You Are Under Arrest

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.

Kencom Stage

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)

  1. It is an offence to cross a road without using a Zebra crossing
  2. It is an offence to shout in town.
  3. If you are wondering how they measure, it is at the discretion of the Askari
  4. 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.
  5. Hooting in town can get you arrested
  6. “Making noise” is an arrestable offence (Which means MPs should consider the CBD out of bounds)
  7. 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
  8. The City Council is making a KILLING out all the fines, enough to sustain their operations
  9. Councilors have a very dim view of MPs
  10. It is an offence to uproot or in any way maim any of the plants city council has planted
  11. The City Council is looking for more things to make offences round the clock

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.


 Notorious B.I.G & Bone Thugs -N- Harmony – Spit Your Game

35 thoughts on “You Are Under Arrest”

  1. LMAO. Pole Boss. I can only imagine being in that van. Someone needs to talk to Local Government about those Neanderthals they call city council askaris

    It was quite the experience I assure you!
  2. Lol @ shouting in town. What if a conversation gets animated? And are the rules enforced at certain times of the week (weekdays) or all week? They need to be clear on them..else the council askaris will make a killing…

    They ARE making a killing. As for enforcement times we never got round to that
  3. HAHAHA JAIL BUG M hahahahah! nice ring to it don’t it?

    Just you wait my son … your time will come around!

    Well u gotta hand it to NCC…they have the most cunning of ways to extract money from Kenyans pretty soon coughing in town will be deemed a health hazard and fines of 5000 plus will apply

    i always look in amazement at how packed those small pickups 20 guys in there plus 5 askaris

    i can attest to being harassed for bein wit a chik late in town…and my car was rite there..them foolish askaris asking nafanya nini usiku na mwanamke..and am right next to my car…told him to sod off and drove off

    Lucky you didn’t get the sense clobbered out of you!

    hmmmn…”String of indeterminate origin” …Hmmnn

  4. Its funny and not funny…I’d hate to be in that kind of a situation. Si they just introduce on the spot fines. its a waste of time taking peeps to court for such minor offences.

    But on the spot fines are so open to abuse!

    Please tell how you talked yourself out of it!

    If I told you i’d have to … :) I trust you’ve been keeping out of trouble?
  5. “Human being of Negroid disposition please! aahahahahahahaha!

    More seriously, what these council askaris are doing is nothing short of robbery with violence. It really riles me what these goons get up to. What do you mean I cannot be seen at 10 pm with a lady? Is this some sort of police state?! And all the while I’m still in danger of being mugged by larger-than-life chokoras and assorted other types of robbers that the self-same cops are supposed to be protecting me from…

    There are two types of hoodlums in Nairobi. There are those on the wrong side of the law, and then there are policemen.

    You forget the MPs…
  6. The joys of local governing and their recently discovered by-laws. I dislike the way those askaris are arrogant and you cannot even discuss, the tome of voice, the mama/mwanamke.

    Those heartless goons even had a heavily pregnant hawker in the Black Matilda!

    LOL at Black maria the memories of running on sight.

  7. Happened to me once, for not wearing a seat belt in a matatu. Spent half a weekend I was quite looking forward to as a guest of the state.

    And certainly not at State House!
  8. Sorry about your ordeal, what is unfortunate is that the ‘fines’ do not go to the city authorities in order to improve services but are being used to line the askari’s pockets.

    Clearly there needs to be a mid way between on the spot fines and being hauled to cells for the trivial and nonsensical charges
  9. LMAOOOOOOOO…OK, I lied last week when I said eti the week will be better for you.
    Seriously I am somewhere in the bush surrounded by spitting, cussing Somalis and laughing my ass off!! That post was too funny!! Tihiii. Pole lakini.

    That’s right. You laugh. Your days are numbered!
  10. If true, i can not believe i””t that, M, whose is always pointing out what is good and what is not with our system, paid 400 to be let free.

    I myself spent a nite in Jail once, for possessing a “home made gun”(you know those art and crafts things you “chonga” for Primary school) and not possessing cash on me.

    Of course, i realise, it must be difficult at such times for anyone, but surely, if enlightened men such as M can succumb to the tyranny and brutality of the system, and not be willing to suffer through, even unjustly (as befits noble men, But do we have any noble men anymore, even the Prezzo is not spared,it seems) what of the poor lowly souls who know no better about bribery and bad systems?

    Oh, Lord of the heavens, Kenyan is beyond help!! Perhaps our only help is a massive shaking to quake us in the knowledge of the good and the bad.

    Ah well, we can’t all be saints. I am willing to suffer for many things but jumping over a railing is NOT one of them.
  11. M, i feel the dilemma too. Its just goes to show, how really really few of us can stand up and suffer wrongly.

    That is certainly true

    But alas, someone, some people must, for the system to change. Unfortunately for us, being a divided nation, different people think differently on what is a good cause to fight and what is a bad cause.

    You’re right there. I think the entire thing was absurd from so many levels. No one knows the by-laws except the Askaris. Or so we think. In the larger scheme of things this was a battle I refused to fight

    Anyway, pole.

  12. @ Toiyoi – We falter; I falter. The better angels of our nature run long distance from us. We are fallen creatures. The implications should be obvious.

    @ M – How do you propose I extort some further 400 from you?

  13. @Jesse
    I know, i know. I am not pointing a finger at M.( If i did, 4 fingers would be pointing back at me. I mean the fact that i am out here, and not in kenya, shows what a coward i am.). Just pointing out how difficult it would be to change Kenya for the better.

    @M: i am also really impressed that you mentioned this event, not fearful of people such as I reminding you of your moral obligations etc. Most of us would not have cared to mention such an event.

    @All: which bright chap can offer some workable solutions on how to deal with such occurances?

  14. And next time you are found standing with a fine looking mamacita in town at late hours you’ll be arrested for soliciting for a side dish

  15. M, I see I’m not alone in my troubles with kanjo, lakini yours is too hilarious!! Walikuweka WEDGIE, eh? Hehehehehehehe!!

    Ati children’s education fund? THose guys are now making a killing! This is just another avenue for them to continue their corrupt ways. Si you parted with 400 bob? I parted with 1000 bob since I was foolish enough not to have any loose cash.

    Very soon it will be a crime just to be in the CBD. Kanjo can look at you and decide that you’re a suspicious looking suspect, and in you go.

  16. @ Toiyoi – Ditto. Not to say I didn’t hear where you were coming from in terms of perspective. The Kenyan dream and project, it would seem to me, is an illusion s’times carried a tad too far in the minds of some. But it should also be said that while imperfect (as indeed we all are), she is certainly not beyond redemption. As to your last query on the way forward, am not certain we should want to re-invent the wheel (that thing about institutions and capacity-building which we have been doing for quite a while now). In the final analysis, some man and / or woman will need to examine his / her heart…and its rather deceptive nature. I need to do that myself. Tell you what, such an examination brings up other attendant questions, mainly centered around morality / faith, not just the law and public / popular culture.

  17. Am keeping out of trouble…

    I think the kanjo should have a receipt book with them. You know like we park our motiz we get a ticket/receipt. Yes like that!
    Alafu the city kanjo should list offences and fines to be payed against them.
    alafu they should not take peeps to cop stations, instead have a holding facility at city hall.

  18. Pole sana my guy! You now have joined other wanainchi who have fallen victim to obscur city council laws! Go buy a copy of the NCC by laws so you dont get bused again doing something like proscribed like driving with your back windows open!

  19. So sorry about the “Prison Break” incident. I wonder whether you still can legally obtain a Certificate of Good Conduct. Hehehe! I shall refrain from vaulting over such obstacles as i have done that frequently in the past. Very well told! :-D

    On matters of that video, quite relevant i see, i wonder how well you would have done in the various exercises. Hilarious stuff. I am still ROTFL!

  20. LOL…pole about your arrest. I can just picture you being kamatwad…LOL!

    As for that clip…..ROFLMAO! Aki the Japanese have hilarious game shows. Alafu, some of those shapes…surely???!!! :D

  21. M, you’re talent for writing is awe inspiring. You need to start working on a book. Possibly the next Harry potter – or at least the African version :P

  22. See? Now next time u’re filing out one of those forms and u get to the part where they ask about yo criminal record….., u have to tick the box that says “YES”.

    And this, my friend, stays with you till the end!

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  24. HA HA HA HA HA!! Hilarious!!
    I am trying to get the visual of M jumping over the fence the three askaris watching.. i am sure they were thinking.. “there we go.. we didnt even have to work for that one!!”

  25. Vintage M is like a bottle of the finest wine – I am reading this as if it just happened last week. I laughed so loud and then checked the date….

    Pure genius sir.

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