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This work of fiction, inspired by actual events, is my submission for Friday Fictioneers that is ably hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

You can read about Friday Fictioneers at the end of this post.

Join us.

Below is the picture prompt for this week and below that is my story.

Picture copyright Janet Webb

Priorities

2013-10-18-photo-88

Peter and his daughter Janice queued patiently at the supermarket till, finally buying the toy that Janice had long agitated for.

“Daddy,” Janice said “I want to go for the cooking event upstairs.”

“I’m sorry, not today. We’re going visiting. We’ll plan and go another day.”

Janice kept silent.

Just as they left the till, there were some loud sounds. It seemed everyone froze, then realisation hit.

Gunshots.

Reactions were varied but all dramatic. Some people screamed, some dropped to the floor.

More gunshots.

Peter grabbed Janice and made a crouching run for the exit.

Their purchase no longer mattered.

—-

100 words

You can read pieces by other participants here:

I read all your comments and I appreciate them, even if I take long to respond and even if I do not respond to each comment individually.

Comments

This story is inspired by actual events here in Nairobi. I am yet to write a longer blog post about that, but for now, here are a few links.

(If I don’t get lazy, I may write a longer fictional piece on that terrorist attack).

http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/oct/04/westgate-mall-attacks-kenya-terror

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westgate_shopping_mall_attack

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/10337908/Revealed-American-family-rescued-by-hero-of-attack-on-Nairobis-Westgate-mall.html

2013-10-18-photo

Photo credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

About Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers is a group that works as follows:

Every week you get a picture.

Prompted by that picture, you write a piece of fiction that is 100 words long (or as close as you can get).

You add a link to your story on the Fictioneers page, and read the (awesome) stories by the other Friday Fictioneers.

Feel free to join us! Everyone is welcome.

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Kenya will be holding General Elections on Monday 4th March 2013. I urge all Kenyans who registered as voters to go and vote. Interest is highest in the Presidential race. There are two main contenders, each with passionate supporters, and those supporters will almost certainly go and vote for their preferred aspirant on Monday. There are also six other candidates running for President.

Some people may feel that the candidate they want does not stand a realistic chance of winning and those who are undecided. It is these groups that I want to address.

Even if you think your candidate is unlikely to win, go and vote.
You have two options, and whichever one you pick, your vote will count: Vote for the candidate you want, even if he or she will not win, or vote for one of the two main contenders (If you think they are both bad, choose the ‘lesser evil.’). Either way, please Go and Vote.

The reason I say you should still vote for your choice even if you think they will not win is simple: The Constitution requires that to be elected President, one must win more than 50% of the votes cast. That means that to win, one must get more votes than the other competitors combined. In other words, for every vote cast for the competitors, the winning candidate must get a matching vote and in the end at least one extra vote. So by voting, you will make the winner have to earn their victory.
To put it yet another way, the higher the total number of votes cast, the more votes a candidate must have in order to win (It is harder to get 50% of 14 million votes than to get 50% of 5 million votes). So, your vote does count. Please Go and Vote.

If we go to a run-off, then you will have only two candidates to choose from. Choose the one you prefer, or choose the one you dislike less, but again, go and vote. Failing to vote makes it easier for either to win.

If you do not know who is vying for which position in the place where you registered to vote, you can go to
http://vote.iebc.or.ke/
http://info.mzalendo.com/ and get a list of the aspirants.
You can also go to myaspirantmyleader.com, but I find the mzalendo site easier to use.

Go and vote on Monday.

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Seeing that this blog is described as Baba Amor’s Thoughts, it would be remiss of me not to share my views on some specific, recent happenings here in Kenya.
This is based on news reports:
On Saturday 10th November, a group of about 107 police officers entered Suguta Valley in Samburu, Kenya in pursuit of cattle rustlers.
They were shot at, allegedly by the rustlers.
Several of the police officers were killed, some fled and some were left lying wounded.
It is reported that some of those wounded remained there and died, even as late as Monday (about 48 hours after the shootings). Other survivors were found by some children who were herding cattle.
The death toll currently stands at 42 policemen.
Let me say that again: Fourty Two policemen killed.

Some of the bodies remained there until Tuesday or thereabouts, when the government finally went to collect them and also transported some of the survivors to Nairobi.
The relatives of the police officers were not kept well updated, and some had to go to the valley to identify the bodies of their relatives.
The police commissioner refused to resign, saying the responsibility for the operation lay with his juniors in the field.
Naturally, the minister in charge of the relevant ministry did not resign.
Kenya’s military has been sent to the valley. Residents of the area are reported to be fleeing or to have fled, because the bad reputation of the army in such situations, or fearing some form of reprisal.

Picture from Nation Media Group

My thoughts:
It is apalling that a police mission can be so poorly organised that 42 officers are killed in one incident
It is extremely bad that the police left the wounded to die in the valley
It is sad that the bodies of the dead were left there until they began decomposing.
It is bad to put the bereaved relatives through the anxiety of not knowing what the status of things is.
It is regrettable that no one was fired over this tragic loss of life
It speaks volumes if the police are unable to protect even themselves. Are they able to protect ordinary citizens?

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You may want to read Part 1 here.

—-

Image courtesy of mack2happy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There were shoes outside the door. A man’s shoes. Not his. He stood the bicycle against the wall, took off his own shoes and pushed the door. It opened. He could hear sounds in the house. Suppressed laughter. Coming from the bedroom. Margaret’s voice. A male voice as well.
Frederick walked towards the bedroom in his socks. At first he tried not to make any noise then he reminded himself that this was his house. The other man was the intruder, not him.
The two voices fell silent.
“Someone’s coming,” Frederick heard the male voice say. Was that fear he detected in the voice?
Frederick pushed open the bedroom door.
Margaret was standing next to the bed towards its foot. She had partly turned to see who was at the bedroom door. Facing her, and near the head of the bed, was a tall young-looking man. He had also half turned towards the door. Frederick and Margaret’s son was asleep in his small bed at the foot of his parents’ bed.
“Hello Fred,” Margaret said. “You scared us”
“Who is this?” Frederick asked, eyes fixed on the tall stranger.
“This is my cousin Tom,” said Margaret. “I was just showing-”
“Cousin, eh?” said Frederick with a sneer. “In our bedroom?”
Margaret was silent for a moment. Perhaps surprised by Frederick’s apparent anger. Or perhaps feeling caught.
“Tom IS my cousin,” she said. “He dropped in to visit. I was showing him the design of our bed. He recently moved out of home and wants to have a bed made.”
“Get out of my bedroom,” Frederick said to the alleged cousin.
The man turned towards the door, but did not get out.
“You will wake up the baby,” said Margaret.
“Don’t tell me how to talk in my own house and you and this ‘cousin’ were laughing in here!” said Frederick, his voice louder than before.
“Don’t yell at her,” said Tom.
“Oh, you are defending her, are you?”
“Don’t yell at him. You will wake up the…”
“And YOU are defending him?”
Frederick moved towards his wife.
Tom held him by the shoulder and restrained him. The movement caused Frederick’s socks to slip on the PVC carpet. His arms waved. Tom caught him before he could fall.
“I thought I told you to get out!” Frederick said, embarrassment feeding his anger.
“Are you drunk?” Tom said.
There was silence.
Margaret moved away from the two men and towards her sleeping son’s bed.
“What did you say?” Frederick asked, standing straight and looking at the taller man directly in his eyes.
“You seemed a bit unstable.”
Frederick, a teetotaler, felt his blood boil.
He strode out of the bedroom, through the sitting room and into the kitchen. He saw a knife in the sink and took it. He went back to the bedroom.
Margaret seemed to be urging the young man to leave. The man was unwilling to go.
“He might hurt you,” the man said to her.
When they saw the knife, they both froze for a moment.
Tom lunged towards Frederick.
“No!” Margaret leaped towards Tom, trying to hold him back.

Frederick instinctively raised his arm and moved to his left, dodging Tom. He stood next to the still-sleeping child’s bed, facing his wife and the stranger in his bedroom.
“Tom, just leave” Margaret pleaded.
“I have to get that knife.”
Tom lunged again and Frederick turned his back towards him. Frederick extended his arms to keep the knife out of Tom’s reach. The two men struggled next to the child’s bed. The arm bearing the knife was pushed violently downwards. The knife plunged. Deep.
Margaret screamed.
Realisation sank quickly.
Tom now turned and ran out of the bedroom.
Frederick felt as if he would lose control of his bowels.
Margaret was kneeling next to the child’s bed. She was making strange sounds – half crying, half talking.
She threw off the covers and confirmed her fears. She took her son’s body in her arms and started sobbing. Her cries sounded animal-like. Like the moaning of a cat.
Frederick sat on the floor. He felt sick. His hands were shaking. He got up. He ran out of the bedroom. He ran out of the house. He did not know if he was running after Tom or running away from the nightmare in his house. He just ran. He ran past neighbours drawn to his house by Margaret’s cries. He ran on, even as he heard shouts that someone should catch him.

John drove towards the town. Music was coming from the lorry’s radio. It was a good thing there were many radio stations to choose from nowadays. Cocotea was singing.
Go home to your mama, your mama
Go home to your papa, your papa
You’re too young to be my lover
“Maggy,” John said to himself. “You are not too young to be my lover.”
She certainly was not too young, but she was married. John would see if he could visit her again today and try to make her comfortable being around him. Then he could work on making her actually like him.
Someone dashed onto the road. John slammed the brakes so hard that he lifted himself off his seat. It was too late. The thud-crunch sound of the impact made John’s stomach turn. He leaped out of the driver’s cabin and reached the body at the same time as a crowd that had apparently been pursuing the dead man. He looked at the body of the man. It was covered in sweat. He had no shoes and his socks looked like he had been running in them for a considerable distance.

The end.

This story is based on an actual news story. Sorry I lost the newspaper cutting.

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022 – Twisted

Frederick felt powerless. He always felt this way with Margaret. He was always eager to fulfill her wishes. He wanted to make her happy. She was so good to him. Meeting her on the evenings when he did always made him feel warm inside. She seemed to feel the same way too and always made effort to finish her chores at home, where she lived with her parents, so that she could see him whenever he found time from his place of work.

Image courtesy of mack2happy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two years after their simple wedding, Frederick longed for the good feelings of the early days of their relationship. Living expenses had gone higher and he was struggling to feed his family. He loved his wife and their one year old son and he wanted to see them well provided for and happy. However, Margaret had been complaining of late that he was not conversing with her as much as he used to before. This was probably true. Nowadays he would get home feeling rather tired, having passed by one place or another to try and find means by which he could boost his income. His small family depended on him, since they had decided that Margaret would stay at home and raise their son, rather than have her look for a job, then they look for and probably pay someone to take care of their son. This tiredness made him less talkative. He usually preferred to listen to Margaret talk, and he made a few responses from time to time. He hoped soon things would be alright, that he would increase his income and that he and his wife would be able to have long and happy conversations planning their future.

Something other than his income was gnawing Frederick’s mind at the moment. During one of his business-seeking ventures, a local trader had asked him about a certain lorry driver.
“Why don’t you talk about this to that driver who comes to your house?”
“Which driver?” Frederick had said.
“The tall, dark one who transports things from Kisii town.”
“I don’t know any such driver.”
“Oh, ok. I saw him once at your door, and another time I saw your wife heading towards his lorry” the trader said. “I thought maybe he was a friend of yours or you were doing some business together.”

Frederick had asked Margaret about this driver, but she had said she did not know any such person. Frederick did not know what to believe. He had never had reason to doubt anything Margaret had told him, but on the other hand, he did not see why the trader would make up any stories about the driver. Margaret’s recent complaints, coming after the conversation with the trader, seemed to be a sign of trouble.

A little investigation had informed Frederick that the driver in question usually came into town on Tuesdays and Fridays.

It was Friday. The owner of the shop where Frederick worked was not in today because he had traveled to attend a funeral. Frederick had decided to take this opportunity to attempt to settle this question of whether or not the driver usually visited his house. He asked his colleague to take over his work for the rest of the day.
As he rode his bicycle home, thoughts raced through his mind. Supposing the driver did not visit today? Frederick would still have no way of knowing the truth. Would he pressure Margaret to confess? But what if there was nothing to confess? What if he found the driver in the house? What would Frederick do? Confront him? Confront Margaret? Leave their home? Send Margaret away? If he and Margaret parted, what would happen to their son?
He took the last turn to his house. He could see the door. He dismounted the bicycle and pushed it up the path towards the house. His hands were getting sweaty. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest.

————

To be continued.

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The power of a man increases steadily by continuance in one direction. He becomes acquainted with the resistances and with his own tools; increases his skill and strength and learns the favorable moments and favorable accidents.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

There was a 38-year-old woman running in the London 2012 Olympics 10,000 metre finals. To put this in perspective, David Rudisha, who set his third world record in the men’s 800 metres, is 23. Timothy Kitum, who was 3rd in Rudisha’s record-setting race, is 17.

So to see a 38 year old in the same Olympics, though running a different race, was very pleasing to me. Ok, I admit, it is partly because I will be 38 next month 🙂
I later established that the lady’s name is Joanne Pavey, of Great Britain.

There was also a 40-year-old discus thrower, Virgilijus Alekna, who finished fourth.

Now, remember, these are Olympic-level athletes. They are among the world’s best. Many of us do not expect to take part in the Olympics (and if you do get there, remember  me 🙂 ). We just exercise for fun and to keep fit and healthy, among other benefits. So if a 17 year-old can do it, then you are not too young. If a 38-year-old can do it, then you are not too old. If a 40-year-old can be an Olympics finalist, then you are not too old.
You only need to do you best. Don’t let your age (or other factors) discourage you from doing your best.

I remember seeing a book titled ‘All You Can Do Is All You Can Do, But All You Can Do Is Enough.’ There is a lot of truth in that statement.

Also, I read that the runners who were in the same race with David Rudisha, each either set a personal best or a season’s best in that race. This shows the power of influence. When running with a star, they seem to have put in a little bit extra. So be aware of the company you keep. Hang out with people who will inspire you to do better, to achieve more, to reach higher. Even merely watching those runners inspired me to write this post! 🙂

Choose your company well. Keep going.
All the best!

Links:
http://www.all-athletics.com/node/421308
http://jopavey.com/statistics/

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In my last post, I said that Kenyan’s hopes were on the World Record holder David Rudisha.Well, last night he set another world record and got Kenya another gold medal.

Many Kenyans were overjoyed!

Timothy Kitum, a 17-year-old Kenyan, got the bronze medal in the same race.

Well done to both of them.

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The Olympic games are on! My wife and I have been watching some of the broadcasts on good old KBC. (I wanted to make that a link but apparently their web site has been compromised and currently poses a security risk to visitors).

It seems Proctor and Gamble and Ecobank are the (only) ones sponsoring the broadcasts. So we are shown the same adverts over and over, and sometimes they just show a screen telling us what’s coming next. This screen stays on for minutes at a time. Wasted advertising opportunity if you ask me.

So yesterday we watched as once again Kenya failed to clinch a gold medal in a distance-running event. From reactions on Facebook, many Kenyans shared our disappointment.

Comments were many and varied:

Joy:  yaani…..even the Kenyans who defected aren’t winning..!!! Not even the Ugandans?? Kuna kitu for sho!!!!!

Ones: Ati world champion! World champion frm behind.

Ann: For a moment there I wished Kenya Power had not restored elec in our estate…. ningelala mapema! What!!

Amondi: Thank You Lord for Kemboi and his scrawny self!

(Kemboi is a Kenyan runner who won a gold medal in the 3,000m steeplechase. Kenya’s only gold medal so far)

Gichiah: Yani guyz went for holiday na sisi tujiambiage tuko na team London!!!

Millie: I think this time we sent over Harambee stars not the Kenyan olympic team to the Olympics…wah!

Ndungu: Ni vile wakimbiaji wetu wako busy Somali.

James: Where are the medals?

Johnstone: R we serious?

(I assumed he was talking about the Olympics. maybe he was talking about something else)

Abraham: tumeshindwa. Ptooo!

Some even suggested that these non-wins could be deliberate.

It is bad enough being beaten by the usual suspects – Ethiopians and North Africans, but I was taken aback that the Kenyans were beaten by a guy with a Latino name! One Leonel Manzano, running for the USA, came in second after the Algerian middle distance runner Taoufik Makhloufi.

Similarly, in the men’s 10,000m, the American Galen Rupp, came in second, beating the Kenyans in the race. Rupp is white.

Kenya’s hope now rests on 800m world record holder, David Rudisha, among others.

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Kenya is considering a new constitution. The Church has some objections to the Draft Constitution. The media has been claiming that the Church opposes abortion if the life of the mother is in danger. That is NOT true.

Below is the issue with abortion.

Article 26 says:
1) Every person has the right to life
2) The life of a person begins at conception
3) A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorised by this Constitution, or other written law.
4) Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Now, the problem is in Clause 4.
The problems are these:
Problem 1) The clause does not define ‘trained health professional’
That means a nurse, a clinical officer or even a psychologist can be called a trained heath professional.

Problem 2) The phrase “There is need for emergency treatment” is not restricted to treatment related to the pregnancy.
So, if a mother needs emergency treatment of her toe, then she can abort, even if the sick toe is not affecting the pregnancy.

Problem 3) The words ‘or health’ are ambiguous.
The World Health Organisation defines health at this link:
http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html/
and says
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

So, if a psychologist says that a baby will endanger the social well-being of a woman, then the woman can abort.
Or if a nurse says that a pregnant woman will experience anguish because she wanted to get a Masters degree before getting a baby, then their mental well-being is in danger and they can abort.

This is effectively abortion on demand

Problem 4) the clause ‘or any other written law’ means that 50 members of Parliament can be in the House, pass a new law by simple majority, and abortion will be legal, thus nullifying all the other clauses prohibiting abortion.

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