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Category Archives: Simply Telling what Happened

Caught Part III – Jail

Gaoled (Photo Credit: Black Politics Today)

Gaoled (Photo Credit: Black Politics Today)

They had just finished cleaning it. The Kibera Law Courts jail is best described as a square room with a long, continuous, narrow (and of course heavily-grilled) window running along the top (next to the ceiling). Within the larger square of the jail is a smaller square in one corner. This smaller square comprises what we shall politely call the ablutions. The trouble with the ablutions is that the wall of the ablutions does not extend all the way up to the ceiling of the containing main room/square. For this reason, the smell stink stench that inexorably rises up from the jailhouse facilities permeates determinedly through the entire room. Doubly so if the door is open. Deciding whether to endure higher concentrations of the malodourous fumes seeping from that toilet in order to go and close the toilet door and thereby lessen the fumes is a taxing exercise in circular logic. But apart from this, the jail was actually pretty clean.

I asked the cops supervising the jail if one could perhaps offset their fine and the cash bail.

“Ati off-nini? Offset? Hapana huwezi offset fine yako na bail yako Boss, we toa kimbelembele yako hapa. Kaa huko na ungojee mtu wako.”

I set about finding a way to pay the fine. I called a friend of mine who gave me a rider’s number and also sent that rider KES 7,000 to deposit at the bank for my fine (thank you so much!). This rider seemed quite well-versed in proceedings.

“Pole sikusikia call yako, nilikuwa na-ride bike.”

“Sawa tu, ulipata SMS yangu iko na hizo account details?”

“Nimeiget. Nikuulize…?

“Ehe?”

“Uko mashimoni?”

“Ee, mazeh…”

[Merry laughter] “Wacha nta-come saa hii.”

He and I haggled a bit about the cost of what he was doing for me, and I ended up paying him KES 720. I should probably have paid him KES 500 (though we did start off at 1K). But he knew exactly what needed to be done, reliable chap. What the extra 20 bob was for, we shall come back to later.

Moving swiftly on

In about an hour, the trusty rider on his noble steed boda-boda had arrived, bank slip in hand, and obtained a receipt which he was able to use to have me released.

Once your fine has found its circuitous and serpentine way into the labyrinth that is the Judiciary’s coffers, there remains the small matter of recovering your bail. As you know, the purpose of paying bail is to make sure you appear in court. If you do appear in court, you are entitled to a refund of said bail. The process beggars belief. You see, when you post bail you pay it either to the cops on the road, or you pay it at a cop station. The police station to which those cops are attached, or the station at which you pay it, is important here. Because on the day you appear in court, dear reader, an officer from that particular cop station must come with the bail that you paid during the weekend and return the very bail you posted. So when I asked for my bail I was asked:

“Station gani?” 

“Kabete.” 

“Haya ngojea hapo.”

Luckily mine came before my trusty rider arrived because a lady officer from Kabete Police Station was already at the Law Courts with the money. My bail was selected from a sheaf of notes that appeared miraculously from quite literally under her belt. One hapless offender was slightly less fortunate. He had posted his bail at Kiserian Police Station and was appearing before the Magistrate at the Kibera Law Courts. This poor fellow availed himself in court, his case was heard, judgement was passed, he tumana’d to KCB Account No ___________, his fine was paid, the deposit slip was brought, a receipt was obtained, it was presented at the cells, and he was released…

…then he had to wait for the ka-Landrover to come all the way from Kiserian Police Station, negotiating Bomas traffic and all, to bring his bail.

Conclusion

The small matter of my rider's motorbike (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

The small matter of my rider’s motorbike (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Friends, I don’t know which reforms Chief Justice Mutunga, former Registrar Shollei and Inspector-General Kimaiyo have been carrying out, but as a recent though temporary guest of the State I believe I am well-qualified to say that I am yet to see them. Is it not the Kenyan Judiciary and Police they have been reforming? Juu mi’ sioni! What an inefficient system! You miss work, the guy who you call to run that errand for you is also not working… in this day and age where we have computers, MPesa, and man has been to the moon, if someone has to wait for someone else to pay their own fines for them at the bank then come and get them out of jail, we must be reforming backwards.

I further fail to understand why money has to be physically brought from Kiserian to Kibera in a police vehicle for offenders to get their bail refunds. The powers that be in the Kenya Police must similarly be using a very loose definition of the term “reform”. At some point I began to think that I had ended up in hot soup in order to see these things for myself.

Before I conclude, dear reader, you may recall that I promised to return to the small matter of why I paid the rider KES 720 instead of KES 700. Do you know what the 20 bob was for? It was so that the rider could pay the askari at the gate of the Kibera Law Courts so that his motorbike was not stolen therefrom while he was getting me out. Yes. We live in a country where your motorbike can actually be stolen from the premises of the Law Courts themselves. Ati a guy just comes in wearing those fluorescent jackets emblazoned “Waititu for Governor”, hotwires the thing and disappears.

In the language of the court, I rest my case.

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Caught Part II – In Court

In Court

In Court (Photo Credit: Neo Today)

To be honest, I toyed with the idea of not going to court and foregoing bail since I had my licence back, but the lawyer we met on Saturday advised me to go to Court. So it was that on Sunday I called my boss and explained the situation, and on Monday I went to court. I was there before 8:00 am but Courts rarely start sitting before 9:00 am. Take your time if this ever happens to you.

The session began, and a number of cases were read out before mine was. It was through these cases that I discovered what happens if you don’t appear in court. The process is as follows:

  1. Your name is called out.
  2. The prosecutor reads out your sin(s).
  3. If you’re present, the judge decides whether there will be a hearing that day (lengthy cases, perhaps crimes). If it’s an offence he/she will pass judgement.
  4. HOWEVER if it is established that the accused has not deigned to appear in court the judge simply says: “Cash bail forfeited to the State, warrant of arrest issued.” Next!

So the chance you’re taking by not appearing in court is that the police won’t come looking for you. It’s perhaps a risk worth taking, except that they ask for your phone number when you’re paying bail, so if they really wanted to they could nab you. But I think they have neither the time nor the motivation to look for a traffic offender. If they do look for you, and if they find you, dear reader rest assured that your bail-posting days are over. You will be hauled by the seat of your over-speeding pants straight to jail until court time.

Anyway, court was pretty quick. I stood up when I was called, I confirmed that the allegations were correct, and the Judge fined me KES 7,000. I had heard horror stories of KES 30,000 (the Naivasha court is particularly notorious) so on balance, it wasn’t too bad…

…or so I thought. For that was when the fun and games began.

Paying your fine

Some of the still-available payment methods in the Kenyan judicial system (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Some of the ancient payment methods still applicable in the Kenyan judicial system (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

I had carried KES 20,000 to Court, so I was ready to pay. But my spirited and determined efforts to pay my fine were thwarted by the belated discovery that one is not in fact allowed to pay one’s own fine. I abruptly found myself being escorted at a brisk pace to the Kibera Law Courts gaol. During this regrettably short journey I was brusquely informed by yet another officer of the law that I had to locate and instruct someone who could go and:

  1. Deposit the cash for me in KCB Account Name “Judiciary Kibera Law Courts” Account no __________________
  2. Bring the deposit slip to Kibera Law Courts
  3. Obtain a receipt from the Kibera Law Courts
  4. Present it at the cells and thereby
  5. Get me released.

I told the cop who was taking me to jail that I had brought myself to court, so it was unlikely I’d run away post-judgement. I actually asked him to let me go pay and come back. Ah the naïveté of ignorance…

“Hatufanyangi namna hiyo Boss. Tafuta mtu aende akulipie. Na ni kwa nini hukuongea na officer?”

“Hapana, unajua mi sihongangi…”

“Sisemi kuhonga…” [I honestly don’t know what else he meant, and he did not take the trouble to elaborate.]

Suddenly, I was in jail.

Next: Jail

 
 

Caught Part I – Flagged Down

Flagged Down

#ThatVeryAwkwardMoment (Photo credit: Afro Autos)

I had been wondering why all the cars, buses, matatus were going up that hill in one long line on the right-hand lane of the dual carriageway. Kumbe it was so that cops couldn’t spot their number-plates and flag them down for speeding. I pulled out to the left to overtake the dawdling queue and was promptly flagged down myself. The cop asked for my licence and I gave it to him, following which he informed me that I had been driving at 118 kph instead of 110 kph.

Naturally, there ensued what we shall call a warm discussion. Since it was very likely that I had been doing 118 kph earlier, and since I had been told that the evidence is incontrovertible (a photo of your car, superimposed with the illegal speed at which it has recently been travelling), I began by trying to tell the policeman that really 8kph above the limit was not that much. He asked me: “Wewe unataka tusimamishe watu wanaenda spidi ya ngapi?” (“At what speed would you prefer us to start flagging people down?”)

I advised myself to abandon this line of argument.

Pressing his point home, the policeman helpfully showed me the cash-bail receipt of an individual who’d been doing 114 kph instead of 110 kph. My sin began to look blacker and blacker. I comforted myself when I saw that there was a Subaru B4 driver who had been caught doing a rather nippy 144 kph.

Since I couldn’t convince the cop to let me off, I decided to bite the bullet. I believe if you’ve done wrong and the law catches you, then you should allow yourself to be dealt with as the law stipulates. One simple way of fighting corruption is by not being corrupt. Simple, I said. Not necessarily easy.

Bail

Bail (Photo Credit: Business Daily http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/-/539552/1203156/-/view/printVersion/-/116iygez/-/index.html)

Bail (Photo Credit: Business Daily)

Now you see, for offences including traffic offences (different from crimes), one is supposed to be taken to court immediately, where the magistrate pronounces your judgement haraka-upess. Except it was the weekend. So courts were not in session. So I couldn’t be taken to court. So I was supposed to go to jail, until such time as the courts would open on Monday. Only that this could be avoided by paying bail. But bail was KES 5,000. Which I didn’t have.

Huna kwa MPesa?

“Hapana.”

Haya we ngojea hapo, tuite polisi mwenzetu kutoka Kabete (we were towards LIMURU), akupeleke ATM, utoe pesa, ukuje station, ulipe bail.

“Officer uko na licence yangu. Wacha nikimbie niwithdraw, halafu nilete Kabete.”

“Hapana! Licence zimejaa kwa station, hatuachiliangi watu namna hiyo siku hizi.”

And so it was that I had to wait until a policewoman came all the way from Kabete Police Station and was assigned to me to ensure that I paid bail. I had been rushing to meet my good friend and our lawyer over something, so I called ahead to let them know I’d be late. When the policewoman arrived, she was given my licence, and we got into the car and set off for the nearest ATM.

“Mbona umekasirika namna hiyo?” [Standard Police/Government procedure is to put you on the back foot and/or on the defensive and then take things from there]

“Hapana sijakasirika officer.” And truly I wasn’t annoyed.

“Sasa utalipa namna gani?”

“Nataka tu nikimbie kwa ATM ni-withdraw, halafu turudi Kabete.”

“Bank gani?”

“StanChart.”

“ATM iko wapi?”

“Westlands.”

“Aiiii… huko ni mbali sana, mi siwezi enda mpaka huko. We fanya hivi, tukifika Kabete, uingie police station uache gari yako hapo kwa station. Panda matatu kutoka Kabete mpaka Westlands, utoe pesa halafu urudi Kabete Police Station ulipe bail ndio tukupatie gari yako we uende.”

“Hapana officer, Westlands sio mbali sana, na hatutachukua muda mrefu. Twende tu.”

“Uko na lunch?” [No doubt that while creating the problem, this was what the cunning female had been leading up to all along]

“Officer, kama ni lunch, wacha twende tu police station.”

<PAUSE>

“Haya basi, twende u-withdraw.”

At the Mobil opposite Njuguna’s I spotted a StanChart ATM, so I managed to withdraw a lot quicker than we had anticipated. Afterwards we went to the police station, I posted bail, they took down my phone number, receipted my payment, returned my driving licence, and advised me to be at Kibera Law Courts on Monday morning. Happily, considering the circumstances, I got to the meeting only 30 minutes late.

Next: In Court

 
 

Mr. Z

 

It took me a while to publish this story; I wrote it in September last year, and have finally found a way to finish it that is in keeping with my great respects for this gentleman. Mr. Z, you are part of the reason I write the way I do. Here’s to you!

I have regaled you with a tale from my primary school lore. We must move on today; perhaps we shall return, perhaps not. But the events of today’s discourse linger on the personage of one of our secondary school instructors.

Necessity and respect invite me to camouflage his identity behind the pseudonym Mr. Z, but there can be no doubt to those who know him that Mr. Z is, in fact, a most fitting moniker for this man. There’s a finality, a certain decisive ring to it. Mr. Z himself would be quite proud to hear himself called Mr. Z.

For Mr. Z’s was a conclusive sort of character. He gave no quarter, and brooked no levity during his lectures. From his decision there was no appeal. That things would end up the way he wanted them to end up was for the most part inevitable, at least as far as his students were concerned, and his decisions, once made, were irrevocable. The word by which we most remember him is “No”. And it became quite a different syllable when pronounced by Mr. Z, for it was said with total, jaw-clenching doubtlessness. How the poor vowel of the word ever escaped out from behind his gritted teeth is more than I can fathom. But we were never in doubt as to the implication, if not the elocution, of what he had said.

The paths of Mr. Z. and our class crossed in that hallowed period of secondary school, Form Two. Hallowed, I hear you ask? Undeniably! Those were the days when Form Two was just the year to be in school. Form One, and its insufferable bedfellow, bullying, were just past. The Form Four exam was just far enough out of sight as to be legitimately ignored (I add legitimately, for many students continued – indeed continue – to ignore the growing spectre of the Form Four exam, with disastrous results). Yes, Form Two availed the rapidly growing adolescent schoolboy with a pleasant limbo, a period of respite in which to cultivate (to the horror of his parents and anyone apprised of the contents of end-of-term report forms) the enjoyment of various distinctly non-academic pastimes such as sports, and that most tantalisingly exciting pursuit of the secondary schoolboy – secondary schoolgirls.

To bring home to you the force of personality that Mr. Z had, I must introduce our Form Two class; ours was a class to bring new meaning to the term “terrible twos”. Once, a poor trainee teacher was having such a bad time of it that the noise from our class attracted the puzzled attention of the passing head of secondary section. Opening the door and unexpectedly coming face to face with an instructor apparently involved in the difficult process of instructing, the head-teacher asked “Er, are you teaching?” On yet another occasion, the students were making noise in class (with the teacher in attendance) when the teacher stopped and said: “Please, you can make any noise in class, but not that noise.” (I believe it was the miaow of a cat that was prohibited.) It was the wrong thing to say, for bedlam followed. Cows lowed plaintively in their stalls. Barking dogs gave chase to sheep reluctant to be caught. Said sheep found time and breath in the course of their pursuit to give voice to their anxieties. Wolves howled insults at yodelling cats. Horses neighed in fear. Suffice it to say that long-stifled class noisemakers achieved nirvana during those few moments. It would not have been difficult to convince a passer-by that simultaneous auditions for an expanded cast of an “Animal Farm” scene were being carried out.

But under the firm steerage of Mr. Z, we rowdy Form Twos became as meek lambs. Perhaps it was his early style of dress that convinced us that this was no man to trifle with. For when Mr. Z. joined the institution, he had in his wardrobe a number of very short-sleeved shirts. The line between vests and Mr. Z’s early shirts was very fine indeed. As an aside I may add that his trousers were of the same variety, that is, rather short-sleeved. But that is not the point. Mr. Z’s shirts revealed large, supple biceps that went on into sinewy fore-arms. Mr. Z was wont to compound the problem by leaning on the table, hands facing left and right. Those forbidding arms would be shown off to best advantage. It did not seem advisable to make noise with those arms staring you in the face. After a while Mr. Z availed himself of a fine, double-breasted coat, and some long-sleeved shirts. By then, however, we were as the dogs of Pavlov. The sight of Mr. Z walking into class was enough to strike us dumb.

BUT, dear reader! – and it is a colossal but. It is a but to stop the world turning on its axis. For the day came when our eyes witnessed what our minds had assumed impossible. It was two years before we saw it happen, but happen it did. And as with a great many great events, there was no warning.

It was the lesson right before lunchtime or a lesson after lunch, one of the two. I must add by way of explanation that in those days, events were related as having happened either before or after lunch. A casual storyteller had only to begin “It was two lessons before lunch…” and there would be immediate nods of understanding among his audience. Lunchtime was the great reference-point in time. Nay, I must be honest, for old habits die hard; there are those of us for whom lunchtime is still the great reference-point in time.

Where was I? Ah, yes, it was an English lesson around lunchtime. The exact facts of the case escape me at present, but I seem to recall that the task that had been set before we lunch-crazed pupils (it did not matter whether lunch had been eaten yet or not: our thoughts were often on it) was to convert a passage written in past tense into present participle. Yes, I believe it was something along those lines.


Well the lesson was bowling happily along until we came to the sentence:

“Mary lay in hospital, bedridden.”

Now, the task of converting this sentence to present participle fell to the class clown, who shall at this point remain unnamed. Suffice it to say that I have met few men as naturally funny as this particular gent. His taunts tended to be unforgettable, and I am yet to see a finer imitator of his instructors as this chap. I have myself been the butt of a few of his jokes, and 9 years later the memories are yet fresh, and the wounds are yet raw. That is a story for another day. On this occasion, he quickly sized up the situation, judging whether it was prudent to play his ace, and then with the assured confidence of the practised card player who knows he has the winning card, he said:

“Mary is in hospital, bed-riding.”

There was a brief, thunderclap-like pause while the sheer idiocy of the statement sank in.

We were wondering whether we could laugh or not (this was Mr. Z’s class, remember) and so we chanced a glance at the implacable Mr. Z. And right then, dear reader, the first fissure in Jericho’s wall appeared, for the Integrated English Book Four (Teacher’s Edition) in Mr. Z’s hands began to twitch. Goodness gracious, could it be… was that a… no, no. But yes! We looked at each other in muted disbelief and wonder. A smile was playing about Mr. Z’s lips! And there was a dimple in the middle of his left cheek that we had never seen before! It was not long before the fissure became a crack, the crack became a cleft, and with a final great release, once again the mighty walls of Jericho caved in before a seemingly innocuous onslaught. Mr. Z let go and silently, but heartily, laughed and laughed, the textbook joining rhythmically in his mirth. I cannot be sure, for the mists of time now drift between me and the memorable scene, but I believe I see a tear behind those darkened lenses. From time to time he would pause and say in unbelieving, child-like wonder, to himself as much as to the class:

“Bed-riding?”

And then the textbook would be merrily on its way again, escorting the silent guffaws. We ourselves took the opportunity to have a right good belly-laugh, and I can assure you, part of it was the joy of seeing Mr. Z laughing, and not really the joke itself, if you understand what I mean.

Dear reader, let us not point fingers at Mr. Z. There is a bit of him in all of us. But – happier truth! – it is all a façade. Somewhere deep inside, the Mr. Zs of this world are just like you and me.

 

Have You Seen My Eyebrows?

It is not my aim here to ridicule the fans of any teams, the teams themselves, the players or their coaches. The ManU fan in the story is a nice chap, and we have enjoyed many a football chat together. However, isn't football to be enjoyed, and by as many people as possible? The dangers of trash-talking is just that, that is, one's talk can turn out to be trash. The poor fellow met his Waterloo in the West Ham-Liverpool FA final, when to his chagrin the predictions he made in an effort to put out Liverpool fans were not matched by what happened on the screen, despite earlier indications that they would. He made an ignominious exit shortly after Reina's third penalty save, slinking speedily and silently out of the TV Room. I feel it is the latest in a long line of ignominious exits, and if he continues with his brand of fanaticism, I fear it is not the last. The Arsenal fan is a good friend also; indeed, I could hardly bear to meet him after their Champion's League loss. We all enjoy watching football (I am a Liverpool fan). However…

 

It was after watching the UEFA Cup Final between a hapless Middlesbrough and a rampant Seville, that a watcher sighed: “It's just too bad that this year both UEFA trophies are going to Spain.” To put this statement into context, dear reader, please keep in mind that it was made a full week before the Arsenal-Barcelona final. Naturally, the mischievous originator of this statement was a ManU fan. An Arsenal fan chanced to hear the remark. We shall mildly say that it raised his hackles. His head whipped round and his eyes probed like gimlets until he found the source of such uninformed football commentary. “What do you mean?” he asked menacingly. “Anyone with half a football brain knows that Arsenal are going to win next week.” The ManU fan rose, er, manfully to the occasion. “I can already see the headlines and photos next week,” he sighed sadly. “Below the headline 'Goals Galore!' there will be a full-page photo of an inconsolable Thierry Henry.”

It was at this point that my eyebrows began to rise.

“We're going to win!” said the Arsenal fan. “Just you wait and see. We shall not be labouring under the pressure of having to win to get back into the Champion's League, seeing as we already have 4th place under our belts…”

“Ha!” said the ManU fan, now clearly in his element. “You guys poisoned the entire Tottenham team to get 4th place. Are there no depths to which you can sink? Kwanza I hear that Tottenham have appealed for a rematch.”

“Rematch kitu gani?! We're through fair and square! Who can prove that Tottenham were food-poisoned? Those kind of allegations should be subjected to the scrutiny of a court of law.”

There was a brief hairy sound as my eyebrows exited via the ceiling. Fine, perhaps there was a point here, but to subject the matter to the attentions of a worshipful judge was perhaps going a bit too far…?

“A court of law?” asked the ManU fan, enjoying himself.

“Yes!”

“A – court – of – law?” repeated the ManU fan, deliciously, rolling the phrase around in his mouth, and relishing the prospect of a regular verbal joust.

“Yes!” the room reverberated with the echoes of the syllable.

“Ha!” said the ManU fan. “Court of law, my foot! That scoreline should be erased and the game replayed with all the Tottenham players in full health!”

“But you can't just erase a football scoreline just like that,” said the Arsenal fan.

“Ahhh,” said the ManU fan slowly. The world hung on his next phrase. “That's just the problem. A rematch is entirely possible!”

“You can't! Once a score has been gazetted…”

By now my eyebrows were dodging low-flying aircraft. I am not a lawyer (indeed my knowledge of the laws of the United Kingdom is only at this moment growing in leaps and bounds courtesy of a fast-approaching examination), but the suggestion that football scores have pride of place in the London Gazette alongside statutes passed and notices of changes in companies' registered addresses was to me, news.

“Gazetted?” roared the ManU fan. “Even you which hole did you crawl out of, bana! Ati football scores are gazetted?”

“Yes!” said the Arsenal fan, with admirable sureness-of-self. “And stop interrupting me! I was in the middle of saying that once football scores have been gazetted they cannot be reversed…”

The ManU fan left shortly after, chuckling evilly, for his dubious task of sowing seeds of discord done. The Arsenal fan turned to me, breathing heavily. “Lakini that guy is just a fanatic of ManU.”

Now, it is the mark of the true fan that he/she views all actions carried out by fans of other teams as fanatical, but, colossally log-in-eye, any actions or statements originating from himself/herself are just the right point of view. This distinguishes the fan from the mere follower. It was my considered opinion that the Arsenal fan was just as fanatical about Arsenal as the ManU fan was about ManU, minus the evil intent. I endeavoured to put this to him as gently as possible. The response was immediate. “No, no, no,” he said raising his hands as if to ward off the unjust accusation. “Me I am not a fanatic! Me I only analyse…”

I am yet to hear from my eyebrows.

 

P.S. Happy World Cup, everyone!

 
 

It’s Raining!

Some time back the Managing Director of AIG (the investment group) stated that were the drought situation in Kenya to persist, then Kenyans should expect a significantly lower growth rate than the 5% optimistically forecasted by experts. On the evidence of Friday evening’s cloudburst, I am quite confident that our growth rate will rival and perhaps surpass that of China.

In short, to say that “It rained last Friday” would be an understatement. I myself was dashing to a place of revelry (I don’t generally visit them, but the firm was hosting a farewell to one of our former employees) and it was just as I arrived at the bus-stop that the deluge began. In seconds I realised that to get to Westlands from town was going to be as possible as getting to West Pokot from the same starting point. (I later heard that matatus were charging KShs. 100 for the town-Westlands trip.) Thoughts of revelry and merry-making banished, I crossed the road and took hasty refuge under the hospitable eaves of a petrol-station (beggars cannot be choosers, and umbrellas were proving woefully inadequate in terms of providing a haven from the elements). I decided to wait until the downpour had abated.

It was to be a long wait, but it was far from boring. The chief source of entertainment was a large puddle of water that formed at the entrance to the petrol station. In fact, in calling it a puddle I embarrass it. It was a veritable pool that extended right out into the midst of the road itself.

It may be wondered how watching a pool can provide entertainment to even the most lively observer. Perhaps I have not been accurate in my description of the entertainment I was enjoying. It was in watching Nairobians cross this Bosphorus that cause for jollity was found. My fellow shelterers (chiefly two young ladies) and I spent many a merry moment enjoying the wile and guile that many Nairobians employed getting across the said pool. Most showed a marked preference and proficiency in the Long and Triple Jump techniques.

However there are two fellows who deserve special mention for their ability and genius. Pride of place goes to a certain thin fellow who, had I not been alert, I would never have caught his nimble movements. This man tended to flit, rather than move, across one’s field of vision. I once read that lightning flashes for a much briefer time than we perceive it; what happens is that the brain retains the image for long enough for us to “see” it or something of the sort. It was much the same with this bloke. To arrive at the pool and assess what needed to be done was with him the work of but a moment. In an even briefer moment, he skimmed over the surface of the water, raising barely visible splashes, in three quick steps and was gone. Water skating insects would have been proud to have been associated with this nymph of the night. Indeed, any self-respecting Commonwealth selector for the steeplechase would have been after him in a flash, rain notwithstanding.

The other interesting chap, an ingenuous bloke whose face bespoke a more than average dose of street-wisdom, had his shoes in paper bags. Perhaps some clarification is needed, if this does not seem surprising. You see, this Einstein of the elements was still wearing the shoes at the time! His right shoe was snugly encased in an Uchumi paper bag and his left was similarly ensconced in a blue one of indeterminate corporate origin. Congruence and symmetry did not seem to be high up on his list of priorities as he slogged determinedly through the torrents, oblivious to such minor hindrances as pools and puddles…

Let’s all thank God for the rain.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2006 in Simply Telling what Happened