Reportage

REPORTAGE

In Matsangoni, for a long future without chains

"Difu Simo", notes from a necessary roadshow

14-08-2020 by Freddie del Curatolo

In Matsangoni you dance, in Matsangoni you live long.
The village of Matsangoni rises just after Mid Creek, between brackish lakes that dive into mangroves and endless palm groves.
Lots of palm trees, lots of coconuts.
Lots of coconuts, lots of sap flowing to feed them.
That milky, fermented sap is one of the main reasons for the slowness of the men inland on the Kenyan coast. 
Their complacent, hospitable, almost submissive smile.
Even their fatalism, even though that's in their DNA.
I don't think this is the secret of the longevity of his people, who know just as well the healing herbs that grow wild in these parts.
That sap, highly alcoholic, is called Mnazi. Those who call it "palm wine" definitely use a euphemism and if you drink it accordingly you will see the effects.
In Matsangoni, however, there must be some other secret of living, because the Mnazi is cheerfully trincano all men and women, and they live a hundred years as if it were the beer of Italian advertising.
The cheerful caravan of Madca that arrives at Matsangoni is even more cheerful.
It is impossible not to make a toast to the memory of the inventor of the most famous popular mijikenda dance, the Mwanzele. A few meters from where the speakers, mixers and microphones have been placed, stands the mausoleum that recalls the inventor of this dance: Mwanzele Wa Unda, lived one hundred years ago and since then celebrated punctually at every wedding, every funeral, every commanded and improvised party.
Even during the Difu Simo campaign, the afternoon did not end without the Mwanzele directed by Mzee Bezi Wa Mboko, one of the mijikenda "elders" that the MADCA association protects from assassination attempts by young criminals who accuse him of witchcraft. Like him there are many elders protected by MADCA in the village of Moi, not far from the Sabaki river. A work of care and assistance that is like keeping up the only great museum, the living literature of this tribe because as someone used to say: "Every time an old African dies, it's a library that burns".
A drop of mnazi in memory of Mwanzele Wa Unda, another drop for the elders who are even older in Matsangoni.
And the young people?
They are divided into two categories: those who have the motorcycle and those who would like it.
But those who want everything and immediately from Matsangoni have already left and live to the day in the suburbs of Malindi or Kilifi.
The mnazi for them is neither a ritual nor a reason to relax under a baobab, but it becomes a frustration and mixes with many other bad practices.
Those who stay in Matsangoni, on the other hand, cultivate the land, study in the school named after Ronald Ngala, one of the few giriama ministers in Kenyan history, and help the family.
Then there are those who are a little late, who don't even need the Mnazi to take the "pole pole" and who, although they instinctively understand everything, that is there is nothing to understand, are put aside, treated little more than as goats.
Difu Simo's presenter, Kizibo, presents the rap "Funga kamba yangu" ("Tied to my rope") which talks about the boys and girls who have stayed in the villages around Matsangoni and who, when they freak out from an epilepsy attack or a nightmare, are tied up like animals.
Yongo, on the other hand, would like to live like the others, he would like no one to worry about his dangling tongue, squinting, soft walking. He is the first to volunteer to set up the gazebo for the public, carry the chairs, distribute the leaflets.
Without needing the mnazi to dance, without needing to be paid to dream about the motorcycle.
Just as long as nobody ties a chain to his foot with a padlock.
Matsangoni will make more music than psychology, he will dance more than confront himself.
There are plenty of children who will have time to understand the lyrics of the preparatory songs and the "grown-up" speeches of KEMRI doctors and researchers.
They have the right to live long, but above all they have the right to live without chains, whether physical or mental.

TAGS: matsangonidifu simoreportage kenyamnazimwanzele

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