A common response whenever I mention I partly grew up in Turkana is that of subtle pity and concern, how did you survive that life?
Having fun with nothing, the story of a struggling boy who goes without breakfast
We all have our ways of having fun
It’s a fair question because the Turkana of the 1990s was known for many negative things – the hunger, tribal clashes and low literacy levels.
But does that mean we had a poor life? Absolutely not. Boys will always be boys and so me made do with what we had.
We played cha baba na mama in the government quarters, we went grazing with the herders, and on a good weekend, we would visit the virgin beaches of Lake Turkana.
There was no breakfast but when the season was great, brunch would be aplenty with lots of nyama choma that would be served at around noon.
It was a fun-filled life until a rogue bullet grazed my thigh and I had to say my goodbyes to the Turkana boys club.
From Turkana, we headed to the sloes of the Aberdare Forest, making an extreme weather and lifestyle change- but the fun was a constant.
We swam in the cold rivers, went hunting for wild hares, and played hide and seek in the massive tea bushes.
One day, while swimming at Gura River, we came out of the river to find our clothes missing. It was a long walk of shame as about ten of us, all boys, walked in the tea bushes to one of our friend’s houses where we got offered shorts to head to our respective homes.
Suffice to say, my parents were not amused and opted to take me to boarding and for a moment, I was sure the fun had stopped.
The food serving was meagre at a time when I was entering into adolescence, not to mention that it was mostly boiled – taking away a significant part of the tastiness.
Then I discovered blue band and the fun was back, the dry loaf of bread made tastier with a spread of blue band.
The lunch time githeri was not spared of the yellow margarine – and neither was the cabbage we had for supper.
Sharing blue band became the ultimate show of friendship and comradeship. It was even a sign of romance as we sought to impress the girls with our creative food splicing techniques.
I was later to discover that the blue band spread was not only a sweet addition, but also a healthy add ons; including Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin E and Vitamin B6.
Vitamin A made our bones stronger and enhanced our ability to play physically engaging games such as football and rugby.
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Vitamin B1 helped break down the ugali (carbohydrates) we ate into sugars and saved us from diseases such as beriberi. Vitamin B2 boosted our immunity while Vitamin B6 enhanced our body’s production of red blood cells.
I am sure my story is not unique in the Kenyan experience. Whether rich or poor, educated or not educated, blue band is a permanent fixture in our lives.
Blue band is now giving back to the society with an initiative where they have introduced a limited edition of a 500 grams pack of Blue Band. For every purchase of this limited pack, Blue Band will donate a good breakfast to poor children spread across the country.
Support this initiative by purchasing the limited Blue Band package and help spread the fun to those who are less fortunate.
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