Tag Archives: Nairobi

How I Survived A Mob ‘Justice’.

Pickpocketing.

Is mob ‘justice’ really Justice? Is it the solution to increasing crime rate. There are situations where I would agree that it is. Like when someone is caught in the act, defiling a minor or a woman of age. I would understand when people act out of rage and beat up that savage.  But there are some instances where it becomes an injustice.A thousand people have lost their lives in the hands of mobs, a thousand innocent lives. Simply because someone suspected they had done something wrong (sometimes they didn’t really do it). They end up being beaten up, and/or burnt to their death. How people get excited by the sight of blood is something I still can’t bring myself to comprehend. Have we just become wicked or simply bloodthirsty? When a mob lynches wrongdoers, is there a difference between the people in the mob and the actual wrongdoer? I don’t think so, at the end of the day they have all committed a crime. We blame it on the laxity in our justice systems and the inefficient law enforcement apparatus, but still it doesn’t justify the need for mob lynching. Arrogating ourselves the role of the punisher, issuing instant justice is rather hypocritical of us. We have all, in one way or the other, committed certain crimes secretly and luckily got away with it, what then gives us the right to give out punishment to others? If we all had to pay for our secret crimes would there be anyone walking this earth?

That said, let me fast forward to my story…

It’s one hot and dusty evening when I walk into the countryside bus terminal (Machakos), five years ago. I was traveling back to the village from Nairobi. A stream of bus scouts kept approaching me, persuading me to go to a specific bus, others were honest enough to tell me that that’s the only way they would get their commission. But my mind was set, I had a specific bus in mind – the hottest countryside baby on the road, Destiny Coach. When I got to where it was, dressed in the latest graffiti art and neon lights, I was home. To add more life, the ticketing guy turned out to be my classmate back when we were in primary school in the village. After booking me, we talked for a while and then he advised me to get inside the bus and pick the best seat before they were all occupied.

Inside, I chose a seat in the first row next to a lady I found already seated next to a window. After assuming my position beside her, we shook hands and then I got out my  IDEOS smartphone from my pocket, plugged in it’s earphones and turned on some music. I was looking earn some points. For your information, IDEOS smartphone was an asset back then, smartphone was just hitting the Kenyan market, and being in possession of such a gadget was a plus. 

A friend of mine texts me, asking me where I was and when I told him that I had booked a bus back to the village and was leaving at 9pm. It was still some minutes past seven so he suggested we meet up in town for supper before I left. I decided why not? I requested the lady beside me to watch my space as I rushed to pick something in town. She suggested I place something to mark the seat. Since I had no bag I decided to leave my coudroy jacket behind. I walked into town and met my friend and then at around 8:30pm, he offered to walk me back to the terminal.

On reaching, the bus was not at it’s parking spot. I asked one of the scouts and he offered to take me to the clearing exit where the bus was. I bade my friend and rushed behind the scout, pressing through sweaty masses of other travellers, scouts, touts, hawkers, idlers and petty thieves. Finally, we got to the ‘baby’ and I offered twenty shillings coin to the scout and he walked away after giving me a strong handshake. I got in and walked to my seat. To my shock, it was occupied already. This lady must be so dumb, I thought to myself.

‘Hey, where’s my jacket?’ I asked dejectedly.

‘You’ll give me back my phone!’ She shot back at me.

‘Are you nuts? Where’s my jacket?’ I demanded. She didn’t bother responding to my question. She stood up from her seat. 

‘Conductor here he is!’ He called out at the front.

The intruder seated at my place remained calm. Bodies of hawkers pressed beside me as I stood in the alley. I was about to ask a third time for my jacket when someone grabbed me by the collar of my short sleeved shirt, cutting the words from my throat midway. I turned my eyes to see who the ‘joker’ was but I my eyes only met bloodshot eyes. The attempt turn my head around made my throat hurt and I felt like being cut off air. I gasped for air and returned my head to the initial position.

‘Where’s that lady’s phone?’ My captor asked. Saliva spurting out of his mouth and settling all over my face.I turned to the lady, my eyes almost popping out as I tried to get some air in and trying to speak.

‘Di…d I t…ake  your …phone?’ I managed to ask with the little breathe I could get.

‘You stole my phone and went to sell it in town!’ She shouted back.

This was the craziest thing I ever heard my all life, being accused of stealing. Stealing a phone whose price must have been a quarter of the one I owned, this ridiculous. When I left she was typing on the phone. Before I could talk, someone slapped my head from the back. Then a punch followed. My captor stillof maintained his grip and tightened it occasionally to make me confess. He tried to slap me but I blocked it before it landed on my cheeks. I was now sorrounded , shouts of ‘Thief! Thief!’ rippled in the air inside the bus. 

‘Let’s burn him’, a voice suggested. And it was chorused by the others. 

‘Burn him!’

I tried to plead with my captor that I was innocent. That I didn’t steal the phone in question. But I realised that the more I pleaded, the more guilty I looked to them. My fate was sealed.

‘We are used to you idiots. You are all always innocent. We are going to see how innocent you will after we set fire on you!’ Someone barked from behind me.

One guy ransacked my pockets and fished out my gadget and showed it to the lady if it was hers. She said no. The slaps rained on me in tandem with the questions about where the phone was. I decided to keep quiet and wait for my death. I always wondered how I would die, where and what I would be wearing on that fateful day. My guess had always been that I would die in a road accident. That day had finally come, I know knew how I was going to die. A painful and embarrassing death. I felt for my family and friends. What a shame I was going to leave them. Lynched by a mob snatching a phone. I thought of how they were going to learn about my death. An update would run under the screen of television news broadcast: A NOTORIOUS PHONE THIEF LYNCHED AT THE FAMOUS COUNTRY BUS TERMINAL! That would be me, a ‘notorious phone thief’. They would just ignore it or maybe say it deserved the thief right.

After some days when I didn’t make it home and my phone dead.A  search would ensue. Only to discover that I was the ‘phone thief’.

I thought of a scenario where the police would intervene and handcuff me to the nearest Police station…Moroto… that is less than a hundred meters from where I was facing ‘justice’. They would hold me there for a while until I bought them some ‘tea’ before they could let me go.

My stream of thoughts were interrupted by someone’s voice ordering people off the bus. My captor loosened his grip and I looked back and I recognised that face. He had been down there with my friend, the ticket guy.

‘Aren’t you a passenger in this bus?’ He asked when he got to me. I gasped for air and told him that I was.’Show me your ticket!’ He demanded, but in a soft way. I reached for my shirt pocket and luckily it was there. I showed him and then he turned to the lady who had been accusing me. I remembered my phone but I couldn’t see any of the faces who had held me captive. But that didn’t matter now, I just escaped death.

‘Sponsor’ Gone Rogue!

Stories have been told. Hearts broken. And marriages thrown into the wind. Economic crunch. The great depression. Even Muamar Gaddafi came and vanished, but this rare species has refused to be extinct, in fact it has only managed to evolve and redefine itself in the society. We can only wish it away but as far as I know, it’s here to stay. It has been operating under a lot of aliases. Latest is the more swanky name, SPONSOR. Former and old fashioned being, Sugar daddy/mommy. Hope you now catch the drift, yeah?

A few days ago, one sponsor decided to act up, or simply teach a sponsee(one who is under the sponsor’s care) some unforgettable lesson. I suspect the sponsee had been a bother and the sponsor simply wanted to get rid of her. 

And the story was…

I had gone to Migori, in South Nyanza, on a personal commitment and I was now traveling back home to Ugenya through Kisumu. Next to me inside the mini bus I was traveling in sat this fair lady. Fair because she was somewhere between beautiful and ugly, fat and thin, light and dark skin. She wore heavy make up that made her look so ridiculous. Her eyebrows trimmed to thread-thin then she did paint it with an eye pencil to make it look bolder. Why would she even do that! Isn’t that time wasting? I have seen a lot of ladies do that but I fail to get the humor in it. If you don’t want to have eyebrows and you decide to shave them off, why again draw imaginary ones? Then she had this blood red lipstick on her full lips. Gracing her head was this blonde wig, that was bold. I’m sure she got it off second hand clothe vendors on some open air market. It must have cost her Kshs. 80 after some 30 minutes of haggling, she looked like that type, the type who could bargain even at the supermarket. A yellow chiffon blouse top and black jeans plants with yellow doll shoes (those shiny plastic ones that cost like Kshs. 150), was her dressing. Then she babied a black shiny handbag, I’m sure it was plastic too. Thank God she had thought of wearing some perfume, even though it was hurting my nostrils, like some noxious gas. Her nail polish was of different colors in every fingernail and a little worn out.

Her phone rings from inside her bag and she fiddles with the zipper and finally opens it. She was short of ripping the bag apart like it was a timer bomb that would go off if she didn’t reach for it within milliseconds. Fishes out the phone and places it on her ear that was on the side I was. I couldn’t help eavesdropping on the conversation.

” Achieng ne isewuok?” (Achieng’ are you on your way?) the caller in a male voice enquires. Now I know her name.

“Yea,” she responds plainly.

“Ne iwacho ni idhi kanye?” (Where did you say you were going? ) the caller enquires further.

“I’m going to Nairobi!” She says in a heavily Luo accent. She’s not loving this conversation at all, it’s evident from the minimalistic answers she gives. The caller was about to ask another question but I suspect she hang up on him. She must have suspected I was following the conversation because immediately she got off the phone she looked my direction but I pretended to be preoccupied with something else out the window. I guess she was cursing the caller for putting her through all that humiliation, talking to her in Dholuo.

There’s one thing that got me thinking, her ringtone, about what kind of lady she was or secretly hoped to be. It was of luo rhumba, Johnny Junior I suppose.
There’s something about these songs that make them so popular with beer drinkers, I guess it’s because they are always played at most locals – bars, mostly where luos frequent. By all standards she would pass for a drinker, Tusker must be her favorite brand I conclude.

I’m seated beside Miss. Tusker here and none of us has said a word, save for the occasional surreptitious looks. I’m always scared of starting conversations with strangers sitting beside me while traveling because I never want to know where it might lead, and Miss. Tusker here wasn’t going to be an exception. Something ever happened to me, really horrible, but that’s for another day. For now allow me to keep my reservations. Another ringing and she receives the phone call. This time her face is glowing, the caller must be special.

“Hi babe!” she says before the voice at the other end could talk.

“Hi,” a deep male voice responds at the other end, “how far are you?” he asked.

“Like an hour hivi! ” she informs him.

“OK, call me mkifika!” the voice says and the line goes dead. It’s bad manners but I just can’t help following…
The bus conductor is doing a routine check of the passenger tickets and asking if there’s anyone demanding any a change back. When he gets to our seat I pass him my ticket and he marks it and hands it back to me. Miss. Tusker looks at him in the eyes trying to smile, while the conductor maintains a serious face.

“Madam hebu lipa pesa. Sitaki mchezo!” (Madam pay up. I don’t want jokes) he commands.

“Si alikuambia atalipa tukifika”(He told you he is going to pay when we get there), she responds in almost a whisper, an embarrassed look on her face.

“Mwambie anitumie kwa Mpesa.” (Tell him to send me money through Mpesa) he declares and sashays along alley  not giving her room to talk back. She looks at me and when our eyes meet I give a blank stare. I almost told her that I didn’t hear whatever they were discussing in a bid  to reassure her. Her eyes darted around to see if anyone else was looking at her. And indeed all eyes were on her.

Don’t worry honey, they are just admiring your wig, they are probably fascinated by your guts, you are the only lady who can travel to Nairobi in a Kisumu bound minibus without paying.” I played the monologue in my mind.

She tapped my elbow and I almost jumped out of my skin. It felt like I was dreaming until she did a second time and I heard her voice close to my ear, it was so close like she was going to bite it off.

“Could you please assist me with your phone I make a call.” She whispers.

I hand her my phone set to dialer without uttering a word. I’m eager to eavesdrop on the call and it’s becoming addictive. And when the call finally goes  through, the deep voice echoes from the other end. He passes the conductors message to Mr. Deep Voice who promises to call back in two minutes and direct her on what to do and hangs up. She flips my phone over several times and then tells me that I have I nice phone. As if I didn’t know. Why would I go to a shop and buy a phone that to me wasn’t nice! I’m eager to have my phone back while she’s pensively waiting for Mr. Deep voice to call. She remembers she also has a phone and hands me back my gadget.

The bus is going fast and I can now see signs of Kisumu. The conductor walks to her and demands for the money again. He’s finally lost his patience and he’s determined to have his dues now. Then she does the worst mistake. She stepped on sore puss-filled whitlow! And the sin was, asking the conductor for his phone so that he could call back Mr. Deep Voice. The conductor took it as an insult and what ensued was hurling of unprintable. I gave her my phone to call his Mr. but he was unreachable. She tried and tried, and tried one more time but nothing…

The number you tried to call is out of reach, if you wish to leave a voice message please do so after the tone… ” that’s all Miss. Tusker could hear.

She double checked the number and dialed an umpteenth time but the response was the same. Her eyes were almost watery. Passengers had now joined the conductor and jibes were outpouring.

“Mano onyale kabisa!” (That serves her right ) a passenger shouted from behind.

“Ochal jakwal chuo jowetege!” (She looks like a husband snatcher)  a female voice teased somewhere at the front row.

Miss. Tusker was in deep shit. Her tears were now flowing freely, she couldn’t contain herself. The insults kept flying from all corners of the bus. She leans over and asks me if I could pay for her then she would refund me, or even do anything I asked of her. That was the mother of all shockers! How the hell was I going to pat with my five hundred bob for some stranger I met on a bus! She must have been sick. I told her the only cash I had was Kshs. 200, my fare to Ugenya from Kisumu. She told me all she had was Kshs. 70 in her purse, how was that even a concern of mine? That is desperation to you. A sponsor had decided to act up. Maybe a better option just came up. Or the sponsee had humiliated him and he wanted some revenge. When he thought out this plan, he was boiling with hatred I’m certain of that. He wanted it to be perfect, no mistakes. She had to pay. And Miss. Tusker here was paying the price. She wouldn’t suspect any foul play, not if it was well orchestrated. Mr. Deep Voice must have been a sponsor gone rogue.

jagweng