Burji Online

By Tego Wolasa

“I first came to Kiamaiko by hitching a ‘direct injection’ lorry chaperoned by Haile Giro.

It was in early 1986, and I neither had information about any relative nor anyone familiar to me in Kiamaiko.

Kiamaiko was then fondly referred to as Kijiji. I think from the word Kijiji Maiko.

It was a blind journey illuminated only by my spirit of adventure.

On arriving in Nairobi, I alighted but did not know where to go next. Lorries then used to make a stop in the Nairobi CBD.

After getting help and guidance from Haile Giro, I managed to get to matatu that eventually brought me to Kijije. The Burji version of Kijiji is derived by changing the last ‘i’ to an ‘e.’

With my dusty bag in hand and nudgy thoughts in head, I started sauntering through the street of Kijije with no particular destination in my head.

To my dismay, the picture of Kijije that I had in my mind was totally different. I expected to see dark bitumen pavement overlooked by immaculate high-rises with huge glass windows and colorful writings on their front face.

My involuntary dawdle was hastily terminated by the issue at hand; I didn’t even know anyone. Where will I even rest my head at night?

I quickly formulated a criterion to help me; I will greet every Burji that comes my way on the street of Kijije. Then keep my bag with the first person who will greet me firmly with both hands.

Keeping a bag with someone translated to seeking temporary accommodation. If your host accepts your bag without making excuses, it means you have a place to sleep.

The first Burji that came my way was the late Oche Hasse. He firmly embraced me and my bag like a true brother.

This is the story of Mzee Bilacha Galawe. One of the key Burji Elders in Kiamaiko and a Director at the Neema slaughterhouse

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