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Secretive wannabes you know nothing about - but who know enough about you


All of last week as the stories of the late Nicholas Biwott came out, with some great anecdotes from guys like editor Kipkoech Tanui in the papers, the mystery around the man just grew and grew. Was he a Freemason? Illuminati? And all because of the late and feared politician’s secretive and paranoiac nature. But we all know at least one friend or relative like this – Secret Beth or Mystery Mike.

The wannabe who is as secretive as they come, and who you – and everyone – know very little about.

That bit about Biwott just keeping phone numbers in his head, not owning a mobile phone and borrowing bodyguards’ mulika mwizis and even random peers’ mobiles to make his phone calls, I totally ‘click.’ Mobile phones are a little bit like a Giant Octopus in the Sky, with multiple tentacles that connect us all. And that thought is a bit, or even highly, uncomfortable.

Think about it. In these days of technology, anyone can just have a random thought about you, reach for their phone, retrieve your number from the phone book – and the next minute, they actually have you at the other end of the line. Whether it is a boss pressurizing one over a deadline, or that creep from the cocktail party who got your digits off that Big Contacts Book that was at the entrance. That’s not right.

So I give Biwott sympathy marks over his need to be in communicado.

But what about his crazy need to sometimes keep changing cars as much as three times on one journey?

Think of other wannabes, when it comes to this car matter. Biwott was as Big Wheel as dealers come, never mind the source of the lucre. But while many Smaller Wheel dealers these days buy the biggest car they can, and some even brand their toys with their initials (or even full names) on personalized plates, Biwott was known for beat-up cars (probably to throw imaginary tails off his scent).

Again, on this score, the late cannot be called a wannabe.

I am a big advocate of using multiple and alternative means of transport. Use your car if you have one, yes, but park it and take a PSV sometimes, take the train too, sometimes use a scooter (boda boda), walk to work, cycle (at great risk to life and limb) but don’t just be ‘huyo jamaa wa KAB’ 24/7/365.

Biwott was also that man who was very careful about what he ate in public places like hotels – and often hijacked food headed to another table ( because what are you going to tell Total Man after he has kidnapped your kuku?) In a world where ‘mchele’ is used to spike drinks, it is not being wannabe to keep an eye on what ends up in one’s tum. We’ve seen cases like George Thuo’s where ‘nyama bite’ with buddies ends up with the man in the morgue – you dead cold, with the food still warm in your belly.

Cholera is now also a reason to be paranoid about food (don’t just eat mutura off the roadside).

That food at the Trade Fair that recently sent CS Rotich & Co to hospital with cholera, were the caterers from Weston? Just a question.

But when you’ve been the Personal Assistant to a man like Biwott for six years and never once stepped inside his house? And the one that really cracked me up was about mzee Moi when he was president asking his ministers, perplexed: ‘Kuna mtu anajua Biwott anaishi wapi?’ Just like Yahya from the song.

Secret Beth is that wannabe who you share an Uber, and she is dropped in the middle of the night in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere and she disappears into some trees ati ‘nimefika home.’ Yet even on Google maps, that area is designated as uninhabited because it will be a bypass by October.

As for Mystery Mike, your colleague of ten years, you know nothing about his personal life, let alone where he lives. Is he married? Where did he go to school? Tribe? I knew a guy like that called Fred. Does he have a friend? These are the guys if they fraudulently leave a company, even HR has no details to put those warnings of ‘Fred is no longer with the company.’

Mystery Mike is that guy, if he mysteriously passes on, and by chance you catch that one line obit in ‘Digger Bury ‘Em’ (on a Tuesday) and you show up at the funeral, you will find three men, and a woman – that you have never seen in your life (and none of them know you! Nor do they know each other).

You are five strangers, and a priest, come to see off your mutual friend Mike.

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