16.6 C
Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeWealthKimani Kibiku: 72-Year-Old Kiambu Man Who Has Kept Souvenir Piece Of Bar...

Kimani Kibiku: 72-Year-Old Kiambu Man Who Has Kept Souvenir Piece Of Bar Soap For 58 Years

People keep souvenirs for various reasons, most prominent, as a reminiscent of good memories from the past that one would like to stay with them forever. In Kiambu County, a family is also keeping souvenirs of what life was like in the good old days.

Kimani Kibiku, 72, and his wife Jane Wanjiru, both retired civil servants, have in their possession, a box full of souvenirs. Most notable is a piece of a bar soap that is 58 years old.

Kimani, a former human resource trainer notes that the soap isn’t just that to him. He explains that it is a reminder of how life was back then when they were growing up and provokes all good memories from then.

“In contrast with current times, growing up in the 50s and 60s was quite simplistic, if I may regard it as such. Many children, I among them, went to school just for the sake of it. We helped with farm work where most of our sustenance came from, and we grew up in a very social environment,” Kimani told the Nation in a recent interview.

The sixth born in a family of six boys and two girls recounted that they grew up during a time of great hardship, money was scarce and they had to scrap by.

They lost their father in the 1950s when he was still a child and their eldest brother stepped up to provide for the family.

“Luckily, my eldest brother, the firstborn, had managed to finish school and got a job as a teacher, and so he took up the role of catering for us. And thus comes the story about soap. You see back then, some commodities one may take for granted today were quite scarce. What you could not get from the farm, like soap and cooking fat, you had to buy. Earning a shilling being such a task, these products used to be quite precious,” he says.

Every end of every month, their eldest brother would shop for them and among the things he bought was a bar of soap which he would distribute equally to the siblings. Each of them was expected to utilise their assigned piece well until the end of the month when he would shop for them again after payday.

Kimani notes that compared to today when bars of soap cost hundreds of shillings, their time, a bar of soap went for less than a shilling but it was still a lot of money.

“When I was 14 years old, I managed to save a piece for a rainy day, and as it turned out, that day never came. After a while, I had thoughts to just use it, but then curiosity kicked in and I thought: what if I kept this to remind me of my childhood days? I marked the date I had received the soap and put it in a small box. Almost six decades later, here we are,” he says.

Wanjiru who got married to Kimani in 1981, notes that she too went through a tough childhood and nothing came easy.

“A bar? We used to buy a piece at a time, for the whole family,” she said.

Wanjiru and Kimani met at work and their love story kicked off.

“To give you perspective, we acquired a pick-up when we got married and started dairy farming. We would take the vehicle to work every day, and on Saturday we would go looking for fodder for our animals. I remember very clearly that we would buy fuel worth Ksh400 and it would last us almost an entire month,” she recalled.

Kimani and Wanjiru keep a box full of souvenirs. Inside is also a receipt dated July 7, 1990, for a 13kg gas cylinder refill. The indicated cost is Ksh172.25 compared to today where it costs Ksh3,300 to refill.

The 72-year-old retired civil servant notes that the souvenirs not only show a contrast in prices but a way of life.

“The reason I have kept that piece of soap for so long is because it reminds me of a life that, despite certain difficulties, is one to be desired. It is a life where one person’s success was shared and celebrated by all. A time when families were much more united and where I would get to visit my kin and interact with my cousins. A life when our society as a whole was more united. Something that may be somewhat lacking in our society today,” says Kimani.

The couple notes that the hardships they went through and reminders from the souvenirs shaped their working culture. They learnt valuable lessons on discipline, hard work, responsibility and management which has made them better people.

“Happiness was also easier to find back then,” Wanjiru says.

“Something as simple as chapati used to make us very excited as we would only have them on Christmas, and in my opinion, it made the celebrations all the more meaningful and impactful. While I appreciate that people now lead better lifestyles in terms of being able to afford such basic commodities, I do miss how much more we appreciated life in those days.”

Kimani, however, notes that growing up during his time made him uptight and timid on certain matters which made him doubt his full potential.

“Parents never used to appreciate us when we did well, and any time you were summoned you knew it was to be reprimanded. This especially eroded my self-confidence and self-esteem. It also affected my parenting as I wanted my children to have all the things I could not, and that gives rise to the possibility of ‘spoiling’ your children,” he says.

On her part, Wanjiru believes that the strict discipline of her childhood is much needed in today’s society.

“While I strongly believe that parents need to be friends with their children and show them love and appreciation, I also believe that there is something like too much freedom. A parent should always be a parent first to avoid the moral decay of our society,” she says.