"Mnakula nyama na hamjalipa rent!”
  • Not all tenants are easy to deal with despite the fact that you collecting long overdue rent
  • Some take their imagination and creativity to the next level just to avoid it
  • Some gain fake accents and complete new languages in hours!

 Trusting Cousin Mesh with money is like leaving children in charge of candy. Or trusting local reggae deejays not to constantly interrupt the music with annoying commentary.

Nevertheless I allowed him to join me in collecting rent arrears after The Landlord had dumped the impossible responsibility on me after falling out with his real estate agent.

One of the advantages that Cousin Mesh has over me is that he is a smooth operator, especially with regards to women.

I found it impossible to stop entertaining the idea that my next business venture should be a house help employment agency, since in a few months’ time, I could be sure he would put so many of them in the family way that their employers would be needing new ones soon!

Besides his good people skills, Cousin Mesh is also highly effective. This became apparent after a couple of instances during which tenants ended up paying their dues against their will! One of the tricks Cousin Mesh employed was turning most people’s fear of public embarrassment to his advantage.

“Mnakula nyama na hamjalipa rent!” he screamed in one instance, after catching the whiff of frying meat outside the door of one tenant who was in arrears.

At that point the other tenants started peering through the window and the rest was history. If there was increased business for some of the country’s mobile loan providers, Cousin Mesh deserves the credit!

However, not all tenants were as easy to deal with despite the fact that we were collecting long overdue rent, even before we could start on a new month’s payments.

“You are in arrears... you now don’t even have a deposit to ‘sit on’!” I said after a tenant who had recently moved in less than a month ago and who I was yet to get acquainted with properly opened the door.

“Je ne sais pas de quoi vous parlez! (I don’t know what you are talking about!)” the young man said.

 Having studied in a secondary school that had an untrained French teacher for a few weeks (before the program was discontinued after she ran off with the village hardware shop owner), I knew he was speaking in French but I couldn’t tell if he had just insulted us.

Cousin Mesh also looked at me in bewilderment. I attempted sign language but wapi!Je ne comprends toujours pas! (I still don’t understand!)” he muttered again. Then Cousin Mesh drew pictures of money on a piece of paper.

“Tu gaspille mon temps! (You are wasting my time!)” the tenant said, as he shut the door in our faces. We walked away our heads lowered.

After a few hours Cousin Mesh suddenly had a brilliant idea and he asked me to follow him. No sooner had the ‘French guy’ opened the door, than Cousin Mesh started shouting, “Moto! Moto!” before breaking into a run.

Not knowing what was happening, I, too, started running having panicked. “Wapi? Wapi?” the French guy screamed as he too ran after us. Suddenly Cousin Mesh stopped, and smiled. The young man cursed – he had realised his mistake!

“Boss... tulia, nitakutafutia pesa zako...” the young man started explaining. I was now so proud of Cousin Mesh.

If it takes a thief to catch a thief all I could do was pity all those landlords he must have played this trick on!