I have always known what to do if I ever came face to face with trigger happy gangsters; obey their thirst. Unfortunately, what my mind knows and what my body does always contradict. The first time someone pointed a gun at me outside my sisters’ gate, I instinctively threw my phone over the gate not caring so much if it would get damaged. Considering the make of the phone and what was at stake (my life), this was a really stupid move. Luckily, the gangsters thought the afterlife did not need a stupid person and so the let me live to become wiser. Did I?
On Jamhuri Day, I attended a friend’s wedding in Kasarani. Sidebar – I have never understood why a simple thing like cutting the cake has become a ceremony. I mean don’t we all know what ingredients in a cake? Surely, why do we need someone to relate the making of a cake to marriage? This particular woman held us hostage for almost two hours talking about a cake that some people did not even get to taste. It’s a wedding not a cooking a show! I still can’t remember 90% of what she said and the 10% I remember is information I will never apply in life – end of sidebar.
So in the evening as I went home, I normally don’t use the 14 sitter matatus – I prefer the mini buses. For some reason I told myself, to get into a 14 sitter because I was in a hurry to get home. In retrospect, I think that cake lady had tampered with my rationale. I even sat right behind the driver next to the door a seat that often ends up being added an extra passenger. See, someone had put something in my drink.
Everything went on as expected. It was 9pm, the conductors were reluctant to do the security checks on passengers boarding and an extra passenger was added to my seat and since I was tired, and hypnotized I went on to listen to my music determined to get home soon enough. When we got to the Bunyala roundabout near Nakumatt Mega, the car came to an abrupt stop and a scuffle ensued between the driver and the passengers seated in front. Someone took over the control of the car. The extra passenger who was sitting next to me must have seen what was going on and took off.
The next thing I saw was a gun to my face. The thug yelled what I thought was too many instructions at a go. I was tempted to educate him a bit about effective communication but seeing as he had a gun, he was shouting and seemed scared and irritable, I figured he wouldn’t be in the mood to learn either. I quickly removed my earphones and went for my wallet which had about Kshs50. As the gangster shouted at the other passengers I took out my phone and from my pocket and hid it behind the passenger seated next to me. Stupidity at its best; knowing what you ought to do but still not doing it.
Since this guy had seen my ear phones he asked me what I was listening to. This was not your usual “Hi, what are you listening to?” Nope the young fella was shouting at me and threatening to shoot me if I don’t produce my phone. At one point he even started telling the other passengers how he needed to show them how serious he was by shooting me. He at one point tried reaching for his gun until he saw that the person seated next to me had a laptop. He went for it instead.
Every time he took something from someone else he would come back to me and ask me for my phone. Having done Hostile Environment First Aid Training, we were taught not to agitate a “gun holder” by doing and giving them what they want. So I kept telling this 20-something-fidgety-gun-holding-boy that I understand what he is asking for and if only he could stop the vehicle and get out, I would be able to pick my phone from the floor and give it to him.
Strangely, this seemed to agitate him more. What is so wrong with a thug who was hell bent on stealing from us stopping the vehicle to step out so that I get him my phone which “fell” under the seat? He even took my wallet and said to teach me a lesson he would throw away my ID and I would have to get another one. He then asked me to stand and did a thorough search; took my sunglasses and some DVDs I had bought, then gave me back my wallet. I am not sure why but he must have learnt the need to give back to society. After about 20 minutes they dumped us at Industrial Area and took off.
We went to the police station and even though they quickly notified police on patrol about the incident, they took about two hours to take our statement and even asked us to take them back to the “crime scene” to show them where the thugs dumped us. I got home at midnight not thinking about the cake lady anymore but grateful to be alive and a bit confused at how different I react in a hostage situation. It’s not what I thought I would do or what I have been taught I should do but some things you only find out when you are in the situation.
For now I have earned the right to make all the noise I want about insecurity (not that if you have never been stolen from you can’t make noise). We need to address insecurity in this country. I am believer in the principle “Live by the sword, die by the same”. So if you are found with an illegal firearm, well … enough said.