In this hilarious TBT memo, Robert Maina, a Kenyan university student, narrates how an attempt to hook his motorbike taxi (boda boda) operator with a campus girl turned awry.
I hadn’t been able to pay Mangale the KSh 2,000 I owed him. The debt was an accumulation of small loans I had borrowed to survive on campus.
But even as I wallowed in debt, Mangale, who hitherto had been jobless, landed a job as a motorbike taxi (boda boda) operator.
In short, Mangale started pocketing at least KSh 500 on a daily basis. This new-found warmth of a shilling prompted him to tell me about his desire to win the heart of a campus girl, even if only for a day.
At first I thought he was joking, but his unbending insistence showed he was determined to try the feat, hook or crook. And so, I was left with no option but to help him achieve his goal.
I advised him to borrow a suit (of course, I don’t own one). I also advised him to have at least Ksh 10,000 spare to spend on the girl. As for Carol, the girl Mangale had his eyes trained on, she is what in campus lingo we call a “guzzler,” which means she can wipe out a crate before you can finish saying “beer making process!”
Essentially, the KSh 10,000 was there just in case the party extended beyond the bash that was happening at the upmarket home of one of the students, which was our hunting ground.
Apart from ensuring he had a borrowed suit and a fresh haircut, I spent the better part of the morning of the material day coaching Mangale on how to behave at the party.
I made him understand that while most of the girls tend not to be demanding when relating to their fellow comrades, it is altogether different when they’re approached by outsiders.
Later that evening, I introduced Mangale to the lady comrades. With smiles, firm handshakes, and openly interested glances, I knew Mangale was almost there.
I noticed Carol a few steps from where we were standing and walked up to her to say hi.
It worked like magic. Mangale, whom I had introduced as an engineer friend of mine, played his gentlemanly mien well, and at one point I almost punched the air with joy.
Carol seemed mesmerised by meeting a well-dressed engineer who wasn’t drowning himself in beer, as is the norm.
During the coaching earlier in the day, I had told Mangale to shun beer in favour of a cocktail for the simple reason that cocktails give the impression of a man possessing excellent taste and a rapier intellect.
As the night wore on, it seemed more and more likely that Mangale would not only cancel the KSh 2,000 debt I owed him but perhaps also offer me a handsome tip.
And then something happened
Earlier in the day, I had told Mangale that some comrades are wont to start intellectual debates when they get drunk. But I had also told him that participating in such discussions and making a mark would increase his chances of being noticed.
To sound smart, I gave him a few quotes to memorize. I had also explained plainly that I myself did not quite understand the quotes but was also sure that nobody else did either, should he quote any of them.
I walked up to where they were standing and started a discussion on economics, which I knew Carol liked.
Yours truly: “What do you think of the Kenya Kwanza’s government’s plan to turn the economy around? I don’t think we will see results for at least two years, really.”
Carol: “I don’t think it will take that long. I hope not. President Ruto seems to know his thing, and we’re likely to see results sooner than expected.”
Mangale: “Schopenhauer once said, ‘A man’s delight in looking forward to and hoping for some particular satisfaction is a part of the pleasure flowing out of it, enjoyed in advance. But this is afterward deducted, for the more we look forward to anything, the less we enjoy it when it comes.’ Food for thought.”
Stunned silence from all around us. Mangale was still basking in the moment’s glory when Carol, who was tipsy, went hysterical and literally dragged him to the podium.
Carol, in her loud element, had asked the DJ to stop the music for a minute so she could introduce her new catch, an engineer and a philosopher.
A nervous shriek escaped me as Mangale was handed the microphone to introduce himself; the thought that he would blow the gains achieved so far lingered in my mind.
As he stepped forward to introduce himself as engineer and philosopher Mangale, aka Danny Welbeck, I was almost certain he would negotiate the final hurdle in one piece.
“Don’t hear what she is saying. I have not much stand on the matters of engineer and flowsophy. But it is true, I never danced with education in school…..I have a digirii in Faculty….” Mangale had said with seriousness that belied his hilarious grammatical errors and ignorance, to the sarcastic applause of comrades.
I felt like walking to the podium and snatching the microphone from him. In the ensuing confusion, one comrade stepped forward and said something to the effect that he had seen Mangale in a high-visibility jacket, somewhere, riding a motorcycle to earn a living.
All hell broke loose when Onyi, the fourth-year electrical engineering student, scribbled what I overheard was the simplest sum in engineering math for Mangale to solve. Of course, Mangale could not solve the sum, bringing an abrupt end to his quest for a campus girl.
I was eventually forced to intervene. Yes, Mangale escaped, but minus the KSh 10,000, which of course remained with Onyi and co.
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