A Phony Phone Deal!



Just why am not in a hurry to buy anything off Nairobi streets


(Guest Post by Mzee Varaq)

The holiday has been long and busy, what with the practicum attachment and the National hockey league. Am not sure what my overall feeling has been. I gave up on the pursuit of the perfect English adjective a while back. But something like ambivalent or bittersweet would suffice.

A lot has transpired since we last met. August has lived up to its image as the dark month. Maybe Jomo sold our souls for a pot of gold, that’s just a sick theory of course. What with the fatal road carnages, the sinking of the ferry, the hacking to death of the 64 in Tana River, the sudden demise of the voice of the voiceless, not one Robert Alai but Martin Shikuku. The other, an activist too, did find the going tough when he challenged the powers that be to a duel. The most tragic was the cremation of little girls in a dormitory inferno in Asumbi Girls .I imagine they dint just sit there and wait for help, I could see them shoving, pushing, jostling for a door that would not just bulge to their desires.

A door that refused to hearken to the mighty push by their feeble hands. I can only imagine what they must have thought that moment they realized they were not going to escape the angry clutches of the fire. They must have wondered if this was their reward for the hard work and the time they had put in for good grades. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

There have though been patches of drama amidst this cloud of gloom. Miguna Miguna finally made true his threat to write a book about Baba. A book that has been referred to as sleazy by many a wise men including Mutahi Ngunyi. Talk of hell having no fury like a jilted lover. Destroyer is of course by now a household name, he couldn’t just let Njuguna Njuguna lie about baba like that. I hear that the title, TPOMH was bestowed upon him by his community (The Proud Owner of Miguna’s Hat).There has also been the resurgence of K’Ogalo under Zdradco Logarusic, the Serbian tactician. The name being quite a mouthful, he is simply referred to as Luo Inside by the K’Ogalo faithful. The harvest, however modest, has also given us another reason to smile.

Forgive my manners, How are you good people? I am not sure whether to, deposit a blankleave a space after that for the appropriate reply. We actually didn’t finish that topic in high school. My English teacher was usually away on assignment with the school rugby team.

It always lifts spirits that one would take time off their playing scrabble, solitaire or even putting the bad guys away in the call of duty game busy schedule to read through my 2000 words worth of ranting.

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I have always wondered the truth behind some of the grandiose tales about the conmen in Nairobi. I had wondered how grown men with brains intact could be duped to buy a phone case for a phone or a DVD in case of a laptop. Well, they are true and it could happen to anyone .A guy in river road recently shuttered my myth of invincibility when he got the better of me and got away with it! This is my story of shame.

The following story takes place between 1pm and 2pm in River Road

StarringMzee Varaq


Director: Mzee Fate

A fidgety looking guy tagged my shoulder and asked me if I wanted to see a bidhaa. Being lunch hour and having my next appointment at three I couldn’t see the harm in trying. It’s not like I was going to buy the bidhaa that had now assumed the identity of new Nokia X2. I didn’t even have the cash in the first place. I just wanted to play with fire. He asked me to recede into the back alleys of Gwasi road since he was afraid of the cops. By the way he was profusely sweating, I quickly deduced that this could be true. In hindsight, I should have seen that as a sign of a nervous man who was about to get away with murder.

He began extolling the virtues of his new device. I just watched with a grin as he talked about the exciting features of the phone and its new state. He played a few songs from the 4 GB memory card that he promised to give me with the phone as his sign of good will. I must admit though, the first time I got excited about the deal was when he told me to put my SIM card and try making a call. I called one Mchil to go over some officer to officer staff and the device seemed ok. His asking price was five thousand shillings. This astronomic price for a street good further lent it some credibility. Anyway being the skilled negotiator that I am, I feigned a chuckle and retorted.

“Bwana unataka elfu tano kwa hiyo simu nzee,heri sasa niende kwa duka niongeze hiyo elfu moja.Niko na haraka kama hautachukua elfu tatu,mi nimeenda”

And with that the scion of Oyugis begun to move as if late for the stoning of Miguna .I had hoped that the price would put him off and end this business dalliance. However, this man whose mouth smelt like a tobacco factory wouldn’t just let me. Contrary to my expectations, he said yes and asked me to recede deeper to complete the deal. It’s not what you are thinking, I wasn’t manhandled. That would have been a better way to lose my hard earned 2300 shillings. At least I could post my bloody face and broken nose and add the caption:

”I just fought four machete wielding mungiki and lived to tell about it” # brave

One princess babe would comment, “How potent” and that would have gone a long way in helping me bag wife no three.

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If my six-pack couldn’t dissuade him then the human traffic during mid day would have made him think twice about hitting me. At this point I was cornered, no cash save for the sixty bob I had as my fare back home. I was in a bit of dilemma, I could simply tell him that I thought I had money and see him off but by now the basic business acumen I had acquired after staying with Wekemeu and Gythy for two years was beginning to take the better of me. I could make a profit of over 200% if I sold it! Not a bad business idea by any standard. I made one last attempt to kill the deal; I told him that I only had two thousand shillings.

When he still accepted, albeit grudgingly, I should have seen that as a warning shot. However, my complex mind assumed that he was just eager to dispose of a gadget he simply got by having the not-so-admirable ability to insert his hands into a careless guy’s pocket. At this point I took out my old but reliable Nokia 2330C and pretended to be checking if the specific device was under a tracker. I mesmerized the guy by unleashing one tough jargon after the other. He must have thought of me as a whiz kid. No reference to the kid wiz. I only stopped when he acquiesced to my demands after I had told him that I would still have to part with a hefty fee to disable the tracker.

At this point, there was no backing out. I went to the equity bank next to Jack and Jill ,the nearest, and withdrew 2500 .when I got out and found the guy still waiting patiently by the ATM lobby, I should have wondered how determined the guy was to sell me the  gadget. At this point he took my number and promised to call me whenever he had a device to dispose of. In fact we were to meet after one week so that he would sell me a brand new Samsung galaxy pocket .That though I intended to keep for my personal use. Mzee Varaq was in business!

As soon as I got my device, I never looked back lest I be robbed again or run into the men in blue. I could almost see the dailies the next day.

”Kenyatta university student busted in a phone cartel”

Jicho Pevu and Allen Namu also wouldn’t be left behind with yet another expose on the used phone syndicate in our Kenyan universities. Baba would of course deny knowing me despite me being his friend on facebook and him following me on twitter. Caroli Omondi would release a statement like,

”The office of the prime minister wishes to denounce the activities of one Mzee Varaq. This office will leave no stone unturned in its quest to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous robberies in our highways are put behind bars once and for all. The PM would also like to strongly dismiss the rumors in certain sections of the press that he knows this guy. Raila, as the PM, pretty much adds anybody as a friend on social sites.”

My family of course would wonder what I lacked that I exposed them to such public ridicule and soiled the family name.

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No, I couldn’t let this happen, so I dashed home, forgetting about my four o’clock date. It wasn’t like she was flying abroad soon; besides, I didn’t have any more cash to burn. After I gave him another three hundred on top, voluntarily, as my sign of good will, I ran across the alleys and only looked back when I got home. I don’t know why I dint try out my phone even in the matatu. I guess I was worried that the former owner could be the person next to me.

When I eventually did and it refused to open, I remember thinking then that it was supposed to boot with another button and not just the traditional red key. However after virtually trying all the other keys including the numerical buttons 1-9, it hit me, hard! I had been beaten at my own game. And as if on cue, I pulled the casing aside and inside lay one shilling coin adding up to twenty one. Just ten shy of a tea scone from Tuskys supermarket. Strangely, I dint get worked up, a sly smile played across my lips as I dumped the phone case and kept the twenty one bob as souvenir. Maybe my elementary psychiatric training came in handy. I had bought a phone case (now destroyed and discarded)) and 21 bob inside for 2300!

They say fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I have tinkered with a lot of ways of getting back at this guy who made a mockery of my two digit A’s in UNIPLUS so far. The population of Nairobi is not going to make it easier though. Nevertheless, I still have a plan, River Road guys, am declaring war on all the merchants of impunity doing there. Varaq Dollazzo! If I lost you there, that’s just Serbian for am coming. I can’t really tell you about classified information lest you Miguna me. All I can say for now is all just be giving them a dose of their own medicine.

It’s a good thing I have a lot of activities to get engrossed in. The soccer fiesta that is the EPL just kicked off and then there is the opening of the semester. Naysayers have written off Arsenal this season because their best player Alex Song and some other player, can’t really remember his name, left but that is just a mere set back. I look forward to the new semester. First though I need to find my “till semester do us part”.

Hasta la proxima! (That’s just Spanish for till next time). We can’t just get comfortable in our Bukusu and elementary English, now can we?


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