What I wouldn't give for a return to the age of innocence!

A kettle and its 'children'. [XN Iraki]

A recent visit to an upcountry home was very nostalgic. It was not the rolling hills or winding roads that left me nostalgic.

It’s not the “long buildings” that make the primary schools. It was not the fences and domestic animals that took me down memory lane. It’s the way tea was served using a metallic kettle with metallic cups on a wooden table.  

In an age where plastics and ceramics dominate, such utensils reminded me of a bygone era. The owner of the kettle and its “children” is 90 years old. 

The colour of the kettle and the cups made it more fascinating. Are thermos flasks getting out of fashion? 

Anyone who grew up in the countryside could identify these items when innocence reigned.

It was a time when you did not need to inform someone you were visiting. Firstly, there were no mobile phones or any phones.

By around 1997 when Safaricom and Kencell (now Airtel) came, we had only about 300,000 telephone lines in Kenya.  

Impromptu visits were signs of honour. Otherwise, how else could you inform someone beforehand you would be visiting? Why not just show up?  

The age of innocence was punctuated by the national anthem: “May plenty be found within our borders.”  

Food was plenty and sharing it was not “wastage.”  The size of land was bigger and soils less "tired" from overcultivation. And I recall rain was plentiful. 

The tea in the kettle was served “from the heart” adding to the innocence of that generation, no price attached to it.  

And that was all; no one expected bread or a glass of wine later. The milk was directly from the cow, with no pasturing or any processing. If there was no milk, you could be told: “Wait for us to milk the cows.”  

Food was obtained from the farm, and like milk, it was not processed. Water was also obtained directly from the river.

There was often no need to travel. Life was simple. No wonder my host was 90 years old and probably more satisfied with life than me despite driving there and taking rice, and wheat flour, all processed.  

Modernity spoilt this golden age. Population went up and everything became scarce and competition went up. 

Our lives now revolve around the clock. Everything is about money, even emotional things like love.

Hustling was moderated by nature. Unless dancing under the moonlight, working at night was rare. There was no need for watchmen; well-fed people did not need to steal.  

It’s unlikely that the golden age will return, but we can celebrate it by visiting the countryside and talking with those who went through it over a cup of tea served in a traditional kettle and its cups.