We met in high school. Back in the days when monolization was legal and students had better things to do other than torch their dormitories. I first saw him during the admission day, two places ahead of me on the queue but he never saw me then. He was sophisticated, probably from the city. He had cool shoes and admission requirements, ones that do not make it to the dorm. My admission requirements were old-fashioned; an atlas by Philips brothers, cream tush bed sheets, a packet of caterpillar Y-front underwear, sugar in clear bag, sachet cocoa and no blue band, and green tissue paper, all in my brother’s metal box. The box’s new coat of blue paint did well to hide the rusty parts but left it looking like those Dandora buses that operate from Muthurwa bus station. My shoes were a bit worn thanks to wearing them during K.C.P.E and throughout the irua. Other students watched me eerily and exchanged glances and wily frowns,” The caveman finally made it here, and he looks set to make good grades, masomo pekee.” How I managed past term one is a miracle. Ghad! I miss the days in Kagumo High. I watched in dismay as our subject went through the checkup. Atlas, latest edition by oxford, beddings from Woolworths, Adidas boxers, Sugar, milo, milk powder, peanut butter, plum jam and a hell lot of other stuff I could not pronounce then, Horlicks, how do you say that when straight out of DEB primary school. He smiled at the teachers and they smiled back. His name was Roni.
I met Roni again three weeks after admission. Surprisingly, he still had the shoes, a watch and a smile. Form ones could not afford a smile then but Roni had one that ran straight through his face. He was beautiful, no homo. This time he saw me, maybe he saw a mole that was me. Worn out and dusty from doing form one work. Roni was a sure high class right from the way he lead his life. He for sure would make school captain, we thought, but Roni was more than it took the eye to see. He was reticent and held an amazing aura that made us stop and listen when he spoke. He knew it was U-S-I-U when we all spelt it usiu. While we danced in the dark, Roni had seen the light and knew that pursuing Community Organization was a notch higher than the stereotyped Medicine and Engineering.
He chose rugby, I found myself in hockey and we became friends on and off the pitch. His father was a director in the Kenyan embassy in the States, the son was my friend, that was perhaps the highest i will ever go. Roni was a Kisii and an Adventist. All Kisii’s are Adventists, thus the songs, no pun. He was the simplest person I have met. When I was flat broke, he bought me a mini loaf and offered me his sugar. I mean who is more a brother than one who shares an avocado with you. He exorcised the caveman in me and even allowed me to use his pick-up line when approaching girls.
“Hey,I am Jogoo Kimakia. And I want to marry you now.” It was absurd but it always worked. For girls, you just need confidence and shrewdness, he taught me that too. He was the smart and macho one, I was the bright one thus as he modernized and renovated me, I worked on his chemistry.
We met again in campus, he was dropping something at City Square post office and I was homing after classes and we walked to Heritage Cafe near Zetech-he was buying. He had joined K.U to pursue a course in International Relations but was leaving for the States. His Yale application had gone through, so F-word K.U. He never said that, I did. I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me.
“Hey, may I see your passport?” the officer at the immigration desk requested politely.
Roni Okwemba Magati
Year of Completion 2019
It was the beginning of a routine. Forever black would define him
The Black Student. Member of the Black Student’s Association. The Black’s Party. The black student’s prom. Black army. And when you made it, The Black President.
And he would wear it around his neck and even shout,” hey am black. Obama is black too.” But later in his room, he would strip off the coat of confidence, sink in his bed and remember Nairobi. He would dream about the days of walking around without attracting cat-calls, fiery eyes, accusations and flying bananas. He would hear the echoes of black laughter, one that reverberates for long and ends in a shrill,,,hahahaha heng’o.(People from Central take five)All in his crib, alone, listening to some black music. He would slave trying to explain that Kencom is as safe as Times Square. He will die having to explain that there is no witchcraft in Kenya, and that Nigeria is a country not the capital of Africa.
Last year he came to showcase student opportunities abroad during a diaspora event I also attended as a delegate. His poise, newly acquired steady gaze and wide smile disguised the sorrow beneath. There was so much America deprived him. He was pursuing law, like any other humanitarian black student. Dreams and ambitions fueled his soul but fate and circumstance crippled his feet. He wanted to be a champion for the black and oppressed, he needed to be the solution to all the problems the black faced. I could tell that within the first five statements after the niceties. He was closely monitoring a case, attending its every public hearing and Jury sessions. The defendant was a 26 year old Sierra Leone woman. Let’s call her Omichè. Omichè worked in the home of a Wall Street lawyer, Mr. Woods, an untouchable partner in those blue chip law firms. Her work was simple; she did laundry or rather oversaw the machines do the cleaning, and mopped the bungalow. You know what such kind of life does to black women. The partner also noticed. I mean such a dark juicy grape would not escape the eye of a man, and all he wants to do is feel it between the fingers and eat it up. Johnnies have this weird approach to women; he bought her a Louis Vuitton pencil dress during thanksgiving. She was grateful as Africans always accept gifts when there are no strings attached.
That evening, there was an associates, paralegals and friends ball in the house. Omichè was surprisingly on the guest list and she wore the black and white dress given to her earlier and four-inch-high stilettos in the quest to match with the wealthy visitors. She fit in well, and the dress did more to exaggerate her curves making every male want a dance with her. Dinner was a four course, and she made herself comfortable, for once she enjoyed the American party. She even did a glass of martini to experience the American Dream. She ate, observing exemplary etiquette and Mr. Woods was intrigued. She was a peon but had the mannerism and touch of a high born. He wanted to see more of her nobility, perhaps when they were alone. She felt a leg push up between her thighs and looked up to a greedy, grinning face.
“Any Problem Monsieur Woods,” her French accent was heavy.
She had the guts, just his kind.
“None at all, Madame Omichè. You look mighty fine tonight,” he winked and pushed his leg further up.
She was alarmed; the leg was traveling up faster than she could stop it. She stood up.
“Excuse me, I …” she ran across the hall, amidst the side glances and hisses by the men and repugnance from their girlfriends and escorts. She made it to the balcony and held to the rail, recuperating and cursing heavily.
Moments, she felt hands on her back and a body pressed onto her bum. She felt an aroused manhood pushing into her back as long hands crept quickly to her breasts.
“Thanks for creating time for two of us alone. I do to you what you do to me, it seems so.” The voice said, and two teeth bit her earlobe lightly.
She turned and in one strong swing lifted the heavy male up and released him over the guard rail. The 232 pounder Mr. Woods flew hurting towards the car park and crushed head first on the concrete. A loud explosion followed, no cry, lights flashed to the direction of the sound then up to a black lady. She held her mouth in awe and watched as blood formed around the silent, motionless and very dead Wood. A couple of minutes later camera flicks, wailing sirens and incessant blue and amber light flashes came from the N.Y.P.D cars followed. The tap on her back, the arrest statement, the clicking of cuff links, the push on her head to board the police car, the cat calls, spits and phlegm, and insults happened to her like a dream, or like a recap from a movie.
She came back to her senses when at the police station, she saw herself on TV just moments ago. It’s all in black and white; she was a murderess, the queen of death or the felon in a horror movie. The shock from the ordeal, the ruthlessness from the cops and the media prejudice replayed several folds in her mind. Nobody dropped to see her in the cell, the court-chosen lawyer was not enthusiastic facing the team from Wall Street and Omichè was slowly going down the drain. The case grew in popularity and complexity, many lawyers wanted to defend her. The white ones wanted either to destroy her totally or create a name for themselves. The daily routine in the remand was “Someone wants to see you.”
She walks to the visitors’ room and finds a bespectacled white lawyer with a hell lot of files. She wanted one of her kind, someone she could relate to and first cry on their shoulder.
Roni wiped a tear.
I held mine back.
I sat back in meditation, the events of what would ensue fore played in my grey matter.
Omichè would be charged with capital murder, one of intent, malice and spite. The final and verdict hearing would be the next day and the court chosen defense lawyer will tell her,” Please plead guilty. The judge will be lenient enough to sentence you to a five year jail term. It’s the best bargain you can get on the land.”
“What if I want the case listened in my homeland?” An already desperate and agitated Omichè will cry.
“Due to the nature of the offence, first degree murder, that will not be possible.” The lawyer will reiterate in a flat tone. Reality will beckon her; even her lawyer will have convicted her before the final hearing and the verdict. He will make it worse by rubbing it on her face. She will be fighting a lost battle; even the zeal to appear in court will be lost.
“You have been found guilty for capital murder and this court, by the laws of this country, sentences you to life imprisonment. You have fourteen days to appeal the case.” The heavily bearded judge will read the conviction statement and hit the gavel. The litigators will exchange a high five and leave the court room with their heads held high. They had won it for Wall Street; they had won it for the Whites. Outside two alleys will be formed, one will be jubilant, comprised of the complainants and kin placing congratulatory pats on the lawyers’ back for a job well done. The lawyers will be looking forward to signing up new clients for a job well done, make partnership and continue their billing on hours. The second alley will stand in silence, waiting for the clown. She will emerge after a while, head cast down and escorted to the awaiting prison bus destined for Indiana Women’s Prison by beefy white officers. In her walk of atonement, she will receive all kinds of reaction. A soulful cry will emerge from her mother. The older woman will break into a frenzied dash to embrace her daughter for one last time but the officers will block her path. A band of journalists will press forward with their cameras and microphones but she will remain silent. An old white lady will fight her arthritis, rush forward and yell
“Go to hell bitch!” and spit on her clothes. Omichè will neither fight nor look up. At the end of the alley, a young black lad will stand unshaken. Omichè will look up for the first time, amidst the worries and darkness, and the discerning look on the boy’s face will illuminate her heart. Yes, you will come looking for me. Omichè will affirm the statement on the boy’s face to herself. That boy is Roni.
To all Omichès in there. We bleed for you.