Posted: August 30, 2010 in In Living Memory

Last week I witnessed a murder. I recall the events as vividly as I remember the day I shed the foreskin of my penis in a traditional ritual designed to usher my initiation from boyhood to manhood and believe me it is not a pleasant memory.

To be entirely truthful, no one actually died in the incident. But my spirit did. Along with the hopes and dreams I had for the future of our not so great country. You might be justified to think I’m overreacting by condemning our motherland to a doomed fate based on a single and perhaps inconsequential occurrence but I beg to differ.

So anyway, on the material day, an innocent young man stumbled into one of the rooms in our campus hostels. He was visiting an acquaintance with whom they had shared one too many earlier in the night and they had decided to spend the night at the hostels since the visitor was too intoxicated and unable to make his way back home.

By some twist of fate, the host’s girlfriend happened to show up and what does he do? He kicks his male friend out in the middle of the night. In campus it’s called getting ‘exiled’ and I’m sure all comrades are all too familiar with this scenario. Personally I’ve had to spend many a night sharing a bed with a snoring friend whose sexuality I have been driven to question judging by his mannerisms whenever I am forced to spend at his room…No! I’m still a virgin in that area so nothing has really ever happened but I’m looking for another emergency bedmate just to be safe.

Now I’m trying really hard to understand this guy’s predicament but it still doesn’t feel right. Any man caught in a similar pickle would probably pull all his hairs out trying to figure out what the right thing to do would be. Of course if it were me, I’d spread a mattress on the floor for the guy and cuddle into bed with the missus then wait for the fellow to doze off before getting down and dirty. But then that’s just me. What?! The guy was drunk anyway so he probably wouldn’t even hear a thing! I’m just saying.

Anyways, this dude is tipsy, homeless and a bit confused so he wanders around the hostel hoping some Good Samaritan will see his dilemma and bail him out. And lucky for him, his guardian fairy appears out of nowhere. Well, actually they met in the loo’s while taking a leak but I figured that would take the shine out of the story so let’s imagine he appeared out of nowhere.

So this guy, after listening to the story, offers to help a brother out and leads him to a room where he would sleep till morning then be off. They get to the room and he opens the door for him, lets him in and goes on his way promising to check on him first thing in the morning. Now, comes the stupid part.

As it turned out, the guy who offered the room didn’t even stay there. He was giving out someone else’s room to a complete stranger without the prior knowledge of the owner. Meanwhile, this dude just walks in and makes himself comfortable only to find a lady lying in bed, presumably hoping to surprise her boyfriend or lover or clande or what-have-you. Before the intruder could say ‘hard-on’, the room’s legitimate occupant walks in and quite understandably is rather perplexed by the scenario that greets him. Pause.

This is precisely why I have argued time and again that women are the source of all of men’s woes. Take this guy for example. It was because of a darned woman that he got kicked out of the room where he was supposed to spend the night in the first place. Now he was about to experience an entirely new meaning of the word ‘beating’ courtesy of a woman he had not intended to meet to begin with. I would totally understand if this dude turns into a serial rapist who keeps women locked in his basement then slices their genitals one piece at a time to auction on e-bay! Continue.

So the room’s owner walks in and it so happens that he comes from a part of Kenya where bananas are in abundance and the women are so unattractive they would depolarize a magnet. In short, he was a hot-tempered Kisii. Without further ado, he pounces on the innocent lad and is almost immediately joined by two passers-by who must have either been medics coming from a group discussion or gay. Otherwise what would two sober guys be doing together in the middle of a Friday night on campus?

Anyways, the ensuing commotion awakens the occupants of the adjacent rooms and in no time the entire hostel is stirring with activity as every Tom, Ochieng’ and Omondi dashes to the scene of the crime. Oooh yeah! It’s like our brothers from the lakeside have radar that detects trouble and automatically sets their course in the direction of the cause.

Let nobody cheat you. Men are the worst rumourmongers! Men spread rumours faster than a Kao chick can take off her undies. If anybody asks, I never said it! In the midst of all the fuss, someone happened to whisper that the victim was a thief trying to steal from a comrade’s room and before anyone could clarify what was happening, there were pangas and nyahunyo’s flying all over the place. There is a deceitful solidarity among campus students. They will be so quick to stand up for one another under the cover of a crowd but wait till it boils down to an individual case. They will betray you faster than a…okay, no more dirty jokes.

In a bid to save his dear life, our guy makes a run for the window and blasts through in a lightning dash. You should have seen it I tell you. It was a like a scene from one of those Flash-Gordon cartoons in the Sunday Nation. I will soon introduce an M-Pesa fund for this blog so you guys can donate money for me to buy a digicam so I can capture such moments. How’s that for a worthy cause.

But this only serves to infuriate the mob further. They quickly make their way outside the hostel where they find the man lying helpless on the ground covered in shards of glass and a pool of blood. Someone kicks him to see if he’s alive. Eureka! He’s alive! And the mob pounces on him once more. Some Sudanese ex-soldier continuously pokes him in the chest with a sharp piece of wood as if aiming to puncture his heart. At one point he manages to draw some blood and wields the weapon in a celebratory gesture to demonstrate his accomplishment. He even promises to keep the piece as a souvenir. And you think the war will ever end in Sudan?

It took the intervention of a few sober-minded comrades (read: yours truly) to restore calm and save the poor souls life. Injured, battered and half-conscious, the guy was rescued by university security officers and taken to hospital where he received treatment for multiple injuries before being discharged.

I happened to witness the entire incident as it unfolded. Well, at least most of it. At first I was excited. The adrenaline rush was quite exhilarating since to be honest, I had never witnessed mob justice prior to that. At one point I almost cast a stone myself. But my conscience wouldn’t let me. And I’m glad it didn’t. Throughout the remainder of that week, word around campus had it that the guy, who had since been identified as a student from a local University, had died. Luckily, as is the case with most rumours started by men, it wasn’t true (like when we say we’ve had sex with each and every girl that has ever stepped into our rooms yet we were actually teaching them how to play Solitaire).

I saw the guilt in the eyes of my friends and classmates who had partaken in the orgy of violence. I felt the self-resentment dripping off their blood stained hands. I heard the sorrow in their hushed murmurs. Yet I did not feel an ounce of pity for them.

Such animalistic ways are intolerable and to imagine them coming from University students, the crème of society, the hope of our tomorrow, is sad. Not only is such behaviour primal, it is equally cruel and evil. One wonders what would happen if the same were to unfold in the streets of Kibera or Mathare or (God forbid!) Kondele. To witness such an event in the hallowed grounds of the university is demeaning and saddening. But it was also a lesson. One we must reflect on long and hard to realize exactly what the implications of such actions are.


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