I am at that age where it is easy to remember the days of yore without overly exaggerating for the sake of raising my stature among my would-be grandchildren. They are, actually, still minute cells within my loins and I have little need to lie to them now…at least just yet…
Its no secret, there are no more formal jobs for any of us who do not have one already, and not enough money for those who do. The number of graduates tarmacking after four years of sex and alcohol (and a few lectures) is worrying so we all need to knock up some ideas that will bring everyone money, not just to live on, but to buy that shoe (for women) or peace (for men) that you have really craved.
High school was a morbid experience. I doubt the kids in high school now have gone through some of the things we went through (as each generation wants to think it more badass than the next, and less than the last). Given that I was in form 1 at around the time bullying was losing its gist and creativity was already on a downfall, this list is most likely incomplete. But that is not to say that legends do not exist…
#7 The Shoe-Ericsson
Definitely one of the classics, and could have been an activity by itself, or part of a master plan of villainy to make your form one life a living hell. It was always about smelly shoe…a shoe so smelly that the reception was kind of decent…
First day of high school, you are excited but apprehensive. Your parents are leaving, and you are standing near the gate waving them goodbye….balancing tears….
Three mean-looking boys walk up to you. You can tell they are senior because their clothes are all torn and they have hardened faces. “
MONO, toa kiatu!” your mum said be obedient, so you remove your right shoe and hold it awkwardly in your hand.
“Pigia wazazi simu uwaambie wasisahau Vizo!”, that was your welcome to high school…..
Later in the Evening:
The Tethered Dog
Sometimes, the things you go through at the hands of frustrated or high-on-cheap joints Form Fours make you want to eat yourself. The details of the ‘Tethered Dog’ are pretty basic: a senior used a tie or any other rope-y thing to tie you to, say a bed in a crouching position, like a dog….mean, is it not?
Well, that’s not the whole story, once tied, you had to act like a dog, you had to growl and bark at anyone that passed (and piss on a hydrant, but lets not go there). Fun, is it not? Well, that is If you are barking at your peers, but the highest probability is that your peers are tethered too. What about barking at another senior? That is what this one was made for, it was not an end in itself, or a means to an end, and rather, it was the classic start to the trail of destruction
#6 The MIME
This is one of the legends,
It is actually pretty simple…..
First, a senior tells you to close your mouth, then he holds out his clasped hands and tells you to imagine that is your mouth and mimic his movements….see the genius here????
It is pretty easy when it is just opening and closing, but we all know it went further than that, yes. He would twist and turn, and to the onlooker, you looked like you were doing weird facial massages, or the alien in you was trying to get out.
#5 One Week Later…..
“I stroll into dorm 7, just to have kick out of its structure, it’s the first time that I am getting in, and the rumors in class have to be confirmed. And true to their words, it does appear to be a hall with beds flung all over; no partition whatsoever can be seen. Satisfied, I turn to leave. “Jokaaa, okia” I turn and see an upper form (they all looked ugly, bearded and old then (they still do, no?) student gesturing to me. I walk over to add to the number of shaking monos, huddled together.
He asks me what my name is:
“Jina moja kama blue?”
“Jina moja kama Blue Band?”
“John Kimiti Kiarie”
“Jina tatu kama Blue Band Choco?”
*slap* “joka unanijibu vibaya”
“ebu nioneshe venye uliruka”
“I attempt to jump up”
“Joka unaruka juu ama unaruka mwaka? ebu assume hii box ni mwaka na uruke mwaka”
*I jump over the box* thank God it was a Rabble’s box.
Then he asks us to sing Christmas carols and the loudest one can leave.
I really have no intention of overstaying my visit, and I flick on my singing voice and belt out a few choice notes. He is satisfied and lets me leave. But before I go, his pal, who was sleeping, asks, “nani huyo anawika huku kama mboch vajo?” He hands me a shirt to go wash. Since I don’t stay in that dorm, I just won me a shirt.”
“Its a sato, general cleaning is over, a forth former is lazy, does not play any game and cannot stand the heat in the Dh, so he is behind dorm 1, lying on the foamy mattress of a random form one. The sun is too hot, so he sends a form one to get a bed cover and three other guys, they come and miraculously become four posters, holding up the bed cover and shading the douche from the sun for a 30minute siesta before the bell announces the much awaited lunch of lumpy rice and beans. I should know, I was the back right post.”
#4 The Condoms
I cannot say who went through this; because I believe they are still traumatized and might need therapy after reading it (Plus a few girls they might have kissed might read this and want to die). It was a sunny Saturday afternoon as I made my way back to the dorm. I met my friend, let us call him Phillip (still, any relation to persons alive, deceased or incarcerated is purely intentional!). Phillip was running out of the dorm, with a weird look on his face like he had just tasted the devil’s juices….well, turns out he had…
Inside, a Form 3 bully, a diminutive guy called KaNyamNyam (you do not wanna know) had been busy fiddling with his unused condoms when he thought up the most evil of plans. For interior décor, why not make some balloons for the dorm….to improvise, why not use condoms? And since Form Ones are certified blowers, why not get a host of them to do the dirty….slimy….work?
That’s where my pal Phillip comes in…its exactly as gross as you think it is , blowing a condom until it gets as big as a blown balloon (as opposed to what I do not know yet). That should be pretty easy, yes. Actually no, blowing a condom is hard work, it turns out, plus the tip will always be out on the other end looking all weird….have I mention that the oiliness gets to your mouth? And that as per what my friend went through for the next few days, three to be enact when his stomach was the site of weird grumblings (turns out tapeworms do not fancy protective sex).
In something related, I know someone who once got a whole can of Vaseline (the big one) applied to their naked body from head to toe! This was high school, they were no hot showers to melt it out….it was a cold shower as the drops of water slipped over his very-vaselined body! I don’t know who came up with this sadistic idea but am sure if he is reading this, he can tell how gay it looks now, does it, bully?
3. The Food
This was an isolated event, but it still stands out as one of the greatest acts of villainy ever thought of by a team of idle boys. We all know the idle mind is where Lucifer does his thing, but what if the idle mind has food for twelve people?
Let us start with some background…My high school was run by the law of the jungle in the latter part of my freshman year because the deputy principal had just been transferred. Not that he had been of any help, given that he thrived in chaos, and would yell “You Cccchoooooooullllld be a Man, You Chooooould resist!!!!” if you walked into his office claiming to have been bullied. But still, he brought order and his promotion left a vacuum his acting successor, nicknamed Ali Baba (who was my father’s student, back in the day, story for another day) could not fill.
So Form Fours would take all their food to the dorm and eat like they were in some cozy 0.5 star hotel. Behind Dorm 7 was our makeshift gym, which is just euphemism for a few connected stones of different sizes, and a makeshift bench-press. Two Form ones, let us call them X and Y are feeling very macho and venture into this restricted territory. They have a good session building their six-pack and all, until some Form Fours watching them from inside the dorm ‘pity’ them and offer them food…wait, did I write offer? I meant forced them to eat….get this, they had already had their supper, and before them was food that was meant for……wait for it……wait for it…..12 people!!!
To their credit, they cleared the ugali and bad veggies because they were form Ones and were therefore almost always hungry…but it gets better….
Someone offered them a glass of water each….which was good and brotherly….before they offered them another…..and another after that…..and even more! You know that feeling you get when you have fed past satiety? Imagine four glasses of water on top of that…….and a glass of very concentrated juice!
This was the height of torment. Luckily this was a legend when I got to high school but it seems intriguing and the genius of bullying and cheap torment. Now, most schools have what’s called a ‘Lights Out’ (any relation to the series is purely coincidental, no boxing ring). This is mostly during prep times and other times when the school administration will switch off the lights in selected places to discourage truancy. Its sort of like if aliens invaded earth and started farting all over the place except at sea, where we would have to go die rather than die from extra-terrestrial farts (is the image disturbing enough yet?).
Okay, so these timers did not recognize weekends, which meant that even when there were no preps and there should have been lights, they were off. Everyone herded at the entertainment hall until 9.30 p.m, or went to the dorm at the risk of being bullied, raped (story for another day) or kidnapped (still, a story for another day). Now, a small movement of evil geniuses, bored and mad at least, figured out that when most people got to the dorm at 9.30, the first stop was the washrooms before they went for cheap chitty chat , sleep or smoking joints. So, what did our antagonist’s do? In this particular dorm, the meter box had been placed right above the urinal (madness I tell you, madness). So, someone with a wicked sense of humor (who probably likes to be strangled and whipped too) poured salt on the cistern, dipped naked wires into the little pee that’s always left even when the other flows….can you see the genius now??
They/he then changed the timer to 5 minutes and then…..waited….
On the other end of our story is a little Form Boy, make that three little form One Boys. They have been hiding behind the crowd hurdled over the TV at entertainment, watching a soap opera (I should probably claim the time-barred defense of the Bro Code). They run away at exactly 9.20 and head to the dorm, timing it so that they will get there just in time for the lights and just in time to avoid getting bullied. So at 9.25, they get to the dorm door and enter…..wait for it….wait for it….they head to the washrooms because a man must empty his bowels, right?
Now, visualize three boys reaching three boys reaching for their zips. Visualize these three boys, reaching for their privates….can you see them now?
A naked wire was just minding its own business when some bugger tugged on it and placed it in smelly pee pee.
The pee pee left the bladder alright and headed up the channel, through the pipeline, momentarily heading upwards in a trajectory. It then yielded to gravity and headed down as the boy directed it there….it shot in a jet….right to the top of the naked wires just as the timer hit 9.30 and the lights came back on!
Can you hear the morbid laughter in the background?
Simple physics will tell you that this was essentially the crudest of all booby traps (perhaps exceeded only by marriage and mousetraps)
Suffice to say that if our three form one’s are reading this, they are shivering up and down their spines….I hope that, when you get Erectile Dysfunction at 30, you will direct your wives and fungas to this blog so they can know why…
My personal favorite
#1 The Fraud of Spoons
This is where Bernie Madoff and that DECI guy learnt their thing, maybe even Kamlesh too. On supper of day One, every Form 1, even the one who will later become a ‘kamjuaji’ is lost in the confusion and mayhem that dictates life in a dining hall. After supper you wait for directions, herded together like sheep….So, what is the Fraud of Spoons?
Think of it like this, before you went to high school, a spoon was just that…..a spoon…then you went to high school and it became a currency, a valued item that could be exchanged for favors (such as the name and address of a girl you had your eye on)
The Fraudster of Spoons thrived on these two things; ignorance and the worth of spoons. He was just a normal guy with an ingenious business idea….as you sat there looking all confused after supper; a serious looking fella would approach the first table holding an empty Kasuku (can). He would tell you that due to the worth of spoons, they are kept in the safety of the dining hall and he….in this case could be the Zeus or even Jesus…was the Guardian of the Spoons.
You were not naïve; you were following directions, right? And after the first table of suckers, the others would fall like a pack of dominos. A guy would leave with, say, 100 spoons for every 101 of you, the exception being the guy who did not go for supper that day….
Can you smell the fraud here?
So at lunch the next day, as the weevil-infested githeri swam in the soup on your green (or red) plastic plate, you waited…..patiently…..for the spoons or the Guardian of the Spoons…..but we all know what happens. Someone would notice no one was eating and enquire, and in your innocence, you said you were waiting for your spoons, and he would seek clarification m his eyes smiling already….then he would ROTFL like a mad hyena!
A few days later, when the demand for spoons was extremely high and supply non-existent, rumor would start that there was a guy selling spoons….at 20 bob each, and just like that, you would buy the same piece of cutlery twice.
Then there was that tree behind dorm one where jokas in that dorm used to be made to hang, about 10 of them and then fall off like ripe peaches.
Then you had to collect darkness using buckets.
Singing the national anthem in your mother tongue, singing it to the tune of “Wasn’t Me!”by Shaggy and Usher…
Am I the only seeing it? Continue reading…
Disaster in the city…again.
Same script, new players, same villain.
Something happened yesterday; a fire in a Nairobi slum killed tens of people in the span of a few hours. Media houses were in shock, as was the rest of the country, and they ended up showing extremely graphic pictures, disgusting the good heart of our nation, even those claiming to be tweeting to help.
As someone who has been to a human anatomy laboratory, and around the bodies of the deceased more times than I count, I can tell you for sure that you do not know how you will react until you get there. Instead of whining about our little consciences, it would have been nobler to start organizing counseling services for the hundreds of residents, rescue workers, police officers and most of all journalists who were there all day. I placed the last as the ‘most important’ for one reason, they had to take photos, and then edit them. At least police officers and rescue workers have counseling services, or an iron armor you develop when disaster strikes too often.
Sad as it is, the fire was prophesied once, two years ago by two budding journalists. They cheekily titled their story (or the editor did, I suspect) The Fire Next Time: Slum Courts Doom. Two Years later, on a rainy, cold Monday morning, doom did accept to be courted, actually it came and took away about a hundred people and ruined others. The fire next time became, well, the fire next time indeed. The government was frustrated because local MPs would not allow the forceful eviction of residents. Ignorance paid off again, as it did several borders away in Congo where it smouldered about 240 people trying to siphon fuel. Of the three disasters that plagued the Central and East Africa Region, killing over 500 people in two days, two were fuel related, and all were machine failures. Still, on the bright side, it was not terrorist-related (or self-inflicted) like the attack on the WTC 10 years ago. Now we blame God, the government and poverty.
When someone asked me why I agreed with @machariagaitho when he wrote in this opinion piece that the price of impunity (and in extension, ignorance) had been paid and yet this people were driven there by poverty, I answered using the adage that ‘Ignorance is no defense’. You cannot live on an oil pipeline and not anticipate danger. Hell, I even mumble a prayer every time I get into a matatu. The saddest thing is that we are a country, and a world, of idealists. I salute the journalist who wrote this, reading was disturbing, even for me. and by the way , just in case you are looking to buy the fuel that survived, read this first.
We want the subjective, sieved details, we want to see edited photos and talk about the disaster. We want photos of the better part, not caring that there is worse happening. We romanticize and we look at disaster subjectively. We act as if disaster is a new thing, and yet it has stuck with humanity all through. Poverty or no poverty, realism has taken a backseat and we are where we are no because we have denied ourselves the truth…
The sight of charred remains, still smoking, the remains of what used to be a human body. The disgusting photos of the half-burned bodies floating in a river, as the people standing on the riverbank hold their chins. Of a slum where one neighbor knows not the other. Where people have died with no identity. It is the greater equalizer, death.
Stalin said that the death of a million is only a statistic, as is the death of a hundred in this case. Even if only one person had died in this fire, it would and should have been a tragedy enough. But the truth is that we have too high a moral sense, unwarranted to begin with, and we sympathies and empathize, and it is a new morning, whats the news?
When I was in college, my financial accounting lecturer told a story about his near-death experience. He was a college student back when the first oil truck overturned near Banana in Kiambu County a little over half a decade ago. As he headed home, he saw the truck and the people getting pails and buckets to get fuel. He joined in; like any other good Kenyan would (I am making an assumption here). When he had his first bucket full, he ran home to get another and just as he reached a few hundred meters away, the truck exploded. Drenched as he was in oil, he did the first thing his mind told him to do, silly, as it was he ran back. What he saw still haunts him, the one memory of a woman running towards him, like a human frame of fire, screaming and wailing for help. She fell to the ground and started rolling in an attempt to put out the fire, but an oil fire can be an ass.
There is no moral to that story, except where one believes that experience is the best teacher, or the story that is retold after that. Do not misquote me; I know if another truck overturns, or a fuel pipe leaks, people will go to get free fuel.
I believe that the worst disaster is the disaster of human ignorance, that innate ability to refuse to listen to reason because we think the universe knows we are poor, or homeless, or unfed, or rich, or tall, or short, or framed, or justified, or beautiful. I have it, you have it, and it will be the death of us, and death is a good thing, living with the scars is much harder.
ION and on somewhat of a lighter note, Walking with my friend @wambumishi yesterday, we happened upon this leaflets (read printed papers) distributed all over.
Now thats a woman scorned. This I believe is a classic case of the propaganda war, slander her name using all possible jabs. A little advice to women, if he is going out with her, fight him, not her. Then again I know that hit on deaf ears, even the realist in me can not understand why this woman would choose to get this tryped, printed, and distributed.
The last lines are the kind that ‘send a chilly feeling up and down the culprit’s spine’
This is the Beggining
Now my friend and I are arguing about whether
Maraya in this case is the woman’s name, nickname, or an insult misplaced. Whichever the case, the four exclamation marks place emphasis on the point.
I knelt on a mat beside my bed today
I prayed for the souls of the living
For power and water and food
I prayed for a good life
I prayed for age, for a bumper harvest
I knelt and prayed to all deities
I lay prostate and offered my being as a sacrifice
Hoping and waiting
I prayed for the future of the poor and the Conscience of the rich
I prayed for the insomnia of the wise
For the oversleeping of the daft
I prayed for water, for a full stomach
I prayed for a special heaven
For Hades to be consumed by its own fire
I prayed for the balls to face tomorrow
I prayed for love, for music, for all emotions
I prayed for art and for science
I prayed for might and meek
I knelt and prayed for pain, against pain, for torment, against torment
I prayed for revenge and for forgiveness
I prayed for a small fire to consume a big fire
For a small god to outdo a bigger one
I prayed for muscle and for flesh
I prayed for a great country
For a truth, any truth, some truth
I prayed for darkness, and then I prayed for light
For rain, and then for sun
I prayed for the souls of the undead
For the memories of the immortal
For the innocence of the unborn
For the death of the dead.
I knelt there, and prayed for Satan.
Carrier of man’s problems, pervasive and persuasive
A place of peace in the midst of insanity and noise
For a breather where none exists
To wallow in life’s problems and listen to one’s own conscience
To plan and pan, to feel alive
To stare at the barman
Or at the one woman who will serve a pint without throwing a fit
The bar Stool
Raised, higher than all other seats
A place where the lone wolf can sit and wish he had friends
Where he can make new friends and pay his own bill
Some sit on it because it makes them taller
For the first time in a whole day, they feel bigger than they really are
Because hot girls seem to sit there when they are lonely
Because unlike the noise in the background
The drugs, the ruined lives, and liver cirrhosis
The gout and throat cancer
The addictions and pervasions in the background
The happiness in the midst of ruin
Unlike the riches burnt in the background
The school fees not paid and battered spouses
The abandoned families and lost jobs
The choking and yet tempting cigarette smoke
The death and despair, the dance floor
The madness that seems like hell
Where people of different world’s can meet and meat
Where deals have been made and governments brought down
Where independence has been won and history made
Where Prohibition and taxation can do no harm
Where everyone is here to enjoy and make merry
Some to make a living
Some to steal it
Some to forget the problems that life has blessed them with
To forget if only for an hour
Sacrifice for a moment of happiness they will want to enjoy on the morrow
To meet new people
Dance away life’s problems and scream like the voice box has no knob
To kiss and love away at strangers
People life would never have brought them close to
To run away from the darkness that is their lives
And yet, a different man and woman sit on the bar stool
A man who would readily give up his high sit to be on the background with friends
A woman waiting for someone, or waiting to forget another
An old man on the prowl, for women or for amnesia
A young man waiting for his meal
An old maid staring at the barman’s abs
A little high chair, staring at the pints in their bottles
Wondering whether everyone else has a story of their own
Some sit on it to run away from the madness, to ponder, stare, glare
Some sit on the bar stool, alone, because it is the only place quiet enough
Quiet enough to read the paper, noisy enough to be in on all of it.
Another random walk. Another blank page.
Clean and fed now, it all seems like a blur, becoming clearer as the words flow out 😉
Unlike last time, today was driven purely by the spirit of adventure. I was minding my own business (read surfing over 15 tabs at more or less the same time) when my friend Bill came to visit. All men know that after two males explore the topics of women, booze, sex (different from women, in a way) and money (genre includes cars and all that it can buy), what follows is the weird silence. Where ladies would normally fill it up with conversations of their boyfriends, hairdresser, or a good shoe she saw at Jade Collections, we men are not inclined to do the same. It is the spirit of the Bro Code 😉
So after roughly fifteen minutes of conversation, with all topics explored beyond all points of available research at the time, Bill and I decided to take a walk. It was meant to be random, no direction at all, and so it was.
We left, followed Thika Road for sometime, which I must say is turning up to be quite something (although I still think the foot bridges are overdue, I saw someone narrowly miss getting hit by a speeding car yesterday), and walked leisurely. First stop, a furniture store where I saw this nice sofa bed(huh?), nice ended when the lady outside told me it is worth 40K. You know that feeling you get when something turns up to be too expensive to be beautiful? Yup, that kind..
Where was I?
At the Kahawa Sukari (which always sounds like a different way of saying chips funga) turn, the idea to enter Cyber Inn (the CRAPIEST name ever given to a club) and find out how good their nyama choma is, but it remained just that, an idea. Then there is the place where Pause Club (which I always thought was ‘Paws’) used to be, that little deformed club that was actually just one triangle tent at the end of the petrol station?
Into Kahawa Sukari, and the journey began…
If you have ever been at the Kahawa Sukari shopping Centre, then you know that as a visitor, there is not much to see except a few shops, clubs and such shenanigans. For the keen eye though, the economy of that little shopping centre seems to be built on something else that is not visible, at first. That’s when you notice the posh cars following the road…and what used to be a big barrier for getting into the estate. Now, when you look at it from the road, it seems like a small estate, I have only been there once before, a few months before I joined campus, and I kind of got lost…but that’s an embarrassing story only my journal knows ;)..
Two packs of sugarcane worth 10 bob each and the journey began…we just walked in as if we know the place, followed the tarmac road. Proboxes and its cousins the Succeed and other ugly but still practical cars were in plenty, I think I almost got hit thrice because I thought they were leaner than they seemed, like we could both fit on the road.
Kahawa Sukari is a posh estate, posh in the sense that you can see the well-manicured lawns and the effort placed on making the outside of the houses fit in. There are small shopping centers, a lot of quiet and peace after you have left the business of the highway. Bill asked me a funny question, it was funny to me because I was thinking it too, ‘how comes I do not know a single person who lives here?’. It is not like I would have dropped in or anything, but none of us knows anyone, at all, or has ever known anyone, who lives in this Sukari place. It is an upper middle class, mildly rich place, the kind of place you move to after several promotions, with or without quotes. It gives you a sense of what the gated communities such as Tatu City will look like when and if the court battles and greed ever end.
We stalked a girl for a while, okay, I just said that to sound creepy, we did not stalk her, she just happened to be headed the same way, and she kept looking behind like we were rapists at 3 PM (very few freaks have those kind of balls missus). Anyway, it is a boring place, there is little to see except big houses built on one of the few tracts of land that the Kenyatta family has sold. There were huge gates, monstrous houses, too much effort on the outside appearance, except for one guy who had what seemed like the empty crates side of EABL and KWAL combined on his balcony…trophies?
So we kept walking…
An hour later, we came to what we had been looking for, the end of the tarmac road. For the seasoned adventurer, this is where the learning begins. But it had already begun a few meters before…At the end of the tarmac is an academy whose name escapes me. It looks posh-ish, not exaggerated, but you can tell that only a good payslip can afford it. Next to it, next like sharing an electric fence (‘sharing’ in that one side erected it and the other has to live with it) is a public primary school with dilapidated buildings, and children with torn uniform. My camera was working, but I could not bring myself to take a photo of the school sign erected a few meters in. There is no gate, no fence except the one that divides them from Kahawa Sukari. It is Irony at its crudest…
Anyway, where was I? The end of the tarmac…yes…
And the snaking earth road where we had to hop into the tall grass to escape the dust from passing trucks and Proboxes (this things are everywhere!). 200 meters and we found the stage where those tiny matatus (if you can call them that) behind Engen dock, were in Mwihoko.
Mwihoko means hope in Kikuyu, and its on the other side of the valley from Kahawa Sukari. Its situational irony, or the person who named it wanted to pass a message. There is little to see in this place, the dilapidated houses, the new apartments, the dust, the clay soil…When you look behind you, the beautiful houses from where we just were in this journey. This are the unofficial servant quarters of the Sukari side, I presume. This is where the gardeners, house helps, drivers, watchmen, out-of-town thugs, come from. It has little to show except for open fields, and in the horizon, the Eastern Bypass. I actually saw a plane take off from afar, then when I was going to show it to Bill, it was not there anymore. I am sure I saw one, at least I was at the time…
Yes, Mwihoko was not the end, we just walked into the town, getting dusty in the process, with the early evening sun doing what it does best. The valley stretches for miles and miles, with little civilization in the dry river between the two humanities. It is a weird balance, yet it shows the perils of capitalism, the way some have and some do not, and in most cases, it is a fault of neither. So whom do you blame for such an imbalance?
We just followed the road, staring at the little children with running noses outside their houses as we passed. Mwihoko is not a slum, at least not in the context of dilapidated houses. Actually, after a few turns you can see nice houses, and fenced plots of land. There are no paper houses, at least in the parts I saw, and there is breathing space. Some houses are so good that they seem lost on this side of the valley, but somehow, they seem to fit in…
SO we walked on…
Then we got to what looked like an open field, it was not a field, it’s a huge tract of undeveloped land which am suspecting belongs to that family from Gatundu. Its an expansive tract of land, I think it took us about half an hour to cross it, and on the way we saw a couple of teenagers making out, that, or they were miming at each other, cows in abundance, and a lot of excrement. I cannot say here whether it was all animal or not, but I bet there is something from intelligible life from other life forms there.
At some point I thought we would emerge somewhere in Mwiki, or the backside of Kasarani (which sounds so wrong), but when we got to the civilization we had been seeing all along, I knew where we were, Kimbo, where I was in my other random walk! Phew! For finding, we had not gone so far, and darn! For the dust attack we were just about to endure…and endure we did. We walked all the way back, sometimes walking for hundreds of meters without saying a word. There was little to see, at least for me, until the turn where we could escape the dusty road and head back to Wendani, but there were more than three weddings. I am not one to show concern for such ceremonies, but the dust…I guess someone will have to take a very long shower before those honeymoon perks can be viable.
- Then there was a road (thats Bill on the left)
And there was litter of cute dogs, cute, until their mother growled from underneath them when I went too close. I guess today’s walk was somehere between 12-17 kilometers, which is not the longest I have done in the name of randomness, but it ranks as one of the most random. Bill said he got three coats of dust from the changes from tarmac, clay soil, weird looking dusty murram, and the dusty soil whose name I did not care to even guess. That, and that the Nakumatt attendant almost held her nose when I walked up to her.
So, where to next?
Walking in the streets today, something weird happened
Two weird things happened
A little girl, two little girls
Walked up to me as I hurried away
They each held on to one of my hands
And prayed that I give them a coin
I looked around, and saw
The mother’s menacing look
Like a pimp with a camera in the hotel room
Daring me to hurt their little children.
So I hurried away.
One let go, but the other little girl
The other little girl did not
She was not so little
Maybe seven, eight years old
She held on and walked at my pace
Half jogged even, as much as her little strides could.
I ignored her, or tried to, and walked even faster.
Twenty metres, she still did not let go.
Thirty metres, fourty, fifty…
I knew that at some point she would have to let go….
I was looking ahead, at something else…
On the road a few metres away, a young boy sat on the back of his mother’s wheelchair
A not so young boy
He sat there, his legs swinging away as his crippled mother
Manouvered her way through the midday traffic.
Unfair, I thought..
Why would he burden his mother even further than she was.
How unfair could a child be, I thought
So unfair as to not see his mother’s plight
Just add weight to he already burdened life
Just sitting at the back, on the big box
Maybe she was a hawker, and the box bore her wares
So, it was even heavy without the little boy.
But then I saw something beautiful,
A balance of nature between mother and son..
When the road started uphill
The not so young boy disembarked
And pushed his mother’s wheelchair,
Helping her negotiate the traffic…
Back to the little girl who would not let go
I ignored her because she was clean
And I knew one of the women looking at me was the mother
I ignored her because
She should have been in school
Because she has a future ahead of her, whether bright or not
I walked away because I saw in her eyes (when I did steal a glance)
A desperation for something more…
Then she did something I did not expect.
When she saw that it was all futile
She stopped, causing me to slow down because she still held my hand
She pinched me really hard.
When the eldest of my sisters decided to move out at 23, she was exhilarated. She was going to move to a house in Eastleigh (Back then, pirate cash had not quadrupled its population), or more correctly, a room. She had found the house on an ad in the papers, and when she left to go pay rent, she was sure she was now free to be her own girl. A few hours later she was back home, crying on my mother’s lap, conned out of her first KShs. 12, 000 attempts to complete freedom. It was a ‘normal’ swindle, two con artists, a man and a woman, the man was the spotter, and the woman was the ‘manager/agent’. The transaction took place in front of a building that was still under construction, and then they told her to wait as they got her the key, and they disappeared. When she tried to follow them, she found, well…. A forked road.
Its 2011 now, many years later, and con artists have changed with time. I am highly suspicious of people, even my friends, so I have rescued myself from being a sucker a few times. My old man showed me a text he had received, seemingly sent to a wrong number asking for a fifty bob so that the sender could call for a taxi to take his child, who had just been bitten by a snake, to hospital. It’s a fairly simple con, the sender is trying to exploit your emotions, especially now with Kenyans4Kenya when you feel that you owe the world for having made a few hundred thousand, or millions. The sender is working on numbers here, if twenty of you send him a fifty bob, assuming that no sucker feels that he has to send a thousand shillings, then our con artist will have a thousand shillings, probably to fund for a bigger scam.
How To Beat It: Don’t send it! Delete the text and feel guilty about it later, if there’s a child who is dying from snakebite, and God wants him to live, then he will live.
The MPESA scam:
This is the most ingenious scam I have seen so far. I first heard of it from an acquaintance I made while queuing at Barclays Mama Nina Street one evening (one of the only three bank branches that operates till 2030hrs btw). He was a middle-aged talkative man, and he narrated how he had almost sent his own KShs. 10, 000. It’s a simple scam…You receive a text saying ‘Transaction______________ Complete. You have received KShs. ___ from ________. Your New Balance is ______. Then you get a call from the said person requesting you to send him or her back the money and to cut, say, 500 bob, for the hustle. See the ingenuity in it?
It works simple, the sender/caller sends you a dummy text, and then calls you before you are done reading the text. The ploy here is to get you to send you your own money, such that while you think you have just earned 500 bob just for being a good citizen, you are actually just saving your own money.
How To Beat It: First, MPESA texts are sent from MPESA, never from a normal +254-7____ number. Second, the text has no typos or weird spaces, con artists are all about hoodwinking, and they never really take time to take care of the details, so when you notice a typo, check for the other factors. Such typos might include wrongly placed capitalizations, weird spaces or miss pelt names. Third, always have a rough idea of your MPESA balance. Like I said in the previous point, it’s all about hoodwinking, if someone sends you money, it is added to your normal balance. Therefore, if the con artist sends, say KShs 2, 000, and you had the same amount, then your balance should be KShs. 4, 000. But the con artist does not know how much you had in the account, and he or she is operating on pure guesswork. If it doesn’t tally, suspect!
How To Beat It Even faster: The con artist is a magician; most of them are first talkers, smooth operators. They will call you immediately after they send the text and ask you in a very polite voice, with a very detailed convincing story, to suspend them back their money’. Because it at times happens, where someone sends mistakenly sends you money, or vice versa, it is easier to just ask them to whom the text confirming the transactions was sent. Get it? I Asked some JONATHAN TIRO (obviously a fake name) that and he hanged up and never called again.
The Millitary Jobs scam
I wanted to join the military, I had a plan about how I was going to become a jet fighter pilot and all, and join a family tradition, from one side of my family that is….as do many other Kenyans. I don’t regret not joining, but I know it is not the same for everyone. So, what do you do if you have a younger brother like me with a love for guns and fatigues, when you get a text saying “Siz, Major amenipigia ameniambia ako na vacancies kumi za recruits and kumi za cadets. Ambia James na vijan wengine watume Kshs. 20, 000 ndio tu-book hizi vacancies…”(Siz, Major has told me he has ten slots for cadets and ten for recruits. Tell James and three other young guys to send Kshs. 20, 000 for booking)
How To Beat It: A tempting offer huh? The Millitary DOES NOT SELL vacancies! Okay, at least officially. We all know that there’s a lot of corruption and nepotism going on at these recruitments, but do not fall for it. No matter how desperate your situation, I am sure you can do something much better with that money than feed a con artist for a week.
The Jackpot Scam
These lazy Con artists cannot even think up a good scam. They simply hijack an ongoing competition, okay, maybe not really hijack, they take advantage of the desperation to win a jackpot. They can go with one of those weird Citizen TV competitions, or the Safaricom ones. The NTV one has also become popular for cons, although some are completely made up. They simply send you a text claiming that you have won a certain amount of money, a tempting figure for a struggling Kenyan, say Kshs 500, 000, and then provide a number you should call to confirm your details. When and if you do, the person on the other side tells you to pay a processing fee, that should cause your tail to tingle (got that from the animation “Over The Hedge”) but you would be surpirsied how many people fall for it.
How To Beat it: No Competition will ever ask you to pay a processing fee to get your winning, It is against the rules of the Betting Board. Don’t even call the number, all the one’s I know will call you with a certain number. If you are participating in a competition, the SMS ones, save the contact number so that you don’t fall for a scam. Don’t be too excited, follow my No. 1 Rule of Life :Suspicion & Cynicism. Seek details and information, and if your instincts tell you anything but to run, sue them, the instincts that is!
How To Beat It Even Faster: I know we all dream of waking up to a jackpot, but that’s not happening any time soon. If you have not, or are not, currently spending all your life savings sending SMSses to a competition, and you get one of these “You Have Won…”texts, ignore it.
The Prank Side: I pulled this one a friend of mine sometime back. I took her phone, changed my contact name to SAFARICOM, and then sent them a text later when we were seated next to each other. You should have seen her JUMP, if I hadn’t laughed so hard, she would never have figured it out (For once, YOU CAN TRY THIS AT HOME)
Most of this scams started in Kamiti Prison, and when the story became public a year or two ago, other bored, scam-dry, idealess con artists, probably in brothels in River Road and Luthuli, upped the game.
Have you ever fallen for such a scam? Or Know of any other? Share…the detail that is….