How I was Robbed in Nairobi

Posted on 6 min read

Have you ever been caught up in situation where you completely dropped your guard, and you are robbed in the most stupid way possible? A place where a very familiar robbery script unfolds before you, but for some reason you do not notice? Like when a stranger comes to you and asks, “by the way, what is your M-PESA PIN?”

Of course, such a question would ring all alarms and you would not answer. But once in a while, or once in a very long while, the question catches you off guard and you give the right answer. Not because you are very gullible, but because you were caught up in a myriad of thoughts. Thoughts on how well does Trump understand the global warming issue, and how long before New York legalizes ‘abortion’ of any infant below two years of age.

You are thinking about Kenya’s debt to GDP ratio, the war we are fighting on the war on corruption, the compensation of Solai dam victims, 2022, competence based curriculum, the public wage bill and how to stop your baby from waking you up at 2:04 am. You are also thinking of how to expand business to South Africa, and wondering why DCI still uses free email services. You are wondering when are the next applications to join the loved and hated middle class of Nairobi. You are thinking. In short, you are playing God by purporting to run the universe.

The Heist

The following events take place between Kahawa Wendani and Clayworks

You board a matatu to Juja at Kahawa Wendani. A very old matatu by appearance, because the number plate KAR 375D means that the vehicle has carried passengers for a few light years, but you do not care because in the next 20 minutes that you will be in the matatu, you intend to finish listening to a sermon by one Calisto Odede titled ‘Greater works than these shall you do.’

You take the front seat, and the young man already seated there doesn’t want to seat in the middle, between you and the driver, so he alights and lets you get in. You get in, carrying your back pack, a bottle of water on one hand which you have just been given by a friend, a bag full of stuff, and a phone because you were on call before boarding. The matatu starts moving, and just before Kahawa Sukari, it stops, and the conductor says that the vehicle is overheating. He asks the two of you two alight so that he can check, but without checking anything, declares the vehicle okay.

This is when things start to fall into place. The other passenger who did not want to be sandwiched between you and the driver jumps in very quickly, and you are now on the door seat. You notice that the seat belt is faulty, and the door does not lock. But you ignore, because a Ninja cannot just fall off a moving matatu when they have been warned by the door. But a few metres later, the conductor notices that the door is not locked, and he opens it and bangs it to try and lock (You are shocked because he should have given you a warning). When it fails, he asks you to try and lock it, and gives the suggestion like you try lift the door as you close, and when it does work, he suggests you ask your neighbor to help or use both hands to lift and pull the door.

Just as you try, he says that something has fallen out of the matatu, and asks if you have lost anything and you say no. He says that it is something like a calculator. You check your hand and realise that your phone is missing. It then occurs to you that it could have been your phone, and you ask the driver to stop quickly. The driver offers to wait for you as you go back, but the conductor says that they can’t wait in the middle of the highway. Your mind tells that you need to pick your phone before it is smithreened by vehicles on the road. You demand for refund and you get back your 40 bob.

You run back with your tons of luggage, but a few metres away, the lightning flashes before your eyes. The script is very familiar.

You have just been robbed like an idiot. You start thinking of what to do next. To be sure, you walk back and there is no sign of a phone, and if it had fallen down, it would not have survived the impact. You get a phone to call and someone picks and says that they are Uber driver, and they have just picked the phone. The person who lent you the phone tells you that that also sounds familiar, and it is either they are unable to switch off the phone, or they want to con you big. What do you do next?

The Futility of Loss

A lost phone in Kenya is water under the bridge. You better spend your energy working for the next phone, rather than following up your lost phone. I learnt this from experience for 9 years ago, I lost a phone which had a tracker. I could tell when a new SIM card was used with the phone. I reported at Juja police station, whereby they asked me to go to CID Thika if I needed it tracked. I went to Thika and they sent me to Juja to report the theft first. I went back to Juja for OB recording, then back to Thika when one CID officer asked me, ‘kwani how much is this phone that you want to replace?’ At this point, I simply asked for a minute and walked out, never to return. And with that, I got my first lesson on why we are still a third world country.

What do I do about a stolen phone? Should I report to the police? Times have changed. If the police wanted to catch the thief, they can do that easily because I have the number plates of the vehicle. Besides, we have CCTV cameras on the road, and I know the time I was on the road. For a matatu, the police can get the owner with a few clicks, and there is a registered conductor in the matatu, who is the thief. The owner can be compelled to produce the conductor. Safaricom could, I bet, tell who picked the phone after I called, using their Jitambulishe service (privacy concerns). But why go to this extent? Because we need to transform our culture into one where integrity is valued, and lack of it is punished.

The Grief

You have a very short time to go through the five stages of grief. After that (180 seconds), act first. If you are sure the phone is stolen.

  1. Erase your device if you can. Android lets you locate and wipe data off your device
  2. Block your SIM card. This will prevent someone calling your favorite contacts and asking for money ‘tuma kwa hii number’ style. They could use your phone to access e-banking services. In many cases I use my phone for two factor authentication purposes.

Blocking your lost SIM is easy. Safaricom lets you do it by dialing *100# from another phone.

  • Replace your SIM card. Airtel is very easy to replace, while Safaricom has tools to help deter fraudulent SIM replacement.
  • Reset your passwords.
  • Buy a mulika mwizi. Losing your phone can offer you the much needed break from notifications and nuisances of ‘always connected’ life. You can take some break to meditate on a million other things.

Ladies and gentlemen, this world is not my home.


The Drowning Fish

Posted on 2 min read

After a long dry season, it rained, and it poured. All streams were swollen and the river had broken its banks. There were floods everywhere and the animals were all running up into the hills. The floods came so fast that many drowned except the lucky monkeys who used their proverbial agility to climb up into the treetops. They looked down on the surface of the water where the fish were swimming and gracefully jumping out of the water as if they were the only ones enjoying the devastating flood.

One of the monkeys saw the fish and shouted to his companion: “Look down, my friend, look at those poor creatures. They are going to drown. Do you see how they struggle in the water?” “Yes,” said the other monkey. “What a pity! Probably they were late in escaping to the hills because they seem to have no legs. How can we save them?” “I think we must do something. Let’s go close to the edge of the flood where the water is not deep enough to cover us, and we can help them to get out.”

So the monkeys did just that. They started catching the fish, but not without difficulty. One by one, they brought them out of the water and put them carefully on the dry land. After a short time there was a pile of fish lying on the grass motionless. One of the monkeys said, “Do you see? They were tired, but now they are just sleeping and resting. Had it not been for us, my friend, all these poor people without legs would have drowned.”

The other monkey said: “They were trying to escape from us because they could not understand our good intentions. But when they wake up they will be very grateful because we have brought them salvation.”


The Hole in the Boat

Posted on 2 min read

A man was asked to paint a boat.

He brought with him paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him. While painting, he noticed that there was a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it. When finished painting, he received his money and left.

The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice cheque, much higher than the payment for painting.

The painter was surprised and said “You’ve already paid me for painting the boat Sir!”

“But this is not for the paint job. It’s for having repaired the hole in the boat.”

“Ah! But it was such a small service… certainly it’s not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant.”

“My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened. When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention about the hole. When the boat dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip. They did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at that time. When I returned and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole. Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing. Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole! You see, now, what you did? You saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your ‘small’ good deed.”


The Atheist and the Lion

An atheist was on a hike when he became lost in some dense woods. A large angry lion, with ten starving cubs back home and claws like kitchen knives, suddenly emerged from the undergrowth. Seeing the lion, the atheist screamed in terror, turned and ran. The lion was quicker however, and after a long and desperate chase eventually cornered the atheist in a gully.

The exhausted atheist sank to his knees, shaking. The lion, seeing that its prey was trapped, moved slowly towards the petrified man, drooling. The lion was drooling too. The atheist lifted his head, with tears in his eyes, and uttered the words he thought he would never say in all his life: “God help me…”

With these simple three words, a blinding flash of lightning lit up the sky. There was a deafening crash of thunder. The clouds parted. A brilliant light shone down. The forest fell silent. The lion froze still, in a trance. The atheist stood gaping, transfixed.

A voice came loud from above.

“You atheists make me seriously mad,” boomed the voice, “You deny me all your life. You tell others to deny me too. You put your faith in all manner of things, and then what a surprise – you get lost because you can’t read your map, and now you’re about to get eaten by an angry lion all of a sudden you’re on your knees snivelling and begging for my help? You must be joking…”

The atheist looked down, realizing that he was not arguing from a position of strength.

“Okay, I take your point,” said the atheist, thinking on his feet, while he still had them, “I can see it’s a bit late for me to convert, but what about the lion? Maybe you could convert the lion instead?”

“Hmmn… interesting idea…” said God, “…Okay. It shall be done.” At which the brilliant light dimmed and vanished; the clouds closed; and the noises of the forest resumed.

The lion awoke and shook its head, a completely different expression on its face. Calm, at peace.

The lion closed its eyes, bowed its head, and said, “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful, Amen.”


The dog who shopped

Posted on 1 min read

A dog came into a shop, having a bag in its mouth. The bag had a list of items to be bought and money so the shopkeeper took the money and put the items in the bag.

Immediately, the dog picked up the bag of items and left. The shopkeeper was surprised and went behind the dog to see who the owner was. The dog waited at the bus stop. After sometime, a bus came and the dog got onto the bus. As soon as the conductor came, it moved forward to show his neck belt which had money and the address as well. The conductor took the money and put the ticket in his neck belt again. When it reached its destination, the dog went to the front and wagged his tail indicating that he wanted to get down. As the bus stopped, it got down. The shopkeeper was still following it.

The dog knocked on the door of a house with its legs. Its owner came from inside and beat it with a stick. The shocked shopkeeper asked him “why are you beating the dog?”, the owner replied, ” he disturbed my sleep. It could have taken the keys with it.”

There is no end to the expectations people have from you.


The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman and the Banker

Posted on 2 min read

An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.

The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos: I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The investment banker scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.”

Then he added, “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”