What you need to know:
- I've learnt to trust what folks call, gut instinct. But, in my faith, it's called the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- If you're in someone's company, and you hear alarm bells ringing inside your inner man; run for dear life.
In another life, I used to sell secondhand clothes and shoes. I sourced items from Gikomba Market. I sold them at my stall in Jericho Estate and took some to clients’ homes and offices.
The modus operandi in Gikomba involved knowing the whats, wheres, whens and whos. What items were sold where, at what time, by whom? Without knowing such details, you can roam this vast mitumba market, and return home empty-handed.
This sultry day I'm on my way to source shoes when I bump into a guy from my hood, at the blouses section. He's a sleek talker. He's been known to sell a blouse to a straight man, swearing to the poor dude that that's the new men's fashion.
"I say," Sleek hails me, "I'm also going to source shoes, stay with me for a minute and help me choose blouses."
Because he talks nineteen to the dozen, Sleek is known to many of the traders around. Around the stalls are Maasai guards, wielding rubber whips, known as nyahunyo. The guards keep an eye on pickpockets who target buyers and sellers. They're also used to guard against folks - masquerading as buyers - who pinch clothes from the sellers.
Sleek darts between stalls. Touching blouses. Checking them out. Talking. Fast. And then, straight out of the blues, he shoves a three-quarter blouse in my rucksack. A row of blouses hung on a wooden pole, obstructs the view of the seller, who Sleek is engaging in a shaggy-dog story.
I don't know what to do. If I rat out Sleek, guards will descend on him, and beat him almost to half an inch of his life. I may also catch some hell. And when we return to the hood, I'll be labelled, mtiaji. Which is Sheng' for a snitch.
"Nikute mbele," I glare at Sleek, when I realise that he wants to continue pinching blouses while using me as his sidekick.
"What's wrong with you?" Sleek asks, when we're away from the blouses' section. "Lazima ujue kuishi."
I give him the blouse and walk away. From that day, I avoid him. Years later, when I saw Sleek in Eastleigh estate, I ducked for cover. He'd graduated from pinching blouses to holding up banks. I didn't know what he was up to. And I didn't want to take chances. I learnt that, in this city, one random meeting with the wrong person can put an innocent man in county blues or body bag.
Sometimes, you cannot avoid people. You can be called a snob. Or, others may say you've arrived, or changed.
Besides, you may not know what's going on in one's life; if they've changed, for better or worse.
I've learnt to trust what folks call, gut instinct. But, in my faith, it's called the leading of the Holy Spirit. If you're in someone's company, and you hear alarm bells ringing inside your inner man; run for dear life. I've seen men being turned into collateral damage because they were in the company of a marked man.
A marked man is a latter-day Cain of sorts. Because of the innocent blood in his hands, every man that he does business with becomes an accessory - after the fact - to murder. A person's life is in the blood. When it's innocently shed, it sheds tears, demanding vengeance.
This is why it's prudent to seek divine guidance before any business deal; whether it involves buying a blouse or building. In this city where men want to get rich quick at all costs, a random meeting - with men who, unbeknownst to you, are marked - can turn an innocent man into collateral damage.