16 March 2012

Kenya: Relative Values - Each Time My Brother Visited Me in Rehab, I Could See the Pain in His Eyes


Harrison Muino, also known as Bamzigi, was a rising star in the entertainment industry until drug addiction took toll on him and he quit music to focus on fighting the vice. The first born in a family of four is now rebuilding his career after having reformed. He is a role model to his brother Kora Kariba, a budding musician. Bamzigi speaks fondly of his brother saying he still feels guilty for having left him with a few scars during their childhood fights. Kora, on his part, confesses he only recognised Bamzigi as his eldest brother just recently having been separated at childhood. The two brothers spoke to Catherine Mukei.

Harrison Muino

Kora and I were born five years apart. There's a sister, Carol between Kora and I. Growing up in Ridgeways, Nairobi, we didn't have friends to play with as most of our neighbours did and still keep to themselves. We had no option but stick together and would always be seen riding our bikes in the neighbourhood.

I hurt Kora a lot when we were kids and although it was accidental, I still feel guilty. I remember one incidence when we were playing at a garage which was near a construction site and a brick fell on him. He had to be rushed to hospital and got a few stitches. Another time I tripped and fell while carrying him and he hit the door. I was quite mischievous too. One day I burnt down my neighbour's fence. It was made of cypress which had dried up since it was very hot.

So while I was playing with match sticks, I lit it up. It took time for it to grow back and even though my dad did not punish me, I could tell that he was really furious. My father used to play a lot of music for us. He had an old record player and A-track cassettes and he mostly played music by Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and the Mo Town. This influenced my interest in music a lot and to date, it does influence my style of music. As kids we definitely had little girlfriends. There was one girl I really had a crush on. She was Indian and her father was my dentist. That was in the 1980's and then racial relationships were not encouraged.

Further more, we were very young and so we were both discouraged from seeing each other. I however feel that I did not really take advantage of my youth to learn how to play music instruments and that is why I always encourage Kora to do so. He is a very supportive brother and he proved this a few years ago when I was battling drug addiction. He would visit me in rehab but I could always see the pain in his eyes. It really affected him. I mean who wouldn't? Here I am as a first born so lost and letting down the people who look up to me. However I'm glad that I did not influence him negatively. He was never tempted to start doing drugs. We are very close and we visit each other often especially because he has a son who happens to be quite fond of me. He is not yet married though I guess he is waiting for me to lead the way. But there is no hurry as I'm yet to find the right woman for me.

Kora Kariba

We had a nice childhood. Our parents made sure that we went to the best schools and bought us the best clothes. I don't remember a lot about our childhood but my mother tells me that most of the scars in my body were caused by the funny games we played with Bamzigi. Until recently, I never used to see him as my big brother. He spent most of his time out of home. He was either at boarding school while I was a day scholar and he later went to Malaysia to study. He is however a very good communicator. He would call often and request to talk to all of us, something most men don't do. When he came back from Malaysia, we realised that we actually had a lot in common.

I too was a master of mischief. I would climb on the roof of our house and slide down and no matter how many times I got hurt, I never seemed to learn. One Christmas eve, I went swinging on a construction site and while at it hit my head on a rock. I had to be rushed to the hospital and had the worst Christmas ever. A few years later, I cut my finger with a nappier grass machine.

I also had a crush on one of Bamzigi's girlfriends. She was so pretty, her name was Selina. I was only 12 but I would call her every morning and each chance I got to talk to her I made use of it. I was actually very serious although neither Bamzi nor the girl saw it. I have to admit he has very good taste when it comes to women. He especially likes Caucasian women. I hear he treats them very well. He however broke my heart when he went into drugs.

He would come home looking untidy and you could tell that he had walked a very long distance. Sometimes he would sell our toys and the car radio to finance his habit. This did not really matter but his condition really affected my father. I'm glad he has overcome it and is now leading a changed life.

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