Voices from Kilifi County; Salim Nyale Kiti.

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Voices from Kilifi County: A series featuring those that call Kilifi County home, in their own words. In this edition, a chance meeting in Bomani, Kilifi County with a fascinating man, Salim Nyale Kiti. We were out looking for siki (a traditional hot sauce or condiment) ya sira/masimbi and were directed to Mzee Salim. Sira/masimbi is the residue that collects at the bottom of a palm wine bottle or container. The siki itself is made from tui la nazi, spices and the sira/masimbi. What was meant to be a simple purchase turned into a never-ending storytelling session.

Salim Nyale Kiti in his own words, “Msiwe na haraka, mumekuja kwangu, tulieni kwanza, Mariam (his daughter), waletee wageni viti. Hili boma nilizaliwa peke yangu tu! Sikuwa na ndugu, labda ndiyo maana Mungu akanibariki na watoto kumi na watatu. Wavulana saba, wasichana sita. Mwenyewe nina miaka kama sabini hivi nafikiri, sina hakika, miaka yetu hatukusoma kama nyinyi. Msiwe na wasiwasi, siki sina kwa sasa lakini nitawatengezea mwenyewe sasa hivi mkiona. Siki nilijua kuitengeza kwa ujuzi wa kijijini na pia wa kiChef, msinione hivi nlikuwa mtu wa mahoteli mimi. Lakini kazi yangu ya kwanza kabisa ilikuwa kubeba magunia ya korosho, Coast Hauliers Ltd. Wakati huo korosho yafanya vizuri. Tulikuwa twalipwa shilingi tano kwa siku.

Baadae Mungu akanibariki nikapata kazi Splendid Hotel Mombasa. Nikisema napika siki kiChef si ati basi nilikuwa Chef. Nilikuwa lift operator tu. Lakini lunch time nlikuwa najificha naingia jikoni nafunzwa kupika. Kulikuwa na maChef Wataita hapo walinichukulia vizuri sana, roho safi. Wakati huo kitchen kumeandikwa ‘only staff allowed’, ukipatwa huko na wewe si mpishi ni taabu! Mdosi alinipata siku moja lakini akanisamehe, wageni walikuwa wananipenda. Hapo kwa lift ilikuwa ni story tupu nawapigia. Lakini mwishowe nilitoka, walituchenga story za NSSF. Baada ya hapo nikaenda Whispering Palms Hotel kama gardener. Gardening nilijifunzia hapo tu, sikuwa naijua hiyo kazi. Walikuwa pazuri lakini mwisho hotel iliuzwa mambo yakabadilika nikarudi nyumbani. Maisha hayajakuwa rahisi lakini watoto wamesoma namshukuru Mungu”.

His daughter passes across the compound and one of those I’m with says, “Mzee Salim kisha una msichana mrembo, ameolewa?”. To which he replied lightheartedly, “Wewe umeletwa na mambo ya siki ama kutafuta mke? Hebu chagua moja”. It clicks that he needs to start on the siki. His siki ya sira/masimbi that had turmeric and the pictured ingredients was worth the hype. On asking how much it costs he said he can’t put a price on it, people just come with the ingredients and a bottle of palm wine and he does the rest. We left him something small for his trouble.

SUPPORT: We are a non-funded entity kept alive solely by our readers’ thirst for the undocumented and not adequately documented aspects of our past. The logistics of getting these stories can sometimes be a challenge. We would appreciate your support. To support Pwani Tribune’s history and culture research plus content creation…M-PESA till number: 8627478 Contact: +254726860693

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