In the great capital of Kenya: Nairobi central business district! Time check — at approximately 1830hours. The location was none other than Kenneth Matiba road, former Accra road. I had checked in from Luthuli Avenue. Downtown. My destination was the Gachie bus stop for public means of transport. The mind was fixed on a few things; one was traffic, and curfew was the second. The third and fourth are none of your business in this article. I had closed a business deal with the Nyota Paints company boss. I don’t handle cash, though. Of course, he knows. In case I do, then not more than a thousand bobs. I did not mean that I am paid less than a thousand shillings per hour for my services.
In a majestic move, my right hand was holding a dark laptop bag. My left hand was constantly checking whether my smartphone was safe in the pocket. Humans are inhumane, and it is true that dog eat dog in survival for the fittest phrase. They crave what doesn’t belong to them. A young man approached me from behind. I thought he was a beggar. Welcome to Nairobi city! Little did I know that he was in the company of four thugs. Their target was my laptop, and maybe phone and wallet. He talked to me in the urban ‘lingua franca’ language. I responded that I did not have anything to offer at that moment. Suddenly another one talked to me from the opposite side. I turned my neck, just to realize that I was centered. I thought I was cornered. Guilt and concern swirled around me. None of them was familiar but, were deeply horrifying. They walked along with me in a manner that people could think we were just a group of friends walking down the streets of Nairobi, Kenya. I was scared. I tried to muster courage and spoke to them as if I had confidence.
“I am not okay today. Next time I will give you some money.” I tried to give a promise to those strangers just like a politician could do to voters. Politicians will always talk of tomorrow that never comes. They well know that tomorrow is forever.
“Give us this laptop, or we take it by ourselves.” One of them commanded. Others were murmuring among themselves. The other one insisted that I hand it over to them in peace before I am dismantled. Nairobi was not new to me. It is not! You tremble you loose everything. You fight, you get injured. You run, they run after you then shout that you are a thief. So, I was not a chick in the claws of an eagle. I strategically confirmed that my phone was safe in the pocket, then switched my laptop bag to my left hand. My feet managed to carry my 49-kilogram body fast to get ahead of smugglers. In a cuddling companionship, people could think we were a group of friends walking down the street. One of them threatened me speaking from behind that wherever I was heading was worse –good for them to deal with me mercilessly. I kept going. I thought of jumping into a public vehicle, by my eyes in spectacles were at work. I saw a private saloon car parked. Well, three well build men were in its occupation. Thanks to God, the windscreens were half open.
Well! They were all chanting. My role was to give them unexpected breathing space. I walked towards the car, greeted a gentleman who was in the co-drivers seat. I had to forge a gesture, and an approach as if I knew him. Jesus is Lord! They all stopped chanting and listened to what I had to say.
“Excuse me! I am talking to you in order to make them think that we are together. They want to snatch my laptop…” before I could finish whispering, his peers lowered windscreens even more in anxiety, heads stretching out, while eyes popping out of their anatomy. Sometimes it is unfortunate to place hope on what doesn’t belong to you. They might have signaled each other before they vanished in the thin air. After a few seconds of expressing myself, all I could see was the last idiot disappear in traffic along the street. I appreciated the guy in a cub for support, then off my way. I hurriedly walked down the street, looking forward to the bus stop.
At peace again! Yeah, peace of mind is a necessity for ones body to function properly. But then, I was still in the same city, and same street. Pangs of sadness surged through me as I wondered why some people wake up in the morning to reap where they did not sow, even when are blessed with good health and fit muscles to toil and enjoy their sweat thereafter.
I hurriedly walked down the street towards the fire station bus stop along Tom Mboya Street. I caught up with a motor car. Ready and willing to utilize public transport means on my way back home. Anger blocked my throat, Invisible tear-streaked face, may be because men don’t cry. For sure, I was perplexed and glue-rooted in the seat. I had to breathe in using my nostrils. Then breathe out through my mouth. I realized I had lost nothing. I had no injuries. It was just a quick lesson that the city neither belonged me nor my mother. One needs to be careful when carrying valuables in public places.
Winds of Change
By Victor Isaacs and Connie Samuel