Wamlambezz? (I hope you’ve answered accordingly!!)Hehe. Mbogi ya kimonyoski, fine yengs anga sijui nini, that’s the latest sheng from the hood my friends, thanks to the likes of kina Kartelo and Ethic. I absolutely love the language and culture up in the hoods. You see, the hood is vibrant, full of ghetto principles, crazily amazing and can be quite scary! Dear people, I come from the hood!
When I say ‘Dandora’ what comes to mind? The dumpsite? Thugs? Crime? Poverty? For me, it’s HOME! Real talk! I have so much affection and attachment to Dandora, simply because I grew up there, and I’ve become an awesome ghetto fabulous girl through and through. The lessons I’ve learned, the things I’ve seen all set me up for this God-forsaken world. Growing up in them rough Dandora streets is the greatest, most exhilarating experience I’ve ever had in my life! Like for real!
It’s a bit hard for some of my friends, especially those I’ve gained in my years as a grown-up, to understand or even believe that I came from the hood. Yeah people, mii nilizaliwa Dandoo! (Read that with some gangster swag) The reason why most of them don’t understand is coz, as they claim; I don’t look or sound the part. So I’m usually left to wonder, is there a definite way people from the hood are supposed to look and sound? Okay, don’t answer coz I might get very opinionated about it and basically, that’s a story for another day.
In my own experience, kule mtaani you either swim or sink. It’s that simple. We didn’t have boats and life-saver jackets to help us cruise this life. You see the way someone teaches you how to swim by throwing you into the pool and you have to either struggle to keep afloat or sink, well that’s the case here. Ki cold turkey my frens. But we always ended up great, coz we now know how to survive in this cold world. Show me a person from the hood that doesn’t have an inkling on ‘How to survive 101’.
Life can be a bit tough growing up in the ghetto but at the same time, tremendously fun and carefree. I remember we used to cheza kalongolongo, ride mufaras, go dufo mpararo, and would experiment with anything and everything just to pass time. I reminisce on the times we used to put my cousin Kesh in a big tire, because she had the tiniest body, and push it down the street for our own amusement. Donno what the essence of that game was though! We would ride ‘bikes for hire’ at 1 or was it 5 bob per round, jump over dirty mitaroz and burst sewage pipes and could even go for days without water in the taps. Great times we had. We were content and made do with what we had without an inch of regret.
I grew up around friends who had questionable characters and unlawful ways. Those who would wake up one day and decide they didn’t wanna go to school anymore coz they had found ‘hustles’ then some months/years later, we are lining up at the mortuary to go bury them. I’ve had friends whom you’d get into trouble when your mum saw you hanging around with them. “Sitaki kukuona na mtoto wa mama nani, ako na tabia mbaya” she would say. But those ‘bad’ friends ended up being my greatest allies. Msijali, ata mimi kuna watu waliambiwa wasionekane na mimi.. hehe. I have seen friends fail, get sick, get shot, become drug addicts and drunkards and even some, die! But I have also seen friends pick themselves up, succeed, achieve their goals and dreams, do great things and become respectable members of society. The ghetto has a funny way of really toughening you up!
For me, the most interesting part about the hood when growing up was the young, raw, intense love. Weee… my friends, that love was the shit back then. You found yourself falling for this tough-looking gangster guy who had scars from his ‘escapades’ and just couldn’t stop fantasizing about him. Then you get into this hot steamy whirlwind of a ‘relationship’ up until he is either shot dead or someone ‘slices’ him from you and you have to start again. (Excuse my dry humor). In the hood, there is no in-between; you are either the good guy or the ‘bad guy’. By bad I mean the thuggish-looking, don’t care fellas who had attitudes of grandeur from here to Timbuktu and always knew how to tune girls and all of them ingiad box. The bad guys always won. I always had a thing for the bad guys, but always ended up with the good guys. I don’t like taking chances and I’m definitely not a risk-taker. Hehe…
Your hood friends love you hard! Well, it’s not like y’all have an option coz ile kalife mlikula, its best to stick together. They show up and show out. Ati sijui you were chokozwad by a kid from the other gerii, they show up ready for a fight! Haiya, and people fought! In the hood, these friends make you feel loved and wanted. You go through this rollercoaster of life with them and at the end of the day, no matter what the circumstances, all you have left is love. I belong to a ‘Jeshi’ who always has my back. This Jeshi is made up of peeps that have totally different personalities, different lifestyles, different life situations, and even different temperaments but the mere fact that we all grew up pale phasy, has us stuck on each other like glue. Shout out to my crew, “Jeshi ya MFEO”. (Siku moja nitawatag hapa muwaone!)
Our parents were the best. They always tried to make ends meet despite the circumstances. They hustled hard and ensured we had the basics. They were tough on us coz they wanted us to make it outta there and ole wako if you were found in the wrong, ile war ulikua unaonwa… Wacha tu! You just prayed that Jesus would come and take you out of your misery. My dad was the shit back then! Still is to date! They called him terror and my sisters and I were ‘watoto wa geti kali’ coz mzae was not about that life! Look our way, you die!… Hehe, Fun times!
The beauty of the hood is the love you get, the experiences you acquire, the lessons you learn and the path of life it shapes for you. In Dandora, we bump our heads to hip hop music and adopt the hip hop culture (though I donno at what point I become a rock-head). Ama you become a mras, and go the reggae way. Or do a magical fusion of both. We embrace the art that comes from living around a dumpsite, we hold our heads up high despite the circumstances and WE WILL fuck you up when you come at us wrong coz that’s just the way we are programmed.
All in all, since I know I can write forever about the hood, Dandora made me have values and molded me to become the woman that I am today. I can survive, I can fend, and I can be the best I wanna be and I can most definitely hold my own during a fight, I think!!
Kuleni uzito! (that’s a fist bump for my boujie friends!)
P.s If your head doesn’t automatically bump to this song, we can no longer be friends!