In Kamiti, Abunuwasi descendants live on

Around the time you were singing about Humpty Dumpty, I was reading and being awed by a tiny, interesting book from the Arab Peninsula, and it was quite a hit.

Now, there lived a character, in the days of Mfalme Herode, whose name I will share shortly. Words such as sly and foxy do not even come close to his exploits.

One fine day, as he sat and agonised about his dwindled fortunes (nowadays we say we are broke), an idea occurred to him. The more he turned it over in his head, the more he smiled at the sheer genius of it all. Presently, he took a chair and placed it facing the entrance, just a few feet into the house. The minute you entered, you faced the chair.

He took a pair of sandals and placed them at the foot of the chair. And at the top of the back rest, he placed a hat.

At a glance, it looked like there was presence on the chair, as evidenced by the hat and sandals.

The fellow then went to town with the rare and glorified announcement that God had visited him and was “at home”.

The entire village came calling, but everyone had to pay an “entrance fee”. The first fellow paid up, went and saw the chair and sandals. As soon as he stepped out, the next bloke on the queue asked him if he had seen God.

Not wanting to appear stupid by having seen only a chair and hat, his response was positive. That fuelled even more curiosity and soon, our genius was pocketing money from every villager.

No one said they hadn’t seen God. How could you be the only one to say you had seen only a chair and hat?

In short, villagers paid money to see nothing, and even proceeded to lie about it. It’s an amazing story, really.

You are free to pass judgement on whether this constituted a form of stealing but Abunuwasi, our genius, never really died. He lives on. At least in spirit.

And his tricks are being perfected every day, with the result that as recently as the last few months, some enterprising Kenyans have been paid millions for supplying air.

And not even jailing some people stops this trickery and thievery. The shenanigans exist even in prison, or maybe that is where they get to have a sort of jamboree. I reckon it is here that they perfect their skills, if you can call stealing a skill. Or is it a talent?

As recently as yesterday, I received a call from a strange number asking of I had registered two lines. My caller claimed to be calling from a certain service provider.

I stopped him short, asking him how come he didn’t know what should be in their records. He terminated the call, but not before calling me a few nasty expletives.

Gullible Kenyans

I am talking about those blokes out there at Kamiti Prison and other gaols across the country, who should be cooling their heels for all manner of crimes.

Instead, they are busy making money from gullible Kenyans, who ironically fund their stay in jail.

With all my wisdom, or lack of it, I am yet to fathom how they acquire new phone lines, regardless of how many are taken from them. My hunch, but don’t quote me, is that there is a degree of collusion but don’t ask me with who.

But let’s be serious, folks. How does one get swindled by a character serving time and leaning against a grimy wall, phone in hand, watched by grinning colleagues with shady pasts?

I can tell you without the fear of contradiction that to con me on phone, you have to word hard. Not even in person have I been swindled. I work too hard for my money to just hand it over to a wily villain who belongs behind bars.

I am trying to tell you that hundreds of years after Abunuwasi, his descendants live on, trying to get to your hard-earned money.

Of course, whether you want to fritter it away like the prodigal son is up to you. But a little wisdom never killed anyone. I am sure you get the drift.

Have a shenanigans-free week, brothers and sisters!

The writer is the special projects editor, People Daily

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