I have produced ‘It’s a Madd Madd World’ for over 30 years now. Among its recurring dramatis personae, especially in the column’s early years, have been the ‘Maddess’, the ‘Maddlettes’ and ‘Maddo Jnr’.
These are semi-fictitious characters based on my family who have appeared in anecdotes that I feature. While an event may be actual, the cartoonist in me will embellish a situation to amuse my audience.
Eunice Mwihaki Kelemba, my wife who passed away in the early hours of Sunday last week, was a ‘victim’ of my artistic aggrandisement. Her friends and colleagues used to imagine that she went to bed every night laughing, tickled by my ‘jokes’. But this wasn’t true. I am a story teller and satirist, but we had a serious union like any other couple. The Maddess had her own humour as well and would cheekily refer to me at times as ‘Mando’ or ‘Mr Kiremba’.
She was a strong individual with powerful convictions and entrepreneurial skills. Gladly so, for, two creatives in a home are not the best balance. Eunice countered my artistic excesses while I kept her in check with her own. We had our tiffs but we never let any ruin our relationship.
She was a friend with wise counsel and a cool mum to Nanga, 28, Wambui, 24, and Chris, 18. She has steered them through childhood and teenage life with a firm hand to shape them into respectful young adults. They are taking their mum’s transition in stride, but I have found them at times with red eyes. We have encouraged each other to mourn and absorb the pain. We know the emptiness in our house will never be filled.
- 1 Madd Madd World 11.10.2013
- 2 Madd Madd World
- 3 Madd Madd World 03.08.13
- 4 Madd Madd World : 27.07.13
We met in late 1986. She was 19 and I was 24. Nairobi was in its last phase of the vibrant big band revelry. The Carnivore’s Simba Saloon was the hottest place on Friday nights and we dated to the blast of Them Mushroom’s chakacha. It would be five years before we became a stable, dedicated couple looking at marriage and family. The sturdy chemistry between us was natural and reflected in our parents who created a firm bond between them after they met. We transcended tribal fault lines and the two Maragoli and Kikuyu clans partied whenever there was reason to.
Folks found our companionship a bit unique, extending beyond husband and wife. Eunice and I went out together – there was rarely a Friday we weren’t seen together. Almost the entire cadre of my friends and colleagues who are condoling with my family knew Eunice personally. I knew most of her friends and colleagues as well, forming a large kinfolk’s bloc now broken by her demise.
A healthy, bubbly and smiling person, Eunice was suddenly slowed down by the onset of breast cancer some months ago. She continued to work hard as she sought treatment. A few weeks ago, the malignancy reared its ugly head and her condition took a turn for the worst. I always thought Eunice would bury me.
What was to become our last conversation occurred last Saturday afternoon. I gave her words of hope and encouragement but the Good Lord always has His Grand Plan. Eunice passed away on November 15 at Nairobi Hospital. After the funeral service next Thursday, she will be cremated in line with her long-time wish.