31 Oct

Dear Doris,

I had praised you yesterday!

I went to Barding Secondary School. I am certain you are wondering where this school is (that is if you are new here). Well, Barding (pronounced BaRRding) is in the soul of Siaya District. About 10 kilometres off the main road. That might be a SLIGHT exaggeration but it sure felt like 10 kilometres!

If you are at the soul of a rural setting, there are a few things that are just impossible to get. One of those things is electricity! Another one is yelo yelo women, but that will not be our focus today! It would take several hundred electric poles to take electricity to these places, so the villagers who can afford it get generators and solar panels, some get pressure lamps, the rest just go accapella*, when darkness sets in, it’s a wrap!

©Barding Lamp Lighters of 2003!

© Barding Lamp Lighters of 2003!

You have probably deduced that we did not have electricity in Barding! We used pressure lamps! We had prefects called ‘lamp lighters’ in every class. These niggas were gods! They ate before everyone else and didn’t carry seats to church every Sunday morning (Form 1s & 2s had to carry seats from school to church every Sunday morning. The church was a stone’s throw short of a kilometre) A lamp lighter made sure his class was lit every dawn and night preps. He was familiar with all the pressure lamps in the school and had to be quick in choosing the best lamp for his class. A lazy one always got a dim beat up lamp and everyone would end up falling asleep, because no one could study in that light!

BUT this story is not about electricity! It is about clean water! We did not have enough of this as well! With only one borehole to serve a population of 500, it was near impossible to get clean water. NEAR F*CKIN IMPOSSIBLE! People fought at the borehole. People made friends at the borehole (it is easier to fight for water when you are two guys). Some people made money at the borehole (I paid people to fight for my water. You would get a cup of water for 5 bob or 10 bob). My nails are not built for fighting at the borehole!

To make life easier, students would wake up at wicked hours of the night to get water from the borehole when the rest of the village was asleep. 3am… 2am! If you were lucky, you would get  20 litres of water (in a jerry can) or a basin full of water! Whatever you collected was extremely valuable (liquid gold) and I will explain why in a bit!

This is a map showing  Barding and its environs. See how far we had to go to take a bath? Click on this picture to see how far the main road was from the school. (It is the dirt road up till Karemo Stage)

This is a map showing Barding and its environs. See how far we had to go to take a bath?
Click on this picture to see how far the main road was from the school. (It is the dirt road up till Karemo Stage)

98% of the school could not wake up in the dead of the night to get water. So, to bath, they (we), had to RUN for 5 kilometres to an abandoned gold mine (which was used by every living organism in that village. Bathing in the same water catchment as a shitting cow was extremely normal) that had collected water over the years. AND I AM NOT EVEN LYING! We had to RUN because we had like 45 minutes to go to this gold mine, bath and make it back to school before 6pm (if you were late you would be locked out of the school until after dinner)! So we had to RUN to the gold mine… bath… then RUN back! You would sometimes get to school filthier than you left! The gold mine was called Ongoro* by the way! So you see why people woke up at 3am to get water?


The famous abandoned gold mine! ‘Ongoro’ – See students all over the place!

People who were able to get water in the night had to keep it safe. DO YOU KNOW HOW IMPOSSIBLE IT IS TO KEEP A BASIN OF CLEAN WATER SAFE FROM 500 PEOPLE WHO DO NOT HAVE IT BUT REALLY WANT IT?!

The best people could do was keep this basin of water under their beds and keep checking on it every once in a while. It was stolen 3 out of 5 times. Another way to secure your water was to store it in a jerrycan under your bed then lock the handle of the jerrycan to the mesh under your bed. This ensured no one would tilt the jerrycan and pour the water out. But a thirsty man is a very dangerous man. You would get people who would undo your bed to pour the water out!

The 3rd way to secure your water (which didn’t secure it at all by the way) was to piss in it! It did not safeguard your water at all, but it consoled your heart that whoever stole your water showered in your piss! (Prefects had a room where they locked their water)

I want to concentrate on the above paragraph. Let me explain to you how I found out that people pissed in their water.

Very many times, when we didn’t have drinking water, one would just run into the dorms and check under the beds for a basin of clean water and like a cow, drink from it. You had to be quick and we almost never used hands. Wet hands is just undeniable evidence! WHERE WOULD ONE GET WET HANDS FROM? IN A PLACE WITH NO WATER!?

I know you must be wondering whether this same basin we were drinking water from is the same one we used for bathing and washing our underwear and school uniform … Yes it was! Yes it was! I am living proof that dirty underwear-soaked soapy water can’t kill you! Do not try it though, you will die!

Where was I?

Yeah, so there is this one time I sneaked into the dorm at class time to look for drinking water. It was completely illegal to be in the dorms at class time, so I was sure I was the only one there. I got an orange basin with the cleanest… purest water from under a bed that was next to mine! The water either belonged to Rodgers or the form one who slept on the top bank of his bed! I looked around to see if anyone was watching then when the coast was clear (see what I did there? Coast? Water? Aghh forget it) I pulled the basin of liquid gold from under the bed. It was as clear as Evian mineral water from the French Alps!

There was a strange smell that came from it but the water was too clear for the smell to be anything serious!

I went down on that water and in sure, confident gulps… Drunk away! And drunk… And drunk… Stolen water is so sweeehhhhhhhhh!

I had not noticed that Rodgers was asleep on the top bank. He had stuck his head out to look at me! I only saw him when I let out that ‘AHHHH’ you let out after a nice cold drink of water. I almost pissed in my pants! I was flabbergasted! Hehehe! I just wanted to use flabbergasted! I was shocked, not because the nigga had been there all that time, but because he was not doing anything about the situation! I was supposed to be dead! A normal ‘Ja Bare’ would have killed me for messing with his water!

Even stranger, he pulled back his head and said, “Kunywa tu. Sina noma. Ungeuliza lakini.” This was very weird…. Stolen water might be sweet… Lakini with permission, IT IS SOOOO MUCH SWEETEERRRR! And like that, I went down again and drunk some more! And some more… Then let out a sanguine burp!

It is only with the second, ‘AHHHH’ that he informed me, “Baithewei* nilinyora kwa hio woiyes*. Ni miujiza haujanotice!” (By the way, I pissed in that water. It is a miracle you haven’t noticed) It was at that specific moment that I tasted the salt! It was so obvious that I could not understand how I would have missed it! Then the smell… The thing, UNDOUBTABLY, had piss.

I had no clue how to react. It is not like someone tells you that you have drunk their piss everyday! So I just stayed there. On my knees. Facing the water. I didn’t move a muscle.

I was rooted on that spot trying to figure out wether to vomit and face dehydration or put my chin up and walk away with a quenched thirst! I could feel the vomit build up from deep within my insides! If I did vomit, it would have been like taking diamond back to the belly of the earth! So I got up on my feet, said thank you, then walked out of the dorm fighting the urge to vomit what had built up to the extent that I had to persuade ‘it’ to stay inside!

As this was going on, the thought of drinking another man’s urine crossed my mind and I swear to whomever you swear to that I have NEVEEEER vomited as hard as I did! Vomiting out water is not a walk in the park! I almost vomited my rectum out!

You would expect me never to drink water from a basin again, right? Well, from then on, I smelt the water first before I drank it!

New words:

Ja Bare – noun Pronounced ‘ja Barre’, is what we called each other in Barding.

Swwwweeeeehhh – adjective Modern lingo. Means sweet. (In a sentence: Acapella is so sweeeeeehhhhhh)

Accapella – adjective Sex without a condom. (In a sentence: Acapella is so sweeeeeehhhhhh)

Ongoro – noun An abandoned gold mine in the heart of Alego that has since collected water to form a large pond like feature. (In a sentence: Swimming in Ongoro is so sweeeehhhhhh)

Nyora – verb To excrete urine. (in a sentence: Maze joh najiskia kunyora design ingine noma!)

Baithewei – idiom (see also: by the way) incidentally (used to introduce a minor topic not connected with what was being spoken about previously). (In a sentence: Baithewei napenda chapo sana)

Woiyes – noun Water (In a sentence: Boss si unisave wiyes, nadedi thirst!)


Posted by on October 31, 2014 in barding tales, comedy, near death


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Cynthia Wairimu

    November 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    this stpry has made my day!!!

  2. Cynthia Wairimu

    November 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    meant story

  3. Lydiah

    November 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Hahahaha, this had me coughing ( trying to hold the laughter in while it comes out in short abrupt bursts that shock the lights off your neighbor) in the office soo hard, my manger actually brought me a glass of water and asked if am okay. Good times. This has been missed.

  4. gichanacrispin

    November 13, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    My friend, you are a good writer, support me please by visiting


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