Election campaign season was the only time we ate rice in my childhood in Nairobi. My mother would come back to our home in Kibera carrying a small portion of rice, a handout from a politician. My siblings and I would gather, waiting for the moment when the water would boil. In Kibera, we always knew when our neighbours had food. Soon, the faces of other children began to appear in our doorway, their eyes big and hope-filled. My mum always invited them to eat with us, and that angered me. Each extra mouth reduced the food I would get, and I glared as each newcomer passed by our doorway. I was always curious.
“Where did the rice come from?” I would ask her, and she would say from someone campaigning to be a councillor or MP, the name unimportant, her vote equally unassured. My mother would then serve the rice, equally divided among my siblings and the other children, and as she would warn: “Empty containers make a lot of noise.”