When names can hurt

Mistaken identity lands a newcomer in hospital in Jiji Ndogo

In Summary

• People do not take kindly to demands for money from unwelcome busybodies

Mob justice
Mob justice

It appears that a while back, two alien things arrived in our sleepy little village of Jiji Ndogo at the same time, and only now am I getting to learn of the tragic consequences.

As I heed the call to appear post-haste at the local clinic at the behest of Dr Kanzu, I wonder what shenanigans my denizens are up to now.

But I am not prepared for what lies ahead.

‘His name is John Kiare,’ Dr Kanzu says of the patient on the bed wrapped up from head to toe. ‘They beat him up pretty bad.’

‘Who exactly is “they”, doctor?’

‘People, many of them. They’re still here, out back.’

‘They didn’t run away after assaulting him?’

‘Why would they? They thought it was the right thing to do. They plan on turning him over to you once he recovers.’

The victim’s face is wrapped in bandages and I don’t recognise him. ‘Who is he? I don’t think I’ve seen him around.’

‘He’s new. Only came to Jiji Ndogo a few weeks ago.’

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is our first alien entrant into our hamlet. ‘What did he do to merit the anger of the people?’

Dr Kanzu points to the door. ‘I think you better ask them yourself.’

I find a group of about 10 older people behind the clinic, all wearing angry warrior faces.

‘Thank God umekuja,’ says one of them. ‘Huyo jamaa ni mkora sana. Ushike yeye uweke jela saa hii.’

‘What are you talking about?’ I ask.

Nyaguthii, our resident Chief Gossip Monger, motions the man to sit. She’ll do the explaining better.

‘Officer Makini, a few weeks ago, we started receiving letters from someone called Kiare, although he writes his name different. But that’s not the point. Kiare, the man lying on the bed in there, has been demanding that we send him money.’

‘Yes!’ yells a man emphatically. ‘He’s been lying it’s government money. The government doesn’t ask citizens for money.’

‘So, you’re saying the letters started arriving at the same time the man you beat up arrived here?’

‘How’s that for a coincidence, huh?’ asks Nyaguthii. ‘And he had the guts to deny everything while we have the proof.’

‘You have proof that this man has been demanding money from you?’

‘Of course, we do. You think we could do all this without a reason?’

‘Where’s the proof?’

‘It’s a web letter,’ says an older lady.

My mind spins. ‘A what now?’

‘A web letter. One of those you get from a computer or digital phone.’

‘You mean an email?’

‘No,’ the woman asserts. ‘I mean a web letter. You’re supposed to be young and hip to this stuff, aren’t you?’

Nyaguthii pulls me aside. ‘Yes, it’s an email. We all got them, but Kevo read them to us.’

An old man stands up. ‘Don’t judge us because we can’t read.’

‘I’m not judging you.’ I look around. ‘Where’s Kevo?’

Kevo, one of the hip youngsters in the village and a grandson to one of the fighters, is summoned to the gathering.

‘Sup, Gov’nor,’ he twangs. ‘Watchu need me for, man?’

‘Cut the crap, Kevo. You’re in Jiji Ndogo, not Atlanta, Michigan. Where’s the email you read to your grandfather and the others?’

‘Oh, the one from Kiare? I have it here, man.’

He removes a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. One glance at it and I don’t know if to laugh or cry. ‘This is from the K-R-A, you idiot, not Kiare.’

And those emails, ladies and gentlemen, are our second unfortunate alien entrant into Jiji Ndogo.

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