Friday is the new weekend, that’s the notion in any current-generation campus, and rightfully so. It’s the day when even the pigs fly and the cattle lay eggs. Sex is indulged in at worrying rates, alcohol is consumed in catholic quantities and diversities, Project-X type parties are thrown, pants are unworn, and some unlucky beds are wrecked by the weights and the bobbing subjected to them.
Yet of all these wide range of wicked activities that a present-day campus student can choose to engage in, the home boys over at JKUAT decided to stage a demonstration. On a freaking Friday night!
So here’s a buddy of mine [let’s call him David] and I stepping out of Uchumi supermarket buildings. We’re from shopping for some snacks and a bottle of wine. His birthday fell sometime earlier on in the week but since everyone was busy then, he decided to have this ka-hangout today. Because what better day to celebrate the day you finally left your mother’s womb than the day you were probably bundled in there. Statistically speaking, of course. Oh C’mon, let’s not act like our good old fogeys don’t get their freaky out on Furahi-Day [No offence].
David gets a call from another buddy of ours [Sam] who seemingly had been left in charge of the system to be used for entertainment during the ka-hangout. Samson says he was in his room one minute then the next thing he knew, chaos amidst roars of “Comrades Power” rented the whole vicinity and he was forced to flee for his life, leaving behind the system. As they speak, he’s in a matatu on his way home; Komarock. David is enraged. He hangs up, starts cursing all over the place and am put in a ridiculous position to cool him down [I hate having to cool fellow men down. I mean, we both have sacks of balls hanging below our waists man, get your shit together!]. Without any music, the future of the hangout looks bleak already. Meanwhile, am having a hard time believing that JKUAT mates can actually riot. Because, for one, I just left there like 20 minutes ago and there was absolute calm [beside the usual Friday flare]. And two, a strike at JKUAT is unheard of; it has never been witnessed in as many years as Mugabe has been in power. But to erase any strikes of doubt still lying in my mind, Chacha calls to confirm the same. He’s fleeing too. Exactly where he is, he says he’s unsure. But he says he’s safe. You know shit is real when a local hoodlum who has schooled here the past 4 or so years and knows all the local joints in town has no idea where his feet took him.
Now, fully convinced that the comrades have gone honkers, David and I rush back to his place and drop the shopping items. Then he gets a call from some ole buddies of ours from Yala who had been invited for the hangout. They’ve arrived, and are asking to be picked up from the stage. By now the commotion has reduced significantly so we leave to go fetch them. Sharon is supposed to be coming too. She texts saying she just boarded a Juja-bound mat from town and expects to arrive in about 30-45 minutes. Stay with me here, this story is just about to hit the roof.
There’s about three jamaaz and three dudettes when we get to the stage; I can only recognize the three guys we high-schooled with [say Daniel, Kinsley and Bonnie] and one mamsilla, Brenda. Kinsley’s comptroller. I remember her ‘cause she’d attended my below-the-belt birthday party and I had kynda hit on her. Unknowingly of course, that was before Kinsley grabbed me by the collar and said something within the lines of, “Kijana, you’re treading on very dangerous grounds!”. And so I backed down. You can never hit on your boy’s chile, says the bro-code. Folks, you can lie to your women all you want but never go against your boyz. Or the bro-code. Any violation is punishable by stoning. And survivors shot in the face.
A few muffled pleasantries and we’re headed back to David’s place. Barely a couple of strides further, loud, almost deafening, gunshots swamp the air. We’re brought to a startling halt. No one dares move a muscle, or utter a syllable. Everyone is scared, especially Brenda. So much so that even the guy seemingly engrossed in a somewhat interesting WhatsApp conversation with his bae is ordered to reduce his phone’s damn brightness or just shut the silly Blackberry off. Silence engulfs the air. And for a while there, we remain rooted to the spot.
After about two minutes of awkward silence, all calm returns and we head back to David’s place, via the bus stop where we pick up another mate. Then Sharon texts; she has arrived and is waiting at the gate. David’s roommate is headed out to buy the ladies something for supper so I go out with him and we pick up Sharon on our way back. A little stampede ensues while we’re there and everyone runs off [apparently even Sharon runs faster than I do…Heheh]. I find her a slight distance ahead of me and we too head back towards Jubilee House; David’s.
At this point, it’s important to note that David’s place is not even the intended venue for the hangout. Apparently, this was just the convergence point. The venue is some other mamsilla’s place, metres away from here. Now I have a bad feeling about this.
It’s now a couple of minutes past midnight. Peace seems to have been restored again. But Daniel and I still feel like we shouldn’t go out there. We suggest to David to hold the hangout right here, at his place, instead, but he’ll have none of it. His reason being the lights at his place have been cut off so there’s a total blackout. I find this explanation so mediocre since had the power even been there, they’d still have turned it off eventually. There’s something about partying in the dark that just makes campus folk tick. Nobody knows what it is, but it’s provocative. It gets the people going.
Oblivious of our [Daniel and I] views, David asks everyone to get ready to set off for the venue. But it’s his ‘birthday’ and this is his place after all, yes? He calls the shots. So we leave for the intended venue.
Two blocks further, almost near the bus stop, we come face to face with the men in blue who immediately fire aerial gunshots, scattering the whole group. Some go North, others face South, but I see Sharon, Bonnie and four other chiles going to take cover inside some abandoned building so I beckon to Daniel that we follow them. We should be safe here. Will we really?
We’re terrified out of our skins. There’s a pin drop silence [I’ve always wanted to use that expression] in the room. The only audible sounds now are the heavy breathings and the loud heartbeats threatening to break our rib cages. For a second there we feel a little bit safer. That is until a ray of light from some mammoth of a torch is engaged right into our hide out, catching Bonnie right in his tracks.
“Tokeni apo haraka!” The bearer of the spotlight commands.
We hesitate. No one wants to move. There are only two exits from this place; the torch bearer is standing at one of them, and the other is completely covered in water so deep you could drown if you went right into it in panic mode. Now I was a sportsman back in my high school days so I would have had no problem passing through had I decided to make a run for it. Bonnie did. But none of the ladies would have made it half way through without being caught. A lot of people have told me I was stupid to do this but yes, I stayed. Alongside Daniel, who seemed to share my sentiments. And so we surrendered and were caught, together with the ladies. Who would’ve known it would turn out the way it did anyway? We just thought he would pester us a little and then he’d be on his way.
I don’t care how you take this but I have a few principles; morals, if you please. Don’t get me twisted here, am no Makmende [as some other bozo who had fled North posted on my timeline a couple of days later]. Neither do I try to act like one. But if am going out with you, I need to be 110% certain that you’ll have my back when push comes to shove. As I will have yours. Am not going out into the dead of the night with some scary ass buggers who’ll take cover and leave me out in the open at the first sight of trouble. That’s not how I roll. We ride or die. Both [All] of us. If that makes me foolish and a coward in your universe then that’s a title I‘ll hold with my head held high, thank you.
So we march out of the hide out towards the bearer of the torch, who’s now mulikaing us right in the faces. He hits one of us, I don’t know who, and orders us to walk towards the police barracks just a few metres ahead with our hands up in the air. Here, we’re met by more than a dozen men in blue, some brandishing AK47s while others waving around blocks of wood. We’re ordered to sit down, still with our hands above our heads, and we comply. Then quicker than it takes to say “Freeze”, they start raining whacks and blows on us like we’re already guilty of some heinous crime. We’re struck and flogged all over the place like a bunch of deadly criminals. One of the lasses is bleeding on the forehead right about now, but even this doesn’t slow them down. What surprises me is that the ladies are hassled and trodden even more than the fellas. Their dressing doesn’t seem to wash down well with the ‘law enforcers’. Those with above the knee dresses are hit right where the dresses end, the ones with trousers are banged too. Women, I suppose your dress is not your choice after all. At least not according to these cops. But I digress.
They then grab our I.Ds, check them scruffily and give them back amidst a bunch of rhetorical questions and smacks. Why would someone ask you where you were headed and then hit you when you answer the damn query? This is why cops and I don’t get along. The red-eyed bastards just don’t seem to have any sense of reasoning in them. Now my old folks were bad asses back in the day. True story. My mum would spank the living daylight out of you for the slightest mistake. We’d think it was unfair, but I tell myself I wouldn’t be half the man I am today [I know I’ve barely achieved anything yet but am getting there] if it weren’t for them. And those beatings. But my whole life, I have never been man-handled or trampled the way I was that day. And to think I hadn’t even broken any law even makes me sicker. I find myself cursing and murmuring unprintable words which loosely translate to life is a female dog. You never get what you want, you just man up and find a way to deal with what you’re given.
Anyway, so the police van arrives and we’re jostled inside and driven off to the station; from where I mull over all this as we walk into the cells..
*to be continued.