“So They Didn’t Kill Them?”

Ed: It might help to read: “They killed them?” first

It’s funny how things pan out, isn’t it?

I had called John as we left my mothers apartment building and told him to come pick us up from the road outside. Even he seemed confused as to why I would wait for him outside. The thing is, we needed to go to the shop right outside to buy pesticides and some other item I forget so it only made sense. By the time we got down and had purchased the goods, he would be there. Or so we thought.

We had to wait a few minutes. Couldn’t have possibly been 10 minutes but a lot can happen in 10 minutes. A lot can happen in 2 minutes in fact; and I’ll give you an example. In two minutes, a motorcycle with 3 young men on it can ride by you. The man behind the handles can pull out a duct taped pistol (looked like a 9mm) as two others begin to offload you of…well, everything. They can get in your pockets and that of the lady behind you and pick everything they can carry off you. Then they can ride off and leave you destitute. Then you will remember every smart idea you had two minutes earlier for two minutes afterwards.

There were 2 seconds of that two minutes that I surely will never forget when a white Toyota Ist drove by. While that may sound inconsequential, the lights from the car lit the faces of the men who had drawn guns on us. Young faces. Especially the one who was robbing my lady. The other thing that I saw, other than their faces, was the fear on them. Their leader got very agitated and very firmly poked the barrel into my belly as I was being patted down and urged me to not incite trouble. I had been mostly silent throughout the whole ordeal, only once looking over my shoulder to make sure she had not been hurt.

We got out of it safe and no more than a minute later, the taxi was there. I remember very little about the long drive to drop her at the mother’s house. Very little. I just remember my rage. I was livid beyond reason. I had been through this before.

Four years ago, I lived near Atlanta, GA. I had had a roommate for 2 years who turned out to be a relatively major drug dealer and when he ran away, his suppliers came looking. I was the only person in the house with about 7 armed men and 5 pistols in my face. If someone sneezed, I’d have lost my head. Thank goodness I had vacuumed.
I remember when they left, I was angry at how powerless I had been and I was. I had no one I could call except the police. And what would I have told them? “Hello officers. My cohabitant is seems to be into the distribution of illicit narcotics and his associates were just here looking for him and I just wanted to call you to express concern? Also, they took some stuff from me.” Nah. Last time I called them to help a neighbor out, they arrested me. So…yeah…no.

Instead, I took matters into my own hands. It didn’t take long. I already had my license, the first of the 3 pistols arrived 72 hours later. I felt safer. More in control. I felt no fear.

Tonight, I remembered how that anger lifted and how good it felt to have done something. Except this time, I couldn’t get a gun. But I could call the police. I was at home, dammit. These guys were meant to be on my side, right?

I walked into the police station to find a man thumbing the record book.

“I’m here to report a robbery at gunpoint.”

He didn’t look up.

I repeated louder.

He got up and walked off. I looked at his female counterpart

“Is this where I make the reports or can I get your names and badge numbers so I can talk to Chief Inspector _____ in the morning?”

She was shocked and quickly offered to help. The fear in her eyes was familiar. The gentleman in the back and another man in the next room also walked in.

I began to explain the ordeal.

“Three men riding a motorcycle robbed myself and my companion at gunpoint…”

The first cop sniggered; the lady stifled a laugh.

“What the F*CK is your problem?” I was now openly angry.

“Sorry, sorry.” Still laughing. “You’re not the first person to tell us about those guys.”

“Oh they’ve robbed people before us?” I asked.

“Yeah, a few everyday.” He said. “Like this lady earlier…” and then he giggled.

I was seething. These f*ckers knew? Then the cop who had been silent the whole time muttered under his breath

“In fact, they were found recently.”

I had a brief flashback to the young boys who stole the bus and got sent to the afterlife.

“What happened to them?” I asked him, aggravated by the two incompetent twats I had been dealing with.

“Nothing happens to those ones.” He said matter of factly before retreating to the next room.

“So they didn’t kill them?” I asked.

He put on a coat and said something unintelligible before saying he was off duty and walking out.

I tried to resume that line of questioning with the original idiots who were taking my details, but to no avail. So frustrated, I stormed out and figured I should get home first and let the neighborhood security know not to let people walk out.

“Oh, yeah, another lady was robbed there at 7pm.”

This is what the security guard said to me.

He already knew too.

He watched us walk out, knowing full well what was out there, and didn’t say a word.

I was losing my cool. What is this apathetic nonsense? I urged him to warn women and children not to walk out. He just nodded uninterested and pulled a blanket over himself and let a few young ladies walk out in the same direction. At that point, I told him if he didn’t take me seriously, I’d find a way to charge him with conspiracy and that I was a lawyer. He ran outside and informed the ladies.

I couldn’t take it. I lit my cigarette. Let off some steam. Just to feel numb. Just to forget. Just to feel something and feel it go away. Really to see an effervescent cloud instead of the darkness and emptiness that is the night sky and the city of Nairobi. Sometimes you need to feel that; sometimes you need to feel the pain to enjoy the pleasure. Sometimes you need to lose it all, to be able to know what really matters. Sometimes in order to know who to trust, the world must first betray you.

I was scared. I was angry. I wanted to change my situation and when I was most desperate, the system had failed me. Much like the thieves.
The difference is circumstantial. One day you may be the shooter, they next you may be getting shot.

Welcome to Nairobi.

22 thoughts on ““So They Didn’t Kill Them?”

  1. I have no idea why cops think they make you feel better when upon reporting such an incident they tell you “tunajua hao watu.., kwanza vizuri sana.” Then they go ahead to help you describe the thugs “Si mmoja ni mkonda hivi anavaanga jacket ya leather?” When they start that shit I feel like handing them the sheets of paper and telling them to record the damn statement! They know these thugs, they know where they hangout but they won’t do shit? Any wonder that cops may be in cahoots with them?

    In a period of 10 months I have witnessed four carjackings in my new flat. The unmasked carjackers are so daring, they often give us a show from our balconies. Sometimes they drive off with not just the car but the owners of the car as well. At such times, fearing for the safety of our neighbours, we call the cops and they do that annoying thing again “Ni wale wale wezi?” I haven’t (yet) fallen victim to this menace, but one of my neighbors told me that I’m next. She didn’t even smile when she said it. I’ll keep you posted on my safety. Oh you think I should move? Where to? Where in Nairobi will you not get mugged, thugged or jacked?

    As for rage, you have no idea what ideas come to mind about getting rid of such guys. If the cops won’t do it, can a suicide bomber help?

    People think police reforms have everything to do with the top brass.. the bosses that forgot how to fire a weapon and all they do now is give press statements about how freaked out they are of the Hague. The reforms should also deal with the apathy within the force. Police reforms should reestablish a force that cares about the people they claim to protect.

    I feel very sorry for you and your lady. I can only hope you never have to go through such an ordeal ever again.

    • True, the reforms are not about the top brass at the police, it is about those on the ground, the first officer of contact with the public, that is where reforms should begin.

    • You = awesome.

      Nairoberry is an epidemic that is so widely accepted it has spawned a deep socially entrenched apathy towards each others’ well beings.

      Stay safe

  2. There is nothing as frustrating as trying to report a crime in a Kenyan police station. Whenever you walk into one, they all go ‘Here comes another victim’.
    Crime tends to escalate few months leading to elections for some reason

  3. my dad blocked an overlapping matatu right outside parklands police station, matatu guys got so angry, they threw an open bottle of water at my dad through his open window, began to hurl insults and started pushing and kicking on the car. My dad closed his windows, went to the police station, pointed the matatu which lwas stil loading people. The cops shrugged and said they have orders from above not to touch them and my dad should just go home, they then turned around and continued with their conversation. We have no laws, nobody to protect us. Every man for himself…

  4. A few weeks ago, there was a carjacking right outside my house. Two days later, a car was stolen during the night. Even the ‘safe’ neighbourhoods are in trouble now. There’s a regular police patrol on ‘my block’ every night, but they have successfully (and repetitively) arrested my brothers as they left my house to walk the ten minute stretch to their own houses. They ask for a bribe to let them go home. Most days, the guys are just passing by my place to say hello, and have nothing in their pockets and slippers on their feet. In such cases, they are held in the cells for a few hours then released once the cops are convinced they have nothing to offer. The boys are so used to it they even smile and joke with the cops as they’re led into the cells. It’s a ‘normal’ occurrence now. Meanwhile thugs can do as they please. We’re stuck in a crazy cycle. People, as you say, are apathetic to the safety of others, as long as they themselves are safe. If I saw someone being robbed, what would I do? Hide? Run to a cop station? Walk away and hope the thugs hadn’t seen me? Lock my baby in the house to make sure she wasn’t the next victim? Criminals are more daring and ruthless because they know that between the trigger happy cops and mob justice, they have no hope if they get caught. They have nothing to lose, so they act like they have nothing to fear. It’s a scary time to be alive. Glad you’re both safe.

  5. So sorry about the whole ordeal. I thank God you two are alright now. I also thank you for sharing your story because this will both inform and encourage those who have been or will unfortunately go through the same kind of experience.

    Don’t let this experience mare your outlook on life, sadly the bad comes along with the good. You just happened to experience both at the same time. Yes, you were robbed at Gunpoint, but you still have your lives. You have another day to live with your lady.

    May God continue to protect you and return all that you have lost in miraculous ways.

  6. And these are the reasons kenyans abroad who want to come back home reconsider it. So sorry you had to go through that a second time bro. Glad you’re ok. Legalizing firearms would just turn the city into a battle zone and more lives would be endangered than saved. Stay safe

  7. I’m sorry this happened to you.
    Yesterday I had a conversation about the kind of apathy we have, and the selfishness that has become our society… a friend was in a car accident on a busy highway and the car rolled and everyone got banged up. Yet no one, including those who witnessed the accident immediately stopped…everyone just drove by. Including a police van that he tried to flag down. You could see the car was damaged and people standing outside…yet no one stopped to just check that they were ok…. he had to wait for an hour for an ambulance to drive from Nbi… thank God there were no serious injuries.

    We need to change… I need to change. Life needs to stop being about ‘me’, all the time.

  8. It shows we have a long way to go before we get the Kenya we want. I’m kinda glad you’re aware,happens in my village all the time -my mum has been robbed at gun point very many times at our shop.The police never seem concerned and take their time before making it to the crime scene. college students keep bribing the police so as to not get arrested for no crime so i’m thinking actual criminals with a little more bribe money get away with it. Police are just people, greedy people who need to be disciplined and I think it can be done.Just haven’t figured a way to go about it.Help me find it

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