Nancy and her husband did what they knew would protect them. They cooperated fully. The three man gang had entered their home shortly after 9 PM, guns in hand and had been there for nearly two hours. They had welcomed themselves to dinner. Watched the remainder of the 9pm news bulleting, and casually commented on the social stories that Nancy could not remember. They took their phones, and all the money they had in the house: all of thirteen thousand. All the while, they spoke jovially. For the two hours, one could almost image a humane face to the thugs. None of their neighbours knew what was going on.
Then it got worse. A lot worse. Shortly past 11pm, all of a sudden, the gangsters casually mentioned that it was now time to assault Nancy. It was part of their ritual, they said. With pain and tears in their eyes, their desperate pleas falling on deaf ears, the couple endured this horror: eternal scarring starting thus. “How do I live with this?” Mwangi lamented in Anguish, feeling that he had betrayed and failed to protect his wife. At the gate as they were on the way out, “Ah, you needn’t worry about that. You don’t have to live with that guilt. I am going to help you.” The young man said. Barely past his teenage years, he pointed his gun at Mwangi’s head and pulled the trigger twice. They hopped onto two motorcycles and sped off, their countenance not changing one bit, leaving the widow in disbelief, horror and shock.
“Huyo achomwe!” Mwangi had screamt two weeks earlier. Finally, one of the notorious phone snatchers had been caught. They had been running a smooth operation: one person knocks on the opposite car window two divert attention, and in that instance, his colleague reaches in and snatches the phone right from the seat. Gone in five seconds. This one had been the “knocker.” Quite unfortunate for him a group of football fans were trooping back in the vicinity and saw him. He never stood a chance.
He had endured half an hour of torturous beatings with everything heavy and hard thing that could be found on the road. His ribs were broken and so were several other bones on his body. He could barely see anything through the blood that had run over his face but he saw a blurry motion towards his face before another bout of searing pain engulfed the place where his mouth used to be. Someone had swung a heavy metal bar straight into his mouth with his head on the tarmac, breaking every single tooth that was left at the front. He would have loved to block the blow with his hands but they were mangled, broken, bloody and he couldn’t move them. All he felt was pain. The blow shattered his teeth. The pain was searing. He didn’t have enough time to cry as he felt a horrifying scream come out of his mouth amid gurgles of blood. Someone had lifted a huge construction boulder and let it on his mid shin, breaking the big bone in two… He had feared being burnt. Now it couldn’t come too soon. The torture was too much to bear. He imagined being burnt would be painful but it would end soon.
The thought of his death brought a deep sadness, greater than that of the pain he felt. Not for him. No. For his younger siblings who depended on him for what to eat. Both their parents had died years ago leaving them with nothing. He had forfeited the chance of going to college as he couldn’t afford it. His siblings, 11, 8 and 6 didn’t have anyone else to take care of them. Work had been hard to come by. He would go to industrial Area every morning at 5am and wait outside the factory hoping to be one of the people who would be allowed to work that day. There were hundreds with him and he didn’t have money to bribe the supervisor. He had tried running a water mkokoteni but the water cartels had given him a serious beating. At least his 16 year old sister had gotten married. He doubted that her elderly alcoholic husband treated her well but at least she had something to eat. He felt saddened, worried and pained by the future his siblings faced without him. They still slept hungry a few times, but not as frequently as before.
His thought was interrupted by another bolt of pain in his already cracked ribs. He felt someone force him to sit up and place a band around him. It felt like a tyre. “Please! Nisamehe.” He mustered enough strength to whisper. No one seemed to hear it. He summoned all the effort left in his weakened, battered body. “Tafadhali! Nisameheni!” He screamed. A massive kick to the head. “Sisi ndio tulikwambia uibe?” Laughter. Then he felt the cool liquid on his skin all over him. It stung a little as it run over the many wounds. Suddenly he noticed that the one who was lighting the match was was the devil himself. He could see it clearly, but nobody else in the group seemed to notice. But the devil passed the match to another man to finish the act. The pain was excruciating…
And Mwangi went home a satisfied man. A good thing had been done. One less criminal in the city. He had narrated the story to his brother who had come to visit him to show him his newest vehicle.
His younger brother had a rough start life to adult life. He had gotten mixed up with the wrong group in high school and ended up performing far worse than had been expected. He missed out on University and dropped out of two middle colleges before finally finishing a diploma course. Fortunately, his aunt knew someone who new someone. The job interviews at the ministry of transport and infrastructure had been completed and the appointment letters were about to be issued. His parents had agreed to sell a piece of land and pay for a job for his son. It crossed their mind that they may get conned. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. The public officer that had been approached by the person who was known by the person who known by Patrick’s aunt, was a man of his word. Once he received the agreed amount, he randomly removed Monica Tanui’s letter from the pile that was to be sent to the successful applicants and made out a new appointment letter to Patrick. Neither Mwangi nor his brother Patrick, nor any other member of his family ever heard the name Monica, or what had happened in the background. None of them knew that even though she applied to hundreds of other jobs thereafter, she didn’t get another opportunity. She gave up trying after four years and ended up working as a house-help despite her college education.
But Patrick had done very well in his new job. It was a fairly low-level job but in three years, he had built a house for his parents and this was his second car. They both knew that his salary couldn’t pay for any of these things, but public service jobs had their ways.
“How does this politician manage to give so much money?” Patrick asked as they had watched news. “This is public money they must be stealing.” Mwangi’s neighbour George had joined them for the evening. “Why do you say that? Can’t the son of a sugarcane farmer work hard and earn money?” “But what is this work he has done to earn this much in 15 years?” Don’t you know he runs matatus, and owns a lot of real estate? He owns three beach resorts.” Mwangi interjected here, “Friends, to get to the matatus and real estate required lots of money in the first place. Besides, Safaricom is the best performing business in Kenya today. The returns from his matatus and real estate have to be better than Safaricom for this level of spending to make sense. No matatu business is that profitable.” They laughed. “Still, we admire his charisma and how he helps the poor. This EACC story is a witchhunt that is headed nowhere. I don’t see anyone unseating him from office any time soon. I think I’ll still vote for him.”
“Mum, please don’t kill the mouse. It’s only looking for food that’s why it came to the house. Even the flies” the young girl smiled. Little children have a way about them that is simply charming. The mother put away the insect spray and hid the mouse trap away from view. Such an innocent, caring spirit these children have. “Where are you brothers?”
The young children had gone out playing. Topang’ ran to them breathless. “Quickly, come see what’s happening!” “What is it? ” “You come see.” They got there and stared in absolute horror at what they were seeing. They were all heartbroken and felt so much pity. They couldn’t imagine that human beings could be that cruel. “Who is it?” “It’s a thief!” They paused for a moment. “Shouldn’t he be taken to jail?” “My uncle told me that if you steal, you will get killed. Like this.” “Oh, this is so sad and painful.” “I feel sorry for him. Does he have children?” It is said that children can see clearly spiritual things that adults can’t. And there, clearly in the crowd, they could see two devilish creatures. The creatures noted that they were being watched and turned to the children. The children fled.
The children ended up moving to different areas thereafter. By the time they witnessed their third mob-justice over the years, the got accustomed to it and to expect it. They no longer saw the devil in it. Taking life no longer horrified them. It was no longer anything big. If anything, there were problems that could be solved thus.
What Nancy didn’t know is that that group of children defined her very night. One had grown to be a thug and taking life hadn’t meant much to him. As it turned out, he had been the mentor of the young man who shot Mwangi that night. One was Mwangi her husband, one was Patrick, her brother in law, one had grown to be a public servant, one had grown to be policeman, hunting and killing criminals. What she didn’t know is that over four decades, an evil culture had grown in her society and four generations had come to embrace a culture of theft and murder: a double standard as they would not touch the thieves in their own families, nor the thieves that are the leaders they voted for, but would light up with glee as they tied up, tortured and burnt the chicken thief. And no, the killers didn’t think of it as murder. They didn’t see the killing as worse than the chicken-theft. They justified it as a good thing. They didn’t see their people stealing from the public as a bad thing. They justified it.
A brutal and barbaric society breeds brutal and barbaric people. The children watch and learn from the actions of the adults. They learn life has no value and take it easily when they see adults take life, with glee, for stolen phones and stolen chicken. They learn stealing from the public is fine when they see their parents do it or glorify it. A brutal society breeds brutal adults: a brutal thug who kills the cooperating victim without provocation, the brutal member of public who can set alight another human being, the brutal citizen who can hack to death another because of difference in tribe and political opinion, the brutal policeman who can shoot and kill the surrendered suspect, the brutal public officer who can steal relief food from those dying in hunger, the brutal health worker who can steal medicine from people dying in hospital, brutal leaders who can steal wealth from a rich country and allow tens of thousands to die for various systeminc gaps that result from their theft, brutal husbands and wifes who can kill each other and set their children on fire, brutal politicians who will kill their opponents or arrange for supporters of their opponents to be hacked.
Wisdom spoke: “Look at this lost and perverse generation. while it is written “thou shall not kill,” “thou shall not steal” they spill blood every day and rejoice in it. They steal the very essence of what I have given them. Look at these sinners casting the first stones: crying for the police to shoot the arrested thief. Won’t they have stoned the woman caught in adultery? Won’t they have been in the crucifixion band? Yet their sins are dark and black. Who is without sin? Who can say they are better than the thief? They and their people have stolen more from their workplaces than the thieves they burn. They have bribed and stolen opportunities from deserving folk more than the thieves they want shot. They have stolen fathers from children, husbands from wives in the evil they call “mob justice.” They have stolen innocence from children, hardening their hearts against compassion and respect. They have stolen life that they don’t own. Their anthem speaks of a blessing yet they ask whether they are cursed, remaining backward despite the numerous resources. Will they be blessed? Only if they change their ways from the evil ways of theft and murder that they have allowed. Yet how many peoples were asked to change their ways in the good book?” Wisdom spoke. Evil didn’t like what wisdom said.
What will it take to change this vicious cycle that is killing our society?