So, I’m Standing Here…

 Kevin Mwachiro  was preparing for a marathon, in the best of shape for a man in his forties when his lower back started acting up. It would be the beginning of an agonising and life awakening journey of survival against multiple myeloma;  a blood cancer that occurs in the plasma cells of the bone marrow. He found himself in a fight for life that he did not even know he had been training for.

 

Words: Kevin Mwachiro

When I got diagnosed with cancer, many people told me once I got through with this journey I would be different. Back in November last year(2015), I didn’t know what to expect and was dismissive of such statements. I just wanted to get on with it. My biggest fear then was chemotherapy and how I was going to pay for my treatment.

Ati, different?? There was no time to think of different.

However, this journey does leave you different, and when you do come through, you look at life with a new perspective. Don’t be rushing to me to ask what the meaning of life is, nor will I be heading to the hills to set up a commune. But, there is something profound in this journey.

However, I’m here. Like I said once before, hugging life, and I’ve been reflecting, and I will admit in the privacy of my home dancing by myself a lot more. Well, because I can, and I miss being on the dance floor. I’ve also been thinking about this blog and wondering what direction it should take. Is this now my only story? I’m pondering too about my dreams and passions and wanting to make my heart happier. I want it to dance too.

In The Land Of Braves, Carry A Big Stick

Do one brave thing today…then run like hell

Bravery is a word only associated with special forces and male marital confessions. Confessing to your wife about an illicit affair is an act of bravery. Spontaneous bravery, where random men save elderly citizens from burning buildings are rarely heard of in the city.

One has to venture into the countryside where acts of bravery are an everyday affair. Fearless men still prowl the rural thickets. Acts that would be deemed literally foolish in the city are regular fare as a result of an uneasy relationship between man and wildlife.

In the country side,  men are expected to defend their homesteads against any dangers. From lurking cattle thieves, granary plunderers, pesky night runners to wild animals. Real men sleep with weapons besides their beds because when the family faces danger, they are expected to be the first responders and usually the only, line of defense.

Where Only The Brave Survive

I use to sleep with a Somali simi sword under my mattress and a carved club with a knob the size of a baby’s head within reach disguised as tribal art. Fortunately, it has been years since I had to step outside in a vest and shorts wielding a club to repel opportunistic thieves.

I picked up these self defense instincts in circa 90s BC (Before Cellphones), living on the fringes of Kawangare in what is sometimes referred to as Landhies. These typically comprise of rows of one roomed houses with communal bathrooms and toilets located within a single compound, managed by a punitive land lady who rationed power and water. Out in that neihgbourhood, thugs operated with impunity. They arrived in gangs of over 15 men, held the entire plot hostage for hours and not only robbed you, fondled your women but ate up any food they found. Two months later, they would be back to pinch the replacements.

The harassment was cyclic, the land lady helpless and there was a looming mass exodus until a nondescript individual moved into one of the vacant rooms. He was known as “Japolo” a religious devotee from the Legio Maria sect, known for their energized worship ceremonies. he worked as a mason professionally and doubled as a charismatic preacher on the weekend. Japolo had a sinewy body shaped from a lifetime of physical labour and he showed an amicable disposition. Shortly after his arrival, the rude boys returned for another post midnight raid.

Loud noises emanated from the first house in the row and we cowardly prayed in our rooms hoping to endure the torment unscathed and thieves would skip your door. It would take us awhile to realize what was going on outside our securely bolted doors. The rising crescendo of noises turned into a blood curdling scream, followed by what sounded like a stampede. Followed by was an interlude of silence before we had a deeply throat Dholuo accented voice commanding, “Wanaume ote otoke inje” ( all the men step out) repeatedly.

When I eventually stepped outside cautiously, club in hand, the sight was one to behold. Standing out there in the dead of the night was a stark naked Japolo, breathing heavily with a bloodied panga held in a vice grip by his side. There was not a single thug in sight. A nude everyday hero had emerged to save the day.

For a week he was feted like a Don, food always waiting as resident women swooned over their able protector who as we came to conclude slept naked. The thugs did came back once more to salvage their pride but they were repelled because they found all the men had acquired a pair of steel balls and found guts after months of playing victim.

With the increased spate of gun related violence and grenade attacks against innocent civilians, my sword and club feel terribly inadequate as deterrents against radicalized youth tossing about grenades with unnerving ease. As it is the only citizens who enjoy the privilege to bear arms that would serve as a sufficient deterrent against modern day criminals are a demoralized, underfunded police unit, trigger happy APs, ex military personnel, a protected political elite and licensed sports hunters. The rest of us have to put our trust in the lord and hope that we do not end up a statistic.

Meanwhile the other side is awash with illegal firearms, in the hands of criminal elements running circles around the authorities. This makes a rather strong case for a right to self defense when the government fails glaring in its mandate to protect citizens.

Anyone rendered hostage by unabated terror would accept that access to a loaded handgun is lot more reassuring than an empty pronouncement from some official functionary who enjoys 24hour guard at his residence.

What happens to a community when its good men cannot protect themselves from the brutality of evil men. There will always be the odd Japolo. One man can stand up but others have to stand alongside him for one man can only hold out for so long.