Kisauni

Ngala Chome

I must have been nine years old when I first heard my mother scoff with derisive laughter at my inability to speak Kigiriama fluently. Warning me and my brother, she said that a marauding gang of strangers had appeared on the streets of Mombasa, and that it was going around at night carrying pangas and randomly knocking on people’s doors to find out whether they could speak Kigiriama, or one of the other Mijikenda languages. With a grin, she added that the gang would force people to open their doors and greet them in one of the Mijikenda languages. Violence, she emphasized, would instantly be dispensed at those who gave incorrect responses.

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