Controversy in city causes fear in village

Makini learns through the grapevine of state jobs and Chinese projects

In Summary

• People seem to get crazier by the day in Jiji Ndogo, and it's no laughing matter


Even as a government employee, sometimes it takes a while for news to trickle down to us at Jiji Ndogo. Make that most times. You’d be surprised to know that most information not coming directly from our bosses through internal memos percolates to us via the residents.

The other day, I met a denizen at the shop. After receiving his bread and sugar, he saw me standing behind him.

“Say, you’re a government person,” he said. “How about explaining what’s happening to our country?”

Stumped, I said, “That’s a very broad question. Mind narrowing it down a tad?”

“I mean, our President. Isn’t he satisfied with being President of the country and boss of the army? Does he have to take all the jobs?”

“Is he?” Of course, I thought the guy was kidding. “Don’t tell me he’s petitioned to be President of Africa.”

“I’m serious. My cousin in Jiji Kubwa, where they get newspapers, told me that the President has appointed himself as leader of the Coast region.”


The more the conversation lasted, the less sense it made.

“But as President of the country,” I said, “the President is already the leader of the Coast region. And Western region. Northeastern, too. Everywhere in the country, right? So why would he need to appoint himself a leader to a place already under his rule?”

“Like I said, you’re the government man. You tell me. This country has gone to the dogs.” And with that proclamation, the man walked away.

“Some milk and bread, please,” I said to the shopkeeper. “What’s happening to our village? It’s like people get crazier by the day.”

“Poor guy is only confused,” said the keeper.

“I bet he is. He might need the services of a professional shrink.”

“It’s not that bad. I mean he’s confused by news coming from the city.”

“How so?”

“The President appointed a fella by the name William Ruto to be the Kenya Ports Authority MD.”

“Oh, I’ve heard of him. Capt William Ruto. Now I get it.”

We got a good laugh out of the matter. So good, actually, that I realised the thieving bastard of a shopkeeper had given me less than correct change. Any way to make a buck nowadays, I guess.

Today, a like issue found itself into the police post. Dr Selitol, our resident Indian merchant who sells everything from used clothes to pet crocodiles, arrived at my desk completely out of breath.

“What’s the matter today, doctor?” I say. “Someone nick a cat off your shelf?”

“Kumbe wewe tayari iko jua about that. Iko mtu naiba paka yangu. Very Siamese, very expensive. Lakini iko ingine maridadi sana nakuja. Hao naita Sphinx Cat. Wewe iko penda paka?”

He shows me a picture on his phone. The poor thing is long, hairless and as ugly as a witch.

“Why would anyone want such a thing inside his home?”

He stashed the phone back into his pocket. “Shida ya wakenya ni hapana jua kuishi kama wazungu.”

“I’m good. How can I help you today?”

“Mimi iko na shida sana. Huko Nairobi, mimi iko sikia serikari iko sema Chinese businessmen hapana iko ruhusa kufanya trading, manufacturing peke yake.”

“Is that so? Haven’t heard about it. But why are you worried? You’re a Kenyan of Indian origin. You can do anything you want in your country.”

“Wewe nasema tu. Unajua mara ngapi mimi iko enda mahali watu nafikiria mimi ni Chinese? Iko wakati karibu watu napiga mimi ati kazi yangu iko mbaya.”

I laugh. “What had you sold them?”

“Hakuna. Hao iko ona pothole Outer Ring Road.”

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