Be Extra Careful Nairobians, Warns Kinyanjui Kombani’s ‘Den of Inequities’ by Peter Ngila

 

I have read countless books. However, I must admit I have a special liking for African books, especially fiction.

African writers tell the African story the way it is, apart from exposing the continent internationally. Interestingly, even while abroad, African writers’ works prominently feature the continent’s themes, plot setting, characterisation and even language.

On seeing an advert of Kinyanjui Kombani’s latest novel, Den of Inequities on Facebook, I managed to get a copy; which honestly I can’t get enough of.

Like Peter Kimani’s Before the Rooster Crows, Den of Inequeities emphatically calls for more Nairobi resident’s caution. Kinyanjui Kombani’s novel is one of those modern books I have read which well-captures Nairobi in words. It exposes the city’s filth.

Omosh, a simple construction site worker, gets into trouble with the police. He is coming from buying a drug for his sick child, Odhis. The police accuse him of being one of two fighters, whom he honestly stops to watch. He becomes conscious when the cops arrest him.

In Kenya, police officers are known to be corrupt. They will never go hungry as long as the citizens exist. They have some other mechanisms of ‘fattening’ their salaries.

Omosh is nabbed with his ‘accomplices’; who are released on bribing the policemen. The cops won’t yield without Omosh ‘talking well’. One of them puts bang on Omosh’s pockets. He is then thrown into jail for the first time in life, where he meets with Gosti – a regular convict. Later in court, Omosh and the other convicts are charged of being ‘drunk and disorderly’ (DD).

Omosh decides to avenge his mistreatment by killing the police. He blames them for all his trouble. The police think it’s the Chama, without carefully noting that the killed officers’ guns weren’t stolen.

Omosh ‘cheats’ death, and literally disappears from the novel’s plot until the last pages. However, his effect is strongly felt all through.

When either of your parents deserts you for years, and in the future wants to come back, you must be doubtful. Gosti’s father, after leaving his family for sixteen years, comes back to ‘reclaim’ his children. Gosti adamantly refuses, even when Jeniffa, his wife, sees this as an avenue to a better life. His father uses him to kill the Chama leaders, so that the old man can head the organization.

Sin exists in the universe. I find Den of Iniquities having a hard lesson for wrong-doers.

Mark Maish is humorously described as being ‘in love’ with Facebook, despite being illiterate. He grabs unconscious passengers’ phones at The Globe Cinema Roundabout ‘before they could click ‘poke’.

Wariah catches Mark red-handed. The policeman advises Mark-the mobile phone snatcher- to get out of Nairobi for good, if he doesn’t want to die. Two months while indoors for Mark feels long. He decides to go back to the world; being sure that Wariah had probably forgotten about him.

Wariah, with his colleague Kisii, arrests and takes Mark to a forest. Under the scapegoat of Operation Fagia (and connecting Mark to the Chama), they order him to call for ransom immediately if he doesn’t want to die. Wariah is furious that he has no more cash to continue playing pool, his favourite game. Kisii also needs money urgently to repair his matatu.

Aileen, the daughter of a minister, is unaware that her father is a member of the Chama, a group which had began as for slum cheaper life provision in the slum. After dumping her boyfriend Alex for Edward, the Chama leader, Aileen isn’t careful enough to investigate the mystery behind Edward’s simple life in campus. Even the National Intelligence Service Boss Bethuel’s advice falls on deaf ears. She discovers everything when curiosity drives her to the Chama’s secret baptismal den.

Many people in Nairobi lose valuables at bus stops. In Den of Inequities, pickpockets enjoy when passengers are scuffling to board matatus. Ras, a double Chama and police informant, empties people’s pockets at Pangani bus stage. He mostly does this during end month, when commuters are struggling for limited space in matatus.

Den of Inequities undoubtedly lectures one to be more careful. Not only in Nairobi, but all African cities. Regardless of being either guilty or innocent, anything can happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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