What you need to know:
- I was heading home from work at about 8.30 pm when a gang of five hoodlums pounced on me along Aru Lane.
- They swiftly cut me off my route, boxed me into a tight corner and relieved me of whatever valuables I had on me.
On Friday night, I lost my precious wristwatch and my utterly worthless cellphone to muggers at a well-lit street in the Nairobi city centre.
I was heading home from work at about 8.30 pm when a gang of five hoodlums pounced on me along Aru Lane, which is a stone’s throw away from Mfangano Street where I usually board my matatu.
They swiftly cut me off my route, boxed me into a tight corner and relieved me of whatever valuables I had on me.
The guy who initially accosted me – he must have been the ringleader – had threatened to draw a gun and shoot me if I tried anything stupid.
He had both hands in his pockets, so I couldn’t tell whether he had a gun or not, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
As this guy, who was in a greyish hoodie, and his accomplice flanked me on both sides, I took a quick backwards glance and noticed two heavyset fellows closing in. By the time I shifted my gaze forward, yet another menacing figure had sprung from nowhere.
I quickly realised I was cornered and outnumbered.
In that moment, I knew it was no use trying to fight these guys off. Not even the hard-tackling tight-head prop from my rugby-playing days would save me.
I wasn’t ready to become part of the city’s grim crime statistics of those who have been maimed, or had worse things done to them by muggers.
I meekly surrendered to their demands.
The whole incident barely lasted a minute, but in the brief moment I was held hostage in that corner, my mind raced to my wife and two young kids waiting for me at home.
Mercifully, I got through the ordeal unscathed and later got home to a warm hug from my three-year-old son.
I recounted my harrowing experience to my shell-shocked household. It wasn’t until hours later that we partook our evening meal.
I’ve since fully recovered from that experience, having had some good rest over the weekend.
When I shared my story with a close relative, he also recounted a similar mugging incident that happened on a Sunday evening at the junction of Mama Ngina Street and Kimathi Street.
Unlike me, this brother attempted to be a hero and nearly paid for it with his life.
In the middle of an ill-advised scuffle with his assailants, one of the muggers drew a knife and swung it at his abdomen. He quickly ducked, and the knife only grazed his thigh.
On seeing that their would-be victim wasn’t going down without a fight, the three thugs quickly vanished into an adjacent alley.
In retrospect, he says, he would not have tried to fight back.
That is what the streets of Nairobi have become; crowded places, bustling with human and car traffic by day but which become extremely dangerous at nightfall.
ATM machines that dot the exterior parts of many banking halls in the CDB are particularly risky places to visit in the evenings, especially when streets are deserted.
So too are alleys and backstreets, including Ngamia Lane and Tausi Lane, on either side of Nation Centre.
My priceless wristwatch is gone, but I thank God I lived to tell the tale – and write a story – of my encounter with Nairobi’s ruthless muggers.
The writer is an online Sub-editor at Nation Media Group