‘That will be thirty shillings, mkubwa.’ Shoebbler replied after being asked the cost of shoe shining service by his first customer Mr. Mtanashati a long time ago.
Mtanashati had been tarmacking for eighteen months or so, surviving only on freelancing. As a freelancer, he made good dough, enough to see him through to the next new moon. But with his education, people, including his close relatives, thought he was just wasting his time right after having put the parents through thistles and thickets to pay for his higher education. Everybody urged him to get a real job and that’s how he sometimes found himself at Shoebbler’s to have his shoes taste some shoe polish when heading for an interview when invited.
Shoebbler was the local shoe shiner and cobbler, a verbose and loyal worker. Actually, most of the grapevine news Mtanashati gets from him.
This morning, Mtanashati was to head to yet another interview and so he had to look his best, as usual. This day Shoebbler wasn’t himself. He then started telling Mtanashati how God doesn’t exist, how his inexistence is a proof of all the lawlessness.
‘Just look around and see how people are suffering. If God existed, couldn’t he do something? Isn’t he the almighty, the one vigorous in power and with abundance of dynamic energy? ’ he said, to no one in particular.
He went on, sounding spiteful this time, ‘If God existed, why tolerate the misery that we the hapless suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do children die…? Look at Mpole; he was a staunch Christian, every Sunday with his bible going to the place of worship, now he owns nothing. His house razed to the ground, his wife leaving him thereafter for someone with more money. Why didn’t God do anything? Why is it that those doing bad always seem to thrive, the immoral, the ones doing phony business flourishing but the sincere ones languishing in poverty and dying emaciated like the wick of the candle they used all nights, all in doing what, goodness? ’
This astounded Mtanashati as a fortnight earlier, Shoebbler himself said he was relying to God for his very existence; that without Jehovah his life would be a behemoth of misery. All in all he quietly listened to him thinking how he can reason with his acquaintance.
Shoebbler was done, Mtanashati then stood up from the stool to take out his wallet and pay. When leaving, he caught sight of a very dirty person, with shoes having fish lips, another one with very dirty shoes resembling the Sahara desert, still another with shoes that could have been mistaken to have once belonged to Methuselah.
He turned back to Shoebbler and said, ‘Cobblers and shoe shiners don’t exist.’
Taken aback, Shoebbler replied, ‘How could you say that, are you insulting me? I’ve just polished your shoes right now; see how they are shiny that you can see your reflection on them!’
‘Well, look around Shoebbler, those people’s shoes are eye sores. Look at how dirty they are, not even miracles can salvage them.’
‘You are looking at the wrong way. Those people’s shoes are that way because they haven’t taken care of their shoes by taking them to cobblers and shoe shiners.’
‘So also we can’t blame God for just anything bad that happens to us and yet we haven’t sought him for guidance on how to live but look to ourselves and all the technology that makes us grander in our own eyes… By the way, did you know that God promises a better future for us? These tragic things happening to are temporary and God promises to undo them and reclaim the earth to its original state…’
The conversation went on for two minutes or so and the two promised to talk about the subject that evening at Mtanashati’s place.
“No Mr. Doc, it can’t be… it’s just darn impossible.”
“It is as it is, Mr. Ophil. Those are the results, and they can’t, they never lie.”
“But Doc, how, I mean, I’m a dude, how is it feasible for this, this to happen to me?”
“I was in awe too Ophil, when the result sheet was handed to me. But it’s possible.”
“Why, or rather, how Mr. Doc, hoooww? I’m a dude, for heaven’s sake!”
“The impracticalness, Ophil, would be when a lad had cervical and a lassie, prostate can…”
“I’m no inane, Mr. Doc…”
“Don’t you think I’m aware of that Mister O…?”
“Alright, alright, Doc, but, breast cancer, on me? Surely, it just can’t be.”
My head is spinning fast, really fast, U.F.O. fast.
“Denial will not make the problem peter out and if you don’t do something about it, I presume your will is ready.”
“Mr. Doc, let my thinking faculty digest this then I’ll be back we work out a way forward, ok? Okay and please, stop the death jokes, they aren’t humorous in fact, they are more of death threats employed by weenies like the terrorists.”
“Ha-ha ha! Affirmative, Ophil, au revoir then.”
“Adieu. Have a pleasant day.”
I head to my favorite spot in the locality where I like to ponder over thing affecting my life and think of possible way outs; why meditate on scriptures I’ve read and see where they are applicable in my mortal life for its betterment.
“Why has this happened on me?” I thought out loud, “but the Doc said ‘something can be done’. I’ll head there tomorrow so that the something can be done, and done very fast!”
“Good morrow Sir Doc? I’m back so we could discuss that something you mentioned the last time I was here.”
“Morning, welcome and please have seat. Last time you were such a verbose that I forgot to tell you the good news in regard to your situation.”
“Good news? Talk about my dying being good news, I guess I’m such a nobody that my demise is good news.”
“You’re at it again, what pessimist you are!”
“I’m just being real Doc.”
“The good news is that your condition is on the first stages of development and that means it’s treatable”
“Oh, good! When can I start the treatment?”
“Come slowly, mon a mie.”
This got me thinking, how man beings get a chance like this; a second chance, an opportunity to postpone the expensive trip to Sheol.
All this time my thoughts lingered on when I’m gone. How will my lovely consort cope? When I’m gone, who’ll take care of my beautiful daughter, the personification of beauty; give her the adoration I bestowed on her in full measure? How long before I leave this place of the mortals to my resting place till resurrection? Will everything really be okay when I’m gone? –Sigh–. Those thoughts of despondency weighed me done that I wasn’t myself.
You can imagine the feelings I had when told there was hope! How euphoric I was!
::> In case you’re wondering, the diagnosis of breast cancer in male, applies the same techniques — physical exams, mammograms, and biopsies (examining small samples of the tissue under a microscope) — that are used to diagnose breast cancer in women. Symptoms of breast cancer in men are very similar to those in women§<::
“So Doc, what are the treatments available?”
“The same four treatments that are used in treating breast cancer in women — surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormones — are also used to treat the disease in men. The one major difference is that men with breast cancer respond much better to hormone treatments than women do. Many breast cancers have hormone receptors, that is, they have specific sites on the cancer cells where specific hormones like estrogen can act. Men are much more likely to have these receptors than women, making hormonal treatment more likely to be effective.”
Two years and four treatments later…
“The results of your second check-up are tremendous, Ophil! They show you are fully recovered and the chances of a recurrence are just minimal.”
“Wow! I can’t believe it, Doc. Thank you so very much for everything, thank you for giving me a chance to live again and raising this sweet daughter of mine.”
“All thanks to Jehovah, Ophil all this science is a product of the astuteness He bestowed on us.”
“All thanks to Him. We better be on our way so you can continue with your work, Doc. Thank you again. Ciao”
“Goodbye to you and have a splendid life ahead. Keep in touch.”
That’s it… or almost. This post was meant for October last year, the cancer awareness month, but I thought, “Everybody will be at it at that time” and it’s for both gender. So this is just a reminder to always have the check-ups as frequent as the doctors have recommended. And another thing, ladies, teach us men how to do self test as you’ve been taught and always take us with you for those tests, please! 🙂
- § Most male breast cancers are diagnosed when a man discovers a lump on his chest. However, unlike women, men tend to go to the doctor with more severe symptoms that often include bleeding from the nipple and abnormalities in the skin above the cancer. The cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes in a large number of these men.
What’s In a Name?
“What’s in a name, a bulb in a different name would still light, right?” So we call ourselves innocent names like The Base[*], The Youth/Boys[†], A Multitude/A United People[‡] among others. Such wusses we are!
Have you ever witnessed the renovatio of a butterfly, from a caterpillar of course? Well, we transform in vise-versa. Our mission is to protect our people; community… tribe per se. Money was the enticement. Machetes, bows and arrows, were our primary wives. Then the white men, wise men, invented a pipe with a chamber, a trigger and a license to kill. We took up arms and an attitude of Commando so as to trade our protection or be the tribe’s nightmare if they refused to part with the monies.
Monsters we metamorphosised to. Money, power and respect were our Frankenstein. We aimed to question the authority, control the people and their businesses so as to receive free money as we were busy lazing around with dry lips, tooth picks dangling from our input orifices while masquerading as sausage role sellers.
Fear & Greed
We rule, cowardly though, by manipulating the two motors that power humanity. Makes man do all in their will to acquire and/or safeguard. Have you ever wondered why insurance covers were innovated? Why a person would dump waste near human habitation or crash down investors’ buildings worth millions just because s/he wants that piece of land?
Terrorists we are called. Terror acts we, cowardly, commit so as to instill fear that our greedy objectives can be met.
This is a story of rebels wanting what’s not of theirs to keep, but still want.
We use jungle tactics to infringe the law and act lawless. Scuttle butting is one of them devices employed. Talk about coming to tax you with claims that we had banter with the Mzee wa Mtaa and he has approved that course of action. Snub and it’s like you’ve given us consent to take good care of your head since you are tired of it being on your body. Also, we would judge those we exercised supremacy on using sharia law and be callous at it.
Governments that try to bring us down hit the rocks, fortunate for us, pity to them. Oh yeah! Spartans we are, superpowers don’t lift fingers, not even pinkies, at us. We are their big clientele for their weapons, we the big kahunas, but do I say!
We venerate Apophis the god of fear and darkness yet allege we are of Allah…
Code name: Hermes.
I was this bloke who insufficient fund dictated that he pause the pursuance of education and in this part of the Sahara, academic papers equal job; no academic papers no job-o and no dough and that, mon ami, is tantamount to no life. But life as it is, even with the highest education, some languished in poorness and so, hustler’s mind was a requirement to survive. That hustler mind (and spirit) I had thus I survived, since my parents raised no fool!
“Hermes, our son, be a good boy don’t be a yobbo, okay?
Remember the virtues we’ve taught you, espouse them with passion.
Life is like a mirror, so always face it with a smile for it to reciprocate in kind.
Show kindness to all and loving kindness to those close to you; loyal love to those close to you.
Love dearly your wife and children if God bestows them to you and keep your marriage divan without defilement.” et cetra et cetra. The mantra my parents always recited.
If only those words were magic words for a Good-Life genie to materialize and shower one with the necessities (and lavishes, lots of opulent materials) of life.*sigh*
Odd jobs I did to keep up with the demands of life; demands that when neglected, the aftermath would resemble ozone layer depletion. My class mates are all flourishing, living aristocrat’s lifestyles; in storey domiciles, they reside, posh auto mobiles color their treks, in stylish schools, where a year’s school fees can maintain my plebian lifestyle a century, their progeny take in the world’s knowledge. Oh life, how unfair can you be, may be they just face it with bigger smiles than mine’s. There were scuttlebutts that they (my aristocrat class mates) were drug barons, but you know, people talk!
How was I to elevate myself from the abyss of poverty? Go to a witchdoctor? No. Be a petty swindler then established thief to an armed robber? Never! Vie for a parliamentary seat? May be. Join a terrorist group? Over my dead body! Then what should I do???
Apophis was making plans for me at his throne while savoring the scene of humans languishing in darkness and fear and destruction.
I was approached by a well kept gentleman with a job offer so irresistible, taking to mind the monetary benefits that followed it as ducklings follow Mama Duck. Jehovah Allah had answered my petitions, so I thought. The job entailed task that I had retorted I would engage in over my dead body. I guess I was dead at that time, murdered by life. Life had killed me and now it was a fugitive, a homicide fugitive. My hustler’s spirit was murdered; my will to live was cut short of its breath too. I had nothing else to lose, absolutely nothing to lose. So I thought, again. I, therefore, took to arm. I wish it was begging for alms that I took to. Despair is an excellent manipulator indeed.
Among humans is where the office was situated. Kalashnikovs, AK47s, grenades and the will to fight and lust for blood were our stationery. Human tendency, at times, is to hate what we can’t conquer. We fought a fight that wasn’t ours but the haters’ of development, most of us recruits were bought because of poverty. Inadequacy of jobs led us to get our hands dirty for others. Or were we making the jobs inadequacy issue a scapegoat?
“Chinja, chonga, fyeka.” Sample of the words we employed to reap fear where we planted none, brew turmoil without Mama Pima’s consent. Put amygdala to work, so to speak.
Operation Linda Nchi is aggressively whipping our back side thoroughly. We’ve employed a propaganda tactic but to no avail.
I can’t take it no more.
Apophis has made me do the ungraspable. I’ve helped in the writing of many eulogies. The reminiscences deny me slumber. My emotions have resurrected and the humane feelings are tearing me apart from within me. I’m denouncing this faith of terrorism, this cowardly, brazen act, this worship of Apophis. I want to be coward no more; I don’t want to live behind a gun, massaging the trigger, because only cowards do that in expressing themselves; as Biko’s friend here put it cowardice doesn’t live at the end of a gun but lives behind the barrel of the gun.
Even after turning around, will the society take me back with arms wide open? Will they look at me as a former terrorist who might have mood swings and decide to take up arms again or as a prodigal son who erred in taking a wrong turn in life and is now so remorseful about it? Will I be myself again? Will you be a friend in my presence and spew vitriol about me in my absence or be a supportive friend even in my absence? Will everything really be okay?
That’s it or almost…
How are you doing? How’s life in your bungalow and the new bundle of joy you call baby and the one you call woman or is it wife? Hope all is well with you and your humble family. Don’t be perplexed on receiving this letter, but rather, be honored as this may be of concern to your bundle of joy’s future.
I’m a humble Elgon teak called Wangari Maathai from the Karura Dynasty and the aim of writing you is to reason with your on various issues that are of concern to our species’ future.
Your specie, Human, is causing havoc to our specie just because they have two roots to render them mobile, two branches to enable them use axes and those earsplitting machines they use in obliterating us and a desire to be granted those papers with presidents’ portraits and numbers of various denomination on the corners for the delivery of our dead loved ones delivered.
Some of your type tried to salvage my acquaintances and family members alike in the distant Mau Dynasty, but some of your type given titles like Minister, I presume it denotes their elite status, thwarted those plans. Some questioning whether it’s we Trees who bring you rain, what a shame!
Apart from bringing you rain for your crops to flourish, for your thirst, providing you food et cet era, do you know in what other ways we are of benefit to you, Human? Think of the air you breathe in, the one you’ve named oxygen, who provides it? Who cleans the air of what you’ve named carbon (IV) oxide?
Who gives you shade when the boss, Sun, shows of her splendor, huh! Who? Oh and there’s one of your kind right now depositing on my trunk some warm fluid from a projectile between its two roots. See, another one of your kind shitted on me just the other day, sickening! Wait; there is another one of your specie staggering towards me right now while trying to avoid something imaginary on this flat road. I wonder what its intentions are… argh, bite me! It has puked on me and its reeking that what you call alcohol, otutho, Yokozuna, (I wonder which name to use) argghh, disgusting!
See how we are of benefit to you, even offering lavatory services for free, and how you misuse, or rather, abuse us? Let’s continue though, I will survive.
Keep in mind that the herbal medicine you and the ingredient of the conventional medicines come from yours truly. In what do you bury your dead kind? Coffins, right? They are made of our dead kind. In your bungalow there is furniture and you already know what they are made of. May be that cozy chair you are seated on, the remains of my brother were used on it and may be every night you slumber on my mother-in-law’s remains. The tortures called examination you subject your seedlings are also written on paper that come from us.
Tourists came from far far away lands to admire our awe and off course, to be in awe of the four-legged kind, Animals, who reside among us Trees, we shelter them as they can’t live among you and you know why.
No need to talk about all the benefits derived from our kind because by now you know and you’ve known from long ago. So please I appeal to you to stop the ruin. Instead, let our kinds bundles of joys, whom you call seedlings, thrive. Plant more of us.
Please curb the disease called Humanae encroachmentae. It’s killing our kind really fast. We understand that you are trying to fill the earth but please, do so with proper planning, remembering you are not alone on this Blue Planet.
We’ve mourned the death of the one who was on the fore front in fighting for Tree rights, my name sake, but we as Trees mourn no more. We celebrate her life and pray that as Humans, you will pick up where she left.
That’s it… or almost. With the little said, without us your bundle of joy’s future is bleak, so do the weighing; your baby’s future being welcoming or your greed being satisfied at this moment and the bucket of repercussions being your gift to that baby when its grown. Make the right choice, won’t you?
“You’re under arrest. Everything you say can and will be used against
you in the court of law.” The lady police spoke to no one in particular.
Have a sit, a cozy chair, for banter …
For the record, I’m not lazy, just intoxication of dough made the heart want more than the hands can work for. The kleptomaniac gene isn’t in me, just the character associated with it.
Money is almost everything so it’s said. My name is Mponda Mali or Double M as my acquaintances prefer to call me. I used to work hard to earn a living. Life was good, Edenic, and as I swore when growing up not to be lazy in repaying debts, that was so; less or no debts, sweet sleeps. I used to aspire to be a somebody in life that when in gatherings my name is among the honorables and not wageni wengineo though my work of construction seemed to slow down the progress. The manual work was laborious with peanuts as payment.
“Hey Double M, vipi?” Mtu Chuma inquired of my well-being. He was hunting a place to feast, free food. He then asked of my wallet’s situation, I wore a bold visage and told him how I put my teeth to work with ugali matumbo. If only he knew how emaciated it was, may be my yawning sold me out. It was there and then that he showed me the money he had, wow; all those miss browns, three of them in fact! So he wasn’t hunting for a place to feast, free food, my bad. He then, after the enticement, told me of how easy it was making that dough. The art of swindlers…
I was introduced to the game from the beginner’s level. MC (Mtu Chuma) was a graduate at this game. He always told us he was a hawker, indeed he was.
Women were our prime targets, with their lives in what they carried: phones, money and what-have-yous. We would pose as commuters at a bus terminal and as the normal pushing and shoving went on, our hand did the working. Palms with grip they were.
At times we posed as the conductors or drivers of those matatus, only to cause woe to our customers.
Business was 50-50, at times you get at times you don’t and at other times you are caught, your life at the mercy of your captors.
The risk in pick pocketing led to the emergence of pata potea.
This involved use of cards, three of them, one with a picture or something underneath. The cards would be rotated and you as the customer would be told to place any amount of money on the card that you believed had the picture underneath and if you picked the right card, then we would double your money if you picked the wrong card (either of the two with no picture), then the money became ours. Few had their money doubled because they were our guys who would masquerade as other customers so as to attract the unsuspected, naïve lot to swindle.
‘You’ve Won… Yippee!!!’
The council Askaris made that business unbearable and with no hardship allowance, we moved on.
|“PATA PATA NA USHENZI PROMOTION” You are our lucky winner of Ksh.100, 000 from Upuzi Company. For more information call +2547********|
We started sending messages to people randomly, informing them of their winnings in promotions they never participated. You may wonder how we made money that way, wonder no more. We also told the winners to send us money to facilitate the sending of their prizes. The clever would ignore those messages but the majority would send the dough via mobile money transfer and after a good number send us the money, we discarded the SIM cards, buy another one and the swindle cycle began.
We would also do so with messages informing someone else of some job offer and act as if it was sent mistakenly to entice the person who coincidentally was job-hunting to call us to enquire if they too can get a chance to apply for that job. Afterwards, we asked them for some money so as we can talk to the recruiters to help them get the job. Woe to those who complied!
Do you know of Ying Yang, the light dark, the enlightened primitive? Yeah, people became clever but did they?
We started to monitor people’s movement.
Then one day we would pretend just how we knew them. Where they lived, worked, studied e.t.c. then offer to at least buy them sugar or rather give them from a friend’s wholesaler just around town. We would then tour the town then take the person to the other side of town. From there we tell the person how sorry we were for not being able to be of help because that friend was not around to give out the sugar. We would then tell the person not to pass a certain road back home because of safety then tell them to take a safer road, only to fall on our trap. The road we say is safer is infested with thugs, our friends, who will mug the poor fella. Pity.
‘It Was Meant For My Sick Mother’
Back to text messaging. We took advantage mobile money transfer to make a killing, and it proved a worth course.
XYZ123 Confirmed. You have received Ksh2, 400 from MWIZI MKARIMU +254711234245 on 31/2/11 at 8:59 AM. New M-PESA balance is Ksh.4, 500
Here, we would send messages in similitude to those received when one is sent money via M2T (mobile money transfer). We waited… then called the person informing them that the money they’ve received was sent to them by mistake and it was meant for my sick mother for hospital bill and the sought. If the person was the kind that had a lot of money on their mobile bank account and made the mistake of not verifying if indeed they had received the alleged money, then, you’ve guessed right, they would be swindled big time!
Hello, this is MWIZI MKARIMU. I have accidentally sent you Ksh2, 400 which was meant to be sent to my Mum who is very sick in hospital. Please have the fear of the almighty God in you and return at least half the money. She is very very sick and desperately needs it. Please send to this number ASAP!
(The Phone Call)
(The SMS & Phone call illustrations courtesy: Savvy Kenya)
This profession made me paranoid because you don’t know who you’re about to swindle: council Askari, police officer, naïve fellow from up-country or your neighbor.
Want more, protégée? Visit me in my cell one day at Straw-Built Castle Maximum Prison then we’ll talk more, I’m sure the judge won’t pardon me as this is the fifth time he’s hosting me in her courtroom. You will fare well my student as what a man can do, a woman does it better, but be careful, mobile number registration was meant partly to curb our menace.
That’s it… or almost, the swindler metamorphosis.
Sunday was a splendid day, too good like a taste of Bahamas or Maasai Mara. We went on our activities of relaxation on a weekend preparing to start a new week in Kenyan soil, full of everything negative, from inhumane politicians, soaring prices of essential commodities, plummeting currency value to deaths resulting from avoidable tragedies. The sun was so inviting, the breeze so welcoming too.
My name is Musa and I live in Horeb slum. This has been my home for a while now after I left home to start my own life, as a man. Life in this slum can be harsh but we try to be of our best behavior so as to enjoy the best this life offers. We eat to live because the luxuriant lifestyle of the environs never found its way here. As it’s said poverty and riches live side by side. We live near an oil refinery. That fact hasn’t made us laugh straight to the bank like our Middle-Eastern brothers, no.
If I say I slept as an infant, I’d be so deceitful, as babies are good at waking others up in the dead of night to feed. I slept like a corpse, though I dreamt I had struck gold and constructed decent houses for affordable rental apartments to alleviate slum Horeb’s living condition.
Monday was the same ole Monday, with its blue outfit. But as all Mondays end well, this didn’t. In fact, it had a silver suitcase on its right hand ferrying terror to Horeb.
Petroleum odor engulfed the residence. A blessing in disguise, we thought. The jerry-cans intended for water, we took them with delight showing on our visages to fetch a little so we could vend for that day’s dough. Oh! If only we would have recalled past incidents of similar acts of stupidity.
No sooner had we fetched enough than a fire started. That good servant come bad master was good at demanding worship. Fueled by the river of, well, fuel it caught us wrong path of living. Our tin-made houses were not able to withstand the inferno. We ran as fast as bullets, fueled by adrenaline. I saw some of my neighbors roasting to death. Oh! May future wife was also perished in front of me. I felt weak, a wuss I was. She was sprint with me but decided to jump in to the river to escape, only to be ignited by the fellow wearing fire who also dived in to put out the fire
The inferno caused wanton destruction. Horeb was annihilated. Scores of my neighbors, lifeless, some are recuperating at various hospitals. We, the survivors, sheltered contemplating what to do and where to head next. I have a feeling the Promised Land is at the horizon…
Blame game. This always occurs after a tragedy. Who are to blame, us? The Kenya Pipeline Company? The government? The politicians? The NGOs? Who?
We were warned of the dangers of making that place our home, the politicians and NGOs urged us to stay put and wait for compensation which the government was adamant to relocate us. Who’s to blame now?
Am going back home or move to a smaller town with affordable housing and leave Nairobi to its owners…
That’s it… or almost. Always take care…