So I got arrested the other day.
Perhaps I jump the gun a bit. Now that Roberta is in the shop, with strange men fiddling with her delicate bits, I am forced to deploy my trusty two stroke, two piston engine and do quite a bit of walking.
I don’t mind this. Those who know me well know that I have many problems, but fitness is not one of them.
So there I am in town. I have just had an excellent lunch and am making my way to the Kencom stage.
So far so good.
I see the City Hoppa I need to board to return to the office round the bend of the stage. I am the wrong side of the railing between the stage and the road.
Again, for those who know me will appreciate that being vertically challenged is again not one of my problems.
And so, if you are long of limb and swift of foot and fit of body, and in your way is a pesky raining, I did the only reasonable thing that could be done. With a quick hop I was over the railing and in a few milliseconds I was going to be again firmly grounded like a cat.
It is at this point the person with the biggest sense of humour, God, pulled another one out of his hat to keep the multitudes in heaven from getting bored in their state of “eternity”.
Before my feet touched the ground two hands attached themselves powerfully to my trousers and a third to the scruff of my neck and I found myself being marched smartly across the road by three men.
“Kijana,” gruffly spake the first(He with fingers round scruff of my neck) . “We are arresting you. It is an offence to jump over the fence.”
My outrage leapt into action.
“Human being of Negroid disposition please! Says who? Since when?” (Outrage also needs to be politically correct)
“Says the city council and since last week!” The speaker said without breaking stride.
Finally were across the road and I was pushed towards the city council Black Maria.
At this point let me break off at a tangent and school the ignorant.
In the Nairobi CBD be very wary of a white police Land Rover, with NCBDA on the side. This is the Black Maria preferred by the police. If you see this thing RUN FORREST … RUN! Because 4 times out of 3 you will find yourself being beckoned over, and unless you have 200 reasons why not, you will find yourself being hoisted by the back of your trousers into the back.
The best view: Black Maria Leaving
Like a black hole, the back of the Black Maria contains more than the size of the Black Maria itself. So from outside it looks like a mere Land Rover but once in the back you will be surprised to find there are 28 other people in there, some sacks, furniture and assorted domesticated livestock. It is rumoured that the Black Maria can arrest everyone in the CBD and there will be room.
But I digress.
The City Council’s version of the Black Maria, Black Wilmina is no Land Rover. It is actually a tiny white Datsun van, but with no less capacity. And without further ado I was encouraged to find some room within to accommodate my frame.
The first order of business was a quick “Nice one guy!” to The Man upstairs. While objecting to being the source of the hilarity in Heaven, I give credit where it is due and The Man is a master of the craft.
The next order of business, as advised by Sun Tzu, is to know thine terrain. Reading from left to right were as follows:
- 3 (three) hawker
- 1 (one) jay walker
- 1 (one) litter-er
- 1 (one) Fence hopper
- 1 (one) Spitter
- 2 (two) Council Askaris
The man then spoke again.
“Climbing the railing is a fine of 3,500. Do you have that on you?”
I consulted the mental books of accounts. As usual it was unaware and uninterested in my cash in hand position. A physical examination of my wallet resulted in the following
- Innumerable receipts
- Several shilling coins
- A few business cards
- A passport photograph
- 450 shillings in 50 bob notes
- String of indeterminate origin
“Well … no. What happens now?”
“We proceed to Makongeni police station and you can be presented in court tomorrow morning.”
At that juncture I arrived in what is called a dilemma
- I was horrified at the idea of being in a situation where I am trying not to drop the soap on the floor
- I had an urge to burst into laughter at the idea of a judge with a solid 4 years in campus and 8 more years trying to get his wig sitting down to listen to the case of “M jumped over a railing”.
Needless to say this was not a course of action I was willing to see to its logical conclusion.
“Hold on there … ” I said easily looking for my best smile. “Do we need to go all that way? I mean …”
“Do you have 3,500?”
“Well no, but …”
The back of the van was slammed shut and without further ado it lurched into action.
One of the askaris said:
“If anyone has 1,000 bob it ends here.”
But one of us, as it was, had that sort of money.
It was with great relied that i produced my phone and called for rescue. Relief from the fact that I had reset my credit limit that very morning after exceeding it and being cut off the night before.
Help was far away and would take 20 or so minutes to materialize.
I asked the askari if his friend at the wheel could develop lighter feet for 20 minutes. He assured me that was not possible. Makogeni or burst!
It is said that challenging times like these show us what we are made of. That if we stand firm truth and justice would prevail. That men of principle would stand firm and triumph.
I had no time to wait for truth, justice and certainly not principle.
I had very little time to develop Lima Syndrome on the part of the Askaris, and did not waste time getting started. I won’t tell you exactly how I did it (or everyone will be doing it and hence it will be useless to me!) but I can at least share some of the interesting tidbits I got from Mathenge and Okul (the two guards)
- It is an offence to cross a road without using a Zebra crossing
- It is an offence to shout in town.
- If you are wondering how they measure, it is at the discretion of the Askari
- If you are seen past 10 in the company of a female, it is assumed you are soliciting and he is an itinerant trader peddling assorted services.
- Hooting in town can get you arrested
- “Making noise” is an arrestable offence (Which means MPs should consider the CBD out of bounds)
- Hawkers are the most screwed of the lot because
- It is an offence to hawk merchandise in town
- It is illegal to carry the paper bags they carry their merchandise in
- Those who sell sweets for instance are trebly screwed because they are selling plastic
Finally after a long chat Anania Tom Barasa (the shotgun name conjured up when asked) was helped by Okul and Mathenge, my new friends to alight from the van. They happily bade me a good evening replete with cheer and goodwill to all men, and warned me if I really wished to jump over poles there were establishments whose center attraction was indeed a number of poles.
I nodded sagely and thanked them for arresting me. It was, I told them, precisely the sort of reminder I needed for the lesson to be learnt. I encouraged them to keep at it until Kenyans stopped leaping willy-nilly over railings.
The 400 bob I benevolently contributed to their children’s education fund was very well received.
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