On the morning of Sunday 26th July 2020, Francis Busula, whose nickname was Flash, woke up in his usual cheerful spirit.
Like a real Luhya man, he drank two cups of tea during breakfast. Two big cups. Tea and bread. He ate together with his wife Jane, son Lenny and twin daughters.
The previous night, he had convened and chaired a meeting for residents of the Umoja 1 Court where he had been staying for thirteen years. The meeting was occasioned after the passing on of a female neighbor. She died of Covid-19.
“Exercise extreme caution and be very careful because as we have seen from the tragic loss of our neighbor, Corona is real,” Flash had informed the attentive meeting.
That’s the kind of man he was. A leader. He was the Chairman of the residents association in that locality. He was the first born in a family of five brothers. He was also their surrogate father and mother since their parents had already crossed over into eternity. He was a part owner of a security company into which he had invested a lot of his resources and passion. Most important, he was father of five children and a husband to his loving wife Jane.
On that morning of Sunday 26th July after breakfast, Flash sat in the balcony of his first floor house with his wife. They basked in the warm Sunday sunshine, a rare gift in the cold month of July.
The previous day, before he chaired the residents’ association meeting, Flash had visited his wife’s kibanda (temporary wooden shed for business), something that he rarely did. Usually, he would just pass by, say a quick cheerful hello and proceed to wherever he was going. But that evening of Saturday 25th, he had sat there and engaged her in a deep conversation.
“You need to expand this business,” he had told her, “apart from the duvets and attire that you are selling, you can also start selling groceries.”
“Have faith that such an expansion is possible,” he had told her.
As they were talking, two customers stopped by and asked about the price of some items.
She engaged them cheerfully as he watched with a silent smile. They bargained and she smiled as she nudged them to ‘ongeza kidogo’ add a little more, to the amount they were offering. They obliged and handed her two thousand shillings.
“You see!” he told her with a big smile after the customers left, “this business can grow. Just have faith!”
He added with a cheeky glint in his brown eyes, “It looks like I have brought luck to your business today.”
“You should be coming more often,” she said.
That was yesterday. But today as he sat with her in the balcony, they just soaked in the sun and engaged in the kind of cheery conversations that they both usually sank into from time to time. You see, they are both jovial souls. Laughter comes easily for both of them. They are the kind of people that drive conversation in a room. The kind that switches easily between deep conversation and casual conversation.
After the balcony moments, she groomed his hair. Yes, she does that on a regular basis. Her hands delved into his hair, massaged his head.
“Buy some eggs for your father and make them for his lunch.” She instructed the kids. Eggs and ugali. Then she left for her kibanda to start her hustle. Yesterday had ended well with that Ksh2,000 sale and she was hoping that today would also be a good business day.
During lunch, Flash told his kids not to buy the eggs and just serve him the Sukuma wiki (kales) that they had cooked.
“Mmezipika poa sana,” you have cooked the vegetables very well. He told them.
Father and kids enjoyed a typical Kenyan meal of ugali and Sukuma wiki for lunch. After drinking water and relaxing a bit, he decided to go for a walk. He descended the narrow staircase, opened the gate, turned right and walked towards the main road. A short while later, he arrived at his usual barbershop. He wasn’t there for a shave, but just to say hello. That’s the kind of guy he was. Mtu wa watu. A people’s person.
After some laughter and banter, he left with one of the barbers and they walked for a short distance to his wife’s kibanda.
She offered him a seat as the barber excused himself and left.
“Go and get for me my phone from the house,” she told their nineteen-year old son Lenny, who sometimes deputized her in the kibanda.
“Do you know that you can just get twenty thousand and expand this business,” Flash told his wife Jane.
“Twenty thousand from where?” She asked him.
“Usikuwe na imani ndogo,” Don’t be of little faith. He told her.
About two minutes later, there was a pause in the conversation. She looked at him and noticed that he had tilted his head to the left, as if he had dozed off. But his eyes were open, so she thought he was joking.
She walked over to him and shook him. His hands stretched out before him. She knew then that all was not well. Because he was mtu wa watu, people flocked to her kibanda within moments.
Jane called Oscar, her husband’s brother and informed him hysterically that Flash had collapsed. When he received Jane’s call, Oscar was with Allan, their younger brother. They set off immediately from Donholm estate to Umoja 1.
As the brothers were speeding towards their brother, Jane and a section of the crowd that had gathered applied all the first aid that they could but Flash remained unresponsive. They commandeered a passing car to take him to a hospital that was about five hundred meters away. His son Lenny had rushed back to the kibanda when he saw people running towards it. He cradled his father’s head in the back seat of the car as it sped to hospital.
He was declared dead on arrival. It was about 5PM.
Jane called Allan.
“What is Jane is saying?” Oscar asked Allan.
“Flash has died.”
The two brothers never got a chance to see their beloved big brother alive again.
When Flash sat on that seat in his wife’s kibanda barely one hour earlier, he was about to engage in the final conversation of his life on earth.
When he enjoyed ugali and Sukuma wiki with his three kids during lunch, that was his final lunch on earth.
When he drank two big cups of tea with bread during breakfast, that was his final breakfast on earth.
When he sat in the balcony with his wife Jane to bask, converse and laugh, that were their final balcony moments.
Later that day, at about 4.30PM, Flash simply tilted his head and departed the world.
Let us remember the words that he spoke in the final five minutes of his life.
“Usikuwe na imani ndogo.” Don’t be of little faith.