It is fascinating that one colour could have two names. Violet as much as I googled is also purple. This colour got me thinking of coins, especially the brown copper one-shilling coins that were quite common in the nineties. This kind of coin had an art drawing on one side of our founding father Mr. Jomo Kenyatta, you could see him there with a serious face, an expression of serenity and his pointy beard which is actually very fashionable even right now, I guess we can now tell where our president got his swagger.
Mr. Kenyatta’s hair is neatly kept in backward manner which matches his large mustache, his vintage suit and tie cut to precision. You cannot tell if the eyes are shut or open but the author of this art you can tell was a real maven because if today I went out to get milk or eggs for breakfast one morning and I met Mr. Kenyatta, there is definitely no way I could fail to recognize him. I was not born in 1978 when he passed away, in fact Dennis Peters was not real until almost two more centuries later. I barely watch or read political documentaries or books but the one-shilling coin gave me a vivid description of how our founding father looked like.
I assume he had a large body stature, always in suits with a mini-afro, authoritative of course, bestowed with intrepidity I would not expect any less of someone who fought for our independence through logic, dialog and storming out of meetings. I do not suppose he would be as social as his son, war has a characteristic of annihilating the social part of human beings. So I would not try to ask him for a selfie but I would try to make a conversation
Morning sir, how was it in the sixties? Is it true that Idi Amin ate people?
I would enquire.
Do you have any comment on the fact that polygamy is wrong in the 21st century?
My questions would be quite a handful so his guards would push me aside and let the founding president get into his KXZ limousine, so I would commend his mustache and leave. One thing that is certain however is that Jomo would be proud of what the country has become so in his speech to the media boys and girls with heavy machines he would constantly point out that he was proud of all of us even Robert Alai and Larry Madowo.
But that is just one side of this coin.
I flip the coin to the other side and Jomo’s face is not here, instead the court of arms which includes two lions on opposite sides of a shield with two arrows crossing each other behind the shield. This side of the coin is not my favorite, perhaps because it all leaks of war and strife. The lions’ stone faces scream insurgency and the arrows tell a tale of war and terror. The shield does not help the situation either it speaks of a livid bunch of survivors. No wonder Jomo asked the artist not to put his face on this side.
This flip side of this coin reminds Mr. Kenyatta of detentions, murder and political prisons. How ‘they’ collected them together and put them in conservancy zoos so that each time they turned they would see the ant upon which their boot had stumped and held down. It would give them a feeling of victory and power like a gorilla patting his chest with his enemy on the floor making guttural growling sounds which simply means stay the F down, I beat you. For the lovers they would stick to these zoos like cowards though we are not judging, the fighters, Jomo can name a hundred of them and he would call them brothers in battle fields and political offices. He would pay tribute to the fallen ones and recognize the living ones.
Mr. Kenyatta would be devastated about this age on this side of the coin. He would express his annoyance in corruption and political cravings. The greed would make him confounded and he might even accidentally say something nasty in front of the cameras. I would not dare ask a question about socialites that I meant to ask at this moment.
Is this what we fought for?
He would constantly question himself with no avail.
But a coin must have two sides. As if to represent the two side of each individual, the two names that describe one component. Violet and purple. Parents who go through struggles each day to make ends meet but to their kids, they are heroes and if you happen to be walking along the streets you hear a mischievous boy tell another of how his dad is going to buy a bigger truck than the one that just passed, then the other one would say that his dad was going to buy a plane instead. One side a hero, violet, the other a struggle with bosses, inconsistent incomes and increased expenses bills that seem to never end.
Or husbands and boyfriends that are all gentlemen and cuddly at the start then transform to walking nightmares a bit later. Rude, violent and drunkards at night but during the day they put on expensive Italian suits walk to work with a smile and everyone cannot stop loving them. Only you know the demon inside. I can only compare this to buying a phone at a certain shop in town, new model the kind everyone has been talking about and you are so excited to get home and try your new handset. You get home insert your sim card cautiously not to scratch it on the first day of use, put in the battery then press the power button and wait with feverish anticipation for it to light up and it does not. You cannot handle the dismay so you try it again and again but it is only a fool that would expect different results by doing the same thing so you are heart-broken. Violet and purple.
This is the reason I got interested in this one-shilling brown coin and still deep in thought I remembered of a while back. So if you look closely to this shilling you discover it has a lot of similarities with the ten-shilling coin. Back in primary we had devised a way where using a pencil we would shade the middle part of the coin and create a concentric dark circle that resembles a ten-shilling coin. So with that we could change the value of these coins from one to ten and buy cakes from an old lady who never noticed. Well, this story is only good until the time our dirty secret was revealed by a teacher who reported me to Mr. Njenga senior the rest part of the story is not something am proud of.
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