“When I bought that car, I was excited. It was the first time I was buying a car at slightly over Ksh5 million. This was a big deal for me. Young, a new marriage, baby on the way, a dream car. It was all exciting. Life was happening like I wanted. The boys would respect me.”
Like any other person looking for a car, Jerry decided to check out online sites. This way, he could have a clue on car bazaars selling anything his style. Sometimes the deals you find are cool.
“I saw this car advertised but it wasn’t attached to any bazaar. I called the contact provided and the car owner picked. We then agreed to meet at Lavington mall as I was working nearby.”
He clears his throat.
“So I meet this decent looking guy and we check out the car. I like it. Plus, it costs me a little less than my overall budgeted money for a car and so I say I’ll deposit some money to his account the next day and the rest in a week.”
Gentlemen behavior, they talk about what they do but while at it, Mr. businessman says something interesting.
“Niko na maadui wengi, unajichunga kidogo.”
He obviously panics but goes ahead and purchases the car. After all, which business person didn’t have enemies. Little did he know that business enemies came on tiers, and this particular tier was quite something.
“On several occasions, my wife and I were trailed. We reported to the police but not much happened. I was in business too so if anything, rivals would do anything to get information from my end. In as much as it shook me, I was somehow convinced that these things just happen either way if you are a business person.”
Being trailed seemed like their new normal and one time while reporting to the police station about a suspicious car they were suspecting, a police officer asked them where the car owner was and why he hadn’t paid protection fees for a while.
“It caught us by surprise. Why would anyone pay for protection fees if they weren’t up to any fishy business? Anyway, we told him we were the new owners. I remember him laughing hysterically and asking ‘mtawezana?’ He’d later hint that using that car would end our lives really quick because of mistaken identity. He didn’t delve into much.”
So they decided to stop using that car for a while as they do their homework. Turned out that the guy was one of those gold dealers of Kilimani. He looked decent. You’d never suspect a thing. He must have duped someone in the business or was taking advantage of someone or maybe he hadn’t paid the so called protection fee and the supposed protectors were after him for their dues.
“One evening, I called him. I told him it would do me a lot of good to return the car and have a refund. We argued. You know the basis of goods once sold and other stories. But my safety and that of my family was at stake! I was however very determined to return the car. I needed my piece of mind. He wasn’t going to threaten me with who he knew because I knew people as well.”
So he sleeps ready to return the car next morning.
“I left home, ran errands and my day was just busy. We didn’t meet at the agreed time but settled on 7pm as I’d run late in my last meeting for the day. I was leaving Karen and again, a car I’d noted, was following me. I was determined to get to Roadhouse but slightly past Gecko car wash, a car blocked me and three men approached. One tapped my window with his fingers and the other two positioned themselves on the other doors.”
Things can happen really fast in Nairobi. One minute you are alone, next you are being kidnapped by the road before darkness and next you are dead and no one will care.
“I was going to die either way and the last thing I wanted was to cause an accident by trying to go through all other vehicles going the opposite direction. I gained courage and rolled down all windows then asked what the problem was and why I was being blocked. I’d seen the pistol on his waist and I knew death was coming either way. The guy on my side asked me ‘ako wapi Mwenye gari?’ I calmly said I’d bought the car from a bazaar and I didn’t know who the real owner was. I had a few seconds to convince them as I awaited my death. Meanwhile, a traffic snarl-up was building because of us and so there was hooting and more hooting.”
Nairobi gangs have guts. You follow up and stop someone in the middle of a busy road?
“The guy on my side of the window said, ‘rudisha hii gari. Utakula risasi bure tu.’ Then he nodded to the others and they walked away. I drove and stopped at Valley Arcade. I wanted to leave the car there but I told myself that the worst that could happen would be a different gang stopping me or shooting at me because the same gang would probably be strategizing on better ways to find Mr. businessman. “
Mr businessman was waiting at Roadhouse already.
“He told me he was sure I’d take back the car-well, if I managed to be alive by then. He was trying to dispose the car and he hoped to get a buyer from a different town but when I showed up, he said, every man for himself. Anyway, he gave me my money in cash, in dollars and I gave back the keys. He got into a different car leaving that one at the parking. As I got into the taxi, my only hope was that the money would be real. But even if it wouldn’t be, I’d be glad to have lost money and not life.”