Having guests in Kenya is throwing a feast.
If someone drops by to say hello, then you share what you have but if the visit was announced in advance, then it is a state function.
Growing up, my Mom, entertained guests and they came in three groups: widows group, estate fellowship and just guests. Now when it came to preparation and ensuring the best service was delivered they ranked as follows:
- Widows group
- Estate fellowship
- Other guests.
This order changed only when one person was scheduled to visit and mom would prepare the best tilapia fish stew using milk. This person was: The Reverend/Canon of our Church.
We lived for these days to end because we would prepare the food, arrange the dishes, serve the guests and then do the worst of tasks by doing dishes. I am not a fan of doing the dishes especially Mom’s imported dinnerware dipped in a basin of soapy water with the tendency to slip through my dainty fingers like a fish out of water.
Back then, the preparation would start at 7am. We would wake up and clean the house, dust our rooms and we could only use the toilet before the guests arrived. Mom did not want anyone going for a long call only to stink up the house while guests were around, so we snacked and used the toilet before the guests started arriving. It was courtesy to mom, but torture to us. The other room that was out of bounds for us was the sitting room. I used to clean this room because Mom said it was the first place that any visitor saw before they saw the whole house. I dusted and mopped and ensured all the seats were ready with matching crotchet vitambaas- I don’t know how to say that in English. They were white. No one was allowed to enter this room, not even to watch an episode of our favorite program like Escava Esaura (please tell me that’s how you spell it) or Sinbad! KBC had repeats of Sinbad on Sunday afternoons and any adventure in the high seas was welcome, but mom stood her ground. She only looked at us and that was enough to know we’d suffer a quick painful death by even touching the doorknob.
But if there was one thing I learned was that it is good to entertain guests. Mom would always say that you treat people like the royalty they are when they take time to come and visit, especially when they arrive safe and wish you well. It was through these guests that I discovered my love for cooking and loathe for dish-washing. Everyone had their specialty: my cousins Jackie and Leah could make a mean beef stew each taking turns to check in of the progress of their delicacy. I could make some amazing rice and fry just about anything, including paw paw (ask my sister, Chez, she was always the first to taste any new invention and suffer in silence, like the time I roasted green peas).
We were an army of ants every time we had guests and we would go to bed like logs. I just visited a friend this morning, they are having guests from home- her aunts and uncles and she told me, “we will have a few snacks and some tea at four as we wait for supper.” I was working my way to the perfect tantrum but she smiled and said, “it’s no big deal, they are sleeping only for one night, so why bother?”
Why bother? Chica allow me to introduce you to my Mother…