“I am ready to die...,” is a common expression among angry, self-righteous Kenyans. But if mortuary attendants are to be believed, getting killed or killing oneself is such a torturous process.
You at times kick, scream and wail like a lunatic while at it. You pee and crap in your pants, with your face getting distorted or turning comically and repulsively ugly. Needless to mention, your eyes frighteningly open wide like a goat’s and your teeth get bared in a ghostly snarl.
So when locals in Chebwagan, Kericho County heard Michael Cheruiyot, whom they described as a "serial attention seeker", was perched atop a tree and armed with a rope, wailing and threatening that he was just about to kill himself last Monday evening, they were not amused.
After unsuccessfully trying to forcefully pluck him off the tree, they begged him to climb down, only to beat the hell and devils out of him for cracking such a terrible practical joke.
Reportedly, Cheruiyot, who is now nursing serious injuries from the beatings, is a notorious drunk in the village. He is also said to be a dramatic character, infamous for chanting obscene circumcision songs and sexually harassing women on his way home from local drinking dens.
However, on this day, what he had envisioned as the best dramatic stunt to force his two brothers to give him all his tea bonuses miserably backfired, leaving him with egg all over his face.
“They had withheld some of his money from the family tea farm for safe keeping, fearing that he may blow it away on alcohol. A drink they claimed was his Achilles heel that had seen his wife desert him,” said Isaac Komen, a neighbour.
After scratching his head for the best trick out of the bag to get his money, he arrived at the reckless idea of threatening them to pay up by stage-managing a suicide attempt.
After taking liquor, he bought a rope and found himself a vantage point on a tree around his home and began threatening to hang himself.
“He tied the rope around his neck, fastened it on a branch and made his intentions known by, among other things, loudly shouting, ‘the sons of hell have taken my money! They can now go ahead and use it to educate their children! I am ready to die yada...yada... yada...’ in mother tongue,” said Komen.
Panic-stricken members of his family and neighbours rushed to the scene, trying to stop him in vain. According to Komen, the suicidal man began lecturing them, rather sarcastically, on why he’d rather die than live with brothers who perpetually discriminate against him.
After efforts to reach him and forcefully get him down the tree proved futile, locals resorted to begging, telling him how his family still needed him.
“He maintained that he was going to hang himself unless his brothers gave him all his money. He had to be begged to perish the thought and climb down with promise that they were to go together to a nearby ATM and ensure he gets all his money,” said Komen.
With no clue what really awaited him, he climbed down the tree, only for irked locals to pounce and unleash terror on him for entertaining suicidal thoughts, risking to taint the village’s good name and wasting villagers’ time.
His own kin had to save him from the furious mob. He has since been counselled and promised to change his ways.