And It Is My Birthday!


Before we adopted the Western ways of life, celebrating one’s birthday in the African tradition was unheard of. Whereas we had age sets groups then, it was not hard for the elders to follow on the growth and development of the youngsters, until they were initiated into adulthood and became integral members of the society. How they kept track of seasons, without a calendar, in knowing one’s age is still a puzzle.

   The scenario is different today.

  Birthdays are marked with much fanfare that they’re a kind of mini-ceremonies if not full-fledged, elaborate and lavish ones. Notice the layered candlelit cakes with bottle of champagnes to mark such occasions!

  I don’t know how an African adult male can entertain what I consider nonsense of being surrounded by semi-clad beauties singing him birthday wishes or even be presented with boutiques of flowers! To me, such a man needs to be taken out by his age mates for roast goat ribs and be fortified with something strong as to see double and literally walk backwards as in ‘taking a step forward and three backwards’.

  I did not know I had clocked a calendar year today until a few text messages ‘celebrating’ me as a loyal client from different corporations inundated my phone. Same observed upon checking my mail. One mobile telco company had audacity to load my line with a gigabyte of data, with messages of best wishes sufficing from others. (Methinks the telco would have done best by writing off a pending loan).

  I had to look in the mirror and see how the ‘new’ me looked on this auspicious day. I expected lines of stress creasing my brow going by how stressful life had been lately. And I was not wrong for a total stranger stared back at me.

  Whereas the lines of stress were missing, the right eye seemed a bit puffed up. It seemed the upper eyelid was heavy, giving the eye that Chinese thin-slit look. It could have been the result of putting eye drops in it, when it too irritated me as the left eye had the other day.

  Though I have been doing lots of exercises to be as thin as a rake, I found that I have broadened on shoulders and on danger of having that hulk look. Seems this work from home had seen me doing strength sapping tasks that had instead increased my biceps. I had expected a sinewy look and a gaunt face!

  To realize that I indeed had added a year, I noticed recently my armpits had began sweating after less strenuous exercises including walking. What, however, is comforting is seeing the tummy that was distending had retracted back like a deflated balloon giving me that flat ironing table look thanks to lots of exercising. See here: https://paulkariuki.blogspot.com/2019/07/and-long-walk-made-difference.html

  If you ask me, my take of wising one a happy birthday is not a bad one. But there are those who will fell useless realizing how fast they have aged without accomplishing much in life or  attaining those goals they had set before clocking a certain age. They easily get discouraged seeing that age has caught up with them and gives up in life. For such reasons, many, yours truly included, puts that privacy setting on social media like Facebook concealing their personal details like birth year (including getting notifications), or exaggerates on same where you may see a fifty plus years old lady aging backwards each passing year!

  Well, childbirth was greatly celebrated in the traditional African setting sometimes with pomp that would make these birthday parties look like amateurish kindergarten ones. This has been removed from our social fabric, or replaced with that baby shower ceremony, with exception death is what nowadays brings us together to mourn and inter the departed.

  This commercialization of birthdays with humongous cakes a main feature doesn’t add any value, especially to a reasoning adult who would have been expected to be wiser with each calendar year clocked. Birthdays should be those occasions to reflect on life. Like visiting cemeteries and seeing where it will all end at the last bucket kick, not occasions to be a spendthrift and painting town red!

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