Salim Onyango

At that time at-least everybody had already reported to school. Confused elements they’d call us,it was true. Our parents had just dumped us somewhere in Nyakach, the sun burning hard over our heads and terrestrial radiations also heating the new toughees everyone was wearing. I even wondered why my social studies teacher forgot to tell us that there was a small desert in Kisumu. The first few days were unbearable. Especially for me,my first time in a boarding school. Behold it’s not my day today.

This guy came in late,maybe two weeks after. Maybe his parents were still hunting for opportunities to have him do his secondary education in Maseno School or St Marys Yala and on realizing time was running out,they settled for the readily available Thurdibuoro! He was unique,first because he came in after almost everyone. Second he was the tallest in class at that time,before Peter AKA nyakoko came in. Third,he had the words “I am from Ahero” boldly written on his forehead,even though he would later fool all of us on that!

It was time to meet the class teacher. A strict,bold no nonsense four eyed woman. She introduced herself and wanted us to do the same. For what would be my last time, I was seated at the front,right next to the door. So the introduction begun with me… blablabla, we told her who we were and what we wanted to be. It went on and on until it came to the main man. He was obviously seated at the back.

“Tall one at the back,what’s your name?”

Silence had just taken over the space that was filled with small small murmurings. Everyone was keen to know this guy’s name. All eyes were on him. We waited for his name like the second coming of the Messiah. 

“Naitwa Salim Onyango,nataka niwe mwanahabari”

OMG,He’s from the coast. At least he managed to fool all of us for the better part of the first term with his fake swahili accent not knowing he was born in Awendo and bred in Ahero. The nerve this guy had. He pretended to be a muslim because of the name Salim. Later we would realize how christian he was and that his mother was the Mother’s Union Representative for the Anglican Church in Nyando District.

I didn’t know we would be friends,tight ones to be precise. He spoke out and everyone knew he was around. Ring leader in any crime he was involved in. The only man I know who has the best chest thumping skills! One time told us his brother drives a range rover and there’s nothing we can do about it,surely?

This guy was known by everyone in school. The problem is he was never involved in any extracurricular activities,things that made people famous. He only got to board the school bus on closing days, something he would always pay for and would be dropped at Ahero junction . His first major outing came three years later when he forced his way into being a scout,hihi and later a drama club member in form four.

Every good friend of Salim was involved in something and were out of either representing the school or enjoying themselves. The guy was always left behind. His head bent towards his books,another thing he struggled with. The thing is he never realized this thing affected him psychologically. When people would come back he would take his time and wait by the door and look for anyone who went out and came back clean. If you didn’t get a chance to play he would throw in a sarcastic laugh,clap his hands and pounce on your neck with well arranged words that were able to lower the self esteem of Orie Rongo Manduli and Msupa S combined!

“Sa ulienda funky na hujacheza,si unge baki tu tu ng’ang’ane kuinua mean ya class juu”


“Hee…ulidhani hautarudi? Grade yako ya chem bado ni ile ile tu”

Imagine you are tired and you walk in to that type of reception! Sometimes you wish you would have rubbed your shirt on the dust just to make it appear like you played and convince Salim not to pick it up with you.

This guy was a wordsmith,then Lebron James of talking shit. Never backed down from an argument or a verbal fight. 

A couple of years later we are still friends,been to a funeral together,random meets before I left Kisumu and even introduced him to my sister as one brother I never had. So a few weeks ago he finally got to visit the coast. I thought it best to honor him and remained him he once was able to fool us that he came from the south side,today I give him a pass to do the fake swahili accent. Makes me proud that he is in the path of following his mwanahabari dreams.

Salim finaly at the coast
Salim at Namchumbi

What made me and Salim tight was his brother’s story. A successful man. Never gotten the chance to meet him though. He became my source of inspiration reading his articles when he worked for the Nairobian. Salim would smuggle tons of the Nairobi newspaper to school and strictly instruct I read Kenneth Kwama’s column. Though he talked more about cars and tech stories from around the world,I believe this was where it all started for me.

To my friend Salim,sorry I have exposed who you used to be. Thats who I am, I tell stories about people. I have started a PEOPLE category on my blog and who’s best to start with if not you wuod mwalimu?


12 thoughts on “Salim

  1. I like how words are articulated systematically, leading to a real visual picture. To be honest, this is art, REAL ART. And the world will align its resources and attention to share a piece of your work 🏅


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