The KENYA NATIONAL ARCHIVES
Do you know how many people meet at the Archives? Do you? Let me just leave it at; the figure will surprise you!
Stands centered, old but domineering right at the heart of town. The Archives has a disturbing yellow outlook like her very fast painter was a kao. It’s rich. It borders Tom Mboya Street to the back and Moi Avenue from the entrance. Key landmarks; Ambassador hotel to the breast. Then Hilton hotel across the road. No its jobless corner first. Then Kencom and finally Hilton. Sounds like we are running away from her.
Back to Archives. Right outside there is some free stone tarmacked space whose initial use was not defined. From thrones of college kids bawling around with millennial swagg to countless tuk_tuk carriers. From some lady talking of “miti ni dawa” to some other accent infested middle aged man spreading the “why Uhuru is going home” gospel. From some teens in funny regalia cracking people ribs to some beaten to pulp ‘kanjo’ vehicle scheming for customers. From Boniface Mwangi displaying his Team Courage photos to Safaricom hosting an open day and all of a sudden some lady erecting podiums for a powerful crusade blind to the possibility that some “couple” had purposed to meet right there. And the worst part as dusk sets in that place mutates into an open air market. One day I stepped on a bunch of tomatoes and the lady hawkers milled around me baying for my wallet.
The name is “The National Archives” but all and sundry know of ‘Archives’ Come to think of it, how many families start at the Archives every year? Yes boys and girls with no plan coming from a financial religion that forbids waiting for their friends in a restaurant all end there. Most probably it’s a date. The boy will arrive earlier all excited from the previous night’s chatting. The girl will take her time because well, there’s make_up for crying out loud. The boy will fake ease and wait. Wait. Wait because that gesture is gentleman enough. He will move up and down around that place to look like they are not idle. He will keep checking on his phone and scribbling stuff. The girl will be on her way coming from some Eastland location. She will say she’s stuck in traffic but promise to be just there soon.
The meeting venue will be the Archives; right towards the entrance. It will be a boy and a girl’s first ever meeting although they will have talked about entirely everything on phone. (read Whatsapp) she will have sent him tones of filtered images selected from the gallery with precision. And our boy will have written back in the best ever handwriting “you look gorgeous” like it’s the best vocabulary of his century. The girl will giggle at her phone’s screen. Excited at either at her boy’s words or handwriting or both. Someone will suggest “can we meet in tao?” Most probably the boy because girls don’t want to appear like they had such thoughts when in real sense they were looking forward to that part. To validate their case, they will sound like it isn’t a plan for them. Then the boy will plead and ask and promise to find his way. Then this meeting date will be set.
The girl will arrive finally. She will not know where exactly at the Archives our boy, sorry his boy now is. The boy will have waited four hours now hopeful but miserable. They will hook up finally in between people. She will apologize for being late. He will say “I understand” They will move towards the Archives fence to clear way. Then hold a chit chat right there facing each other but avoiding eye contact. Not long afterwards, the boy will borrow some lines from Drakes started from the bottom now we are up and go “I like your hair and I want you accompany me to my crib, I show you how I live” Just like that another family will add to statistics.
Sorry, just in case we forget and Gormahia fans throw stones in here, right outside the Archives there is one key landmark; the most important (perhaps that might appease Gormahia fans) That landmark is a carving of Tom Mboya; our Luo son who was fallen in the earlier years of the repressive KANU regime around that spot. I have never understood what it is with Gormahia fans to always mill there every time their team playing in town. Is that place any sacred? Hallo, do we have any Gormahia fan who reads this and can help us fathom? Rather does anyone among you know Jarosouja personally?
Point is however famous The National Archives is, it’s purpose for existence is been shrouded in misery. You and I know The Archives as a meeting point. A landmark of some sought perhaps. Few ever want to go out of the way and stroll in there. I mean inside the Archives and devour our rich Art Culture stored in there despite the fact that the charges are meager two dollars for residents. I’d ever you asked someone, anyone who’s been in town longer than the Jubilee regime “Have you been to the Archives?” They will wear bold faces and tell you “of course yes. Many times” If you probe further and ask “what is inside the Archives?” You will notice their lips sag to wear out the smile, then the short-lived confidence will be no more only a facial of a people who have eaten a humble pie. Then they will mumble “I have never been inside the Archives but I have met lots of people around there” If you are kind enough, you should probe further and ask “did you meet your first girlfriend there?
The National Archives is a collection of Art Gallery. It was fronted by the late Joseph Murumbi; the second vice president of the post colonial Kenya.