Jiji Ndogo is bracing for change on Aug 9

Youth assures his mum weed will be cash crop 'jamaa wetu akiingia'

In Summary

• A mother's greatest regret is a child she went out of her way to raise going bad


When a hysterical old woman staggers into the police post barely breathing, Sgt Sophia and I brace for bad news.

“Askari!” She’s hardly audible, doubled over as she is and talking between mouthfuls of air. “Askari!”

“Take your time, madam,” Sophia says, placing an arm on the woman’s back. “Unless it’s an emergency that can’t wait?”

“Ndiyo, askari. Ni imajenithi.”

“What’s going on?” I ask. “Anyone in trouble?”

“Ni Kevini.”

“Kevin? Who’s he?”

“Kevini, mtoto yangu.”

“Kevin!” Now the name registered. “We know him as Kevo. He’s your son? What has he done now?”

“Ameharibu shaba yangu yote.”


“Nataka ukamate yeye na ufunge jela na utupe kifunguo. Sasa nimeshoka na yeye.”

“Maybe you should show us,” Sophia suggests.

For an old lady, Kevo’s mum can surely swing a leg. Sophia and I have to quick-step to keep up with her pace.

“Hawa watoto hawana shukurani,” she says. “Unawazaa, unakosa kutupa hao kwa bolea, unawarea, unawapereka shure, wanakataa kusoma harafu wanakukura kishwa kama kitu ingine.”

“When you say he ruined your farm,” Sophia says, “do you mean he destroyed your crops?”

“Mahidi yote nirikuwa nimepada imeeda. Na irikuwa ire ya bei kari. Heshi siksi, twedi siksi. Sasa ndatoa wapi pesa ingine ya kununua ingine?”

“Was he high?” I say. “Kevin is known to indulge in recreational marijuana.”

“Hata kama ni fobe ama mbangi, kuna sababu ya kuharimbu mali ya mama ya mutu kweri?”

“You’re right, Mama Kevin. There is no excuse for malice. Where is your son now?”

She promises we will find him at the farm and sure enough, that’s where we find him. If his mother had planted maize on the field, there is no sign of it. Kevo is as busy as a worker bee planting other seedlings in the cultivated field.

I pull him up by the back of his trousers. “What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?” he yells. “Napanda cash crops.”

“Your mother says you ruined her crop of maize. Who gave you permission to invade her farm?”

“Monthere hajui. There is no market for maize. If our jamaa gets elected, ni cash crops from now on.”

“What jamaa?”

Sgt Sophia uproots one of the plants and scrutinises it. “Dear Lord. It’s weed.”

“He’s replacing maize with weeds?” I ask and turn to Kevo. “What have you been smoking?”

“Not weeds,” Sophia says. “Weed. Marijuana. He’s planted nearly an acre of bhang.”

“Itakuwa cash crop jamaa wetu akiingia. Snakes and hashish, dude. We going to be rich. Masonko country mzima. Kuna beshte yangu ana-make traps za hyena. Si you know the Chinese will eat anything? I hear snake ni delicacy huko.”

“Until your jamaa is elected, it’s still illegal to plant bhang, Kevin.” Sgt Sophia puts him in handcuffs. “So for now, I’ll have to arrest you for the illegal manufacture of contraband.”

“You know what, we need to tell him to get rid of cops. Watu wajitawale.”

“And what will happen to lawbreakers like you?”

“I’m no criminal. You’re arresting me while I was working in my garden. Wale wabaya they can face mob justice. Si mlishindwa job yenu, you saw what we did with Masten Wanjala?”

“Kevin, I advise you to shut up before you get yourself into more trouble.”

“Sasa hii kitu amepada nitafanyia nini?” asks Mama Kevo. “Ama ni ukweri hifo anasema niiashe tu mbaka erekshon iishe?”

“I’m sorry, but if you keep it growing in your farm,” I inform her, “I’ll also arrest you for the same crime as your son.”

“Na ure mwingine wa kutufukisha muto? Bado safari iko ama nianse kupada mahidi tena?”

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