Last weekend, Fatma Omar Yusuf, who did her KCSE in 2013, was part of a jihadist women’s group that attacked a police station in Mombasa. She jumped over a desk, stabbed a cop, and as she lay dying after getting shot in the forehead, she kept mumbling jihadist slogans. Here’s part of a story I’ve written about a serious new problem – terrorism in our high schools.
"Run, Cheche, Run." Outside the shed, Cheche heard Damien say, quite distinctly: “Right. You wait here, Ahmed, I will go get the petrol. We will just have to burn down this shed.”
“Okay.” Silent Ahmed said, and through the spaces on the planks of the shed, Cheche saw him shrug, as if Damian had just said he was off to get some takeaway pork chops, and would be back in a second. It was not okay.
Cheche let out a scream of disbelief as Damian left. Placing her mouth in the space between the planks, she said: “Please, Akhmet, you are a good boy. Please don’t be a part of this. It is not too late! Let me out and I promise I will put in a good word for you, with ‘Ocampo’ and with the police. Please?”
“Bolice?“ Silent Med scoffed, and shook his head. “No bolice for me, bliss. They arrest my big brother in Mombasa two years ago as a terrorist. My brother was innocent. I now know this is for a fact. I have never seen brother again. No. No.”
“Ahkmet,” Cheche begged, “but this is not the way to fight injustice. You cannot burn the school mess down. You cannot burn meee...” Her plea ended in a scared bleat. Then she burst into scared sobs.
Through the wall planks, Silent Med’s voice was blank, his face a smooth wooden mask as he replied. “Chepchirchir, it is not me who is burning the school. It is Moze, and that other fellow. It is not me coming back to burn this wooden shed. It is Damian. I am just an innocent bystander.” Cheche felt anger shove her tears aside. “Akhmet, if you stand aside and let bad people do wicked things, then you are just as guilty as they are for whatever happens afterwards.”
Silent Med came and pressed his head close to the planks of the shed, so close that Cheche could actually see the browns of his eyes. “Pocket Rocket, isn’t that what they call you?” he said in a hoarse whisper. “Let me let you in on a secret. I may be only 17, but I am the only one in this entire school who knows what is about to happen. The aftermath of the afterwards! I have the mathematics.”
Cheche felt the air, and the sunlight, go altogether of the shed, as everything turned three shades of gray. It was as if the words had, all of a sudden, snatched the world of oxygen and sunlight.
It was not a good time to faint. She leaned into her side of the wall for balance, and her fingers brushed against Silent Med’s fingers, that felt like ten stubs of hard wood.
“What are you saying, Akhmet?” He was close enough now for her to catch the scent of bubble gum hiding the smell of something else underneath, maybe tea and khat; and it was like the scent of a designer perfume, Channel Number 5 or something, disguising the smell of a dead cat buried by the roadside, but not quite.
“I am saying that in, oh,” Silent Med pressed a timing device on his mobile phone,” Exactly five minutes, a small bomb will go off on the high table, where Governor Turot will be sitting, getting ready to tell students - who are just waiting to eat and drink - a whole load of nonsense.
That should let the whole country know that us, Ass La Sababu, are now active in Eldoret and all the surrounding counties.” Silent Med stepped away from the shed.
“Oh, and just so you know, the name is Ahmed. Not Akhmet.”
The novella ‘Run, Cheche, Run’ is one of the three book nominees at the Burt Award dinner to be held on September 23.