The dead ... the graves ... the slopes!
By Valentine Marc Nkwame
Well! Have you ever heard of this one? A not so old, yet still very funny Joke. Or is it?
....When his beloved wife suddenly passed away, the grief-stricken husband, sent a painter to the ladyís grave with the instructions to inscribe the words: "LORD SHE IS THINE." on her graveís tombstone.
However, the painter was so much in hurry, such that in his haste, he forgot the letter "E" from the word, "Thine."
When the man later visited his wifeís grave, he realized to his dismay, that the tombstone inscriptions read: "LORD SHE IS THIN."
Angrily, he went back home and summoned the painter. "You Silly Creature!" He retorted. "You left out the "E!" So and add it NOW!"
When the husband went to check his wifeís grave, the following day, the tombstone inscriptions had already been changed to read: "EE- LORD, SHE IS THIN!"
... Mm! This joke could have been set anywhere on this earth, except maybe in Kilimanjaro region, because there, the joke wouldnít even had a chance to get to its punch line.
Now, this is because of some rather queer breeds of robbers, who of late, have been reported to terrorize the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, stealing ... Eh ... Tombstones.
This was divulged to me by some local old guys in the area, when I visited the slopes last week .... Of course they told me this as they sipped a brew called "Mbeke!"
I was rather taken aback. You see, in Arusha, robbers simply crash down the house doors with some six tonne rocks, called Fatuma.
Once inside, the robbers start to "Baghdad" the man of the house, then they also "Darfur" his wife and daughters before taking off with the Television, a video player and if they can spare more time, the Stereo.
But on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, the situation is quite different. Robbers there donít carry heavy Fatuma rocks, neither do they "Baghdad" nor "Darfur" people, but rather invade graveyards and stealing from them, tombstones and crufixes. God knows where these items are being taken to .... Okay, the old men told me, but you donít want to get scared. Do you?
Anyway, people who steal crucifixes from the graveyards, in the slopes of Kilimanjaro, are also being amply catered for. The area keep getting new graves almost on daily basis. This is because most people who die in either Arusha, Dar es Salaam, or as far as London, will usually be taken back to be buried on the slopes .... For some reasons.
"People here leave their homeland for the big cities and only come back in December for Christmas or when they are dead!" Explained a rather aged guy as he snuffed something called "Tumbaku" which is how they pronounce, "Tobacco" in the slopes.
The Tumbaku, that the guys were sniffing, was a the fine powder, obtained from grinded, dry tobacco leaves. You put it in the nose and the world is yours.
After a few snuffs the old fellows went on to express their ultimate fear, that these people could be dying from the so called, "Modern disease."
" ... Because those who come to die here, would usually look rather thin. Why, even the coffins of the dead ones keep getting lighter and lighter .." He maintained.
I shrugged, thinking to myself that, a few more sips of Mbeke, then it is actually their heads that will soon be getting lighter and lighter.
The ultimate cure for this condition, is a large bowl dose of something being known there as "Subu!" The slopesí gramatic version of "Soup."
Mbeke, meanwhile had already taken its toll on the guys. In fact, one of the old fellows had even started to complain that the world seemed to be going round and round .... Which is quite true. According to Geography, the world does go round and round.
And so do local speculations, especially those being spread around after a personís death. Do these sound familiar?
"... She is dead? Of course it should be expected. I knew her boyfriend. He died recently. He was very thin and quite sick ...!"
"... His wife was unfaithful, she used to move around with so and so. I know this is true because my brother was a friend, of the friend, of the uncle, of his wifeís neighbour!"
Then follows these gossips, after the person has been buried and the neighbour are returning from the cemetery;
" ....Boy, his coffin was so light, the guy must have weighed only one kilogram and a half. could have been even less!"
In case the deceased happened to be a female, then probably the rumours will be taking us back to the opening joke;
" .... EE LORD, SHE WAS THIN ...!"