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By Ken N. Kamoche


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           I walk away from the superintendent’s office, my heart weighing heavily on my stomach. Three weeks’ time, Njeru, just three weeks.  That’s what he said. But I don’t know how much longer I can live like this. It will not be long before my ancestors embrace me.

        The super says I’m the best, have been for three decades now. That’s why he calls me “The Warrior.” The young men I’ve trained are like the discarded scrapings from the sculptor’s log. Chickens! They have nightmares for months after a job. They get hauled away for counseling. Puh!

        Njeru, they don’t make men like you anymore.  One last job for my Warrior! Then you can retire for good. The words stay with me all day, like fragments of a song that refuses to fade away.

         Makes you wonder, who’ll guard the herd when the bull’s reign is done?  Ngingo Maximum will simply collapse. I was trained in the old school, in the colonial days. The white man paid well for the Mau Mau in the fifties. Now, young people who weren’t even born then are digging up graves and calling the Mau Mau heroes; marching up and down the streets of Nairobi. They’ve no idea what we were up against then. All that terror forged in the forests. With their crude weapons, they were no match for the British. I knew exactly where they were hiding. I led my men deep into the forest, smoking out the Mau Mau. How the British revered me! They knew valor when they saw it. Kenya has changed so much. No fiber at all. Not even in the bravest warders. Chickens!

     The condemned souls are in the exercise yard, stretching limbs as though to jettison the evil part that caused them to sin. I wonder who it is this time, who is the job, as we say. I sit with the other warders and watch their faces. They know nothing. Not yet. Once people know there’s a job going, you’ll see the tension in their faces. And feel it in the air, like the fog of death.  

 The super summons me to his office. It’s all good and signed, he informs me. The appeal failed, yet again, as expected. The crime was too heinous.

        “It’s Mathu. His time is up, Njeru. There’s your job, Brave Warrior!”

        Mathu’s been on death row for ten years. He’s from my village. I know his people well. When his lover dumped him, he picked a fight with her husband, and got himself beaten to within an inch of his life. He planned his revenge, waylaid the husband in the bushes and hacked him to death. But, he wasn’t satisfied. He dragged the dead man’s daughter into a tea plantation and raped her.

        She was only five.

       “Revenge!” he screamed in court. “I want my revenge!” Everyone thought he had been bewitched. But the reports said he was fine. Now I’m the man to dispatch him on his last journey.


The remainder of this story to be released in Author Africa 2007

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