In 'The boat will not move,' George and his uncle make a deal with the spirits of the lake however things changed and he must break the deal to be free. Will the truth really set him free? Plus five more short stories.
Excerpt from The cornered vulture:
As usual, they stood on the road waiting for their dues. The women paid them and they allowed the handcarts to pass. Bicycle and motor cycle operators were not spared either. It would be easier to catch a black cat in the dark than pass through them without payments. Atieno noticed one of them looking at her but she avoided eye contact. Once it was their turn to pass, the young man in a blue cap moved closer to them like a lion ready to pounce on its prey and she almost froze in fear. She had heard of their ruthlessness and brutality towards her community and prayed she would not be another victim. The man collecting the fee stretched his hand and Atieno’s mother gave him three hundred shillings.
“Welcome” he smiled at them.
“See me later,” the man in the blue cap told Atieno. She looked at him, nodded and hurried to catch up with her mother. They followed the dusty road down and up the valley to her mother’s shack where she sold groceries. As Atieno helped her mother arrange the vegetables, she kept replaying what the man at the gate told her. It was more of a command than a request coming from a stranger. He had bloodshot eyes and the liquor was quite strong in his breath. She decided she would see him in the afternoon since her sister would be around to help her mother.
“When will this madness stop?” her mother sighed.
“It’s beyond us mother,” she reminded her.
The country was experiencing instability because of disputed election results but the ghettos suffered the most because the dwellers had turned their homes in to battlefields. The residents of Mathare turned against each other and as a result, people grouped themselves ethnically and became territorial. Atieno was Luo and so did the major presidential candidate that claimed there elections were heavily rigged. His opponent was Kikuyu, the second largest tribe and richest tribe in Kenya. Temperatures had reached boiling point since Kikuyu’s living in Western Kenya were evicted and some murdered because of the tension between the two tribes. Luos in Central Kenya camped in police stations because it was safer for them and travelled at night to avoid detection at roadblocks manned by the Kikuyu. In Mathare valley, most residents were the Kikuyu followed by the Luo. The Kikuyu resided at the main road entering the valley and some of the young men set up a roadblock where they demanded money from traders belonging to other communities so they would let them and their goods through. On the bright side, prices of commodities in the Luo dominated area were higher however, on the dark side the young men attacked the vulnerable traders and stole their goods making essential commodities such as bread, milk and groceries scarce in the Luo area. The local police officers had thrown in the towel and the police station remained empty for weeks. Residents of the Luo area literally walked the extra mile to survive since the hiked prices had denied them bus fare and they walked fifteen kilometers each day to the city center and back.
Joy, Atieno’s sister came to the shop and immediately Atieno headed home. She had lunch, went to the shop to buy kerosene, filled the stove and lamps then headed to the roadblock. She saw the men seated on the roadside as she neared the roadblock and her heart thumped so hard as if it was protesting against her decision to meet the man in the cap. The man saw Atieno and walked towards her each step making her more nervous. He looked her from head to toe, she stood still then offered a handshake, and she greeted him
“What’s your name?”
“I am Kamau. You made a wise decision to come and see me otherwise things would be terrible for you if you didn’t”