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Sometimes, the old ways are the best

By Ted Malanda | July 12th 2021

Kenyans enjoy themselves at Ngong hills in Kajiado county.[Collins Kweyu,standard]

During the lockdown, I noticed five missed calls from a close friend.

When I called back, she asked if I had cash – Sh3,000 to be precise – on my phone.

Apparently, she was at a petrol station, had just fuelled but couldn’t pay because she inexplicably couldn’t transfer cash from her bank account to the mobile phone.

We had a good laugh.

Unlike hotels where you can be ordered to peel potatoes if you are unable to pay the bill, what the heck do you do at a petrol station? Fix punctures?

I shouldn’t have laughed, because barely a month later, I was the one facing the music.

I turned up at a small eatery in my hometown and ordered for a meal, which I washed down with a tepid soda madiaba (people in the village would never be caught dead wasting their money on small sodas and everyone saves money by switching off the fridge).

The meal was superb. But when I tried transferring money from my back into my mobile phone wallet to pay the bill, I discovered the blasted thing was down.

Not to worry. I tried a different bank – same problem.

It didn’t help that I was looking sufficiently scruffy, unshaven and disheveled like a village con and had the eatery owner called the police, I would have been quickly frog marched to the station.

The five minutes before a friend came to my rescue were some of the longest of my life.

The mobile phone may be replacing the wallet and the paraphernalia associated with banks.

But if you know what is good for you, also hide a cheque leaf somewhere, a little cash in your socks or bra-bank and carry your debit card.

Otherwise, you risk being that terrified fellow trying to convince mama mboga that you are a decent, law abiding citizen.


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