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Category Archives: Causes

7 Most Famous Kenyan Wild Animals


It is probably not a surprise that most of the animals here are more famous outside Kenya than within. It is the same story with human Kenyan celebrities such as Lupita and Mutu, we never really give you time and space unless an outside validates you first. The cuter animal friendships are grouped together, while the one with psychopathic tendencies gets an entry on its own, as does the slithery one that might roll up under your bed tonight. Please check before you sleep.

#7 Nicky the Blind Rhino

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With rhino poaching having wiped out the larger part of the population in Kenya, it is something of a surprise that the most famous one is a blind baby rhino called Nicky. He is a gorgeous rhino inflicted with cataracts since birth that cannot be treated by surgery. 

Rhinos generally have poor eyesight, relying more on smell and sound than sight. Although there are two blind rhinos, Nicky from Lewa Conservancy and Alfie from Ol Jogi, Nicky is the more famous of the two. He was saved by Mike Watson, the Lewa Conservancy CEO after he was spotted bumping into trees and straying away from his mother. 

Nicky has two full time minders, Yusuf and Tonga. He is a diva who enjoys his mudbaths a little too much, and hangs out with a Yellow Labrador in one of those animal friendships that flip at the natural order of things. 

#6 Odd Wild Animal Friendships

— Owen the Hippo and Mzee the Tortoise

When the tsunami waves hit the Kenyan coast in late 2004, they dragged back with them a young hippo out to sea. He was stranded on a reef from here he had to be captured using nets, ropes, boats and cars. As if this wasn’t enough, it took a rugby tackle by a volunteer who does not watch Animal Planet enough to bring the hippo down. In recognition of this act of who-cares-if-this-wild-animal-goes-apeshit-nuts, the hippo was named after him, Owen.

Most likely due to space issues, Owen the hippo had to share a habitat with a 130-year old Aldabra giant tortoise called Mzee. The two struck an odd mother-son relationship, bathing together and sleeping together. Owen would lick Mzee’s face and become protective if anyone approached the tortoise. Apparently, he had called dibs on licking the old tortoise’s face just quick enough to be faster than its reaction. Mzee learnt to live with the crazy young hippo, or maybe took too long to plan his revenge.

"One day I will definitely kill this fat guy. Yup! I love him and all, he is fun and all, but he pisses me off so so much." Image Credit www.blekingenaturfoto.se

“One day I will definitely kill this fat guy. Yup! I love him and all, he is fun and all, but he pisses me off so so much.”
Image Credit http://www.blekingenaturfoto.se

They had to be separated in 2007 as Owen grew bigger and Mzee’s safety as he ran the risk of being smothered with just enough smooches and love by his bigger but younger sidekick to kill him. He was introduced to a female hippo called Cleo while Mzee was introduced to another tortoise called Toto.

Sidenote: Who names these animals? They deserve a presidential commendation.

— Gakii the Bushbaby

All levels of awesome and mushy. Image credit Veronica Marchina www.pinterest.com

All levels of awesome and mushy.
Image credit Veronica Marchina http://www.pinterest.com

When Gakii, a three-month-old bushbaby was rescued in Nyeri and placed in the Nairobi Animal Orphanage, no one thought she would find a mother figure outside her species, a yellow baboon nonetheless. The odd friendship between the primates dumbfounded animal experts as they are not considered socially compatible. Yellow baboons live on Savannahs while Galagos are native to continental Africa. It has been implied that the baboon in question has better maternal skills than Casey Anthony.

—Omni and Digby

In another charming animal friendship story, an abandoned rhino calf christened Omni struck an odd friendship with Digby, a warthog. Omni and Digby started a talk show and became comedy hosts, they got wasted together and then exchanged the last letters of their names just for fun. Okay they didn’t. Wait, are there talk shows in the animal world? Or is it a King Julien kind of tyranny all the way?

Their friendship was apparently not founded on looks as they were Perhaps not the cutest couple, but heart-warming nonetheless.” Every night, Digby the warthog would sleep on the back of the Omni the baby rhino, both covered by a large blanket. Tell me that did not get you all mushy mushy.

#5 Mountain Bull, MT Bull

Among farmers whose crops have been ravaged by MT Bull, the elephant is a nuisance that should have died years ago. The bull is a hero among his peers, having forced everyone to reconsider the true origin of human-animal conflict. I don’t know how they fete heroes in the elephant world, but this guy deserves whatever is the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize for calling BS on human settlement.

The 46-year bull is a celebrity for his utter dedication to using traditional elephant migration routes. MT Bull, like the rest of his kind, is motivated by the three “s”s: Sex, safety, and sustenance. His instincts drove him to snap fence wires and crash gates in a bid to follow those migration routes, bringing him in direct conflict with the human beings who settled on that course. MT Bull became that guy, yanking fences, opening gates, tearing down things, throwing a proper ratchet party. Alone. Sometimes with company. Like a Boss. An Elephant Boss.

Lewa Conservancy spearheaded efforts to protect the famous elephant from his instincts, trimming its tusks in 2012 and tracking him using Google Earth Interface. His Mafia days gone, MT Bull’s efforts almost single-handedly led to the construction of the famous elephant underpass which took a decade to build and is the first of its kind in Africa.

You can tell that elephant at the back is all about the ladies!

You can tell that elephant at the back is all about the ladies! He is checking out the ratio.

He did not use the underpass for two years, only using it first in January 2013; he was evidently waiting to see whether it was worth his time.

"Hhhhmm, this is not so bad. It would be better with a transit stop over, a bar maybe, anyone?" Image Credit www.Lewa.org

“Hhhhmm, this is not so bad. It would be better with a transit stop over, a bar maybe, anyone?”
Image Credit http://www.Lewa.org

MT Bull was featured in the BBC’s  “The secret life of elephants.”

#4 Kamunyak, the Blessed One (Lioness)

If there ever was a sociopath among animals, it would have to be Kamunyak the Lioness. Her given name means The Blessed One in Samburu. In 2002, the lonely lioness was spotted cuddling up with five baby antelopes she had cradle snatched from their frightened mothers.

She adopted at least 6 oryx calves who should have been food as soon as she met them.  After securing a newborn, the lioness would lie down next to the baby and, like any protective mother, ward off strangers, antelopes and antelope-eaters alike.”

This was so strange that one animal behaviourist said of KamunyakThis lion has to have a mental disorder. To understand this, we’d have to study the history of this lioness. We’d have to put her on the couch.”Coincidentally, that’s what they say about people with psychopathic tendencies. She was all nutcase for the festivities as ”local newspapers have noted that all three adoptions occurred on significant days – Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Good Friday.” 

It turns out she might have been playing with food the way we poke around the sheep right before we kill it. Or let the chicken run so we can hunt it down like our cave ancestors. Kamunyak ate one of her adoptees shortly after the young oryx died of starvation. Another one was eaten by other lions who knew better than to play with food, while another was taken from her care before the Blessed One starved her to death by loving her and not feeding her.

Kamunyak was last sighted in February 2004 and has never been seen since. She either went the Raymond Reddington way or was killed by a professional Oryx hit squad known as…you know the answer to this question…the Oryxes! Bam! Her story was featured in the film Heart of a Lioness.

This phenomenon has happened elsewhere in Uganda but that is now thought to be a strategy by lions. All cats are psychopaths, FYI.

 

#3 Ahmed the Elephant, King of Marsabit

Image Credit madamepickwickartblog.com

Image Credit madamepickwickartblog.com

Arguably the most famous elephant in Kenya, Ahmed the Elephant died in 1974 at the retirement age of 55. The male elephant was born at the Marsabit National Reserve sometime in 1919. In 1970, as the threat of poaching to extinction became more grim, President Jomo Kenyatta placed Marsabit’s royalty under his protection by presidential decree. Ahmed was thus declared a living monument to be protected by at least 2 armed guards day and night. 

Rich and famous elephant, all he needed was a limo and love. Image Credit www.itungai.wordpress.com

Rich and famous elephant, all he needed was a limo and love.
Image Credit http://www.itungai.wordpress.com


When he died in 1974, a cast of his body was made, leading to rumors that he was actually preserved in ice to be resurrected later when elephants are either extinct or have evolved a third tusk that shoots back at poachers.

Ahmed’s full-size replica still stands at the Kenya National Museum today. 

#2  Elsa the Lioness (1956 to 1961)

Incredibly Photogenic Lioness? Image Credit www.fatheroflions.org

Incredibly Photogenic Lioness?
Image Credit http://www.fatheroflions.org

Elsa the Lioness was a film and book celebrity. She was also a lioness with a really really hot name, and a penchant for the camera and the red carpet. Brought up by Joy Adamson and her husband, game warden George Adamson, Elsa is the subject of the movie Born Free (1966). She and her sisters, Lustica and Big One, were adopted by the couple after George shot and killed their mother. The two sisters were sent to the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands, while Elsa became a superstar. Lustica sounds like a stripper’s name, doesn’t it? But Big One is even worse, WWE, anyone? Anyway, little is publicly known about their life’s history in the Netherlands.

Elsa first became famous in 1960 when, following a visit by BBC Presenter David Attenborough, the book Born Free was released. The book sold 5 million copies and was translated into 24 languages.

It was turned into a movie Born Free, which  features Joy Adamson’s efforts to train Elsa to live in the wild. In Living free (1972), a sequel to the movie, Elsa becomes a mother to three cubs, Little Elsa, Gopa and Jespah. She is also featured in a 25 minute-long series of footage called Elma and her Cubs.

Such badassery has never been captured in Kenya before. Image Credit www.fatheroflions.org

Such badassery has never been captured in Kenya before.
Image Credit http://www.fatheroflions.org

Her humans were both murdered; Joy Adamson in the Shaba National Reserve on 3 January 1980 and George 9 years later in the Kora National Park.

#1 Omieri the Serpent

Image Credit  news.bbc.co.uk

Image Credit
news.bbc.co.uk

Omieri the serpent strolled into Benta Atieno’s home in Wasare, a village on the banks of Lake Victoria in early 2003, causing a media flurry that brought the 16-foot python to international fame.  Thought to be a harbinger of good tidings in traditional Luo folklore, Omieri is not a specific snake but a manifestation. She has reappeared many times before 2003 and 2006, the most controversial being in 1987 during the controversial burial of criminal lawyer SM Otieno.

In the 1987 case, there was a furore when Omieri was airlifted to Nairobi for treatment after her bush nesting place was set ablaze. Residents demanded that she be moved back to Nyanza as the SM burial case pitting his wife Wambui Otieno and SM’s clan became headline news. Omieri was moved back to Kisumu where she died. She was given a proper burial, with a condolence book placed at the Kariokor Social Hall.

In the 2003 manifestation, government authorities were more sensitive to the community’s connection with the snake. Kenya Wildlife Service sent officers to assess the situation and recommend proper foods the nesting female snake was to be fed.

"If you could add Cola, some rum, and let my guy Nyakach and I meet from time to time, that'ld be nice." Image Credit www.blekingenaturfoto.se

“If you could add Cola, some rum, and let my guy Nyakach and I meet from time to time, that’ld be nice.”
Image Credit http://www.blekingenaturfoto.se

Other people wanted to make a meal of her. According to some reports, there was an offer of a very tempting KES 20, 000 by a crew of foreign engineers who wanted to turn Omieri into a cuisine. It was, of course, turned down. Her eggs began to hatch in May and she disappeared back to wherever she had come after surviving floods said to have been caused by rain she had brought. She resurfaced in Ombeyi village in Kano, Nyando District, in February 2006.

Among the Taita, another snake, christened Sadu the Serpent god, is the custodian of the Taita culture and wealth. 

 

Owaahh, 2014 ©


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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Adventures, Animals, Causes, Discourse, Kenya, Lists

 

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Slaying Smaug the Corrupt: Police Vetting is a Waste of Time


Every evening at my local, a police vehicle drives in and parks near the gate. No one comes out of the car. Instead, a waitress, always the same one, walks to them and has a conversation that never lasts, in my estimation, more than three minutes. Since it is a joint in the same line with several others, it’s easy to see the police vehicle move from one to the other. The ritual is always the same.

When this conversation came up during a discussion on the ongoing police vetting, it hit me that we have allowed the police force to turn into our very own Sicilian Mafia. It runs its own parallel taxation system that we have learnt to live with as long as we are left with a little to fend for ourselves or get home. It has, in turn, made police officers who earn a paltry salary millionaires many times over. We live near this cadre of the rich with their palatial homes, new cars, smart phones and disposable income made from the hard-earned sweat of those who prefer freedom to justice. It is passivity, not an omerta, that sustains this side economy.

Like the Sicilian Mafia, they collect what amounts to protection fees from any joint that has been unlucky to fall in Mututho’s scope. The good man, in trying to stop our sure destruction by the bottle, has created, enabled, and encouraged that mafia system. Each bar, wines and spirits shop and club away from Nairobi pays what might look like a paltry KShs 50 every day while those within Nairobi pay KShs 100. If there are 1000 such joints within a jurisdiction that amounts to KShs. 50, 000 per day outside Nairobi and KShs. 100, 000 per day within Nairobi. Every. Single. Fucking. Day.

This amount covers a ‘license’ to break all Mututho’s laws. Once you have paid your daily tithe you have leeway to close the place when the customers leave, not when the official closing hours end. You can sell pretty much anything, even allow drunkard parents to come to the club with their young children. No questions asked. Live and let live. Pay first though, then live.

In a week, the accounts go up to Kshs. 350, 000 and Kshs. 700, 000 outside and within Nairobi respectively. Every week. This does not include the money other groups such as boda boda riders, taxi drivers, matatus, shops that stock illegal or banned items, and such pay weekly or monthly. These amounts have to be paid religiously if one is to continue doing business within any area. The only businesses exempt from this parallel tax are those owned by members of the Mafia itself, and those owned by the powers that be.

The amount does not include the money collected from bribes by motorists and other offenders. There is a running joke among my friends that one should always include a small fee for bribes after budgeting for fuel and car service. It is impossible to be a motorist in Kenya, especially in Nairobi, without paying the powers that be, so the joke goes.

A small lapse in judgment, like speaking on the phone when the traffic has stalled, will get you within the scope of a smiling uniformed man. The moment you are flagged down, your mind doesn’t run with thoughts of prison or unimaginable fines by a magistrate. Instead, one thinks of how much disposable money is in the wallet and the car, in the MPESA account, how near the nearest ATM is.

A small estimation of how much our Sicilian Mafia is making in a week thus runs into amounts greater than KShs. 2 million per police jurisdiction. Even if we make the assumption that given the ‘taxman’s’ share, and money lost as the kickbacks move up the system, and assume each County boss is left with that KShs. 2 million per week, it means the parallel taxman is earning KShs. 94 million bob. Every week.

There are no operational costs because you and I pay for the fuel used to run this syndicate. We all see it happening but we are fraught to do anything about it. We have poured billions into slaying the ‘dragon’ of corruption, as a hapless former anti-corruption boss famously described his work. We have, it seems, failed. But we still yearn for a Nirvana where we do not pay two taxmen with the little we make.

It is probably time we started asking the moral questions. For example, one of the police bosses was taken to task on why he had received KShs. 900, 000 from David Rudisha, 800m world record holder and in, in typical Kenyan style, a police officer himself. No one has taken the athlete, who is now a strong brand himself and on numerous advertisements and commercials, to task over why he sent the money to his boss.

We like our heroes flawed, like the rest of us. With success comes great kickbacks. We all know what it was and, being the patriots we are, justify it by thinking Rudisha probably made much more than that 0.9m he paid his boss. Our reaction to public vetting should be “Hahaha, we see what you did there, guys.”

I guess the question is who holds more moral responsibility, the bribe giver who ‘only wants peace and to move on’ or the bribe take who is ‘underpaid but willing, with a little chai, to do his public duty’? Does the extent of moral responsibility even matter? I portend it doesn’t, because morality has never been our best attribute. Consumerism seems to be our most recent catch though.

Consider the fact that the ‘chai’ Eric Wainaina sang about a decade or so ago is now a full-grown racketeering system that rivals the Yakuza and the Sicilian Mafia, headed by godfathers we still pay six figure salaries to avoid taking the very bribes that fuel their cars and pay their children’s school fees. That chai system that started with fifty bobs hastily folded and put in an empty matchbox, and thrown at traffic police officers who would try to take them as inconspicuously as possible is now Smaug himself. Tolkien describes Smaug as a ‘…most specially greedy, strong and wicked dragon.” And he is growing.

Smaug: [laughs] I kill where I wish and none dare resist! I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today - then I was but young and tender, now I am old and strong! My armor is shields, my teeth swords, my tail a thunderbolt!

Smaug: [laughs] I kill where I wish and none dare resist! I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today – then I was but young and tender, now I am old and strong! My armor is shields, my teeth swords, my tail a thunderbolt!

Today, the bribe taker will openly bargain for a bigger bribe. The euphemisms of chai and kitu kidogo are no longer necessary, neither are icebreakers, this is the way of the land. Any bribe lower than 1000 bob for a traffic offense in Nairobi is considered an insult by and to the bribe taker. The cost of living has driven everything up.

If you do not have loose money to pay the agreed amount to go back to your important business, change is available in the form of 50 bobs and 100 bobs taken from earlier bribe givers. It is possible that since Smaug has now grown so big and so greedy, there are account books run by jurisdictional bosses to make sure the minions are not thieving. Because, honor among thieves.

Baggins: I did not come to steal from you, O Smaug the Unassessably Wealthy. I merely wanted to gaze upon your magnificence, to see if you were as great as the old tales say. I did not believe them.  Smaug: [strikes a pose] And do you, NOW?  Baggins: Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of your enormity, O Smaug the Stupendous...  Smaug: Do you think flattery will keep you alive?  Baggins: No, no...  Smaug: No, indeed!  Image sourced from [www.jambonewspot.com]

Smaug: Let me tell you, I ate six ponies last night and I shall catch and eat the others before long.Image sourced from [www.jambonewspot.com] 

Public vetting without a thorough soaking and wringing of the little moral fabric we have left is a total waste of time. All it will do is make bribe takers more wary of leaving a paper trail and lo! and behold, a money laundering system will emerge. They will save money under the names of their spouses, children, parents, friends, hand househelps They will make purchases in cash and register them under dummy names. They will invest it in business where they know it will be long long before anyone ever catches them. They are actually already doing this.

As consumerism infiltrates the central national ethos, devolved into a burgeoning middle class with a large disposable income, the opportunities for the parallel taxation system to make money grows. More cars equals more motorists that increase the statistical possibility of multiple traffic offenders willing to pay a quick KES 500 to avoid being lost in the maze that is the Kenyan judicial system.

So, all hail the parallel taxation system. Pay your bribes and be a good Kenyan. Avoid crime and silly mistakes but if you must, be ready to oil someone to look the other way. Do not worry if you do not have enough in your pocket at the time, someone will accompany you to the ATM to withdraw the money, or even loan you some credit to call your people and get the money. They will helpfully point you to the nearest MPESA if they are actually aware of the perils of a money trail. No rush here, bribe giver, says the bribe taker, it’s not as if we are paying rent or anything, or building roads and paying teachers.

All this happens in the span of a few minutes, or a few hours, and each side appeals to the other’s sense of greed and primal survival instincts. The transaction is a marvel as the driver’s license is given back as soon as the bribe is honored (this is now a thing, by the way). It is not happening under our noses, it is happening right before our eyes and to our wallets, and we are in it, deep deep in it.

Maybe someday we will feel the itch to reclaim Erebor; to finally do something more substantial than stage a public surgery to cure a cancer so far spread that it no longer feels like a terminal illness but a way of life.

 Owaahh©, 2013  

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Causes, Kenya, Nairobi Review, Politics

 

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Quit, You’ll Never Catch the Phantom Pooper or see Cats Shag


Nobody I know has ever seen cats fuck. Once, as a child, I thought I saw our pet cat at it with a stray but it ‘all happened so fast’ I am unsure whether it wasn’t a product of my at times hyperactive imagination. It seems a phenomenon only known to nature and the participating felines. 

You will hear them moan at night though. They congregate outside your window in the deep of the night. And they moan. So loud sometimes that you think it’s a band of crying infants. But you almost never ever see them do it. By the time the flashlight beam hits their romp, probably a groupie, the female is nowhere to be seen. The male glares at you, embarrassed. Planning your death. You cockblocker! For half a minute you two stare each other down until he decides you are not worth it and runs off to restart the courtship you just ruined.
If indeed my informal analysis result that no one has ever seen cats at it is credible, is there something we don’t know?
They come together to come. You feed them yes, but you are not invited. not to this party anyway. Walk away and pretend you didn’t just see the snail trails being left on your couch. Just turn and go. You are not invited to these orgies, all you are expected to be is silent and permissive. Ask no questions, make no testimonies, and all 
shall be well with your soul. Life, I mean.
But at the back of mind you know what’s going on, the noises are graphic, as is the evidence of claws where erotic scratches were made yesternight. You know it, your neighbor who gave you the kitten knows it. The dog knows it too, and he is traumatized. All of you are witnesses to a horrendous crime of nature and victims of not-so-subtle threats by a guy with whiskers.

I engaged an invisible friend into a conversation about recently.

YOLO!

Unless you are a cat, of course.

Hehe, are you?

Maybe, Maybe not. The theory of parallel universes gives space for such a possibility as me having fur, whiskers, and a soft threatening purr.

Depends on where those whiskers are!

Why? Does that change my species or just what specific feline I am?

Makes you an interbreed.

Sounds like a bore, an interbreed. Have you ever seen cats fuck?

I have not, why?

Because, they are mammals. They must shag sometimes. But almost no one has ever seen it happen.

True, nobody knows.

I think cats kill off all the witnesses.

Or turn them into other cats?

Or clean out their memories.


The threats are delivered by those intriguing cat eyes. They scare the hell out of you and incase your light is ever faster than a female feline fleeing from a fuck feast, your fate is no longer yours. Those cats will most definitely murder you. Or wipe out your memory. Or eat your children. Or make you clean after the kittens that result after the romp. You are a slave. Your master is much smaller than you, much weaker than you, owns less than you do, has nothing on you except eight lives more. You are a pawn in the cat’s procreation activities and it owns you. As your master it makes you pay for everything, including the STIs it might contract during the mating seasons. Feed me, it meows. Feed me and don’t you forget who your pimp be! Also, I pooped earlier and threw up behind the couch, your favorite couch, would you be a darling as to clean those excreta up? No? How about if I promise to kill you, and the dog? Yes? Good boy, good. Meow.
You see things. You hear things. You elect things. You vomit things. You complain things. You Witness things. You should never talk about them, if history is any lead. 
Your cat is planning to kill you. That has never been in question.

cat-standing

Talking about things one does not see until the next morning, thieves broke into the supermarket on the ground floor of my apartment building the other day. Three thieves, scrawny young men, or at least as I imagine it.

Our robber antagonists were after the money of course, the millions stored in a safe within the premises. They chose Sunday, the day in the week when all the cash collected over the weekend is stored in the safe. So our thieves were sharp, and lucky. A thief thieves, right? But these guys were not done just yet…

After cleaning the safe, they went downstairs and raided the cake and pastries aisles. They ransacked all the food aisles, leaving behind a telling tale of a man in a nipple factory. They helped themselves to delicacies galore, carrying very little and eating most of it there and then. Of course they drank soda and juice, almost half a bottle of each. Only one soda was missing from the fridge. It seems that ice cold drinks are not a thief’s drink of choice.

I can see why. Imagine trying to combine a heightened adrenaline rush with the feeling of an ice cold drink. Brain Freeze! Unless of course they drank the cold sodas and then replaced them with the others on the aisles. So the supermarket would have enough cold stock in the morning. When gentlemen were thieves.

Anyway, they ate. Stole and ate. Pooped too.

There was a mound of shit in the office the next morning. Several hours old, already past rigor mortis. And stinking. Stinking as the distinctive smell of a well-preserved colon of pooh can be. It was right there in the open. Just one mound, apparently only one guy had the urge to take a dump in the middle of a heist.

I know it smelt because when I heard the story two days later and (still) went to shop there, I could still smell it. I think it was in my  head, but I smelt it all right.

I looked at the manager with a pitiful face. His, not mine. I wondered what he must have gone through the morning after. Even after you have wiped away the physical evidence, and sprayed several cans of air freshner (because it is a supermarket, I imagine you spare no expense), you still know that it was there. So, you have to work inside there long before your brain has enough distractions to forget that there was excreta atop your table or floor some hours prior. Yet you must, like a general who strolls into a war zone the day after the armistice. Or a president visiting ground zero. If they bomb the president’s house while he is away, he has to visit as soon as that shit is in control-pun wholly intended-to convince the populace that he is hurt but not conquered. That work must continue.

Well, there are objective thieves, and then others poop in your office. Poop as a weapon of psychological intimidation. Like when we replaced the loaves of bread in our school dining hall with poop. We, because when it came to paying for the damages caused during the strike, we all had to pay for it. Poopers and non-poopers. The distinction was never made. 

What damage can a comprehensive mound of excreta do to a stainless steel sufuria? Or rather, what damage that a good disinfect, a prayer, more disinfectant, and handing said sufuria to a neighbor, not do?

They never bought new sufurias. The phantom poopers were never caught. They left a ‘series of smelly situations’ and got away with it; we paid the price. 

Neither were our three thieves of whom only one felt the dire need to take a dump right there in the supermarket manager’s office. Imagine the giggle. How genius the idea instigator felt.

“Man, we should raise the stakes and poop somewhere in this supermarket.”

“(Giggling) IKR? Waaaah! We so should. Thief #3, do you feel like taking a dump?”

“Guys, how do I always end up being the kinetic energy for your insanities”

“Don’t be a party pooper #3, you lost at truth or dare last night, remember?

“Consider this a dare.”

“But what if I don’t feel like dumping right now?”

“Its okay, we can wait a few hours, eat a few more cakes, maybe make alien messages with the rice.”

“Until the urge comes of course, there’s tissue here too by the way”

“Please guys, let’s not poop in the supermarket, what if they do those CSI things and my pooping ass is hauled in jail where big burly guys with lice colonies make me a pipe shitter?”

“CSI shit don’t work in here. Plus we’ll pour salt on it to burn off your DNA…”

“Okay, just let me choose the spot, okay?”

There was the other time we filed to one of the bathrooms to study a mound that had been left on the edge of the toilet bowl. It wasn’t a normal mound.

Picture a log of wood. A very wide and large log, like one you would use for a support column. Placed from the edge of the toilet bowl towards the door, as I reconstructed the grime scene then. It doesn’t make sense for the log to be placed from the door towards the bowl, there is no logical explanation for that. For the former, however, Newton must’ve been on point! A propulsion! The very very very large and wide log being dumped propelled its owner in such a way that he took off like a witch on a broomstick. Or Quidditch players.

The mere circumference attracted an audience. It was a concerned audience; so much so that had the  logistics of forcibly helping the victim, we would have subjected each other to a stinky strip search. The phantom pooper who might have needed reconstructive surgery was never found.

 

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Disaster? Cue the Looting, This is Kenya


When I saw images of Abdul Hajj, I automatically knew he was not a Kenyan cop. There was something about him that told of affluence, a man who gyms in a proper facility and eats well. Later, I bounced on an image of the cop (the unlucky thief) currently being prosecuted for looting from the dead at Westgate. It is because we pay our police so badly, I thought to myself in a moment of temporary insanity. Then, when we all knew that KDF had almost exclusive access to the mall for days, stories of looting reappeared. This time, the possible looters were not poorly paid officers but elite forces that are among the best paid employees in the country. So I hang my head in shame and sighed. We are doomed.

It is not as much as what was stolen but by whom. The police, underpaid and neglected, have a ‘social license’ similar to that we give politicians who bribe us for our votes. We think it is an abhorrence, but we have learnt to live with it. If you commit a traffic offence, for example, and are arrested, anyone will tell you not to open your wallet in the arresting officer’s field of vision. One lady did exactly that and the officer snatched the bundle of brown notes, totaling 5,ooo bob, and let her free. And so it goes.

We have so institutionalized looting that we see nothing new about it. That’s why my sentiments on Westgate looting point towards the underlying and nagging idea that with exclusive access, the military officers might have hauled away luxury watches and other valuables. Our astute forces, well paid, and provided for as much as they would want, most of it untaxed and exclusive, might have conducted one of the most blatant thefts in the history of our society. It is too soon to claim the end of the AFCO tax breaks triggered the looting, so, why would those we pay well enough to do violence on our behalf steal from us like those from whom we expect similar services but pay poorly? Does it even have anything to do with the salary and allowances or is it deeper, engrained in our hastily clobbered national genotype?

In Its Our Turn to Eat, the case is made through the Anglo leasing story that being in a position of power in Kenya is chance to loot. If you don’t do it, someone else will, goes the story. We tend to associate politicians with five year mandates with this social license to raid public coffers and behave plainly like assholes in their interactions with us common folk. We allow that, because they are elected or nominated, and are thus in a God-given electorate-legitimized position to thief for themselves and their ilk. Maybe some crumbs will fall our way, we think.

It does little to our collective national psyche and legendary apathy, and will probably be forgotten in no time, but it raises questions of a deep moral angling. Is it that we have become so used to looting, whether as participants or victims, that we can only be shocked now if it is done by those we thought above such a trivial offence? Didn’t the crowd that had to be repulsed using teargas want to access the mall even before it was secured? They had an epiphany of what the disciplined forces, bar none, would do when left alone in a upper class mall where all hell had broken lose? It seems they did.

Almost all disasters are followed by looting of some degree, so much so that one academic called it the ‘cliché of disaster journalism.’ In most cases, it is simple citizens first looting for basic stuff such as food and water (before eventually hauling luxury items, going up the Maslow pyramid) but in Kenya, the protectors are quite adept at it. Instead of appearing as astute members of the disciplined forces, as perhaps we all think of military officers, policemen tend to appear as low socio-economic players.

It happened before at JKIA and has probably happened many times prior. It is just that now that we all have and want good stuff, we are talking about it. Living in a consumerist society, you want to know that at least your valuables will outlive you, and go into your estate should you die during a terrorist siege or a traffic accident. But that comfort, friend, is denied. We will loot. We will loot from you everything on your corpse before your soul reaches the roof. Hell, if you are not dead enough to let go of your iPhone, we will help you either journey yonder or wait like vultures, until your lungs heave that last one, and away we go with all your bling and cash. Maybe your family will get your wallet. Such is not assured.

What ails our national morality then? In the cliché mentioned prior, most cases tend to be instances of horrific disasters such as Hurricanes and earthquakes. There is a desperate need to get basic utilities and, for those whose inner animal has an automatic switch, acquire nice things. Yet there is hardly ever looting in Japan.

It became a phenomenon after the earthquake and Fukushima nuclear reactor aftermath. The Japanese do not loot, and if they do, not at the scale seen in other scenes globally, even in richer societies. In most discussions of this phenomenon, most contributors argue that the Japanese culture of shame, community, and respect, has something to do with it. The consumerist culture has not managed to kill of this national conscience, and the deep respect for one another stretches to a moment of desperation. Where other countries take years to recover from a disaster, Japan’s system is efficient because it is built on a system of restraint, if not trust.

One can imagine the temptation, the fact that you are standing in front of a shop with things you have only seen on displays. There is no one to catch you, or a bigger crime (than the one you are about to commit) is being committed. Who will worry about the dead man’s phone anyway? Or how much cash he had on his person when the hooded terrorist shot him point blank? The dead do not need the money, their dependents are probably rich enough to survive without it, you think. But you do. Who will ever catch you anyway? If the police do, you will only have to forfeit a portion of it and voila, the handcuffs of justice will magically disappear. Hell, you will even get an armed escort home that day. Such is. Such is.

Our culture of looting and plundering is not epitomized by Westgate but by our reaction to it. It is the deeper sense of apathy where we figure most of the shops were insured and thus, it does not matter that their valuables were lost in a crime scene. A crime scene with layer upon layer of cordons, and a retinue of our protectors. Our protectors got rich that day, maybe they will not be too hungry when they arrest us tomorrow.

But looting feeds avarice, another of our national treasures, which in turn breeds the kind of hunger that addicts of morphine get on subsequent doses. That is why majority of the onlookers at Kenyan crime scenes are there. It is not to ask after the dead and injured but to await the slightest opportunity to carry a trophy. Drive on any road and if you come upon an accident, study closely how first responders pocket valuables while pulling people from the wreckage. Such is.

There is an actual criteria for when looting is morally permissible. In such cases as where there is actual desperation. The argument there is that in an interdependent society such as ours, everybody plays a part, however minute, to the production in and progress of society. This position thus means that in case a fair exchange of goods is not possible because of the circumstances, such as breakdown of social order after a disaster, then one is in his human right to seek basic needs from those who have. It would be, another argues, selfish of us as human beings to judge those desperately seeking to survive. Our very existence as a species would be at risk.

But there was no breakdown of social order per se at Westgate or JKIA. There was perhaps, too much order. Normal ad hoc looters do not come carrying grenades and other explosives to open safes and access ATMs. Neither do they, at least the first wave, go after the cash registers and other movable currencies. Yet that is exactly what happened at Westgate, and before at JKIA (there were no explosives here though). Systematically, responders took time off their busy schedule of protecting us to help themselves to items on the aisles and the mannequins. The clinical organization meant that even shop owners who had luckily managed to lock up their shops still suffered the same fate as those who left them wide open.

Those looting were not poor and desperate, as we would be if, say, a Hurricane were to miraculously hit Nairobi. They were in no danger of imminent hunger if they did not wear the gold chains and watches from the shops. In fact, brave Kenyans filled their cars and set camp to feed responders. There was more food where that came from, that’s for sure. All, except maybe the community policing units, receive a constant monthly salary and allowances that was still assured when and if they survived their mission there. There was no social order to warrant breaking into ATMs, or even justify it. Yet the hapless gaffe-prone Interior Cabinet Secretary will proudly downplay the significance of the crime by saying only ‘two or three shops were looted.’

In this god forsaken land we were born in, numbers shock us but hardly ever enough to make an actual difference. 1, 100 people died during the 2007/8 massacres. 40 officers died in Baragoi. Over 100 civilians died in Tana River. Another 40 died in a single bus accident. More die each day. The death toll in the Northern Frontier is so high that it does not make headline news anymore. Wajir was bombed the day after Westgate was (sic!) retaken (and bombed, for some reason). Isn’t it ironical that we should derive a lesson as ‘the death of one is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic’ from a diabolical dictator who massacred his people with the gun and famine? Shouldn’t it embarrass our very core as an ‘inter-religious’ but constitutionally secular (ignore the allusions of faith) in the Preamble country?

A US official recently told Museveni that his military officers are ‘good soldiers but thieves.’ Then reports appeared pointing towards Kenya’s complicity in the charcoal trade in Kismayu, the very jewel we won from its murderous rulers just last year. Do you know what that would mean if it is true that our military has been facilitating illegal business in Somalia? That we actually funded the Westgate 5 (or 15 or 20, no one seems to know how many hostiles held us in panic for over 72 hours) and all that they did. We rubber-stamped our own death by spreading the tentacles of our selfish ambition to enrich ourselves at whatever cost. Sealed our fate so our wallets could be heavier. The children will never know their education was funded with blood money. The wives will never know the red on the flower petals is blood from victims of our greed. Even if they do, they will not care much. It was not anyone they knew, they will argue, and if we had not done it, the next person would have. So why not us? Also, we prayed for forgiveness and filled the offertory.

Some might argue that from a Hobbesian perspective, looting is a way through which those who-have-not seek to bridge the class gap with those who have-yachts. But the injured driver who loses his valuables to his helpers is a man hustling as any other. Start a fire in a slum and see whether the looting of other residents has anything to do with class warfare. It is pure human greed, nothing else.

The ethics of looting depend on the facts of the subject. After 9/11, for example, firemen took water from nearby stores to rinse their eyes. When a hungry man steals from a store, then there is a moral case to let that man eat; and to make sure that he has a living so he does not have to break social norms again. In the Argentina food riots of 1989, poor women walked into stores and stole food and other basic supplies. There were no cases of looting of non-essentials and the cash registers until later when other mobs followed. But Kenya’s two recent cases are interesting and disturbing.

The looters are not desperate hungry mobs, at least not in an ad hoc sense of the word. They are organized units with a clear mandate and training to handle emergencies. Their very job description is built on the fact that their role in society is sacred. The salaries are low, the hours depressing, the populace thankless (unless it is in one of those rare occasions of national reflection), and all but hope is lost. That is still no defense for such an abhorring crime as grave robbing.

So, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Since it is their work to do that to us, to hurl us in jail if we (are caught) loot, to protect us from external threats by doing violence on our behalf, who will do it to them? In the next disaster, as one surely will come, are we to helplessly stand by as our businesses are ransacked simply because these are ‘the untouchables.’ One of the victims succinctly saidThis is Kenya. Let’s just face it, what’s lost is lost.”

It is plunder, mate, and these are times of war and uncertainty. Accept and move on. In fact, grab something from that glass window or aisle and move on with it. 

Edit, 2nd October 2013 1710hrs

Prompted by panoramicdon’s comment below, I remembered that indeed the TJRC report is teeming with testimonies of looting by our ‘esteemed’ forces. A cursory reading of the relevant volumes points towards a tradition of looting as a military strategy, a strategy of yore, the medieval days of pirates and plunder. Even sadder, looting is connected to other crimes such as rape and murder. But no commissions, if any, have ever been formed to investigate the suffering the NEP and Mt. Elgon residents went through. We are an unequal society, dear reader, and you are not invited to the looting.

 

 

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Extra Blessings: A Treatise on the Third Nipple


For thousands of years, mammalian males have been accused of their obsession with the nipples. Or rather breasts. Thousands of years ago men spent time carving such shapes into the cave walls, and thousands of years later a man hunting for writing inspiration etches a similar, albeit more wordy, thingy on the same. Oh how evolution changes us not.

There are those blessed with a third nipple, a supernumerary nipple about which some drunk deity laughs his ass off whenever he thinks of how men must suffer. A rookie deity who experimented too much when the master was not looking. His evil laugh, emanating from the bowels as he sits on a bar stool in Olympus looking for happy thoughts. He thinks of that supernumerary nipple, that third nipple whose presence can change a steamy quickie into a scientific discussion about the merits and demerits, and likely causes of.

Yours truly has never encountered the supernumerary nipple on a member of the opposite sex…at least not yet. Being a heterosexual male then, and having only seen said nipple on a fellow male, compounds everything. It was a long time ago, in high school, when a fellow student walking around sans shirt or shame happened to have one nipple too many. One was curious; it is not always that people openly confess to being in possession of excess blessings. Often, as is the norm, one is advised early in life to, quote unquote, hide that shit!

The awkward discussion after was informed by a sense of innocence about the sexuality constitution and the implied Bro Code. One never touched it, but one did wonder whether it did work like a run-of-the-mill nipple. One did ask whether he could feel it though, but the owner was selfish, or figured that an awkward silence would follow one’s ‘scientific experiment.’ But then one wonders, how many people does one encounter everyday who are hiding a third Pointy of God underneath their blouses, bras, funny clothes with no name yet, and personalities? How many of one’s friends secretly spot a third nipple that they can never talk about? Because others might be jealous…

Still though, to be human is to be curious. The observer must wonder, does it work? Is it responsive to changes in say, temperature? Or touch? If another touches it, does it, uuuuuurrrrmmm, follow the touching surface? If one owns one, can it be included in an encounter of whips and nipple rings? Is it safe to eat? The answers to such questions are complex and oft, baffling.

Why would a Google search of supernumerary nipples yield so much vitriol about the oddity? An innocent gift from a generous, nipple-rich deity? With medical journals referring to it as a ‘congenital malformation.’ Such negativity. A good scientist did take the time to tell us that not all third nipples are third nipples. They form along something called the embryonic milk line that oddly sounds like a milk plant run by embryos-get them early and helpless huh, capitalism? Some third nipples are the real deal, nipple with glandular breast tissue, areola and the everything! Imagine that, two is already a handful, or mouthful, depending on the tool of choice, but three? Three can make one a believer in a higher power who gifts to those who use what they have been given well.

But on the structural integrity of nature’s gorgeous architecture, perhaps the deities should have decided on a single structure for all nipples. Something like how it is the norm to have the eyes above the nose. So whenever you look at someone, you know what to expect.

To feel around another’s nipples without first seeing them is to play Russian Roulette with one’s sanity. Believe it. Try it. It is akin to opening a gift on one’s birthday, that moment of uncertainty where one thinks of the many possibilities of what could fit in such a small, or big bra…box, in context.

Could it be a sunken valley? A plateau maybe? A small hill on a mountain complete with a hillcrest? A mountain? A mushroom? How does it stand relative to gravity? What oddity has nature blessed this person with? If we open this box, will we find two nipples, first, and if yes, of what structure? Oh wait, three? Forget about the structure; forget about the wine, we now have a conversation starter.nipple

It is no longer politically correct to ask why men have nipples because they are not really nipples, and yes, you may play with them honey. They are ticklish; perhaps a sign of that chromosomal X, but one does not know why one still has them. No, they are not proof that evolution as a process has gone to the dogs, and no, you may not ask me whether all men are actually women with pointy genitals.

But please let one play with yours, because what the good deities saw it fit to make vestigial in one, they made very alluring in you. The very essence upon which life is sucked, literally, the pinnacle that makes a mere mound of fat become the ruin of many a man, and woman. That one place where direction can be obtained, the pointed end of a plump and perky hill on a mountain. If you have another, allow one. At least, for all religions do teach altruism, and within that volcano lies the lavas of the very essence of life. Delectable.

Based on mentioned medical description, when third nipples are cool again, as one imagines they once were, please remember that a patch of hair is not an extra nipple. It might look like one and probably excite your bedroom shenanigans but it is not something you should be proud of. Shave it.

If you have an actual third nipple though, come sit with one. Let’s engage in banter about it even, about whether it can be described as one of ‘little hard dagger-points’ or throbbing, does it throb and become taut? Forgive one when one introduces you to others as ‘this is one’s friend Sue and Sue (So and So is colorless) and she has a third nipple.’ Because unless it is a sign of some other disease for which the symptoms are halitosis and very stinky flatulence, friends a third nipple shall get thee.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Inspiration Hunts, Morbid, Random, Review, Sexuality

 

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3 Proofs that the Kenya Government believes in Magic


Do you know how difficult it is to dupe the government into buying fake things? The government has entire institutions dedicated to detecting fake things, police to investigate any fraud, and killer gangs to settle scores…and of course, your taxes to play around with… Apparently, its not harder than convincing your two-year-old that you have stolen her nose.

#3 Mahindras with Low Self-Esteem

MahindraBrave

What we asked for…

You probably remember Mahindra’s from the series Renegade, the police officer with a pony tail called Bobby Sixkiller had one. Apparently, that was all the KE police needed to know they needed one, make that more than 1, 000 units.

Chamanlal Kamani figured out something every Kenyan knows at birth, the government is all-seeing and all-powerful…ish. Through his company, Kamson’s motors, he tendered to supply 1, 000 units plus of Mahindra Jeeps at the cost of Shs. 1 million each to the Kenya Police…for cars that would not be charged duty, and were cheaper in local showrooms. It turns out that the government would have been better buying several flying brooms and pointed hats than buying the jeeps. Since you do not see any of the more than 1, 000 unit that were bought, well, at least now you know. Or they were sold off, who cares anyway.

what we got.

what we got.

…and if you clicked on the link above then you know the Kamani’s didn’t stop with the faulty Mahindras, they are the guys behind Anglo Leasing, CID forensic laboratory, and a few other scandals we wear on our lapels with pride.

Or was Bobby Sixkiller’s car a Hummer? Its not like we are experts or something…

#2 Bomb Detection through Sheer Will Power

What we asked for...

What we asked for…

Remember that one time you were carrying a bomb in your bag, ostensibly for work or some party, and then the police stopped you and magically known you were carrying a bomb? Then the big obese officer went directly for the bag and now is why you are in Guantanamo? No? Well, neither do I…but you remember how you would grab a butterfly or moth at its pupal stage and then make it do silly stuff? Like pointing towards where Nairobi is? Given that it could only wiggle in four directions, there was a one in 4 chance it would point to the right direction, right?

What we got... Alternative Caption...the belt doesn't look so bad, maybe it was a bargain...

What we got…
Alternative Caption…the belt doesn’t look so bad, maybe it was a bargain…

The government of Kenya has a magic wand that uses the same logic and not only that, it much works in the same way as Moses’s staff, wiggling around until it points towards the place where the would-be terrorist is hiding a bomb, or drugs, or a gun, or used condoms. This small Hogwart’s-stick-of-an-antennae can do pretty much anything if you have the right card. I am not joking, it uses cards which specify what you are looking for, and then you grab onto it as it seemingly pulls you towards the would-be offender.

Here it is in action (warning, the video below contains proof of magic, if you are a non-believer, please skip it).

The ‘maker of that magic wand‘ is already in court for lying to gullible governments which did not have any experts and it would seem, common sense, or Google even, to ascertain whether they really work…and where the other 2 entries are from 1995 and 1997 respectively, the video above is from April 2013, last month (*cough*cough*)

Since there is no scientific evidence of how the magic wand works, we can only guess that it is proof of what you can achieve with sheer will power.

 #1 TRANSFORM, or Jesus’  First Miracle

What we asked for...

What we asked for…

The ultimate proof that the government believes in magic and if we are Christian, then that Jesus did indeed turn water into such good wine that the groom woke up next to all the bridesmaids.

In 1997, the government, okay, to be fair, the City council of Nairobi, decided to procure chlorine for its three treatment plants. The tender went to a Kenyan called Kimani Kongo who decided that he knew something more effective at disinfecting water for the capital city…guess what he supplied?

You know this one…

Trust me, you do…

Think…if you won a tender to supply chlorine, and you intended to supply something cheaper, a joke maybe, but something powdery, what would you supply?

I am waiting…

Why are you acting like you haven’t been to school?

You know it…

Didn’t the teacher’s chalk disinfect your illiteracy?

Here is a hint, the answer is the sentence above.

CHALK!

Yes, he supplied the city godfathers with enough chalk to disinfect the entire water system, or, maybe, he intended it as a practical joke to show them they needed to go back to school.

Meanwhile, in Kimani Kongo's lab...

Meanwhile, in Kimani Kongo’s lab…

What did he do with the Kshs. 70 million they paid him? A good patriotic Kenyan this one, he bought a home in Muthaiga and a Mercedes Benz, returning most of the money to the economy…and of course he was a politician, accused of murder and grabbing land and houses in Woodley Estate, but none are as symbolic as chalk dust. 

Since the CCN paid him for the chalk dust (despite the blatant denial by the responding minister in the link to the Hansard record above), we can only assume that he told them that the water to be disinfected was the primer of sorts. That ‘dormant chorine that changes when you put it in water and pray” is better than all other colors of chlorine…but at least it was just the once...that we know of…

Hogwarts

Hogwarts

Seeing that we haven’t gotten any ‘dissolved’ chalk dust in our water systems since, and there has been no massive dumping of chalk, we can only assume it is what was used to color the City Council headquarters.

Owaahh, 2013.

 

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7 Most Brutal and Elaborate Militia in Kenya’s History


In Kenya, the name for a group of youth organized to do so something outrageous shifts from ‘militia’ to ‘gang’ to ‘vigilante’, and back, depending on when you are assessing it and who is paying you at the time.

Gangs gain political angles, or political militia become gangs, vigilantes are used by politicians and businessmen, generally, everyone sleeps with everyone, and the fact that we have not been killed by one group or the other, or its splinter groups, or the ‘strayed bullets’ by now is a total surprise and a proof that if there is indeed a God, then He or She must be confusion.

#7 Sungu Sungu

Sungu Sungu

In its truest sense, ‘sungusungu’ is a term rather than a single criminal gang.The escalation of insecurity is often how gangs and mob units form, and eventually morph into militia and mafia-type groups made of young boys who just need to get laid. The funny this is that the sungusungu do not have a single known chain of command or structures. This might be a farce though because the group had offices and of course, police support, in Kisii town because, what is running a gang without an office? Ask Al Capone…

The Sungu Sungu had existed before 2002 at least as vigilantes, but finally morphed into brutal gangs over the years. They were most famous for lynching suspected criminals and burning suspected witches. Residents of villages and estates still contribute to finance the operations of the sungusungu as volunteer patrols, and you know, to torch witches and commit extrajudicial and targeted killings on their behalf.

The Sungu Sungu are actually one of a set of three ‘criminal gangs’ centered in Kisii that regularly feature on lists of proscribed groups-the other two being the chinkororo and the amachuma. Chinkororo translates to ‘We will rain on you’ and is either the most chilling threat ever packed in a criminal group or simply a case of misunderstood raindrops. They are traditional warriors of the Kisii community, like the famous Morans of the Maasai community. Traditionally, the Chinkororo would mobilize in times of ethnic conflict to protect the Abagusii families of Borabu and Gucha districts. They did-admittedly, engage in cattle rustling ‘to compensate those whose livestock is stolen’ because, what is a good tribal warrior without a few stolen cattle?

The amachuma were a curious addition to the government ban on criminal gangs because they are not a gang, and they do not even exist. ‘Amachuma’ might be from the slang ekegusii word for ‘metal’ -‘richuma’- that ‘loosely translates to village tough.’ Amachuma is the plural for richuma and is not really a gang, but a specific cadre of youth, like saying ‘’ unemployed youth.’ . So, the government has banned unemployment and juvenile delinquents? Such an effective government.

#6 Mungiki

Perhaps the poster child of Kenyan criminal gangs, militia, and vigilante, the Mungiki were not known givers of fucks, although they were generous with the machete. They are the Kenyan Mafia, the Cosa Nostra, the Yakuza of Kenya. Mungiki emerged in the 1980s as something of a gang that combined criminal vigilante activities with cultural preservation. In the 1990s, the group moved most of its operations into Nairobi, gradually taking over the running of protectionist rings  and racketeering in slums, middle-class suburbs and most importantly, running matatu terminus. 

The Mungiki are highly structured: The national overall structure is broken down into a defined cell structure, each divided into five platoons of 10 people each. Even with this, the actual hierarchy remains largely unknown outside the group and of course, the complicit police. The political wing and mouthpiece of the group, the Kenya National Youth Alliance (KNYA), has since gone underground.

The name Mungiki probably comes from ‘muingi’ or ‘Kiama kia Muingi’ which means ‘a united people’ or ‘The party of the multitude/masses’ and which was what the Mau Mau was originally known as before all the propaganda. The Mungiki styled itself as the modern version of the Mau Mau, advocating for cultural rites such as circumcision for both male and females, and complete with a blood-oathing ceremony.

The Mungiki dabbled in politics and backed KANU in 2002, specifically Uhuru Kenyatta, now Fourth President of the Republic, as the presidential candidate.They were furnished with ten military land rovers ostensibly because they had important places to be. The NARC government discovered the link about a month into power, and Internal Security minister at the time, Chris Murungaru, asked the then Chief of General Staff Joseph Kibwana to investigate because you best investigate yourself, sir! After Uhuru Kenyatta lost, the gang’s power waned. Imagine what would have happened had he won…oh wait…

The first real attempt to break up the group in 2003 was a raid that ended up being two full days of clashes with the police in Mathare slums and other places.50 people had died in Nairobi in 2002 during clashes pitting matatu owners against the sect. In June 2007, the gang embarked on another campaign, beheading defectors, conductors, matatu drivers, and killing almost indiscriminately. The retaliation campaign led to over 10 extrajudicial killings by the police in Mathare alone.  In July 2007, members of the sect/gang/militia killed a two-year old, decapitated and mutilated the body in what is thought to have been ritual killing   In the 2007/8 civil unrest they were back with a bang, because the Mungiki are not people to miss a tribal cleansing party!

There have been stories of 500 bodies discovered in thickets, male genitalia being found hanging in town centers, and forced circumcision of members of the Luo community, and women.

Mungiki’s tentacles, like those of the Cosa Nostra and any mafia organization worth the name, are thought to have stretched beyond central province and even Kenya. One notable case is the gruesome murders of Jane Kuria and her two daughters in the US. Jane’s husband had died in 2001, after which she moved to the US and sought asylum saying that she and her children were in danger of being forcibly circumcised. The link might have been a fluke, but not completely implausible given the financial might of the group over the years.

In 2009, Mungiki leader Maina Njenga was released from prison and acquitted of murder charges. A week later, David Gitau Njuguna, the charismatic Mungiki and KYNA spokesperson, was shot dead on River road, in broad daylight, by obviously not the police. Another famous Mungiki leader, Ndura Waruinge, renounced the sect and converted first to Islam and changed his name to Ibrahim, then to Christianity and changed his name to Hezekiah perhaps intending to wash his settle his sins with all possible deities, the ultimate Pascal’s Wager.

The gang has since gone underground, and splinter groups such as Wailer and Thaai, which are already emerging as equally brutal gangs.

#5 Taliban

african-taliban-member

As the divisive Mungiki permeated through Nairobi slums, members of the Luo tribe living in Nairobi slums formed their own defensive vigilante gangs. Known as The Taliban, the gang obviously morphed beyond its initial intent. Other than choosing a name that carries connotations of Islamists who do not like it when women go to school, the Taliban are often referred to as ‘a Christian group.’ To confuse the deities of course… They viewed the Mungiki as ‘moral savages’ more so for the act of forcibly circumcising people than for killing Kenyans for sport.

The Taliban followed the Mungiki business and the business-of-cutting-heads model, extortion, beat-downs, murders, illegal taxation, racketeering, and others. They also engaged in public executions, the most common being stoning a target until he or she was unable to walk, and then burning them alive. Remember the famous photo from the 2007/8 civil war where a group of men are holding a dreadlocked man as another drives a machete into his skull? Well…

Let me save you the trouble...

Let me save you the trouble…

It is sort of what happens in Afghanistan and Iran, what did you expect? In the 2007 PEV, the Taliban emerged as the vigilante defense against the ethnic cleansing (or for, if you were a member of the other tribe) that was taking place while the government was meeting to decide who to blame. The Taliban once tried to blow up a bridge that connects the ‘Kikuyu area’ with the ‘Luo Area’ in Area 3 proving once again that in any way, you should go for the jugular, but you should not.

The Taliban began as an offshoot of the Baghdad Boys, the original grouping that was ‘the Luo tribe’s answer to the Mungiki’. The Baghdad Boys of Kisumu emerged in the early 1990s around the same time as the Gulf War, which might explain the choice of name. They were used widely in the 1992 and 1997 elections. The group later disbanded into several factions, with Taliban being the biggest and most influential. Other splinter gangs include ChinaSquad and ‘American Marines.’

The are many other offshoots of the Baghdad Boys, the most notable being Nyalenda Base, the Chief Squad, Nyamasaria Massive, Kenda Kenda, Kondele Bagdad for Peace (Who do we sue for misleading the public?), Karamojong Boys, Saba Saba, Artur Margaryan (because…why not), Kebago

#4 Ngoroko Anti-Stock Theft Unit

ngoroko standard 2

In January 2013, a Joshua Waiganjo was arrested for (supposedly) posing as a senior officer. Everyone denied knowing the man but there is overwhelming evidence that everyone knew who he was. The case is tied to the Baragoi Slaughter of 40 police graduates who walked into a trap where cattle raiders used them to test their new guns and newfound wealth. The undertones, of course, pointed to Waiganjo being a member of the Ngoroko or for a more apt title, the ‘Stock Theft Unit.’

The Ngoroko was never/is not just a militia group, it was a parallel police force made up of, well, who else but police officers? Integrated into the Kenya Administration police as the Anti-Stock theft unit, the modern-day Ngoroko was formed as a private army and quasi-official police force. Sometime between 1976 and 1978, the Kiambu mafia was willing to do anything to prevent Moi (or any other non-Kikuyu) from ascending to power. Its original aim, according to the Kenyatta Succession (the book, not the joke), was to impoverish the vulnerable pastoralist people.

Its primary activities were poaching and cattle rustling but it moved to assassination hits, carjacking, bank robberies, money laundering, gunrunning, protectionist rings, import, and escort of pirate loot, drug trade, takeover of Mungiki areas, and electoral malpractices. If there is any police unit that knows where Felicien Kabuga really is, then it is these guys. They are like a conglomerate for all things illegal.

Ngoroko was first used in reference to the ‘armies of heavily armed bandits’ who emerged in Northern Kenya, especially the area from the Ilemi Triangle into the Pokot and Turkana districts. The Ngoroko used AK 47s procured from Sudan and Somalia to raid each other and re-raid each other after they were raided for first raiding the other communities. That was before the first militia was trained by Rift Valley police Chief James Mungai, the same guy who slapped Moi twice in front of Kenyatta and once carried out a strip search and home raid after Moi came back from an overseas trip. The first target? Moi of course because if you are going to kill someone, it might as well be the Vice President at the time.  They were said to have been armed with silenced weapons, and only missed him because he was ‘sneaked past Nakuru.’ They were running roadblocks on the highway as they whistled and waited to give Moi several bullets because, they were generous.

#3 Sabaot Land Defense Force (SLDF)

sourced from nation.co.ke

sourced from nation.co.ke

Perhaps the most memorable guerrilla groups in recent years, this militia group focused its activities in the Mount Elgon Area. Formed in 2005, the SLDF’s activities and the ensuing security operations left at least 600 casualties and displaced over 66, 000 people over eighteen months of the most action. The original aim of the group was as a community reaction to the Chebyukk settlement scheme. The scheme, like all other land settlement scheme, was just one ‘big fap job’ [citation not needed] where only the government was left feeling nice and rich.

SLDF ran a parallel administration system and was funded in much the same way as six of the entries on this list, through racketeering, taxation and running protectionist rings. It was also the well armed, with most of the militia carrying AK47s and other types of guns, and with seemingly unlimited access to ammunition. The group used mobile phones, discarding the sim cards after every raid.Rumor has it that the first commander was a former Presidential Guard because the more famous commander, Wycliffe Matakwei Kirui, was just the deputy commande.

Witness accounts detail such as these :

“Once they raid a place, they divide themselves in groups of 12-20 men. Then they surround the area and strike. They are so confident that they at times send warnings before they strike,” says the police officer.

Each of the members is supposed to carry special charms to protect him during an operation.

After surrounding their target, the militia group then blocks all the roads leading to the place as was exemplified during the Kapsokwony raid where the Kaptama/Kapswokony, Kapsokwony/Kimilili and Kapsokwony/Kopsiro roads were all closed.”

In March 2008, the military launched ‘Operation Okoa Maisha’ a large-scale assault to fight off the group. The government also offered an amnesty and KShs 10, 000 for information and surrender. The full title of the operation should have been ‘Operation Okoa Maisha…ha-ha, NOT!’ because the army might have outdone the SLDF. The month before the military operation, the police had uncovered mass graves in the Mt. Elgon forests. …and of course, it sought to outdo the SLDF by carrying out its own massacre to stop the SLDF one. Proving once again that ‘dawa ya moto si maji.’ The militia is estimated to have killed, about 30 people before the well-meaning, deity approved government killed 68 people because, double or nothing.

Successful military campaign huh? Matakwei was killed, the commandant remained and unknown and of the very few who were tried, eight commandants were freed after the government entered a nolle prosequi . The government’s counter-massacre ended the scourge, right? Actually no, in February 2012, the group was said to be regrouping. We are just waiting for the next Mt. Elgon Massacre, let us see who wins this round. My bet is the government remains undefeated in the third round, via technical knock-out…plus, what is a military operation without a few explosives left behind to kill any future militia, or as we prefer them, innocent kids.

#2 Northern Frontier District Liberation Movement (NFDLM) 

Perhaps the most underplayed yet one of the most significant conflicts in Kenya’s history is the ‘Shifta War.’ Recorded in most books and etched in memory as the ‘Shifta menace’, this seeming success of the government propaganda machine overlooks an important militia called the NFDLM. The irredentist militia began in the pre-colonial era, and its exact history has not been well covered.

The Shifta are actually more of an idea than a group and existed as early as the British Military Administration of Eritrea (1941-1952). 4 days before granting the Somaliland areas independence in June 1960, the colonial government declared that all Somali areas should be unified into the Greater Somali. Kenya was granted administration of the Northern Frontier District despite the fact that it was inhabited by ethnic Somalis and an informal referendum had demonstrated their wish to join Somalia.

The Kenya government first considered the NFLDM a s serious threat in 1966 after they used a landmine which “killed two 2 officers and wrecked the vehicle (a police Land Rover).’ The NFLDM was supported by Somalia in training and finance.. The proxy war almost brought Kenya and Somalia to full-scale all-out warSince almost zero information is known of the NFDLM organizational structure, the only possible info can be gleaned from the government reaction. For example, the government confiscated livestock to deny guerrillas access to food and logistical supplies. The state-sanctioned propaganda strategy makes for an interesting read.

The government reaction to the group’s activities was brutal, and was borrowed, almost in intricate detail, from Operation Anvil, the military strategy during the State of Emergency in the 1950s. In fact, declaring a State of Emergency was the first thing the government did. The North Eastern Province (NEP) was closed off to the rest of Kenya hence the lack of evidence of the atrocities committed by both sides. Most accounts suggest  that the government engaged in genocide, as it always does, slaughtering entire villages and ‘vigilization’ pastrolist communities into 14 Manyattas, concentration camps. The villages included passes and fences and all, and of course all the rape and testicle-crunching.internewskenya dot org shifta

This might be the longest running militia in Kenya’s history, as the first real secession of conflict ended in 2000. The war officially ended in 1967 after a peace agreement between Somalia and Kenya, but not before the lesser-known Garbatulla massacre where more than 2, 700 people were killed and buried in mass graves. The few disgraced fighters who managed to avoid being tortured and massacred went home and begun engaging in banditry within the manyattas. Remember the more famous Wagalla Massacre of 1984? That was also part of the conflict, and the government might have used chemical weapons

With five decades of conflict, most of the new militia are content with engaging in the occasional bombing, or shooting, of ‘hostile forces’, ostensibly the Kenya security forces, often warranting extreme reprisals …

–notably, in March 1997, the Ethiopian Shangilla raided the Kenyan side of the border and shot dead over 100 people, including 19 security officers. The skirmishes lasted a whole week, and became a mini-war where they engaged the military and cut off road link. They attacked again in October 1998, and killed 200 members of the Degodia clan, Kenyan Somalis. In 1999, they again attacked, this time with land mines and many times after that…

With the emergence of extremist  Islamist governments in Somalia , the violence quickly returned, and as of 2013, involves various largely unknown militia against security forces. The massacres happen almost daily, and the government swears it will not stop until all of NEP is cleared of its common wish to join the motherland. Okay, it does not swear that aloud, but it has used the NEP for human target practice before.

#1 The Kaya Bombo Raiders

The MRC, remnants of an long-lasting conflict www.trinityafer.com

The MRC, remnants of an long-lasting conflict
http://www.trinityafer.com

You know how there are movies where a group of raiders attack a strategic village and hold it as they fight off government resistance and kill people? Well, it has happened in Kenya…

The Kaya Bombo raiders are the arguably the most structured and best organized entry on this list.

On August 13, 1997, a group of about 200 raiders carrying traditional weapons and covered by foreigners wielding guns, attacked a police post, a police station, and basically anything else at the Likoni Ferry station that had a portrait of Moi in it… They killed 6 officers and stole more than 40 guns. They then went on a violent rampage killing almost indiscriminately, or so it seemed at first. They targeted ‘the mainland communities,’ the tribes that would vote ‘the other way’, in the December elections.

They later retreated to the Kaya Bombo forest, hence the name, when security forces arrived the next morning. The guerrilla attacks did not end, not even after elections ended in December, they continued December of 1998. The police found themselves outmatched by a group that was seemingly coordinated, effective, and almost any other adjective you can use to describe a successful militia. They had had numerous opportunities to practice as Coast politicians jostled for power.

In materials and records that were intercepted during the course of the gang’s activities, a proper military structure, with 278 men in total, was clearly detailed and illustrated. The commanding officer of the group was one Juma Bempa. They had a military structure headed by ethnic Digo men who had served in the police or military. The group also included a retinue of mercenaries and some security forces might have crossed over during the yearlong conflict. 

“An attendance register, records of personnel matters (promotions and demotions, disciplinary actions), and a firearms register that detailed the number of guns, their serial numbers, and a log of who used them”

“… the raiders were divided into different “companies” of fixed composition, and listed the dates of the training given to each group”

“…the second book detailed the raiders’ expenses on food and hospital treatment and included an unsent letter”

If you clicked on the previous link, somewhere in the middle, you will find a detailed analysis of the military structure including the uniform issued to different ranks, and accounts of raiders attacking the post office, shops, homes, and everyone else.

How could a small militia of more than 200 carry out such an effective (because murder) campaign?

The whole gang was the work of KANU politicians exploiting local politics to win the 1997 elections. Most accounts of former gang members, who went on to form the MRC, indicated that similar attacks, a trial run of sorts, had occurred in 1992 but at a smaller scale.

...also, the government will fatten you up, temporarily. www.africanewspot.com

…also, the government will fatten you up, temporarily.
http://www.africanewspot.com

The jury is still out on whether the Mombasa Republican Council is an armed gang, a secessionist group, or a political party. While the courts decided otherwise, the executive still maintains the MRC as one of 33 criminal gangs. The MRC , or as It was first called, the Republican Council, is thought to have been partially inspired by the Kaya Bombo raiders. There is the curious fact that the group was formed as the RC in 1998, around the same time the Kaya Bombo raids subsided, and was also made up, at least originally, of ethnic Digo men.

+ Forty Brothers

This gang is not to be confused with the ‘Forty Two brothers’, another proscribed gang that clearly has two more ‘bros’ than this entry….or the ’40 Ndugus’ which gets zero marks for militia brand differentiation.

Formed in 1998 (again, curiously, around the same time the Kaya Bombo raiders dispersed), the gang would raid homes, rape young women, and steal from the homesteads. Like all other gangs on this list, its signature weapons were crude machetes and traditional weapons, police uniform and the occasional gun. It also operated boats because transportation…

The group used to meet in Changamwe to strategize on its targets. They would hide in caves in Mshomoroni area of Kisauni, which is also the same place they are thought to hide their loot. Residents in the affected areas publicly lynched its leaders and the group fizzled out. Pssst, treasure hunters…? Anyone?

Plus, when do we get the next counter-massacre? What is a good massacre among countrymen?

Owaahh, 2013.

 

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