Simon Ebangoni’s one-tooth smile has a multifarious background. In 1979, driven by a shivering desire to start a family, Ebangoni decided to marry. He met a young lady who caught his eye and following all requisite arrangements they began a life together. While the rapturous moments shared by newlyweds lasted for a short while, the dim dastardly reality of life hit them.
Earning only Ksh. 450 a month in a white settler’s farm in Nanyuki, Ebangoni snapped out of his euphoric fantasy. In 1980, he quit his job and moved back to his birthplace Isiolo to subsistently till his own farm. He planted beans and green grams all the while depending on the sky’s showers and no other source of irrigation.
Food was not an issue but he needed money to defray other needs. In a nearby forest, Ebangoni began illicitly chopping down trees and converting them to either firewood or charcoal. “We were stealing from the government since the forest belonged to them,” he said with a cheeky reminiscence.
While sneakily defrauding the government of their wood, Ebangoni’s 13-year-marriage encountered it’s most tempestuous conflict when his wife got impregnated out of wedlock. Without flinching, he divorced her. She eloped to Marsabit County with the man who sired her unborn child.
Ebangoni kept tilling his land as seeds of sorrow implanted themselves in his heart. He became melancholic and lonely. “Without a wife, I befriended the pot and began cooking for myself. Now I can cook everything except spaghetti,” he said.
But cooking was not the only escape route Ebangoni followed. He developed a rapacious appetite for stimulants such as miraa, locally brewed alcohol and tobacco. This susceptibility to substance abuse, particularly miraa, drove him to lose his teeth.
In addition to a reduced dental formula, Ebangoni’s hearing and sight have both been weakened to a point where some of the locals sardonically label him “deaf” and “blind”.
Now weak and aged, Ebangoni spends his days being part of a council of elders who solve communal conflicts. With humorous irony, Ebangoni narrates how he recently mended a broken marriage by reuniting a couple whose relationship was stained by rumors of infidelity. Expressing lamentable regret, Ebangoni says, “Sometimes I blame myself and wish I raised the child she conceived outside our marriage. But now time has passed and there is nothing I can do.”