Tuesday, September 22
FeaturedFlash Fiction


LIKE PAPER PLATES AFTER A NIGHT TAKE OUT, trash must be pushed out. Wrapped with a distasteful hand, wound on a protective glove, the holder of what caused a drool in anticipation is dealt an ingrate hand. The sermon and dictum of many a mortal who only knows to take and then take some more.

See the cold case of Katumbo, the man who flew his rusty bicycle round the hilly villages of Kwa Hakuna. Here, in this desolate establishment disease and death were as sure as the rhymes of sunrise and sunset. So tears stopped their incessant flow and in their stead was a dry stare that spoke of the abundance of emptiness that generously filled their hopelessness. Katumbo knew the needs of the people for until a few years back, he lived within the community.

A sponsor who had seen potential for this brainy child had dislodged him from the path of destruction brought on by drugs and disease among the defeated youths and took him away to a city school. He only visited his community once a year to check on his struggling parents and siblings with gifts of second hand clothes and sugar for use for a few days. But fortunes had changed for him when after college he landed a well-paying job with the city council. Here, he quickly learnt the art and acts of smooth theft where workers manning the many streets of the city collecting parking fees, would print their own receipt books and commence to issue them to unsuspecting car owners for a fee that ended in their pockets. At the end of each day, Katumbo and company would rob the city revenue collection by pocketing thousands of shillings,

Ten years into this lucrative business of theft by default, saw Katumbo accumulate huge sums of money and change of lifestyle. So when the idea of getting into active politics was mooted to him by a colleague who was also intending to vie for an elective post at his rural home, Katumbo who was now considered a fairly smart thief embraced the idea enthusiastically.

First step was to quickly acquire a wife and start a family. The politics of the land where culture only respected a man with a boma dictated this need. By the end of the year, Katumbo had a wife, a son, and a second pregnancy in tow.

So why then would a man who drove a modest car in the city ride a bicycle back in the village as he campaigned for representation of his people at the August house?

Credit Canva

The answer is as ridiculous as it was crude. Katumbo had to show solidarity with poverty. He had to identify with it and live it. What better way to do this than to show case his growing tummy as it wobbled on bicycle rides around?

He made lofty promises of clean water for the villages. He frothed at the mouth as he spoke of donor funding which he was pursuing to provide five community dispensaries to take care of the health of his people.  He wept inconsolably as he acted the role of a savior who was going to start local day schools to ensure the marginalized children of his community proceeded to high school after primary school. He literary had an orgasm as he trembled before his community when he got into the plan of how he was going to ensure two village polytechnics were to be constructed and equipped to cater for the training of youths who did not proceed to University. And the people of Kwa Hakuna believed him. Why would they not when he was one of their own and who understood the pains of his people?

Fast forward to a year after elections and the success of Katumbo; his visits to the village slowed down and when he did come, he would arrive at night, meet a few people at a local bar, (apparently these were the communities select representatives of various proposed projects) buy them drinks enough to drown their days sorrow and steal away after dropping sacks of third rate rice, weevil infested grains and other donations that he would have gathered at the city for his constituents, and which were always packed at a shed behind his city house.

And the people of Kwa Hakuna began to question the wisdom of their leader. Though it was still early according to the wisdom of the impoverished elders to judge Katumbo as a bad investment, still, world of radio and newspapers was filtering into the villages from the few who came visiting. And cases were propping up against Katumbo that suggested his honesty in dealing with public funds was lacking. A year later, Katumbo was actually summoned to the criminal investigation center to explain an un-accounted sum of two billion shillings that had been given his constituency a year before, which had not been used and which according to the donor was accounted for with receipts and monitoring and evaluation reports complete with pictures and videos detailing the work in progress. The community was in shock when this information landed in the village.

By evening of the same day Katumbo was arrested, a troop of haggard youths were sing along the dusty village roads chanting slogans against the jealous people against their elected leader citing conspiracy theories about the unfair arrest and threatening to burn the local chiefs office in protest of ‘this injustice’. That most were so drunk that they staggered the dusty roads during the match was a telltale sign of the fuel that was driving their fevered minds. Stinging insults circled the evening air and spend upwards with the spiral of smoke from the dinner fires in badly roofed kitchens. The sound of mooing cows and the bellowing bulls added to the shrill noises of crickets blessing the end of the day. To punctuate the cacophony of the foolish royalty, the emaciated dogs of the village howled in in false bravado protesting against a mismatched match of ignorance defending evil.

The following day, Katumbo appeared in court to answer the case of embezzling public funds. The judge put a cash bill of ten million shillings and deposited of Katumbo’s passport in court so the parliamentarian could continue his enjoying his freedom to mingle and counter the accusations while the case dragged in the corridors of justice, gathered enough moss to mutate it while the media let off the torch killing the case before it was dead.

Another election is on the offing. Villagers are meeting in groups at night to argue the injustice of the enemies of development in their community and all if not most are in agreement that Katumbo is targeted for shame and trumped up charges by his opponents and the media which according to the paid opinion leaders was the work of other tribes bent on demonizing their great son.

Shame cannot define the ignorance and folly within body politik and how their interests are personal gains as the sell falsehood that they are representatives of the people. The likes of Katumbo are boar constrictors who squeeze life and livelihoods out of the dry carcasses of a people whose opportunities at collective development never sees the light of day.     

Nancy Ndeke


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