Who Is Your Chief?

Up until yesterday (August, 30) I was of the opinion that I’d not been enumerated in the ongoing Census. After all, nobody had knocked on my door and there was no calling card to indicate that they came in my absence. I’ve since learnt that the enumerators did come but never got past security. They asked for information at the gate and security was happy to oblige. So much for the answers I’d prepared to their questions of whether I use electricity, what level of education my 3 year old nephew had attained so far, what type of floor I have, whether I own any livestock, canoes, handcarts or chicken. Anyway, if they were satisfied with the info they got, fine by me.

But supposing they had not come? The next requirement was to to to the Provincial Office or the local Chief. This I was not going to do but all the same it got me thinking, who is my chief? Heck, who is my District Officer? Who is my District Commissioner?

My earliest memory of a Chief is back in the village when at a young age, Mum gave me a small piece of land to grow veggies for the family and food for my rabbits. Nearby there was this huge tree that was dwarfing my weeds and I saw no reason why it could not be cut down. I mentioned that to Mum and she said we would have to get permission from the village Chief. True nobody was allowed to cut indigenous trees without permission from the authorities. Chiefs were a respected lot although I could swear their high standing in society came second to that of teachers. But in this case Mum was just joking and that was her way of putting the matter to rest.

The issue was instantly forgotten until i came across said Chief and asked him if the big tree could be felled. He gently declined my request. I think he even laughed and I hated him for it at that time. But now I understand. It’s a Mugumo tree and it stands to date. Such is the beauty of innocence. Felling a Mugumo tree because it was overshadowing baby potatoes, spinach, peas and rabbit feed.

The next time I had any business with the Chief was when I was registering for my National ID. The then Chief has since retired, I’ve no clue who the current one is, his/her office, his/her area of jurisdiction and what he/she does exactly. Both home and in Mombasa where I spend most of my time. I guess I need to find out just to know.

So, who is your Chief?

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