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In Memoriam of Chibi, An African Dog
This is a past TBT about Chibi, a boy mongrel of the African variety my family kept many years ago. Back then, all the Mongrels the African peasants kept were named either Chibi or Simba, depending on their actual or perceived ferocity (a timorous Chibi or Simba was nicknamed Mùkoi). Like their typical peasant owners, Chibis and Simbas were exemplars of survival, resilience and adaptation. To illustrate, Chibis and Simbas had the most elastic culinary tastes and dietary needs. The Chibi or Simba cuisine extended to anything cooked or uncooked (and anything wholesome or unwholesome), including green corn, avocados, beans, faecal matter, pus or mucal matter (licked from human or animal wounds), decomposed carcases, name it! Chibis and Simbas also survived most infirmities and vermin without a vet doctor’s intervention. In short, Chibis and Simbas were complete opposites of today’s “Slay Queen” and “Ben Ten” dogs and bitches. This TBT is about a specific Chibi, our Chibi.
A long time ago, when a dirty oversized tunic sufficed for a boy’s upper and lower apparel needs, my grandfather and I grazed cattle across the valleys and ridges of Nyambene Hills. Like all peasants, our herd was modest, fluctuating depending on what had been sold to reduce our never-ending school fees arrears. At no time did our modest herd exceed five zebu heifers, one or two zebu bulls, one or two Borana rams, a few Borana ewes and one or two zebu oxen (my grandfather castrated low-grade bulls by opening up the scrotum with his dagger and pulling out the balls. Story for a future TBT).
Chibi was a constant and discrete companion of grandpa and me on all grazing trips (our other constant companion being hunger pangs). Chibi’s brownish fur, diminutive size and feigned calm demeanour enabled him to blend with the Borana sheep and their lambs, making it hard to notice him. In other words, Chibi was the perfect example of a dog in sheep’s clothing.
Chibi was also the perfect embodiment of many adages. The one that says barking dogs seldom bite. The one that says action speaks louder than words. The one that says calm waters run deep. Name it. An unsuspecting road user would occasionally fail to observe appropriate social distance and pass too close to or touch a member of our livestock. Upon noticing the misdemeanour, Chibi would calmly approach the touchy-touchy offender—without barking or creating any unnecessary fuss—and diligently embark on putting his canines and claws to effective use. My grandfather and I would be jolted by the touchy-touchy offender’s frantic screams for rescue. Chibi was also such a notorious boy dog that if our livestock strayed into a farm while I was distracted by the swinging sitting allowance or bounteous bosom of a smooth-faced yellow-yellow damsel, the farm owner would politely request me to drive the trespassing bovine or sheep out of the farm instead of resorting to self-help. More importantly, the farm owner would not dare give me physical therapy (read ‘caning’), a fate that often befell other young boys who got distracted while grazing. You can imagine what Chibi would have done to the farm owner for beating me, considering what he did to those who failed to observe appropriate social distance from our modest livestock herd.
Chibi’s usefulness to my family and community went beyond enforcing appropriate social distance from our livestock. To illustrate, I had two sisters. Chibi made a significant but seldom acknowledged contribution to ensuring my sisters completed basic education (if you know, you know).
Like all of us, Chibi was not perfect. He had an amorous streak and an insatiable affinity for the girls (a trait I seem to have picked from him). Regrettably, Chibi got entangled with a slay queen mongrel one cold evening. The randy rendezvous left Chibi with a recalcitrant strain of gonorrhoea that refused to respond to antibiotics. This unfortunate development forced us to neutralise Chibi.
The neutralisation of Chibi was a macabre event that left indelible scars on my mind. The neutralisation did not involve a vet. Instead, it involved my dad’s biceps, a digging hoe handle and Chibi’s skull. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the end of Chibi’s story. May Chibi’s soul rest in eternal peace.
© Muthomi Thiankolu, PhD