Ngeli ya u-wii: re-reading an insha I wrote in school

Today I have come to embarazz myself on the internet.

I had planned on putting up a different blog post today, until I came across a pile of some of my old school-books. I decided then and there that the other post can wait. Among the books in this treasure trove, was a Kiswahili exercise book from primary! I’m not a hoarder, I just don’t let go of possessions easily. I have this fear that I might get rid of something, and then I might end up needing it in the future. Okay, so maybe I’m a hoarder in denial.

I was gobsmacked upon my discovery that this book had stayed with me, and in such viable and pristine condition, all these years. Save for the fact that it has that old, musty, damp smell that books acquire after having been abandoned in a store for years. Btw, there’s a scientific reason why some people like the smell of old books, according to this Business Insider article.

On perusing this book, in the midst of innumerable marudios, I found a few assignments that had required me to write inshas. Some of them were decent, and some were outright laughably preposterous. So, as one does, I said to myself, ‘self, let’s post one of these inshas on the blog’.

Question, why was it that the main female character in all our inshas was named Maria? And were we all obsessed with giving the supporting characters names like Chausiku, and Bwana Tumbokarai?

There’s a lot of news and content in the world that can put us in a depressive state on a daily basis, and so I hope that this blog post will help brighten your day, and will at least serve as comic relief.

I am dedicating this blog post to the fond memory of Prof. Ken Walibora, a celebrated prolific author, whose literary works played an integral role in shaping our attitudes towards Kiswahili.

Siku ambayo sitasahau

At some point, we all wrote an insha or ten, about siku sitawahi sahau, and we made up some pretty incredible stories! If you’re a Kiswahili teacher reading this, please feel free to reach me and tell me about your experiences marking inshas, I would really like to know.
This insha was a piece of creative writing (I really took creative writing very seriously back in my day).
I’m going to type it out as it appears in my book, and I’ll insert my commentary as I go.

Niliamka asubuhi na mapema. Nilijawa na furaha tele kwani ilikuwa siku yangu ya kuzaliwa. Nilikuwa ninapelekwa kusherehekea kwenye mkahawa unaopendwa jijini wa bei ghali. Kila mtu ambaye huenda mkahawani humo ni tajiri.
I’m saving my laughter for the end, but what an introduction.Tell me more, sis.

Nilielekea sebuleni kula kiamshakinywa. Nilijua kwamba leo ningetayarishiwa mlo inayofaa malkia. Lakini lo! punde tu nilipoingia sebuleni, niliona familia yangu walikuwa wamefungwa kwa kamba na kulikuwa na wanume wawili ambao walikuwa wamevaa mavazi nyeupe pepepe. Moyo wangu ulidunda dududu. Sikujua cha kufanya wala cha kusema. Mwanamume mwingine alinishika mkononi na kuniangusha sakafuni pu! Nilijua ilikuwa siku yangu ya kuona cha mtema kuni. Chambilecho wahenga, leo ni leo, msema kesho ni mwongo.
Honestly? I’m not mad at this insha so far. The plot, the tension, the suspense, the stylistic devices, I stan.

Macho ya wanaume hao yalikuwa nyeusi mithili ya damu. Nilijaribu kupiga nduru, ili kuwaarisha jirani kwamba kulikuwa na kisa kinachotokea kwetu, lakini hakuna sauti iliyotoka. Wajambazi hao walianza kuchukua vitu kama runinga na simu na wakazipeleka nje. Ombi langu la pekee lilikuwa hata kama watuibie wasituumize. Niliwaza na kuwazua jinsi tungeweza watoroka, lakini jambo hilo lilikuwa kama kitendawili lililotegwa na mababu zetu, na hakuna aliyewahi kulitatua. Punde si punde, mmoja wa hao majambazi alifuta kisu!
Someone get Netflix on the phone, I think I just did something. The plot thickens.

Wakati huu wote tulikuwa tumekaa kiungwana bila kufikiria kwamba jambo kama hili lingewahi tufanyikia. Machozi yalianza kutiririka usoni mwangu nilipofikiria kuhusu familia yangu na jinsi niliwapenda kwa moyo wa dhati. Baada ya muda wa koo kumeza punje, nilishtuka nilipotazama jambazi mwingine mmoja akiingia kama amebeba sanduku. Sikujua kitakachofuata.
Baada ya muda wa what kumeza what?I shouldn’t have started reading these inshas, because now I’m actually going to be using these misemos in real life.

Nilishangaa kwa nini familia yangu hawakushtuka kama mimi. Punde tu, wote wakaanza kucheka kwakwakwa! Sikuelewa kwa nini walikuwa wanacheka hadi wilisema wote “umenaswa!”. Nilikumbuka kwamba ilikuwa siku yangu ya kuzaliwa na walikuwa wananicheza! Sanduku ambacho jambazi alikuwa amebeba ilikuwa na keki!
I think I can start to laugh now. It’s the plot twist for me.

Nilianza kucheka pia! Jambazi hao walikuwa watu walioitwa kujifanya kuwa jambazi. Singeamini! Nilijua kwamba sherehe ya leo ya siku yangu ya kuzaliwa ingekuwa ya kukata na shoka! Bado nilitumai kwamba ningepelekwa mkahawani kwani nilikuwa nilishajitayarisha!
It’s the exclamation marks for me. They really tie in with the vibe.

Conclusion

There was no grade on this one, but personally, I’d give this a solid 32/40. Some grammar could have been better, but I think this was an encouraging effort.

Now that I read these inshas, I cringe when I remember that at the time, I really thought my writing was the crème de la crème. Hindsight is 20/20!

What would you have graded this insha? Be kind. Also, do you have any of your old Kiswahili books? I’d love to know what other people’s inshas looked like, just so that I know I’m not alone.

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Wanna reach me?

Email me at machariamumbi1@gmail.com
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Twitter: @mumbipoetry
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Published by mumbimacharia

Performing spoken word poet, writer, event curator, East African.

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