Boooooom! It was a sound never heard before in the sleepy, quiet little village market. That was a Kalashnikov, famously known as AK 47. The gun designed by Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov ostensibly to bring peace has been the source of many nights without peace. Every time the AK 47 coughs, there are devastating effects leaving many orphans, widows or widowers. The Kalashnikov is causing havoc. The Kalashnikov is in the wrong hands.
My brother Emmanuel owns and runs a bar called Simbi (meaning near) at Misikhu, a few kilometres from Webuye town. It is a popular joint, always packed with little or no place even to stand. This is because he has a ‘live band’ made up of local musicians who entertain revellers with local Tindikti hits mainly touching on social issues. Others go there to be praised in songs. All one does is to give a few coins to the musicians and they put them on top of the world as they belt out their praises. The two lead musicians are two blind brothers who say they became blind one day on their way to school when lightning struck them leaving them blind but alive. The brothers, known as the Wanundus are so popular in the area because of their creative way of entertaining. Despite their disabilities, they always shock onlookers as they assemble their music equipment made up of jua kali guitars and plastic containers for drums. They then belt out favourite numbers for revellers till the wee hours of the morning to allow their fans to stagger home and catch some sleep.
Not so long ago, my brother received some unwelcomed visitors. The thugs struck at about 9pm. The revellers were busy dancing to live Tindikti music with the two blind brothers belting away popular hits. Interestingly, apart from the two blind musicians, Emmanuel had a watchman commonly known as Bubu (pictured), but his real name, known only to a few, was Mechumo. Bubu, as his name suggested, could neither hear nor speak – he was deaf and dumb, bubu in Kiswahili. (I kept asking Emmanuel how he could hear if anyone was breaking into the premises). Emmanuel told me he has never hired him as a watchman but he has declared himself one and chases away anyone he tries to hire as watchman. The well built Bubu doubled up as Emmanuel’s carpenter (still does) to repair stools, broken on drunkard’s heads, broken beds from lodgings etc.
The thugs announced their arrival as usual by shooting their AK 47 in the air. The sound of the gun sent everyone scampering for safety in the pub. At that time, Bubu was inside the bar watching patrons dancing the night away. He once told me using sign language that he loves watching ‘stupid’ people making funny movements and kept wondering how normal people would just shake their bodies from hearing some sounds. He confided in me that he was so lucky he could not hear anything because to him it was all evil dancing to some stupid sound. Interestingly, Bubu kept complaining about what patrons were doing, telling us they were wasting a lot of time.
Of course Bubu never heard the thunderous sound of the AK 47 because of his disability. Within seconds, the thugs came inside and ordered everyone to lie down, which they did with some wetting their clothes in the process. The blind musicians could only hear the commotion and with their guides diving for safety, all they could do was drop on the floor and wait. They were later to jokingly tell us that they were lucky not to see all that evil because they wouldn’t have taken it in. All this time, Bubu, who was standing with his back to the entrance thought the patrons were performing a routine dancing style because he had not looked over his shoulder. Everyone was down on the floor except Bubu. The thugs thought he was playing a tough guy like in the movies because he was not even turning to look at them. One of the gunmen, (They were three) moved towards Bubu to attack him.
Sensing something was unusual, Bubu quickly looked over his shoulder and was confronted by a sight he had never seen before. As he later narrated, he realised this was no policeman but an enemy. The thugs moved fast to attack Bubu. When he saw one of the thugs was going to hit him with the butt of the gun, Bubu moved fast and literally lifted the gunman off the ground, bringing him back with a heavy thud and embarked on thoroughly flattening his face. The gun dropped from the thug’s hands. A story in the village has it that when you provoke a deaf and dumb fellow, they can never stop hitting you till they see blood. That is what happened. The other two thugs were for sometime dumbfounded and were about to take to their heels but on realising that no one was coming to Bubu’s assistance, they decided to help their now bloody, gunless mate.
They hit Bubu with a blunt iron bar on the head leaving a gaping hole. Bubu collapsed on the now very weak thug. They helped their mate get to his feet and went about gathering what they could get from the counter, money from pockets of the shocked patrons, watches, mobile phones, shoes and even clothes! They then went for Emmanuel who was holed up in his office, thoroughly beat him with the iron bar leaving him a bloody mess. They then frog-matched him to a nearby petrol station where they robbed petrol attendants who were too shocked to resist.
In the meantime, local Administration Police (APs) stationed at the market had heard the gunshot and were watching from the shadows armed with their G3s. As they were later to tell us, the sound of AK 47 always scares them. One of them tried to aim at the thugs from the shadows and missed prompting a heavy fire from the thug’s machine gun. On hearing the thunder of the gun again, two APs took to their heels, leaving one brave one called Ingoi hiding behind a tractor packed at the petrol station. The thugs literally sprayed the tractor leaving tyres in threads. Ingoi, shielding behind the rim just used three bullets to gun down the three thugs. He then marshalled support from whoever could be found to take Emmanuel and Bubu to a nearby hospital.
When we got to the scene the following day in the morning, we found one on the thugs still alive and pleading for mercy. Ingoi’s bullet had gone through his hip bone, tearing off his testicles. As usual, the police too arrived in the morning. There was one bully policeman whom everyone feared because he used to carry a nyaunyo which he unleashed on anyone he suspected to be idle. His name was Ujimoto. On getting to the scene and finding the thug alive, Ujimoto asked us why we hadn’t killed him. He lamented that taking the thug to hospital would cost the government money and also meant that one of them would be forced to keep guard at the hospital bed. Ujimoto then did something weird although no one regretted his action. He asked his colleagues to shield him from the crowd to block their view and quickly pumped two bullets into the thug’s chest killing him instantly. He was also overheard telling them not to tell the boss.
The County Commissioner had been informed of the raid and he arrived on the scene shortly after Ujimoto had finished off the thug. He summoned Ingoi and promoted him to a senior rank on the spot as a reward for his brave act. His colleagues, the two other APs were suspended on the spot pending investigations for being cowards. He prompted laughter by telling wananchi that Ingoi should have also aimed at his cowardly colleagues when he saw them taking to their heels.
Emmanuel was discharged from hospital after about a week. Bubu spent many agonising months in hospital but he eventually came out. He immediately went back to work despite many of us discouraging him. Emmanuel eventually decided just to keep him there still on his payroll as his ‘third eye’. He has played that role very well to date. He keeps Emmanuel informed on all unusual happenings in the premises. He still continues to repair furniture in the premises. He loves narrating his ordeal (of course with sign language) and thanks God that he cannot hear any evil. The two blind brothers have gone on to record hit after hit and they too thank God that they’re not able to see that evil. Reminds me of Richard Pryor’s famous Hollywood Movie, “See No Evil, Hear No Evil”.
- Musakali, Joseph Juma