I am walking home from college. Remember, I am doing CPA at Vision and I live in Plot 10, Kirinyaga Road. Just past Globe Cinema, this guy meekly greets me. He is lost, and wants to know where KCS house is. I tell him I don’t know. He has this heavy Meru accent, and I ask him if he is Meru… He is. Where? Kianjai. Wow! I went to school near those parts. Next thing I know, we are korogaing deep American.
He just arrived in Nairobi to cash a Kenya Charity Sweepstake and wants me to help him get to KCS house. I honestly don’t know where it is, but he tells me he had already been there a few hours back. But the person who had taken him had turned against him and he suspected he had people waiting to rob him of his Sh. 200,000.
Wait a minute! That’s 200K Kenya Shillings. Being the curious Frank, I tell him to show me the card. There it is, 3 clean 200,000 figures scratched.
He tells me that if I help him get the cash, he will give me Sh. 30,000. I tell him that’s too little. We bargain to 40K.
I am trembling with anticipation. I have never seen that kind of money in my life. I can traffic cocaine for that, sembuse taking someone to some place in town. He asks me the time and I chuck my phone. The hottest smartphone back then, Nokia 6600. He stares at it for too long, as if he doesn’t believe when I tell him it’s 6:00 pm.
So, we go. He is visibly frightened. He believes people are following him. Or waiting for him near the cashing house. So we go rounds and rounds till it’s dark. It’s past 7:30 when we get to Kencom and he points out KCS house to me. I am to walk in,cash the amount as my own and come back out with it.
There is a catch, though.
“Leave me your phone”
No. I can’t.
“Do you think I am stupid trusting you with 200,000 when I have nothing of you
It’s a small security, and if you get lost, I can track you using it”
I make a mental calculation and decide, for 40K, I can leave my beloved phone. I instinctively remove the SIM card, leave him the phone and saunter in.
There is no one in sight-it’s late, so I catch the lift to the said Floor. There is still no one in the office,but it’s open, so I walk in looking into the offices. I mean, I have a right to be here! I am a winner. I finally get a lady who could easily be the CEO.
Who else leaves the office last? I tell her I have won and she tells me to come back tomorrow, working hours. Man! This woman is delaying my blessing! I try to tell her I can’t wait but she dismisses me. I begrudgingly leave.
You will spend 20 years in prison for forgery
Outside, I can’t see my guy! I think I am mistaken and go around the blocks, all the way to the High Court, back to Uchumi City Square, round Kencom. But can’t see him! Who would leave 200K for an old 20K phone. I am worried. Not because of the phone, but because this poor guy may have been attacked. He was afraid of his life! An hour later, I have to go home, sad, worried.
The following morning, I am the first person at the Kenya Charity Sweepstakes House. I walk in and report to the Security Desk that I have won and am going to cash my card. He asks me to show him my card, and grabs my hand, hard!
“Where are you from, kijana?”
“Where did you get this ticket?”
“You see that building over there? There is a Police Post. So, I will ask for the last time… Where did you get this ticket?”
Kamenuka. I crack like I have just been tortured in the Nyayo Basement. Telling the entire story. After I am done, he looks at me with this fatherly eye.
” You are lucky, young man. This ticket is forged. ” He says, casually erasing the 200,000 numbers with a fingernail. “I am a Kamba, and we and Merus are brothers. If you were a Jaluo, I would have taken you in. Do you know how it could have been?”
I shake my head, trembling.
“That would be a million Shillings fine or 30 years in prison for forgery.”
“To avoid that, I want you to give me Sh. 10,000 for me to release you”
What! Is he mad? I am now looking at the prospect of going to jail. I can’t afford 10K. We bargain…this is one of my main talents.. to Sh. 3,000, which I don’t have. He tells me to go look for it, and if I don’t come, “utajua mimi ni Mkamba na tuna uchawi”
When I reach the house, it hits me. I have just been conned! And exposed to crime. Have you seen a grown, read circumcised, Meru man sob? I drench my pillow with tears.
A phone made of sponge
The next day, I am in a mission to reclaim my phone. Guess how? Have you walked through Tom Mboya street looking at the phone displays? If you have, someone off the street must have approached you, offering a phone for sale. I figure those are stolen phones, and my phone would be offered to me for purchase. This works… At least the someone offering a phone part…. It is a Nokia N9. Another hotcake.
It is a youngish guy, and I tell him I am interested. So, we walk, talking. I even tell him I am looking for a lost phone, if he had seen any of his friends selling a 6600. He hasn’t. So, I decide to buy this. We agree on the price, only Sh. 2500, and proceed to an M-Pesa to withdraw. Nature is against me, I don’t have my ID, so I can’t withdraw and have to run back to the house for the ID. We exchange numbers and I leave. When I come back, with the money and call the guy…
“Ah. This phone is on demand, my guy. I have already sold it”
Damnit! That was clearly not meant to be mine. So I walk away, crestfallen. Hours later, the guy calls me. My prayers have been answered (thank God)..the guy didn’t, after all, buy the phone, so I can get it. We meet at the same spot we had met, Tom Mboya Posta. He shows me the phone…working perfectly. My bargain bug bites me and I ask him to drop the price by 500, to 2,000. He can’t.
“Mimi ni Mgodii jo. Niko hustle buda. Ka na phone yako unasaka enda police(I am a Mgodii on the hustle,dude. If it’s your lost phone you are looking for, go to the Police)”
That Sheng lingo is too tight for me. I don’t know what a Mgodii is, but I can’t show I don’t know. That’s usamba.
“Wazi maze. Mayouth ni kusaidiana. Nipe tu.(Cool, man. Youths should look after each other. Give it to me)” He gives me the phone, and we part our ways. I can’t brandish this phone in the street and I excitedly trudge to the house to inspect my discovery.
I press the start button and it sinks. I open the back side and….. The phone case is filled with sponge!
Just last week, my friend Jeff had been conned this way and we had laughed at him for being so gullible. Now I had been conned. I have lost money in the most foolish style ever. I cry again. I can’t tell this to anyone. It has to be in the heart. It’s my little secret.
Nairobi had scored me 2-0 in two days.
I call up a friend of dad’s living in Nairobi to assist. He is a good man. He is indebted to my father so he always assists me. True, he brings me an old Siemens phone with a broken antenna, that I name BlackBerry. It is so old, it is actually cool.
The following week, we are walking to school with Kero and Flo. There have been riots and running battles between the Police and Grogan mechanics. The air is full of gunshots and the choking tear gas. Police everywhere. No vehicles…just battle. Flo says people get mugged on such days. I don’t believe her. I tell them that if someone tries to steal my BlackBerry, I will cut him to pieces.
Minutes later, a friend I don’t remember stops me to say hi. Kero and Flo keep walking.
“Niaje buda. Tuachie yetu( Wazzup bro. Give us what belongs to us)”
I am not amused. So I quip.. “What?”
I suddenly realize I am surrounded. My ‘friend’ is now holding a hammer. Someone else has pliers, and someone has these huge iron sheets scissors. I am being mugged. Flo tries to scream, but a hammer is pointed at her and she zips up like a scratched CD. They empty my pockets right there in the crowded street and no one seems to care. I have been mugged! My BlackBerry is gone. And oddly, I laugh. I laugh so hard that people stand to stare. Maybe it’s because I am laughing and crying at the same time.
Probably, that Kamba security guard actually bewitched me.
Nairobi 3-0 Frank. In one week.
|Sorry. This is disgusting
Nairobi played this on me. I am escorting a girl, a first time date, to Bus Station (I don’t remember her name because that’s the last time I saw her); when we are met by a black person. By black I mean, charcoal black. Only the bloodshot eyes and strangely pink lips are visible. The guy is a walking chimney. He is wearing all black-I doubt the clothes were originally black, could have been white. He is dirty, and is accompanied by a big gang…of houseflies and this smell. The only thing I see is the girl running across the road, with her big, Luhya hips swinging clumsily. Well, I must admit I hadn’t noticed those.
“Boss, leta punch ama nikupake” (I want Sh. 500 or I will smear this on you)
I look to see what the make up is, and it’s right there-black slimy diarrhoea human output. I swear I can see a billion pieces of cholera and other assorted diseases therein. The smell itself can make a skunk cover its nose.I don’t know why I am not scared. Maybe I have had a shittier day already. I tell him in a snap that I don’t have any money for him. And I don’t care because kill him if he does. You know, it is a public bus stage, and I expect people to move in. I at least expect my girl to scream.
But this is Nairobi. I have to fight my battles alone, People are watching us from a distance. I can’t see my escort. I tone down.
The guy opens his jacket and removes a large syringe. Those big cow and hippopotamus syringes. Filled with thick blood.
“Hii ni AIDS, an ukijifanya mjanja nitakudunga“(This blood has HIV, and if you act truant I am injecting you)
I am now sweating. I honestly don’t have money, otherwise, I would have given it all to him. My negotiation skills come into play.
“I don’t have money”
“You are wearing a suit. Don’t lie to me” I was in a suit, remember the date?
“Sometimes we wear like this to look for jobs. I am a sufferer like you, man”
We keep bargaining as if he is a hawker. I bring him down to friendship terms and soon, we are on first name basis. His name is Kim, or something, and he is telling about how he came to Nairobi to be tout, got fired, became a street boy, and now he was forced to be a mgondii. By the time I left, he even wanted to give me something small, to get me home, but I told him I was better, and gave him a loose Sh. 5 to get a maandazi on me.
Talk about random acts of kindness. Try to understand your mugger, or your conman. And forgive them if you can. I am still trying to forgive the socialite who abused my kindness to con me of money and she still tweets her good life. Story for another day.