Years ago a child was born in the hilly fertile slopes of Mt. Kenya.
His parents named him Dickson Kabugu Mutegi.
I called him dad.
He must have been diligent from his early days since, I believe, some traits are innate and cannot be learnt on the job. He was studious in school and responsible at home – as was clearly evidenced in his later years.
Back in Chuka, he herded my granny’s goats and cattle as was the duty of all the young lads. Kicking away at stones on his path, cracking jokes with his “crew” while keeping one eye fixed on the grazing beasts must have been the perfect routine for him.
(My mom once owned a single goat, tugging on its rope, milking it and feeding it wasn’t a stroll in the park for the modernized chaps we felt we were. I would have suffered a slow death had the animal dared give birth! I made sure it was not “chotwad” by roaming males because its pregnancy would be my end).
But the Lord above had special plans for this particular young man.
Fate too was in a good mood as his older sister, on realizing that their parents couldn’t afford to spend too much on fees, let her schooling chance go to her sibling.
Talk about self sacrifice.
Probably buoyed by the need to qualify his sister’s sacrifice, he did pretty well in school – studying with the likes of Justice Muga Apondi and Dr John Khaminwa.
Ikuu Boys High, Alliance High and lastly University of Nairobi were the institutions that ‘sharpened’ him.
He studied Law.
He went on to become a respected lawyer (at home we jokingly compare him to Danny Crane of that time) as his brilliance saw him ascend ranks in the so called “corridors of justice”.
He was promoted to a Senior Resident Magistrate in the Nyeri Law courts after serving under the likes of Justice Ang’awa (believe me, you don’t want her for a neighbour) and with Judges Hatari Waweru and Samuel Mukunya.
I still remember running around the offices at the courts – occasionally pausing my play to pity the handcuffed and heavily-guarded suspects arriving for trial. To me, the maze of offices at the courts was just another playground which was to be properly utilized.
He was a wonderful father, a man full of love for family, friends and strangers too. While travelling upcountry, we had an extra vehicle tag along packed with food to be distributed randomly to villagers who had grown to recognize the blue Peugeot that every once in a while left the comfort of the city roads, to tackle the earth roads in Kirege and Iramba villages.
A man of the people perhaps?
He would cook for his wife on random occasions with Labour Day being the only appointed “Dad’s kitchen” day. However, most of the cooking happened outdoors with goat meat grilling over an open fire.
Friday’s was boys night out as me and my bro @kirigalll spent them at the golf club watching him swat away his snooker opponents and win several prizes. The “that’s my old man look” becoming somewhat permanent.
I don’t remember what the girls of the house used to get. I lived for Fridays.
Though gifted with love and the ability to show it, dad was never one to shy away from disciplining an errant child. My bullying ways that saw the house help wash me for longer years than my dad had directed were brought to a spanking stop.
The one incident that makes mom brighten up is when he stood up for her at the all-male golf clubs back in the day. Hanging out in the golf course bars was a no-no for the ladies until my dad told the men off that he had come to enjoy himself and his wife was a big part of that. The status quo was rattled.
I also once missed out on a 1 week trip to the Maasai Mara for throwing a plateful of githeri to the floor. The house help snitched out again – I had lost my rule over her.
Home was one busy place.
Too many animals met their death at his hands – to our enjoyment.
Dad, you left behind a great family with an awesome lady at the helm. Mom is one of a kind and yes, she still looks 16.
Grace Kaari is now Mrs Gitau. Faith and I managed impressive grades at campus. Paul (@Kirigalll) too is fine; he took your name to some madmen site called Twitter.
He has since cleared campus and starts his first big job next week.
James (@wa_mutegi) too is waiting to join campus after scoring an A-. another lawyer in the making like his elder bro I reckon.
Its 18 years since you left you and thought the pain wanes with time, memories and ‘I wish’ do not.
Though we don’t question God’s actions, we are allowed an occasional we wish you were here to see how grown up we have all become.
Your beard genes haunt me on a weekly basis while the other boys walk around sporting 3 hairs in the name of a goatee. The family parrot – Faith – can charm herself out of a terrorist hijacking.
The Nairobi courts were closed on his burial day as the men of the corridors of power were shifted to his rural home.
A befitting tribute to a man destined to be great, if he had not achieved it already!