My radar goes up when I see anyone carrying huge envelopes. If it’s not X-ray or MRI results why would anyone carry huge envelopes around? My suspicions were right. There were about five smartly dressed people with huge envelopes on their laps. These were not your ordinary passengers. They were high level pickpocket professionals. If you have been a victim of these guys’ services before, you never forget their efficiency in service provision. I would know.
At first, my attention was drawn to the one in front who was fidgeting a lot. He was seated next to an old man who clearly didn’t know the “employment opportunities” he was creating around him. One of them kept moving seats while the others made sure they sat near the aisle so that as you struggled to seat next to the window, they will have provided you with their efficient, tried and tested services. If you attempted to alight one of them would pretend to alight as well and block your exist as his accomplice went shopping into your pockets. All you see is a big envelop and not what their hands are doing. Organized crime is what it was.
I know you are wondering why I did not say anything. Well my excuse, they were five huge men. Of course I felt bad for being a coward and not calling them out, but wisdom at this point called for “civic education” and not “activism”. I wanted to survive to write this article. That’s a good call don’t you think?
When they finally alighted, I “brought it” on the conductor! I was furious. I gave him a double portion (with VAT) of my mind. The conductor clearly knew what kind of people these pickpockets were. But he still allowed them to board the matatu. He “opened the door” for thieves to get into his office and rob his clients. It’s his responsibility to keep watch over his territory. He would have told them not to get into the matatu or warned the passengers to take care of our belongings. They paid their fare alright, but they took more from his clients than he did. He should have protected us while we were under his watch.
But this is not a first neither is it exclusive to conductors. We all have “territories” we are watching over. We do the same thing. A doctor who instead of attending to his/her patients in public hospitals where they have been employed, are always busy in their personal clinic what are they doing? Isn’t that leaving their post “unmanned”? If you are security officer who takes bribes and turns the other sides you too are leaving your post unmanned and exposing the citizens you should be protecting.
We are all guilty in one way or the other. Caterers who add a lot of water in the stew instead of making enough food as per the agreement are guilty. Watchmen who sleep at night so that they can go for another job during the day, house helps who don’t do a thorough job because they were watching “afro-sinema” all day are guilty too. Drivers who speed risking the lives of their passengers, matatu owners who have un-roadworthy vehicles on the road, ambulance drivers who fake sirens to evade traffic – guilty!
You and I who use company resources to do personal businesses and take a two hour lunch break are guilty. The teacher who at the expense of his or her students focuses on his/her other businesses is guilty. Students who don’t do their due diligence in class and instead “chose to be creative” during exams are guilty. Parents who leave the house girls to bring up their kids, religious leaders who put their institutions before their families, businessmen who are strangers to their families because they are always on business trips; you are all guilty. Guilty of leaving your post unattended. Guilty of not protecting those under your responsibility and care.
Mr. Politician! Tsk tsk. When “your people” are going hungry, when children are learning under trees, when hospitals are not well equipped and doctors are resigning out of frustration, when roads are a mess, access to water – a pipe dream, literally – You are guilty. You have the funds, give your people the services they deserve! Be a good watchman over their funds. They put you in office.
Mr. President and your Deputy, when the nation is despairing and losing faith, when citizens are questioning themselves and their decision to vote for you, when things are going wrong and they barely see your authority, when a nation is slowly disintegrating into tribal groupings; you too are guilty. You need to reassure your citizens, unify them at whatever cost. Give them hope. Show them that you are still in control and you are looking out for their interests and not those of the politicians “in your camp”. Sack the “watchmen” that are not performing as they should. Whatever it takes, reaffirm your people. This is your gate, be on your guard.
If only we could all go back to our posts. If only we could take up our positions at “our gates”. If only we were vigilant. If only you and I took our positions, maybe everyone else would too. Maybe then we would solve some of the problems that have plagued our country for so long.