11th Hour

11th Hour
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IshaJohnson,United Kingdom,Professional
Published Date:31-07-2017
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      BLACK OR WHITE Chapter 1 The cow gave him an easy time compared to the previous day. He couldn’t blame her since the family slaughtered her calf for dinner the previous day. He milked the bulky udder to the last drop and poured the milk into a large metal container. Njoroge despised his two cows that produced miserable quantities of milk compared to Mr. Foster’s dairy cows. He carried the container to the blue Leyland pickup and his boss drove off to the small local dairy. “Mama wants you to slaughter two chickens since she will be hosting some guests for supper,” Wanjiru handed him a knife and returned to the bungalow. Njoroge slaughtered two large roosters, plucked their feathers and gave them to Wanjiru at six pm. He walked back to his shack and warmed some left over tea as he rolled up his tobacco. The goats neighbored him on the right and the turkeys were on the left. The goats sneezed when they smelled his burning cigarette. He heard Mr &Mrs. Foster laughter as they welcomed their guests and rushed to his door so he could have a better view. Njoroge saw two white couples who were in the same age brackets as his master and they came in a white Land rover. He recognized the Chief’s vehicle and waited for them to get inside the house. Njoroge moved silently like a shadow and left the compound through a small opening he made for himself in the thorny fence. It was pitch dark since it was a cloudy night and he walked while clutching his penknife in case a wild animal would attack. He arrived a few minutes late and stood on the wall since the benches were full. He told the group he had spotted the Chief’s land cruiser at his master’s house and Kung’u thanked him. “They must be strategizing on how they will finish us” Kariuki said in a terrified voice “We will hit them before they hit us,” Kung’u told the group. Other members shared different pieces of information concerning the white men’s whereabouts and they adjourned an hour later. Njoroge did not have time to spare catching up with his friends so he ran back to Mr. Foster’s compound and crept in through his secret entrance. The Land Rover had gone and the Fosters were still awake. He got in his shack, unrolled his goatskin mat and covered himself with his old blanket. He woke up when the turkeys clucked and headed off to milk the cows. It 4  drizzled for a while and the thick mist partially blocked the bungalow and the huge tea farm. Njoroge was used to the freezing temperatures at the foot of Mount Kenya since he was a native. As usual, he emptied the milk into the large container and carried it to Foster’s pickup. He walked round the bungalow and gently tapped the kitchen window. “What is it? ”Wanjiru asked “Give me some tea. It’s cold out here,” he replied Wanjiru handed him a steaming cup of tea and a huge piece of Mrs. Foster’s left over bread. He thanked her and enjoyed his breakfast then continued with his chores. Adam Foster greeted the rest and sat beside Edward. George was glad everyone arrived on time and he commenced the meeting. The main agenda was how they could arm themselves in time before the savages attacked them. Patrick, the area chief had managed to give them each a pistol and a box of fifty rounds. Owen, the deputy chief told the rest he heard rumors that the natives met secretly at the Late Njuguna’s farm to plot their attacks. “What about Plan B?” Owen turned to Patrick “They have the tyranny of numbers,” Edward added “You need to have faith in yourselves I will get you more guns by the end of the week. There is no running away from this” Adam banged his fist on the coffee table “Listen to me Adam, I know we have guns but you have to remember these people outnumber us and if we don’t have a contingency, they will kill us” Owen argured Chapter 2 “Make sure you’re machetes and clubs are ready because the time is drawing nearer. We have to catch them by surprise and take back what is rightfully ours,” Kung’u told the gathering before they dispersed. Njoroge walked briskly back to his quarters and hit the sack a few minutes later. A loud knock awoke him and he opened his door halfheartedly. “What is it?” he asked Wanjiru rudely and she tossed him a new blanket. She told him Mrs. Foster wanted him to stay warm in the chilly night. Njoroge hostility melted away and he thanked her with a smile. He tossed away the old, tiny blanket and slept like a baby in the 5  warmth of the new blankets. Meanwhile, Anne was changing into her nightgown when Adam entered the bedroom. “How are things?” she asked “Owen and Edward still think running is our best option,” he replied while changing into his pajamas and hopped on the bed. “Njoroge might be patiently waiting for the day he will butcher us with the rest of the savages,” he added “Just try and gain his trust. It won’t be hard considering I gave him some blankets to keep warm in these freezing nights,” Anne told him “Or me and the boys can hold his family hostage and use him against his people,” Adam replied. “Don’t you think it would be a bit cruel considering how long he has worked for us?” she replied in a concerned voice “I’ll know what to do,” he replied and blew out the lamp. Adam lay awake pondering on their unstable future. He could not see himself elsewhere other than his fifty-acre farm, which he had invested quite a lot in it. Tea and Coffee grew on twenty acres each while the herd of cattle occupied five acres. He also had several fertile pieces of land near a small town called Othaya. The fact that Patrick, his friend since college was a chief in Nyeri gave him enough assurance to settle in the town. Since the governor declared the guerilla warfare a state of emergency, the Africans rebelled and caused a lot of trouble to the colonial administration in the province. There rumors about secret meeting s that took place at night increased and it caused panic among Adam and his friends. Despite his friendly attitude towards Njoroge, Adam‘s suspicion towards him didn’t disappear. He could be the snake in his farm ready to strike when he least expected. Patrick brought Njoroge to Adam’s farm last year during the coffee harvesting season. Njoroge stood out from the rest of the workers since his sack was always the heaviest whenever the berries were weighed. His English vocabulary was quite impressive compared to the three-word vocabulary among most natives. Adam bought him from Patrick for twenty shillings. He paid Njoroge five shillings every month and taught him how to save some of his income for rainy days. Owen’s wife gave Wanjiru to the Fosters when they moved in Nyeri. Anne allowed them to go be with their families back in the village on Sundays. Adam, Owen, Patrick, and Edward met at George’s mansion on Friday night and Adam 6  gave each of them three grenades and an AK-47. Adam told Patrick to impose a strict dawn to dusk curfew in order to stop the Africans from attending their secret meetings. Kung’u briefed his men on the planned attack date, went through a detailed presentation, and divided them into three squads-each squad comprised of twenty men. Most of them were unhappy with his selection of leaders since they were members of his inner circle. Kung’u and a small number were in their late forties while the rest were young bloods in their twenties and early thirties. Things heated up in the meeting when Kung’u stood his ground after the youth rejected the leaders and they stormed out in protest. Njoroge skipped a few meetings until one of his friends told him Kung’u considered their demands. Kung’u announced he selected three youths as deputies in each squad. The first squad raided a missionary’s house and they butchered him and his wife and made away with their radio, furniture, and liquor. Adam knew the missionary since they met twice on different occasions at Patrick’s house. His home was near the King’ong’o Prison while Adam lived closer to town. The second group unleashed their attack a week later at a nearby catholic church. Patrick ordered his officers to round up every boy and man in the village and take detain them in camp. Chapter 3 Despite their successful attacks, the young soldiers felt cheated when it came to sharing the spoils from the raids. Kung’u and the squad leaders took the lion’s share while the rest settled for crumbs as if they sat and folded their hands while Kung’u and his friends fought the white man. Njoroge avoided the meetings and returned to the Foster’s before dusk on Sundays. The whole village was terrified when a few police officers scattered several heads belonging to friends and family round the village. Women and children felt utter hopelessness without their men and several incidents of rape took place. The third squad was gearing up for their attack on the chief’s and Adam’s farm. They secretly trained in the forest before dawn so they would be at their masters’ farms on time. Adam had trouble sleeping and he decided to get some fresh air. He wore his slippers, got out of the house and looked at the stars for a while. Suddenly he heard movement from the other side of the bungalow and rushed inside the house for his pistol. He scared the daylights out of Njoroge when he tackled him and threatened to blow out his brains. 7  “Where from?” Adam snarled at him “I..I..heard the cows mooing a lot so I decided to check what was wr..wrong,” Njoroge stammered and avoided making eye contact with his master. “I know about the secret meetings you idiot” Adam shouted but Njoroge kept to his story “You know I can tell the chief to take away your family. Is that what you want?” Adam threatened Njoroge and saw Njoroge’s eyes widen. “I know you were at the meeting. If you don’t come clean I will visit the chief tomorrow and your wife and kids will be past tense,” Adam turned and returned to the house. Njoroge lacked sleep and had trouble concentrating on his chores. His mind went back to the previous night and the possible consequences if he did not convince his master otherwise. He finally spilled the beans when he loaded the milk on Adam’s pickup including the date of the attack. Adam passed by Patrick’s office and relayed what Njoroge told him. They decided to allow him attend the meeting s but he was their mole. Patrick and the rest converged at Adam’s house and waited for the savages to attack them on Friday. They stormed into Adam’s compound an hour before midnight but Adam and his friends conquered them and they retreated in different directions. There were several charred limbs scattered all over Adam’s compound and a lot of dried blood near the bungalow. Njoroge’s friends were arrested the following day, Patrick took Kung’u and a few friends to the village and shot them in cold blood in front of everyone. “Anyone who defies us gets a bullet in the head” Patrick shouted and shot several times in the air to emphasize his message. The Governor announced his surrender on the national radio and ordered his officers to report to Nairobi. The MauMau Commander in Chief announced that Kenya was finally free and the news spread like wildfire throughout the country. Adam and his friends met at his house to discuss the way forward. It was obvious their stay had come to an end and they began packing up that night. The governor sent a telegraph to all his chiefs ordering them to appoint their new replacements before returning to Britain. “Njoroge” Adam called him and Njoroge came running from his shack “I am going back to my country. Is there anything you want?” Njoroge seemed puzzled for a minute. “Your livestock,” he meekly replied 8  “Is that all you want?” Adam asked Njoroge wondered whether Adam was testing his greed. He could not believe they would leave their beautiful bungalow behind and everything in it. “The farm,” he finally replied “How much do you have?” Adam asked him Njoroge rushed to his shack and returned with a large piece of cloth tied up in a knot. He quickly loosened the knot and handed Adam seventy shillings and fourty five cents-all he had to his name. Anne was quite surprised when she saw the money. “Where did you get all that money?” she asked while looking at him suspiciously “I saved my salary just as Master taught me,” he replied in a low voice with his head bowed “Congratulations. You are the new owner of this farm,” Adam smiled at him. Adam went to the pickup and returned with the title deed of his fifty-acre farm. “Make sure you keep this safely otherwise you will loose the farm,” Adam instructed Njoroge and they drove away. 9  IN THE PIT Chapter 1 “Let me see your license” David complied and the officer kept looking at him and the photo on the license. The officer returned it and David regained speed on the highway. “That was close” MC Sugu exclaimed “You will have to postpone your smoke session until we arrive at the hotel,” David said to him. They branched off at the junction entering Nakuru town. The weather was chilly and heavy nimbus clouds allowed minimal sunlight to penetrate. They drove down a small street with several exhibitions on each side. David parked the navy blue Mark X and inserted a few coins in the parking meter as they left. It began drizzling and the two quickened their pace to Radio Jambo since MC Sugu had an interview at two. Fortunately, they arrived with ten minutes to spare and they started the interview early. One hour later, they left the studio after an entertaining and humorous interview and drove to Bontana Hotel. They each carried a few bags and collected their room keys at the reception. MC Sugu’s room had a large fan and several Maasai paintings on the wall. It also had a living room with two small couches and a flat screen on the wall. He went to his black backpack, fished out two slim joints and puffed away at his balcony. He enjoyed the scenic view above the town on the sixth floor of the hotel. Red lights streamed on one side while several pairs of yellow lights moved the opposite direction. He lay back in the thick Kush clouds and savored the moment. His phone startled him back to earth and he finished his joint then sipped some mouthwash, put on a pair of translucent designer shades and left for Taidy’s club. A tall light-skinned lady waved at him and he went to her table. “Tony” she threw her arms around him and pecked him He greeted two men wearing suits and sat. One of the men quickly signaled the waiter and MC Sugu ordered a bottle of Smirnoff. “Are you ready for the show?” the man in a blue suit asked him “I can’t wait” he replied and swallowed two fiery shots of vodka. 10  “I’ve talked to David and I’ll give you the other half after the show,” the man in a dark suit told MC Sugu. The DJ introduced the man of the hour and MC Sugu rushed to the stage amidst the cheers and wild screams from is fans. “Nakuru mko sawa?” He greeted the crowd and they screamed and blew vuvuzelas in reply. Immediately the DJ played one of his tracks and MC Sugu belted hit after hit as the crowd helped him sing along throughout the show. Some of his female fans almost fainted whenever he held their hands and moved closer to them then release his hold and jump back to the stage. He brought out Linda and they mesmerized their Nakuru fans as they performed their latest hit single as the encore. David drove MC Sugu and Linda to Ondieki’s mansion for the after party. Mr.Ondieki owned Taidy’s club and had offered to host MC Sugu’s after party. Range Rovers, Mercedes and BMWs filled the parking lot. There was a couple making out behind some vehicles while a group of drunkards was dancing and shouting. As David, MC Sugu and Linda walked to the house, two short ladies walked towards MC Sugu and demanded for a few snaps. He posed with them as David took the pictures and they entered the mansion. Most of the guests recognized him and Linda and he also spotted Big P, a super producer and rapper, Tenfold and MVP sipping next to a group of young hot women. “MC Sugu Welcome” His hammered host shouted and handed him a glass full of whiskey. He felt it burn all the way to his stomach and it re-ignited his fading highness from the weed he smoked earlier. They joined the larger herd of party animals and returned to the hotel at five in the morning. Chapter 2 “Man-eater, wassup?” “I’m good. I heard Nakuru rocked,” Man-eater replied “It was a blast. You missed the best after party of my career” MC Sugu exclaimed “I was working on a new beat and I want you to really give it your all because I have a feeling it will be the next big hit,” Man-eater said as he clicked the media player on his computer. “What theme do you have in mind?” MC Sugu asked 11  “I was thinking maybe a slow RnB type or you could make a slow emotional road to memory lane. You know what I mean? Slow soundtrack with uplifting lyrics,” the producer replied. Linda entered and greeted her friends. She really liked the instrumental and begged MC Sugu for a feature. They helped each other with the lyrics and two hours later Linda recorded the bridge and hook while MC Sugu showed his lyrical prowess in each verse as he delivered powerful punch lines while taking fans down his deplorable memory lane. Man-eater was impressed by their performance and rolled a fat joint to celebrate. MC Sugu left the studio an hour to midnight and left Linda and the producer finalizing production and mastering on the song. A week later, the two were invited for a radio interview at Homeboyz Radio and they launched their latest single. They received many compliments on Facebook and Twitter from their fans around the country and those from Uganda and Tanzania. They thanked their host, went around several radio stations for interviews, and received tonnes of praises from their fans. Despite the rising tide of success, Linda felt left out of the limelight since radio presenters, deejays and interview hosts focused on MC Sugu and treated her like his sidekick. The radio presenter at Capital FM kept on praising her counterpart while leaving her quiet most of the time tossing a few questions to her while he answered the rest. She rode in silence from the studio and told David to drop her at her apartment as MC Sugu returned to the studio. Despite her debut in the industry eight months ago, Linda felt shortchanged even after paying her dues by the way the industry seemed to ignore her presence. They always defined her as the girl who sings with MC Sugu as if she was his background vocalist MC Sugu came into the scene four months after her debut when Man-eater spotted him at small living room cum studio in Roysambu. She envied his fresh talent and his prolific approach towards music. Often, Tony was the early bird and the last to leave the studio each day. She realized she had the power in her hand to take back what was rightfully hers-THE FAME TONY STOLE FROM HER Linda scrolled her phonebook and made a lengthy call. Later she logged into her Gmail account, typed a lengthy email to a leading blog, and wore an evil grin when she clicked the Send button. Linda texted Paul to tell him she was on her way to his house. She parked outside his house and walked towards the door. Man-eater welcomed his sweetheart with a kiss and they lay on the sofa watching a movie. Once the movie was over, the 12  two lovebirds chased each other round the house until he cornered her in his bedroom. Paul’s phone rang waking him from sweet slumber. “Wassup?” he answered “Why do you sound as if you are in a hole? I recorded the last track for my mix tape. Can you meet me in the studio at nine so we can finalize on it? “No problem,” Paul replied and immediately took his towel and headed for the bathroom. Linda woke up when she realized he wasn’t in bed and she saw him dressed and combing his hair. “Where to?” she asked “I’m going to the studio. Tony wants me to listen to his new track then we wrap up his mix tape,” he replied Linda searched for her pants while putting on her black & white top and they left once she was dressed. When she arrived home, she went to the tabloid site and she squealed in excitement when she saw the story under Exclusive Gossip. She sent a text to Paul with the link to the website. MC Sugu listened to the mastered track a final time and felt proud of his accomplishment. He had talked to one of his friends who was good at graphic design to help him come up with the mix tape cover as well as artworks for different tracks. Man-eater pulled his friend away from the computer and gave him his phone. MC Sugu almost fainted when he read the headline; “MC SUGU, RAPPER TURNED RAPIST” He didn’t bother finishing the story since he already knew it. “Who is she?” Man-eater asked “It’s a fan I met last year in Westlands. I have not seen or talked to her since. You remember her, dark with short dyed hair. She had a purple mini skirt.” Her image reappeared in Man-eater’s memory. MC Sugu and Linda had gone to perform in a street carnival on the eve of Mashujaa Day. Once they got off stage, fans milled around them for autographs and a few pictures. MC Sugu spotted her as she waited for her turn to pose with him and struck the iron while it was hot. His flirting raised her temperatures and she couldn’t hold back the urge even though it was as clear as daylight they had slim chances of ever meeting in the future. He led her to his car then drove to an alley and they gave into their bodies’ 13  raging desires. They met again at a house party in December and ended up spending the night together. “Kate, right?” Man-eater asked “Christine,” he replied in a defeated tone. According to the victim, they met at a house party in December and after dancing, the rapper wanted to take things further but Christine refused. He followed her to the parking lot where he overpowered her and returned to the party after he was done with her. Christine further stated that MC Sugu was drunk and under the influence of cannabis and he became hostile towards her when she refused to accept his narcotic. She had decided to take care of the burden in her heart despite numerous threats she received from the rapper and his team against reporting the matter to the authorities. Tony received a call from the Inspector at Central Police Station and he left the studio immediately. Once he arrived, he recorded a statement and the officers put him in custody as they awaited trial. Man-eater, Linda and the rest of the crew at the studio paid him a visit that evening and assured him of the best outcome. MC Sugu was arraigned in court after two days for the first hearing of his trial. The courtroom was full and there was pin drop silence during the session. Christine was rounder and had braids and she gave a moving testimony of her ordeal as MC Sugu stared at her in disbelief. He made it clear to his lawyers and friends they had consensual sex but in such cases the woman never lied. “We shall meet again on the twenty first of May. The defendant shall be put in remand with no bond,” the judge concluded the trial. Man-eater felt hope drain out of him as he watched MC Sugu in cuffs getting inside the large green prison bus along with other suspects. He saw Christine and her lawyer drive off and wished he had a gun in his hand at that moment. Why do bad things happen to good people? 14  Chapter 3 “Thank you for this opportunity,” Linda smiled as she shook the CEO’s hand. She couldn’t stop smiling as she entered the elevator. Linda walked to the parking lot giggling as she marveled at the zeroes on her cheque. A truck covered with a huge picture of her sipping YOLO yoghurt entered the huge premises. She followed it with her eyes until it disappeared inside a warehouse and walked to her car. Linda sang and laughed as she drove to the bank and passed by Nakumatt to pick two bottles of her favourite wine. Apart from the two million shillings royalties she received last month, she made a lot from most of the shows promoters had planned for MC Sugu before his incarceration. They had no other choice but to let Linda perform since she had featured in MC Sugu’s recent hits. She was the half loaf fans settled for other than canceling the show since the sweeter half was in jail. As for Christine, she sorted her legal fees and gave her twenty thousand shillings to disappear. Christine however felt short changed since she read about her massive royalties and Brookside’s Dairy endorsement deal. Most of her calls went straight to voicemail whenever she attempted to contact Linda. Often, Linda would switch to offline while on Facebook once Christine sent her an IM. Tony lay on his bunker in deep thought concerning the recent turn of events. A tear rolled down his face and he wiped it then curled himself on the thin, bedbug-infested mattress. He had a hard time accepting he was spending his birthday in jail. He had planned to launch his mixtape-Zero to Hero on the same day as his birthday to thank his fans for their support. Often, Man-eater warned him about getting too close with female fans but he threw caution to the wind because he could not hold on to advice. Tony covered himself with the blanket and wept bitter tears of regret until his head hurt. MC Sugu From Zero to Hero then back to Zero Some fans wished him all the best while some went on a rampage as they condemned him for acting as if he was above the law. He found a lot of comfort whenever Man-eater and Linda visited. As he languished, Linda and her friends were blowing thick clouds from their shisha pipes and sipping wine. They giggled as they spilled wine on each other and ordered more bottles as they let loose on the dance floor. Linda returned to her table to grab her camera when she felt her phone vibrate. It was text message from Christine demanding two hundred grand or else she would spill the beans on Facebook and Twitter. Linda did not budge and continued partying under the stars. 15   “What are you doing here? Haven’t you caused us enough trouble already” Man-eater snarled at Christine and she froze momentarily. “I have something important to tell you concerning one of your artists,” she said to him nervously “One of my artists also raped you?” he asked “I will return with my lawyer after an hour so that we sort this mess,” she said and walked away Christine returned with a man wearing glasses and had a black suit. They convinced Man-eater to give them some attention and when he did, Christine spared no detail as she told him everything. Luckily, MC Sugu’s lawyer had just arrived so he and Man-eater would drive to court. Linda felt a throbbing headache on her right side and reached for the bottle of water on her bedside. Her friends had passed out beside her and she gently put her feet on the floor. She suddenly remembered today was her colleague’s second hearing and managed to shower and dress despite her nagging hangovers. By the time she arrived at the court, she felt rejuvenated eager to hear the judge put Tony away for the rest of his life. Man-eater waved at her and they walked inside the courtroom. A tall dark police officer led Tony to the dock and everyone stood up when the judges entered. Tony had grown thin and his cheekbones protruded as if he was a Somali refugee. He looked weary and defeated and kept his head low with shoulders hunched. “The accuser has dropped the charges against Tony Mureithi but the court will hold her in contempt for giving a false testimony during the first hearing of this case,” the judge announced Tony’s face lit up and his eyes widened as the judge went on. Linda was in shock and turned to Man-eater but he brushed her off. Immediately, two officers seized Linda and whisked her away. MC Sugu broke down in front of the cameras and reporters as he shared his memories behind bars. Man-eater took him to the car but MC Sugu told him to drive to the studio. Everyone quickly gathered around him and embraced their dear friend and they gathered to listen as he went inside the booth. 16  THE FINISH LINE Chapter 1 Bullets whizzed past their ears as they ran for their lives. Samuel turned right and followed the rocky path in to the bushes. James followed him as the thorny branches scratched his face and arms. Samuel saw a clearing behind the acacia trees and they headed towards it silently so as not to attract their assailants’ attention. They reached the clearing, rested for a while then continued with their journey home. They were desperate to find someone who could tell them exactly where they were and how they would get back to their village in Marsabit South. Dusk transformed into night and the pair camped beside a pile of huge rocks. Samuel and James rose up early the following morning and continued with their journey. A large truck approached them and they hopped in quite happy the heavens had heard their cries. “Were those police men or bandits?” James asked “Both,” Samuel replied The truck stopped and the two hopped out discreetly. Samuel got confused as he processed the unfamiliar surroundings. The tall buildings and busy streets were the extreme opposite of his tiny and quiet village. Virtually everyone they met wore kanzus or buibuis and they stuck out since they were in t-shirts and red shawls with clubs hanging on their belts. They heard an Imam announce time for afternoon prayers through a loud megaphone outside a small mosque. “We must be in Wajir,” Samuel told his friend “Let’s ask for where we can find transport to Marsabit,” James replied They crisscrossed the small dusty streets and finally asked a security guard where they could find buses heading to their destination. The man laughed and told them they were in Awasa, Ethiopia. Samuel and James wandered around the streets aimlessly and went inside a small restaurant. The locals spoke Amharic and James had to point at the opposite table for the waiter to serve them goat meat. Samuel asked the waiter where they could find cheap accommodation and he gladly took them upstairs where they booked a room for the night. “The whole village must be searching for Ekwe,” James said 17  “I don’t know how his family will take it when we tell them what happened,” he replied and pulled the blanket over his head. A red Landcruiser slowed down and two men immediately hopped out. They grabbed him and put him in the back then sped off. Once they arrived at the Mission hospital, they rushed him to the Emergency room and left the man in the hands of the doctors. A doctor finally emerged an hour later and the men immediately stood up “You found him in critical shock due to massive bleeding. We have stiched him up and he is resting. You can see him tomorrow,” the doctor told them and walked away. The men drove back to their camp and told the rest of their group what they encountered on their way back. After breakfast, the men together with their coordinator drove to the Mission hospital. The doctor told them the patient needed to be transferred to Turukana General Hospital since he was in dire need of a blood and the hospital did not have any. “We can organize how he will be airlifted to Nairobi,” the woman told the doctor and he looked at her with raised eyebrows. “I am Janet. I’m with the Flying Doctors. My crew can have a plane come pick him up by midday,” she replied “I will make sure the transfer documents will be ready by the time the plane arrives,” he told them as they returned to their Landcruiser. Janet rang the headquarters back in Nairobi and they promised to send a plane. Meanwhile, Ekwe slowly regained consciousness. He felt weak and was desperate to quench his nagging thirst. A short plump nurse wearing glasses replaced the IV drip. “Can you hear me?” she asked him but Ekwe was too weak to respond. She walked away and Ekwe winced as he turned his head sideways. He felt hot around his neck and back injuries. The bandages around his face made it difficult to yawn or speak properly. He had a large swelling almost the size of a golf ball on his left knee and the wounds on his arms spoke more volumes of his horrific encounter. The short nurse walked to his bed accompanied by three other nurses pushing a bed and they transferred Ekwe from his bed and headed towards the entrance. The dust was settling down as the large helicopter blades came to a stop. Ekwe closed his eyes since the sunlight hurt his eyes as the nurses alongside two paramedics loaded him into the chopper. 18  Chapter 2 An overloaded Toyota pickup stopped on the dusty road, James jumped out, and the Toyota sped off leaving a dusty cloud. James noticed nothing had changed in the village since the last time he left on that fateful day. The midday sun blazed mercilessly and sweat poured down his face as he trekked home. He cursed when he remembered he lost his keys during their escape and struggled for fifteen minutes as he used his club to break the padlock. Once he entered, he collapsed on the mattress and dozed until dusk when he heard loud noises outside his house. Ekwe left his house at night and headed to Ekwe’s house. Timothy, Ekwe’s four-year-old son saw him, rushed to the house, and returned with his mother. “James How are you?” she greeted him with anxiety all over her face “I’m fine Florence. I have just arrived and I decided to pass by,” he replied She invited him inside and offered him a cup of warm tea. Florence told James some of the men found wandering livestock near the oil wells and they searched for the three because they thought raiders had attacked them. James told her they had gone to look for a well so they could give water to their livestock when one of Ekwe’s goats broke from the herd and went inside the fenced area. Ekwe went after it but two police officers confronted him when they found him wandering around and they handcuffed him. James and Samuel went to plead with the officers but they turned a deaf ear to their pleas and they followed them to their camp where other officers whipped them for trespassing. James told her how they escaped to Ethiopia and crushed her hopes when he told her Ekwe didn’t make it outside the oil field. Since he returned, James visited Florence’s house regularly not only to console her but also to have another swipe at a delayed opportunity that once knocked on his door two years ago. Whenever Timothy wasn’t around, James sat very close to Florence and often put his arm around her while giving her the proverbial shoulder to lean on as he promised her his generous support in case she needed help. The elders reported Ekwe’s death to the chief and demanded for justice because of the police brutality. The chief reported the matter to the senior officer in charge and he promised him speedy investigations but the villagers were disappointed and bitter at the police since two months had passed and nothing had taken place. James never shied away from retelling their 19  horrific encounter with the police and showed them the marks on his back and legs because of the several lashes. As a result, he earned heroic status in the village, the young warriors looked up to James because of his bravery, and he often gave them sound advice whenever they went for cattle raids in neighboring villages. During his month long stay in Ethiopia, James met prominent cattle traders whom he immediately networked with and sold the cattle direct to them. Often, the villagers complained of the low returns they received after selling their livestock to intermediaries who made the lion’s share in such transactions since they sold the livestock at twice their buying price hence gaining supernormal profits. He gained a handsome commission from these transactions and the elders were quite impressed with him. An old, overloaded pickup stopped outside the village and Samuel hopped out carrying a small blue bag over his right shoulder. The moon illuminated the village and he greeted a few people on his way home. Samuel felt a wave of relief once he entered his house and stretched on the couch. He took a cold shower and ate at a nearby hotel then returned home since his body ached from the day -long journey through the bumpy rough roads from Awasa. The next morning, he woke up early and went to James’ house but he found a huge padlock on his door and returned home disappointed. Samuel decided to visit fellow warriors who lived on the other end of their village. Women balanced pots of water on their head comfortably as their children followed them struggling with jerry cans of water. He turned left on the junction and he bumped into one of his friends. Once they exchanged greetings, his friend told him how the village searched for them for a whole month and James had returned to the village. Samuel could not believe his ears when he heard James and Samuel had become an item. He immediately headed to Ekwe’s house and Florence welcomed him inside. Timothy was solving math problems and music flowed softly from their transistor radio. She served him a cup of tea and he thanked her then sipped. “I hear you are making a lot of money across the border?” she asked “Things are good on the other side. They sell their cattle at better prices compared to the peanuts offered by our traders in the market,” he replied “Why didn’t you return with James?” “He told me he would call once he arrived but I have waited for his call for a long time so I decided to return because we were not sure about Ekwe” “Those officers will reap what they sowed,” she said in a bitter tone. 20  Samuel noticed Florence’s pregnancy but he had trouble on how he would bring up the topic. Timothy put his books inside an old backpack and ran outside to play. Samuel heard him shout and when he turned, he saw James. “Samuel How are you?” James shook his hand with excitement “I am fine my good friend I waited for your call, what happened?” Samuel replied “I lost my phone as I was travelling from Awasa” They went to the local watering hole to catch up over a few beers. The third beer gave Samuel enough liquid courage to ask his friend about his current relationship with Florence. James justified himself by arguing that he deserved her since he took care of Florence and Timothy since he returned from Awasa. Samuel told him he should have waited a little longer until the dust had fully settled before he impregnated the widow. Samuel met the elders in the afternoon and they welcomed him back home. He was angry when he heard about the chief’s laxity on Ekwe’s misfortune but the elders urged him to be patient. They told him they had not found Ekwe’s body and assumed the leopards or hyenas must have devoured his remains. Samuel readjusted back to the village life and slowly accepted the change around him. James stopped going to Ekwe’s house at night, walked with his new catch in broad daylight, and they were set to tie the knot the following Saturday. James was in his final 48 hours as a bachelor and Samuel vowed they would drink until all the bars in the shopping center went dry. Chapter 3 “Turn right and you will see the village” Ekwe said to the driver He became emotional at the sight of his village. His heart pumped with a lot of eagerness as they approached the entrance. A few women and children stopped to stare at the red Landcruiser heading towards them. Ekwe jumped out of the vehicle when the driver slowed down and Janet ordered the driver to stop. They all got out and saw the women milling around Ekwe and they were stunned to see him. “Why did you jump out of a moving vehicle? You want to spend more time in hospital?” she rebuked him 21  Ekwe led Janet, Victor, Collins and Naomi through the sparsely populated village to the headman’s compound. The headman’s daughter was terrified when she saw Ekwe and rushed to the house to call her father. The tall bald and slender man moved faster than his age allowed him and stared at Ekwe for a minute then stretched his hand towards him. “My son Our ancestors had preserved you for all this time yet we had assumed the worst. Welcome back my son The village will celebrate your return” “Ekwe told us he was attacked by police officers near the oil well. My friends are from the Human Rights Commission and we will help Ekwe get the justice he deserves,” Janet told the headman. The headman told her the chief was seating on his hands since they reported the matter in March. Collins and Naomi told the elders they would investigate the matter therefore, they needed his cooperation. Janet and the rest returned to the Landcruiser as Ekwe and the headman walked towards the seats below a huge tree. “Were Samuel and James fortunate?” Ekwe asked him “Yes. They made it back and they are fine. They hid in Awasa for a while before they returned” Ekwe asked the question that put the headman between a rock and a hard place. The headman wanted to soften the blow since no man had to come home to more trouble after enduring a brutal ordeal. “Ekwe, the warriors searched for you for a whole month but you were still missing. When James returned and told us what befell you we assumed the worst. I’m sorry to tell you this but Florence and James got married last week. They are expecting a child soon,” the headman said to Ekwe with heavy sincerity. “What? How? Why did you bless a forbidden union? You didn’t see my body did you?” he snarled and grabbed the headman’s collar. The headman gasped for air and Ekwe finally released his grip around his neck. Ekwe stormed out of the compound and ran all the way to his house so he could see for himself. News of his return was on everyone’s’ mouth and some people had gathered outside Ekwe’s house in anticipation of the drama that would ensue upon his return. Lotodo and Kaparo greedily pocketed the money and headed to the council. Their fellow elders sat round the headman and they sat on the empty bench under the huge tree. The headman appeared quite stressed. He stood up and addressed the council on the purpose of the 22  

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