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VAS

Harold in search of a blesser

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Peter Theuri | October 24th 2021

There is an explosion of shenanigans every time elections appear around the corner. In Gitegi, most mean people visit medians, their mode of contacting ancestors to solicit for blessings. Harold often visits neighbouring villages meeting some of the best traditional healers who, somehow, have never healed his lust for the top seat, or even for food.

So it was not a surprise when, midweek, I heard Harold’s heavy footfalls approaching my bed, with his cassock whistling as he strode towards me.

“Lazybones,” he cried out. “Wake up!”

In my hypnagogic state of consciousness, I thought he said, “Lazarus, wake up!” And I thought I was Lazarus and he was Christ, which was wrong.

Over a cup of tea (literally one cup for him and nothing for me) he told me that he had been inspired by some of his political idols and needed to visit the oldest person in the village to seek blessings ahead of his duel with Sue.

“I want you to go around asking people’s ages until you can get me the oldest person in the place,” he instructed from underneath his black cassock which, in good times, used to be red.

While Harold prays for those whose sins are as red as crimson to come and get washed white as snow, his red wear only looks muddier, and dirtier, by the day. It is sometimes used as the floor mat, other times as the dish dryer and once in a week as the curtain.

On instructions from my master, I stepped out of the house and trudged down the road that takes Harold to the drinking den. It slopes slightly towards the shopping centre, which I always feel was an ingenious way by whoever carved out the village to have Harold access the pub without much struggle.

In my hand was a book and a pen, which are the tools that I, as the de facto Treasury Minister, use to make records of whatever is happening in the village. Often, it is about Harold embezzling funds.

All the people I thought are above 90 years of age crossed my mind. I remembered those who claimed to have fought in the Second World War, which is an ugly melee that is said to have seen my village-mates attack one another in the 70s. My grandfather died then.

These were among my main target. After those, I was considering all those who had quit drinking for Harold’s church. These are people who felt that their days are slowly coming to an end and therefore they need to reconcile with the deity.

True to this, one man quit alcohol and smoking and asked to be the drummer in the church after a local witch doctor diagnosed him with severe liver damage. But when the man, on advice from Harold, went to the court of uphill and had the decision that he had liver damage overturned, he went back to Sue’s den and never returned to the church.

He died a fortnight later, and although the witch doctor had meant that the man was spoiling the river (by carelessly adding to its waters through unconventional means), the witch doctor was vindicated.

When the first old woman I met told me that he was in Sunday school when Harold was born, I showed myself out. Someone not more than 30 years older than Harold is not an elder and should not bless.

I found Githendu’s father grazing on the roadside, and as I approached him, he threw me a pebble, squinted and said, “Oh, I thought it was one of my goats.”

I was excited for two reasons. One, to realise that he had recognised me as a GOAT, an abbreviation for greatest of all time, and two, because I had chanced upon the oldest man in the village.

Anyone who cannot differentiate a goat from a human has lost enough eyesight to qualify as veery old.

“When were you born?” I asked him.

“A long time ago before your grandfather, the father to that stupid uncle of yours who I hope dies soon, was born,” he mumbled.

Oldest person in the village alright, but Harold was not getting his blessing here. I marched on, hoping I would not have to march all the way to beautiful, beautiful Zion before I found one abnormal old person who likes my uncle. 

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