Bungoma and Kisumu are like two brothers who don’t talk much, but know they are bound by a common thing. Maybe they are bound by names, by similarity in their bodies, their love for food and women. There is something greater anyway. My whole life, I have never been to Kisumu yet it is just few miles away. Kisumu and Bungoma are like the hip bones; Kisumu being on the left and Bungoma on the right. For you to reach the left side of the hip, you have to approximate using the back side- the ass. To reach Kisumu, you have to traverse the two asses.
I was with Anthony in Kisumu last week. We checked into Vittoria Suites. That hotel is a hidden gem, literally. It’s in Kisumu yes, but before you get to it, you take a train through Jordan, a camel through Kalahari Desert walk for 40 days and night then pap! Vitorria Suites. It’s more of an apartment really, with a kitchen. By the time Anthony and I checked in, it was 8pm and we had been booked into the same room. Deluxe. I am frantically explaining to the receptionist, we can’t share a room. She smiles and says, couples fight. Just put up for the night. No. I bark. We are not a couple, ma’am. Oh, she sighs and quickly makes the changes. Anthony was smiling the whole time, unperturbed. The room was heavenly and for a whole night, I forgot it was January, so was next week and the next week too. The porter who escorted me, told me he’s called Livingstone and that this hotel was best in Kisumoo.
The sun is proud and shows off just like the Luos. It is extremely hot and the air you breathe steams your lungs. I noticed most hotels have air cons. You have no option but to sleep naked and that is pushing your luck and pray nothing comes up at night. During the day, it is too hot and wonder isn’t the lake supposed to swallow the heat or something. C’mon Kisumu. You can’t be this hot. Homabay is another place that slapped me hard with its heat. But the adjacent Lake Victoria soothes and deceives you with the cool breeze.
I went to this hotel in Bondo too and they didn’t have ugali! When I ordered ugali and fish, they brought the brown ugali to my shock. I rejected it kabisa. I want ugali, ugali… I insisted. Oh! Ya white? They ask. So I had to wait for 3 days before white flour was processed, transported, water boiled and someone cooked the ugali. The fish there is just out of this world. I love you Bondo.
My ignorant self knew Nyanza is Kisumu. Like really, the entire province only has one big Kisumu. Wrong. There are other places like Seme, Gem, Asembo, Rachuonyo, Siaya, Bondo which are big towns… I wandered into Nyanza, ventured into the villages I have never heard of before. It is like most of those places have 2 names, like scientific names kama Lantana Kamara. I saw Ndhiwa Rakoro, Ojode Pala, Gogo Katuma, Got Kokelo, Rodi Kopany, Got Alila, Pap Ndege, Sondu Miriu… and finally saw Kit Mikayi. The great Kit Mikayi. The first woman. I had huge expectations of that Kit Mikayi. Last year, Anyang Nyong’o’s daughter came for a photo shoot there. I prepared myself and notified my relatives that I was going to see Kit Mikayi. “What’s that?” they asked. “Penye Lupita alikuja kupigia picha!” I tell them.
The driver stopped along the highway and asked us to alight. We followed him. It is isolated and sparsely populated. The place was generally bushy and rocky. Few minutes later, we were standing near a bigger rock than the rest. “Boss, kwani iko wapi hio Kit Mikayi?” I asked. He was stroking the rock. “This is it. This is the great Kit Mikayi.” He says proudly, his accent now thicker than ever. What? Gasp. Moves back. Looks at Anthony. Anthony smiles. I thought Kit Mikayi was the shape of a woman. I was dying to see, feel, lie and hang out with this beautiful woman of a rock but no. Kit Mikayi, like any other woman, just lies lazily and stares at us with pride too. She has this attitude that humbles you. A section of it is enclosed, kind of like a cave and you get in, you want to grab that Kit Mikayi and pack it in your bag.
The lake was shimmering and silvery and one look at it, you want to live near it. I stared hard into the lake, from the 4th floor of Cold springs hotel in Homabay, hoping to see Migingo, but the porter, called Patterson Omondi, said it is too far from there. Patterson is build, dark and very loud. He said he can make me his second wife. And get me a job as a waitress. The hyacinth from a distance looks like a green strip of an island. For a minute, you admire it until you remember how badly it’s swallowing up the lake. The great Luo people are amazingly proud and exciting and will flatter you in their language.
I left Kisumu darker than Jakoyo Midiwo. We are heading nowhere guys, the story has ended.