Barely days before her tour to read her poems around the country could come to an end, exiled Ugandan activist Dr Stella Nyanzi now says she was conned on Wednesday by a Kenyan whose car she had hired.
Dr Nyanzi, who has been in Kenya since the year started and has been visiting towns to read her poems, said she dealt with what she described as “Kenyan thuggery”.
Speaking to the Nation, the scholar, a beneficiary of the Writers-in-Exile programme at Pen-Zentrum, narrated how she hired a silver grey Toyota Voxy from Nairobi to Mombasa.
She said she was supposed to use the same vehicle on her return journey.
“They asked that we pay Sh6,500 for each day. This means that since we were to stay with the vehicle for three days, we parted with Sh19,600,” she said.
“The person who gave us the car insisted we pay upfront and we gave him all the needed cash.”
She left Nairobi on the morning of Tuesday, September 21, at 5.30am and as soon as they arrived in Makindu, Makueni County, 107km from Nairobi, the vehicle suddenly stopped.
Refused to refund
“We pushed the car off the road, got two local mechanics from Makindu who both confirmed that the vehicle’s tracking device had locked the car,” she said.
“We informed the car hire guy, who refused to refund our money paid to him to hire the Voxy for three days. He lied to us that he was sending us a replacement car.”
Dr Nyanzi, who contested the Kampala woman representative seat but lost, said the man arrived and ordered them to remove all their valuables from his vehicle.
The man then disabled the tracker’s lock, entered the Voxy and sped off like a devil riding the machine, as the scholar put it.
She said they gave the man the benefit of the doubt and decided to wait for a replacement car.
By the time this story was published, Dr Nyanzi, who was with her sister and two others, had not received any help and the suspect had switched off his mobile phone.
She said she had to cancel her poetry reading session in Mombasa because she lacked a means of transport there.
Dr Nyanzi had held similar functions in Nairobi, Kisumu and Nakuru. The books are titled Eulogies of My Mouth, No Roses fromMy Mouth and Poems from Prison.
In 2021, Dr Nyanzi fled Kampala with her three children, initially for Nairobi and then to Germany, citing threats to her life after her boyfriend was arrested by the Ugandan authorities.
Known for her hard-hitting and vulgar messages on social media, the former Makerere University researcher was previously arrested and jailed for a year on accusations of abusing Uganda’s first family on social media.
She is also remembered for stripping naked and screaming in protest in a fight over office space during her stint as a lecturer at Makerere University.