance to make away with his githeri; Thiong’o certainly wondered how he had gone from being the class outsider, to the kid everyone wanted to talk to; a new friend each day!  Perhaps it was this sudden influx of friends, or all the attention that he was getting, that aroused his suspicions. He then came to the realization, that this attention had all started when he had started carrying his githeri in his pocket. And so he became more careful over the ensuing days and was able to uncover the devious plot of his so called ‘friends’. 

In a fit of anger, he came up with his own way of retaliating. On this fateful day (when incidentally it was our priest’s turn at Thiongo’s githeri), Thiong’o got up as usual, got ready for school and, as was his routine, he put some githeri in his triuser pockets, adding a dash of salt. However, he also had something else up his sleeve, or should I say, in his trouser pants. He took a chameleon from a tree at home, and placed it right atop his githeri, smiling ruefully as he did so. He would show them never to steal from him ever again.

At school, he mingled with his classmates, baiting his next victim. And so our priest approached his mark, thrilled that it was finally his turn at the githeri whose wild praise had grown more and more absurd with each subsequent “raid”. As one of the other kids distracted Thiongo, our priest slid his slender hand into his pocket, grabbing a handful not of salted githeri but instead, a handful of chameleon. He shrieked, jumped back and dropped the dazed chameleon! All this to Thiongo’s utter and immense glee….and that marked the end to the mischievous exploits, with Thiong’o, the githeri boy, having had the last laugh.  To read more posts by Anne, click HERE 

Photo Credit: Ghana Hope Foundation

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