By Dennis Karanja
In Mathare, a town in Kenya there lived long ago a very rich man who was Governor of the town. He was loved by the people of Mathare, not because he was very rich but because his heart was kind and true.
Now many of the people were poor and times were often hard. Sometimes the crop failed and they had very little food to eat. The mothers and fathers grew sick and thin, and even the plates of the children were often empty.
The good governor of Mathare thought a great deal about the troubles of his people, and when they suffered hardship and hunger his heart was moved to great pity. He built a little tower just outside his castle, and in the tower put a bell from which a long rope hung almost to the ground.
The governor made it known to the people that any person who was in trouble, sick or hungry need only ring the bell and help would be given at once.
For many years the hungry came and rang the bell and were fed. The sick rang the bell and were healed. The unhappy rang the bell and were comforted. The rope was pulled so often that it frayed, and the keeper of the bell tied up the loose threads with bits of straw.
Then everything changed. Better times came to Mathare. The harvests were good, the people prospered, and soon, in all that fair town, there was no one who was hungry, sick or needy. The rope still hung from the bell, but no hand came to put it.
Now it so happened that at that time there lived in Mathare a rich merchant whose business it was to carry goods from one part of the town to another. For many his good horse Benito carried the heavy loads. But Benito grew old and half blind and could not do the hard work he had once done so easily. The merchant bought a young strong horse and then, very cruelly, turned poor old Benito out to shift for himself.
The old horse wandered sadly about the streets of Mathare, peering with its dim eyes in search of something to eat. The days went by and thinner and thinner and weaker and weaker grew Benito, for their was little food to be found, and non one thought to feed a useless old animal.
One evening, Benito limped slowly along the road to the Governor’s castle. He reached the belfry, and seeing the straw at the end of the rope began to eat it; Tug! Tug! Tug! Went the worn old teeth of Benito, and inside the tower the bell began to peal.
The governor, who was at supper, heard it and summoned the keeper of the bell. "Go and see what is the matter", he said "It is a long time since the bell has been rung for help."
The keeper went down to the belfry. He saw an old, lame, thin, half blind horse tugging at the bell rope. He hurried back to the governor and said,"There’s no one there, Sir, just an old staved horse."
"No one!" cried the governor "is not a horse deserving of all the aid we can give? Never shall the bell of Mathare be rung and no help given!"
The governor hastened to the belfry, and when he saw the horse his eyes filled with tears. Then a gentle smile played about his mouth as he went up to Benito and patted his head.
"Well, old faithful!", he said, "you seem to be in need of food and shelter. Follow me and we will see what we can do for you."
Benito was led into the stables where he was cleaned and fed. For the rest of his days Benito lived happily with the governor. The old horse did a little light work now and again, but he spent most of his time grazing in grass meadows. Certainly he never again had to fear hunger or cold.
My Life as a Maid Servant
By Hannah Wairimu, age 14
My Mum and Dad were moderately rich. I enjoyed life and my Mum bought me that I was in demand for. I couldn't even have a hint of a thought in my mind that one day, one time I would be someone’s servant.
One day as I came home from school Uncle was there with a sad stare with one of my neighbours. I called him and asked him to tell me what was going amiss. He didn’t want to hurt me so he beat about the bush. As I became inquisitive and my anxiety grew large, he had to hit the nail on the head by explaining the whole truth to me.
I almost grew banana when he told me that my dear parents had got in a bloody accident and they both lost their lives. But after the burial ceremony life was not the same as I used to have. Everybody who felt jealousy of me when my parents were still alive had something to laugh at. I came to realise that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
After a month I was sent out of my school which was very expensive. I had nobody to care for me and to cater for my school fees, so I had to leave school and look for a job. The following day very early in the morning before the crack of dawn, I got up and went out to look and seek for a job. I rotated all over the town and at last found myself a European gate. I sought the watchman’s permission and got in. I met the boss seated and the maid-servants busy at work,
I spoke to him gently and humbly. After a very long speech he heard my problems and promised to respond. He told me to go and come the following day and be ready to start work. I went home happily but still feeling lonely.
The following day I went to my place of work proud as a peacock. I worked in the European’s house and every time he called me for work. After a month I was as thin as a needle because of the hard labour.
At the end of the month the salary I got was peanuts. I suffered days, weeks, months years centuries but nobody could come to my rescue. My employer had no mercy for all my colleagues and I. One day as I was rolling back home I my prolonged Uncle. I narrated to him how I had been suffering. My uncle was astonished and took immediate effect. He took me to his house and took me as one of his children. I felt very happy at last and left my employer the money he had paid me. 5 pints of joy thrilled my throat! I came to my normal life and health – my life as a maid servant was a grim life.
By Kenedy Vulu
I was walking home through the forest from work. Suddenly I heard a rustling of leaves in a near by bush. ’’Bump!’’ came a snake from the bush. The snake stopped and lay without moving. It looked dead. It was a big snake. I felt trapped when I saw it.
I fled as fast as my legs could carry me. I ran as fast as a deer, then I felt tired and hid under a tree. I heard rustling of leaves from the tree. I looked up and saw the snake. I stood up and I started running. The snake was still following me! My heart was pounding like a hunted dog.
As I was running I came across a house. I ran inside and locked myself in,. But I knew I wasn’t safe. I decided to look for something that could help me kill the snake. I saw a gun at the corner of the house. I quickly took the gun and I looked at it and found out that it was loaded.
I heard the door being shaken strongly. I jumped out through the window. When the snake broke the door and entered I lighted a stick and threw it inside the house.
I waited for about forty minutes to see if the snake would come out. I felt happy when I saw the snake wasn’t coming out.
As I was going home the snake approached quickly and coiled around me. My heart was beating as quickly as if it was getting out of my body, but I remembered the gun I had found in the house. Before the snake strangles me to death I shot it in the head. It let go of me, and it fell down dead. I was happy. I went home and I lived happily with my family.
By Yvonne Wanjiru
It was on Tuesday morning when we received a phone call, it was my aunt she wanted us to go and celebrate the Christmas holiday with her family. My mother said that we could go the next day. I was as happy as Christopher Columbus after discovering the sea route to America!
The next day we woke up very early at 5 O’clock in the morning. We went to the bus stop and waited for the bus to arrive. We stayed for about thirty minutes. The bus came and we got in.
The journey took three hours. We reached at 7 O’clock and found our aunt waiting anxiously to see us. She gave us some tea and bread and talked as we drank. After I had finished she sent me to go and call my grandmother because her house was near hers. When I went I knocked and knocked and nobody was answering. I turned backwards so that I could go and tell my aunt that Grandmother was not there. I saw three angry dogs, one in front and two at the sides. They were all barking at me. One of them was just about to bite me when I heard my Grandmother’s voice telling them to go inside their kennel. I asked my grandmother where she had been and she said to the shamba to cut arrowroots and sweet potato, but when she heard the dogs barking she stopped to see what was wrong.
The next day I asked her why the dogs were barking at me, and yet when they were puppies they liked me a lot. She said that maybe they can’t remember me. That was a narrow escape because the dogs were about to bite me. Ii thanked my Grandmother very much. That day we celebrated Christmas, but in my heart I celebrated two things:- Christmas and me being alive!
7th January 2004