BORN TO STEAL

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Victor is the kind of guy that keeps to himself. Little traffic is ever seen in his house, he is perfectly isolated from the world. He lives in a plot in one of the Nakuru ghettos.  He is a stub of a man, a short but muscular man in his mid-twenties; he has scars that looked like those one would get from constant brawls at the local drinking den, giving him the look of a very hard man. Not even the sun baked dark African skin can hide them. He is a scary sight to behold, a fresh new wound has formed over an almost healed scab on his right temple, testament to the previous days revelry, he is a man that solves his problems by squaring off.
Contrary to expectation, he is a family man. He has a wife and two sons and they seem to be living an averagely good life. His home is neatly furnished, a small glass table, woolen sofas, a thick polyester carpet, a Zuku decoder, DVD, flat screen TV, the kind of things you’d find in a Kenyan middle class family. Nets are hung on the walls to the small sitting room, hiding the bad paint job. It feels warm, a total contrast to the killing, starving, disease and poverty stalking around his home.
Like most men his age, he has a grand vision of what he wants to be. He has gone over the plan countless times -get enough money and go legit-. He constantly toys with the idea of buying a big car, like those politicians come with during the campaign period. He would love for his children to go to a good school, education, corruption and crime seem to be the only options out of poverty. Even the dying have a dream, maybe one of his children would fight for The Nation one day. A fight against the elements that holds the fate of men on their hands. Elements that give decrees of damnation on the weak, poor and dying majority.
Victors wife barely made it through primary school education, to her, education was  a waste of time. Her path seemed to have been predetermined and she knows it. She is a firm believer in “ujanja wa maisha” wisdom in the simple intricacies of life, “…no school is going to teach that…” she serves her sermon. She readily offers this discourse to anyone that dares to listen; most people however ignore her, perhaps avoiding any evil spirits her mouth might be spewing out. She takes pride in her husband, he provides for the family yet he works only for a few hours in the late shift at the bus terminal, writing receipts for late night bus travellers. She occasionally joins him in the drinking dens. These moments are very special for the two as the lovers drink into the stillness of their time. The sips of the toxic drink, drunk from what was once a tomato sauce can, seem to hold a strange rich taste, a richness of bitterness, one that overshadows life and it troubles.
Victors night always begins at 9.00pm, he says good bye to his family as he heads out to work, stopping at a friends house to pick a few tools, a gun and a very sharp machete. He does not work at a bus terminal, he is a robber and he always meets his accomplice to plan the nights work. Theirs is a professional career, they call themselves mobile thieves. They use motor cycles to survey potential areas for robbery and then strike after thorough fact finding. They sometimes lie in the bushes for hours until the rich victim gets out of his car to open the gate, then they strike forcing the victim into the house. They  then call for transport and a few seconds later a pickup truck pulls up outside the house. They then load anything valuable into the truck and the whole thing is over within minutes. They are good at what they do. It is what provides for his family and for that he is a very dangerous man. Poverty and want are two extreme counselors for a man in Africa, one scolds and the other flatters, both daemons whispering into the inner being.
On this particular occasion, they had set sight on a certain house but nothing went as planned and the victim tried to fight off the attack, he ended up with four shots to the upper body,  all was not lost however as they made away with his car, cars are a bigger fetch. They had killed six people in their career that was now turning five years old. They however felt not even the tiniest bit of remorse; it was all in a days work. They simply keep on stealing.
It was their sad reality of life in Kenya just like most African states, that despite the beauty, richness of life and hope, corruption drips from the face of most success stories in Africa. That people do extraordinary things, evil things to attain success, that Africa is a hard place for a man with strict moral principles. That even on alters of civil rights activism, foreign aid, foreign investments, education and even religion, is the spirit of corruption. Smoking and darkening the hopes of the society.  They had realized that to survive in Africa one has to learn the art of flexibility. Like the first president of Kenya Mzee Jomo Kenyatta said, “Do not carry your problems on leather straps, carry them with straps made of twines of plant fiber, so that when your load gets heavy, the twines will break and your load will fall down”. He was doing what others were doing, stealing. He too was the son of the soil and he wanted his share of the cake. He was just like the officer should be out to arrest him but is busy receiving bribes, or the church minister serving his bank or the politician eating of what we the poor have toiled for. It is the way of life in our societies.
I would equate victor to a breast feeding mother, chained to a pole, with her breasts exposed, bursting with life and milk, but kept away from her baby. The milk itches her, threatening to burst out of its confinement, yet the baby cries of hunger and cold, and the mother has to ask the tyrant that had so mercifully made this terrible ruling, to kill her baby to save her from the mental torture.
Life was meant to be a gift, full of fun, dignity, love and hope, but mankind has fallen sick to want, he thinks too much and feels too little. He has created machineries that act for the good of the few and exploit the poor. To man, having enough for himself is not enough liberation, for liberation is not deliverance. To a man like victor, one gets freedom from prison but not from the sentence of want.
-Antony mwangi

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