The Unforgettable Bwana Sasa Hivi of Marsabit

Contributed by Mervyn Maciel

The Unforgettable Bwana Sasa Hivi of Marsabit
Jaldessa Diko
Translated literally from Ki-Swahili, “Sasa Hivi” means “Just Now”, and during my service with the Provincial Administration in Marsabit in the early 1950s, there existed just such a character in the person of our Boran Station headman, Jaldessa Diko. Here was an individual who could never say “no” to anyone, and in an effort to please me whenever I wanted some work done to my government quarter or garden, he would often remove several labourers from a previously allocated job and send them on to my house. Little did I realize at the time that in so doing he had upset some of my colleagues from the Police department, or rather their wives! It is only when my wife told me that the work on Mr.X’s house could not be completed as planned because Jaldessa had removed the men halfway through the job that I realized what an embarrassing situation he had created for me.

Fortunately, with a bit of diplomacy, I was able to resolve the problem.

Jaldessa was out to please everyone; if ever I told him that I required something done rather urgently, his immediate response would be, “Ndio Bwana, Sasa hivi” (yes Sir, just now!). He could never say ‘No’ to me or the D.C. for that matter.

I don’t think he was popular with the station labour as I could often hear murmurings after he had changed their programme at very short notice. He delighted in pleasing everyone little realizing that he was upsetting quite a few others in the bargain.

But Jaldessa had a commanding personality, and like him or loathe him, he will always remain, to me and my wife, our affectionate, “Bwana Sasa hivi”

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