Photo Courtesy: http://www.lamupaintersfestival.org
Just like any other place, the Coast too has it’s good, bad and ugly. Sure enough, what’s below is only part of the story and not the full picture. There are several other personalities and several other perceptions. So kindly read this without being judgmental. There’s always another side of the coin 😉
1. The man rich in culture: He is the typical ‘Coasterian’ from head to toe. He is proud of his culture and traditions and would never trade it for anything else. He is always in a kanzu and kofia or otherwise a kikoi and shirt. His shoes would always be the makubadhi just like his coffee would never be espresso, latte or cappuccino. He would even ask, with eyebrows raised, “Why on earth would I drink that when there is kahawa tungu?” (In Kiswahili of course). So nah, the sugarcoating of these fancy names don’t move him in the least bit. You wouldn’t miss him in traditional events like the lamu cultural festival or mawlid and zefe. His house preference would always be the Swahili traditional homes so definitely, his wife choice would be a woman who knows enough about udi and asmini and a lot about samaki wa kupaka, mkate wa mofa and matobosha. He probably works as a fisherman or in the traditional businesses that have been existence since his forefathers. In the evenings he’d be seated at the baraza with friends chit-chatting or playing backgammon. His accent is not ‘Westernized’ so the ‘T’ in Fatma comes out mildly as it should be. If you are a visitor at the Coast, this is the guy you meet and see ‘the Coast’ all over him.
2. The Maalim: The man with the longest beard? 😀 His clothe of choice would always be the white sparkling kanzu. He is the sheikh; the ustadh. People trust him and value his opinions. He holds some knowledge in religion and preaches. The community treats him like the village elder and thus, involve him in many of their problems. He is respected and honoured. He is definitely the man to go to when in trouble.
3. The Mganga? Before you meet him, you will come across his poster or a piece of wood on an electricity pole advertising his ‘skills.’ Oh, he promises a lot of things; to cure your ailment, to get you a good job, to know if your wife is cheating. The only thing he won’t promise you is heaven. You’d find his home in a dark town in a dark village in the darkest spot of the mtaa. Creepy? I thought so too.
4. The lazy bone: He has no idea what is happening in his life or those around him. He is pretty much non-existent. He is jobless and is not ready to look for one. His wife/mother/woman of the house ends up spoon-feeding him because he’ll never bother provide or bring something to the table. In the evenings you’d find him at the baraza with his two kilos of miraa. He is so comfy and you’d wonder how they can be that relaxed without a penny.
5. The shy guy: He is genuinely shy. Not the social media guys who claim to be shy because this one definitely is. He is raised with high Islamic and traditional morals, he’d blush if a girl said hi. He is more often than not a loner or with few selected friends. You never have to worry about his behaviour in front of your parents because he knows his limits.
6. The sea-lover: It would be so wrong to be born at the Coast and not love the sea right? He cherishes the sea than anything else. It’s the place he goes to early in the morning for a jog, or at lunch hour to eat or when is stressed, when happy, when he is bored, when everything and nothing happens…you’d find him there. The sea is his home.
7. The odds beater: He is the man who proves against the stereotype that Coast folks only await for the mangoes to drop. He is ambitious and passionate in whatever field he has taken. He may be very well educated but he may also be not. However he is still very successful.
8. The slippy mouth: He knows all the insults in the world. Everything in his conversations and talks must include an insult even when it’s totally out of context. Doesn’t matter if he is joking, laughing, greeting, teasing a friend,angry or frustrated; an insult will definitely appear somewhere in his sentences. Most probably he grew up with the habit or adopted it. He doesn’t care what you’ll think of it but you better be prepared when talking to him; your ears will beg for mercy. Oh and by the way, he’s also very loud in his speech so you’ll hear the insult even when miles apart.
9. Mommy’s boy: Most of the times, a boy like him comes from the upper class but sometimes from the lower class too. He’s been pampered all his life and been given all he ever needed. He barely knows how to survive on his own and depends highly on his mum/parents to sort things out for him. He loves his mum genuinely though, we can’t argue about that.
10. The gentleman: He may be similar to the shy guy but not necessarily. He is charming, a man of his words and most of all, humble and gentle to the people around him. He is a principled man and knows how to deal with people. Husband material? Most often than not.
11. The man of four wives: He will say he has a big heart which is spacious enough to accommodate four ladies 😀 Cliche much 😀 Never debate polygamy with him because you’ll fail miserably. He finds solace in his women and is proud of himself. Wonder all you want, he still made it through with his wives 😀 or maybe he didn’t but he still doesn’t regret his ‘venture’ into polygamy.
12. The pious one: Born in a family with good morals, raised well enough, ventured into religious education and has succeeded in being a scholar. In other scenarios, he pushed himself single-handedly into piety-hood. May be young but holds an ocean of knowledge in him. May be a hafidh too (memorizer of the qur’an) and people around him value his wisdom. He may or may not be a preacher but his opinions are still highly respected due to his level of piety.
13. The drug-addict: The most unfortunate scenarios of them all. He probably started early with small stuff like sheesha and miraa before graduating to marijuana and the likes. He may be from a broken family or is a neglected kid and sometimes, he is just a spoilt brat. He met other birds with the same colours and now they flock together terrorizing the community around them. This kind of story most often than not ends miserably or terribly except if he is lucky enough and got a hand to pull him out and into rehabilitation. May God protect us from such scenarios.
Oh well, we still love the Coast don’t we? With everything in it and every kind of personality we still love it here more because no place will ever feel like home more. Hey Coastal men, found yourself up there? 😀