Be Genuine In Giving This December

By Silver Furaha Gaita

It’s December.

The season of cheer, making merry, summer bunnies, and lastly charity is here. I’ve been seeing lots of plans and initiatives to visit orphanages, children’s homes, the disabled & elderly people’s homes et al. I’ve also seen a few greedy ones trying to steal Christmas but we won’t dwell on them today. Today I’d like to talk about a different kind of giving that I chanced upon a while ago.

Next to Jamia mall, there is a sort of alley; it’s a space that people escaping from city council askaris park their vehicles. I’m not so sure if that still applies to-date. As you know, city council people are capable of waking people up from their graves to remind them their burial period is expired, and they should pay up should they wish to continue resting peacefully. We’ll not talk about the city council today either. Happy thoughts only, happy thoughts.

So one Saturday afternoon, with a friend, headed to Jamia mall, we passed by that alley. I saw a man who had parked his car over there and was surrounded by some of those street families. (I’m not sure what else to call them). Mostly its women and children, and most times these women have other children on their back. You are most likely to find them there on Friday afternoons-they wait for the Muslim service (again, I don’t know what to call it) and then beg from the people as exit the prayer rooms.

As it was on a Saturday, I didn’t know what else they could be doing there. As we passed I noticed this man was alone, meaning other than the women and children surrounding him like he was a MCA, he didn’t have any entourage with him. He wasn’t wearing any bling or stunnaz either. He was a Singh. A Kalasinga if you please. He had those black turbans on, with a casual shirt (NOT checked so we can safely conclude he is not from the Mt. Kenya region), some faded jeans and simple shoes. May be loafers, I don’t know. The car was an old Mercedes and the boot was open. This mysterious MCA was doing strange things with his face. He was making funny faces and taking his tongue out and generally laughing. It took me a while before I noticed he was playing with a baby on the mother’s back.

The open boot had 3 huge sufurias covered in foil. By this time my curiosity had been aroused to the point where I could no longer hide my stares. I asked my friend what that was about and she was as clueless as I was. When we got to the shoe shop, I happened to ask the guy selling shoes — huyo Kalasinga ni nani? Ni MCA?

This is the part you won’t believe . The Kalasinga is not a MCA. He is a “nobody. A mtu mdogo sana,” like most of us here. (I use the term nobody very loosely so please motivation speakers hold your horses). He is a regular person like you and me. But every Saturday afternoon he shows up on that alley with food and fruits, feeds the street families and off he goes. He doesn’t ask them for votes or nudes or anything. He shows up, feeds and leaves.

I was shocked. How can a person be doing charity so WRONG? Why didn’t he come with his Kalasinga krew, they could call themselves KK, carry selfie-sticks , take selfies of themselves feeding the kids and hash-tag #KK #CharityTingz # #SatoCoolingz #SatoFeedingz #RotiForTheNeedy #IMakeItRain #HaterzSeeMe

I mean, doesn’t he know he could pose for a picture carrying one of those dirty kids and caption it with something about humility? Or even a picture of him making those funny faces at the baby…wouldn’t it be better if he took a selfie of himself and the baby doing duck faces? That’s InstaGold! Who is this man still living in 1995? How will we know he is doing all this when he acts like the lone ranger with no camera? Honestly I was perplexed. This was a very foreign concept to me.

We stayed at Jamia Mall for over an hour because you know how the people there are never sure about what product they’re selling. They say they’re selling shoes and clothes but they give you house quotations. I never get them. On our way back I insisted on passing through the alley again and sure enough he was still there. An hour later he was still there waiting for other families to finish their hustle on Uhuru highway to come and eat. He can afford to wait while a man taking you on a date at Sonford will send you a zillion ‘please-call-me’ at 3.02 if you were supposed to meet at 3. Again, we will not talk about them today. Happy thoughts.

I took slower steps. A woman was asking him for more food. I think. He went to the boot, took out a chapati, opened one of the sufurias, put some vegetables in it and handed it to her and told her in Kiswahili to wait until everyone had eaten then he’d add her more. (Summer bunnies, have you noted the part where I said IN KISWAHILI?) Then he went on playing and chatting with some little boys over there. When we got to the end where those mabuyu women sit, I stopped to buy some. What I really wanted to do was confirm that theory I’d been told. I had been told by a man and you know how men never like to admit they don’t know anything, they even make things up. Sure enough the woman told me the same thing. Kalasinga MCA comes every Saturday afternoon, feeds and leaves. Sometimes he is accompanied by one other person, maybe his wife or daughter or son, she can’t be sure.

I’ve been thinking about this Kalasinga for a while now. Does anyone know him?

What if we were all into his brand of charity? Genuine charity where we don’t need accolades or recognition or for people to say how humble and generous we are? Charity which is not seasonal. Charity that stems from a genuine need to help those that are less fortunate than ourselves? This is the point most people will start with the “what is the got doing” debate. That’s another group that we won’t talk about today. Happy thoughts. Maybe we all have very busy schedules and we can’t afford to do this every weekend, but now that it is indeed the season to be merry , what if we spent less on ourselves and more on others less fortunate ? Don’t get me wrong, less fortunate here does not mean only the children’s homes. I’m a strong believer in charity beginning at home.

You have a cousin whose husband died and left her with 4 kids yet she doesn’t have a stable job. The last time you saw her was at his funeral. What if you paid her 2 months’ rent? Or one term’s school fee for her eldest child? You have a friend who has been looking for a job since forever. Don’t call him/her for that nyamchom plot. Buy him/her a nice suit/shoes for interviews, or if they want to start a business chip in the capital.

What I’m trying to say in so many words is, be practical and genuine when it comes to gifting this Christmas. Don’t buy someone an expensive bottle of scotch while what they really need is diabetic medication for their sick mother.

Summer bunnies , yes we know Africa is hot and dusty but you survived in Gachie for 18 years before that visa took you to Minnesota . Nairobi won’t kill you. And chances are, your local shopkeeper won’t know what a ‘ borro of worra’ is. Ongea Kiswahili tafadhali.

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