The games that made me


I partly grew up in Kericho before moving to Kapsabet when I turned seven. My mother had landed a catering job at CITC so when suggestion to take me with her floated the air, I obliged.

I would later join Nandi primary school and start a new life experience in Kapsabet. When there were friends to make, I made friends and when there was thirst to quench, maziwa ya Moi came through.

Kapsabet is a beautiful town. Although small, it is the capital of Nandi County, located only forty kilometers southwest of Eldoret, on your way to Chavakali.

It is while at Kapsabet that my man grew. Kapsabet introduced me to modern day games (not sports, just games). Kapsabet taught me that I can hide and have my friends seek me out. Kapsabet taught me how to skate. Emmanuel and I (in the company of other friends) would pour soapy water on a steep then sit on leafy tree branches and skate our way to the bottom. While this game was fun, it was never friendly to our shorts. We would later stop it and allow Kapsabet to teach us love.

I was a guard (watchman) when I first played Kalongolongo. And while I still don’t know the English name for the game, it’s still one of the best that I ever played. At least in those days. I still smile whenever memories of it cross my mind. A few people I meet today say they called it cha baaba na cha maama! But why did Emmanuel have to play the best roles while I succumbed to co-curricular side-shows?

I officially want to denounce my kalongolongo career progression. Who even moves from being a watchman to being a cook, a driver then just before you move to being an uncle, you are made the pastor? Who?

Why was Emmanuel always lucky? He always played day. Well, he did look like a dad anyway. And whenever we needed him to act like one, he played the role perfectly well. Like any dad would to his children, Emmanuel would always carry some biscuits and sweets for us all. He would hand them over to us in equal share, then he would tell us a short story (am not sure they were always true) but we would listen. And we would laugh when we needed to laugh. And we would stop anyone who tried to interrupt, “Wee! Huoni daddy anaongea!”

After the story, dad would leave with ‘mum’ because it was always time to sleep and as usual, “dad na mum hawalali pamoja na watoto!”

They would later return happily and find me guarding as usual, or cooking, or preaching. Dad would give us some sweets or biscuits and the game would go on and on and on.

Today, I am not a watchman anymore. I don’t cook anymore and I don’t preach anymore. I don’t have the same friends I had when I was seven. I don’t play the same games I used to play then. But I still remember Emmanuel.  No one forgets a dad right? Especially one who brought sweet things when he came around.

I remember him for the sweets and the biscuits. I remember how he shared them to us and how they tasted. I forgot his stories but I remember him still. I remember every bit like it was yesterday.

At times I can’t help but wonder. If we were to have a reunion today, would Emmanuel still bring us sweet goodies like he used to? We..ll.. aa..hh!…  not just biscuits and sweets. But would he pass by big square and bring us those pork ribs and lamb chops (swallows saliva). Would he remember to carry the double cheese & onion ring biggie for ‘mum’? Or would he (simply forget even a chocolate) and just turn up with the usual biscuits and sweets?



  1. […] They had dogs which made their house a no go zone and with my mother being the no-nonsense type, Abdul’s house was our meeting point. It’s no surprise that thanks to Abdul, we could hold and play with real coins from time to time during kalongo and other games that make a man. […]


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