I consider myself on the line between poverty and lower middle-class. If you ask Mr. Moneybags, he will laugh me off as a pauper, but a slum dweller will cherish my economic condition.

The 10Km ride has a pocket damage of 20 Shillings, literally a-quarter-a-dollar. And I expect this touts to be self sufficient, with peanuts. No wander if you leave your valuables in a matatu, God forbid; you will never see them.

It’s a Sunday. The church can take a backbench. How will you understand the bible without education anyway? The church looses out on my offerings. You see this offerings sometimes reach the disadvantaged, even if it’s a fraction.

The pastor will get one more mistress – with a bigger booty this time

A devoted Christian diligently deposits a tenth of his earnings with the church each month. But what does the charismatic preacher do with the money? He buys a big house, expensive suits and clothes for his wife and children and a bigger trumpet for the choir. Of course he must change the swimming pool’s tile design, and get one more mistress – with a bigger booty this time. You see, sex, power and money are the strongest drugs in our culture.

Like a trade union, money goes in, but never out. If a member of the congregation were to fall sick, or die, the church calls a fundraiser. When the pastor needs a new car, another fundraiser is called. Tithe simply disappears into a bottomless pit in the preacher’s stomach.

Ok, this street vendor approaches holding a third generation phone; it has all state of the art features, ever heard of Zeiss Tessar? Street vendor is a polite word; he is a mugger. You buy from muggers; the goods somehow get back to them. “Don’t buy stolen items; they might be yours …” was a popular Channel O TV slogan. But because I have not bought the product, how have I helped apprehend the “street vendor”?

No lunch today. Some hotel will have to lay of their employees. The full loaf is still cemented in my stomach. 400 grams of spongy air.

The study is enlightening.

This tiny urchin approaches. “10 shillings for provisions”, he yaps “God will bless you”. We brush him off. He will grow to be a tough beggar I reason.

I leave with my study-pal late at night for home. Along the way, Taxi drivers and flesh vendors solicit our interests, but we are just students; and my study-pal likes us to walk to the bus stop. She insists the exercise is worthwhile. I thought exercise is for those who have made it! I wonder how I can help the flesh vendors. I don’t partake to the activities of the oldest profession. If we both enjoy the services, why should I pay?

This tiny urchin approaches. “10 shillings for provisions”, he yaps “God will bless you”. We brush him off. He will grow to be a tough beggar I reason.

“Don’t sweat the small shit,” I soothe myself. “You were just part of a slum recovery stimulus package”

This section of Nairobi is a black-spot. My legs are dangling in the air, neck craned into place, pockets emptied, bag gone. She is screaming. And where is she? Flat on the pavement. They are kicking. They are not chivalrous these tough beggars. I wonder if those clampy hands were born or engineered. Is this my neck? Ouch. Powerless, can’t help her; what a shame. My property; damn it. I give chase. I am outnumbered, and outrun.

“Don’t sweat the small shit,” I soothe myself. “You were just part of a slum recovery stimulus package”

The night-guards are staring. No policeman on sight. At the heart of Nairobi, they never are. UTUMISHI KWA WOTE.

Mugging or Ngeta in Nairobi

“You are lucky to be walking, and speaking. Very lucky” One guard concludes. “A guard tried to stop a mugging”, another guard consoles me. “They came for him”. His tone is sombre with the softness of a Catholic priest, his face darkly and ruggedly livid. “They did a Goliath while he was asleep, the referral hospital was not enough, he met his creator”.

How will I do exams tomorrow, cram-sheets gone? The neck can’t swallow. Sausage fingers. 100% pure pain.

TERRIBLE NAIROBI, but a city without crime would be an amusement pack. This is no Disneyland. Poverty is diesel for a growing city. The hand laborers, table waiters, watchmen, house maids, drivers, touts, cleaners, and minimum wage civil servants, without them, the city would cease to exist.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *