SOMETHING OF MAU MAU
random trip report
A True Story by David Anderson
(written in 1972, when I was 17)
'Oh yes', said his father, Leonard Kensing. 'They disemboweled your little nephew, drew and quartered your brother-in-law, Jeb, and let me see... what else... '.
'Land sakes, father', said Parker's sister, Eliza, laughing, and shaking him good-naturedly, 'can't you ever get it right? It was Jeb who was disemboweled and the boy who was drawn and quartered!'
'If I live to be a hundred', said Leonard Kensing, shaking his head and smiling, 'I'll never get that straight. Jeb - disembowled. Boy - drawn and quartered. Jeb - disembowled. Boy ...'
Parker sat down in a chair. 'Eliza, where is my favorite Siamese cat, Marvin?', he asked. 'I would like to to impale him on my panga'.
His sister went inside and brought out the animal. Parker stabbed him, lifted him into the air, and sliced him from chin to spleen; then, as he wiped his blade clean, he saw in a corner of the porch a young girl he hadn't noticed before. His thoughts suddenly rushed back 11 years, when he and his servant Kimono (now his most bitter enemy, and leader of the Mau Mau) played with a short girl, with red hair, freckles, and braces on her crooked teeth. This girl on the porch somehow reminded him of that girl. But time had done something to her. Now she was a tall girl with red hair, freckles, and braces on her crooked teeth. 'I say', said Parker, 'you bloody well remind me of Hilly Kief, a girl I once knew 11 years ago. Let's get married.'
'You've been working too hard hunting Mau Mau, Parker', she said. 'We ARE married'.
He shrugged his shoulders. Suddenly he flailed at the air. 'Bloody fly', he growled, lashing all about him. The insect alighted on the railing, and Parker caught it with a panther-like swipe.
'Tell me, sir', he said to his father, removing the fly's head and carefully cutting it into three parts, 'did my old friend, Kimono, have anything to do with this raid?'
'I don't know, son', said Leonard Kensing, reaching over to pluck out the fly's wings.
'Couldn't you see?' asked Parker, snapping off the legs and setting fire to the tiny stumps, while the fly still lived.
'No', said Leonard Kensing, reaching for more of Parker's fly, 'it was too dark'.
Parker walloped his father in the teeth with a nut-cracker and quickly kneed him in the groin.
'Find your own damned fly', he said.
Parker went to bed. He must get an early start, hunting Kimono in the morning.
The oath-taking ceremony was about to begin in the glade near the small punk fire. While waiting for the leader to arrive, Kimono paced up and down in front of his squad. 'You call yourself Mau Mau', he said. 'What a laugh! If ever I saw a botched-up job, that Kensing raid was one. You, Ngoi!'
The person addressed looked up fearfully. 'Ngoi, how long have you been disembowling?'
'Two years, mundumugu', was the reply.
'Well, you looked like a rookie yesterday. How many times have I told you - cut up, not down. Cut up, not down. You've had it, Ngoi. I'm sending you down to Nairobi, and I'm bringing up Nanyuko in your place.'
Ngoi shrunk shamefacedly into the shadows.
'And you, Maronja. You gave it a good try, but that bone-crunching was terrible.'
At that moment, Njoga, the leader, pushed his way through the crowd with a white stranger, who reeked of garlic. Kimono sat down as Njoga spoke: 'My friends, as you know, I have been writing oaths for you for some time now. Well, today I have written what I modestly consider to be my best oath yet. But before we begin, the garlic-reeking white stranger would like to speak to you.'
The stranger got up, and in a gutteral, garlicky voice, spoke: 'Friends, I am a wa-Russian. My countrymen have heard of the wonderful work you are doing here, and I have come down to help you. Immediately after I take this oath with you, I will teach you how to be better organized. And then I will no longer be a garlic-reeking stranger, but a garlic-reeking friend.'
The men cheered the wa-Russian, and Njoga signaled for silence. The oath-taking ceremony was about to begin.
Fifty-seven sheep with their wool on inside-out entered from the left. Astride the sheep were pregnant monkeys, in progressive stages of pregnancy, the earliest in front, and so on back. Eighty limping elephants with green paint on their tails entered from the right. On top of each elephant was the middle-born son of the second cousin of a virgin with a deviated septum. Each middle-born son stood with his feet apart, 11 1/2 inches, and deliberately punched himself in the stomach with a jackal's head. Overhead came a flock of vultures, flying single file, with every sixth one flying sideways. In the background a score of drums pounded, while fireworks crackled in the distance. Suddenly, everything stopped. The sheep faced the elephants and the elephants faced the vultures. Each animal spat, each human did a backwards somersault, and then spat 15 times. One hundred goats walked in and were slowly beheaded with dulled letter-openers.
Then Njoga sprang to his feet and passed out Mallomars (a chocolate-covered marshmallow cookie) to each of the Mau Mau. To the wa-Russian he gave chocolate-covered garlic. Then each Mau Mau dipped his Mallomar, and the wa-Russian his garlic, into goat entrails and devoured it, while Njoga had them repeat his very latest oath: 'Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Won't Disembowel Me.'
Meanwhile, a Mau Mau spy came trotting into the camp. Running straight up to Kimono he whispered, 'Kimono, I have heard that Bwana Parker is coming for you. You had better hide.'
Kimono quickly sopped up goat entrails with the remains of his Mallomar, and ran off into the mountains.
For seven days and nights, Parker and his trusty gunbearer, Lotheloth, tracked Kimono.
In spite of their failures, Parker wondered what he would have done without this sinewy, lithe son of Africa.
The country was inbred in Lothloth's soul. He was as much a part of it as the trees and grass, and he constantly amazed Parker with his wisdom of the ways of the wilderness. Lotheloth taught his Bwana invaluable jungle secrets, such as: Where the sun comes up is the East; To start a fire you light a match; Lions bite.
Whenever they were lost on cold nights, Lotheloth, with remarkable animal cunning, would run into a clearing, kneel, put his ear to the ground, smell the grass, chew the bark of a tree, drip sap over his left ear, toss 18 twigs in the air, and then lead Parker off in the direction pointed out by the smallest twig. They'd still be lost, but in this way Lotheloth kept warm.
Their togetherness had a strange, exhilerating effect on Parker. Too long had he considered the children of Afrrica as wild beasts. But his closeness to Lotheloth taught him a lesson in democracy he would never forget. He grew to regard Lotheloth as the faithful hunting dog he never owned.
He taught him to heel, chase sticks, bury bones, and on warm days he let him walk without a leash.
On their eighth day out, Lotheloth got poison ivy, and Parker sent him back home.
On the ninth day, working his way down the side of a hill in the late afternoon, Parker stumbled on a cave, artfully hidden in the brush. From inside came the voices of a man and a crying baby. Peering into the cave, which was lit by a shaft of sunlight that had penetrated the opening, Parker started at the sight of the man who was unmistakeably...
'Kimono!' screamed Parker, leaping at him with his knife bared. Parker landed on top of Kimono and the two of them rolled over and over on the floor of the cave, kicking, biting, punching, gouging, kneeing, stabbing, slapping, mauling, and giving two for flinching.
Finally, with one last effort, Parker clamped his hands around Kimono's throat and squeezed. The Mau Mau's tongue slowly came out between his lips, stopping momentarily at the remaining teeth, and then bursting through. As Parker squeezed harder, the tongue came out farther. Parker stopped and rolled the tongue back into the mouth. He had breaking to do on Kimono's bones, and the sight of the tongue annoyed him.
As Parker was busily crushing leg bones into slivers and grinding slivers into powder, Kimono's tongue came out, and Parker pushed it back in, and it came out. He pushed the tongue in and held Kimono's mouth together, then slowly relaxed his grip. The tongue remained in. He relaxed his grip entirely; the tongue stayed in. Parker smiled and got up to leave; the tongue came out. Parker saw some rope in a corner of the cave. He seized it and wrapped it tightly around the Mau Mau's head and chin and made a knot. The tongue stayed in.
As Parker brushed himself off and started to limp away, he noticed the baby for the first time - undoubtedly Kimono's son. He picked up the crying infant and slowly, painfully made his way out of the cave and down the mountain. The white hunter carrying the African babe in his arms into the sunset.
A half mile back in the cave, Kimono's tongue slowly came out.