alexa MAN IN THE HOOD: A scary encounter with ‘mbwa kali’ - Daily Nation

MAN IN THE HOOD: A scary encounter with ‘mbwa kali’

Wednesday January 23 2019

I walked past the dog slowly, hoping it would just stay put but after a short while it began running after me.

I walked past the dog slowly, hoping it would just stay put but after a short while it began running after me. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 

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One of the greatest fears in my life is being chased by a dog. Last Friday night, that’s exactly what happened. But guess what? It didn’t catch me. That angry mammal gave all it had to get a bite at poor Phil but it didn’t succeed.

I now feel like I should change my name to Philip Kipchoge. I don’t want the name Etemesi anymore. It doesn’t suit my quick feet. At this point, I should enrol for the London Marathon, Berlin Marathon and…which one else is there? Bring on Mo Farah. Bring on Usain Bolt. Oh! That one retired. I forgot. Bring on anyone out there. Perhaps I have been putting my real talents to waste. Goodbye writing. It’s time for me to switch careers. I am just kidding. I can never quit writing. Same way I can never quit chicken.

Now that I am done boasting, I should also take some time to mourn my favourite jeans. Yes, the dog’s teeth didn’t excoriate my skin at all but my jeans weren’t so lucky. They were badly torn. This happened as I was jumping the gate, I don’t even know how I did it. I just found myself on the other side of the gate. I was like Batman, Spiderman or a well-trained ninja from Daibosatsu, Japan.


It was several minutes past midnight when it all happened. I was coming from a friend’s birthday party. I was walking confidently since my hood has very little cases of kupigwa ngeta (being mugged). After striding for a few minutes, I saw a dog standing in the middle of the road. It was growling endlessly as it stared at me.

I was afraid but I had to be really smart here. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a book that is often useful in tense times. It’s a perfect template for how to beat your enemy, whether that enemy is man or mammal. One of its most useful phrases is “If you know your enemy and know yourself, you will never be put to risk even in a hundred battles. If you only know yourself, but not your enemy, you may win or lose.  And if you neither know yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”

I know dogs. They don’t like namby-pamby people. If you don’t act calm, they come after you. I also know myself. I am not the bravest man out there. So, in order for this situation to work out well, I had to pretend I was a venturous fella who was not threatened by anything.

I decided to continue walking past the dog like it was a pole. It continued sizing me up but it didn’t move. Just as I thought it was letting me go, it began barking at me. I walked past it slowly, hoping it would just stay put but after a short while it began running after me.

How dare this dog break the laws of Sun Tzu? I had played my part in being brave. It was supposed to do the honourable thing and act calm too. Since that wasn’t what had happened, I did the wise thing. I took off.

I ran like a maniac with the dog hot on my trail. It took me about four minutes to reach the gate of my plot and as I was climbing it, the dog’s jagged teeth hooked on my jeans and tore of a huge piece of material.


Despite the lucky escape, I remain sad. Those jeans were really precious. They were like a magic charm. I would wear them during dates and girls would be like “Your jeans look so nice, they fit you perfectly.” And I would be like “Aki dhenks!” Sorry, I mean ‘thanks.’ Haha.

I bought them a while back after bargaining from Sh2,000 to Sh800. Do you know how much effort it takes to bargain from Sh2,000 to Sh800? Especially if it’s men’s jeans we are talking about. It took me approximately one hour and three minutes to get the mitumba guy to agree to my price. I am not sure why I was even counting the minutes. I surprise myself at times too.

I realised the mitumba guy wanted to badly sell the jeans so I took advantage of that. Whenever I realised he was refusing to come down on his valuation, I would pretend to walk away. You know that trick right? You pretend to walk away then they come running after you with a lower offer.

I pretended to walk away three times. Unfortunately, the third time I walked, he didn’t follow me. I tried to tilt my neck slightly and peep through the corner of my eye to see if he was coming but he wasn’t. I walked a bit slower but he didn’t follow me. I even turned back and walked past his stall while pretending I was looking for something else to buy but he didn’t call me back.


Eventually, I had to repress my stubbornness and go back. I couldn’t afford to miss out on those jeans. "Niuzie tu 800 bob leo buda. Nitakuletea customers. Niko na mabesthe wengi mimi. Alafu nitakua customer wako mbaya sana.”

Eventually, he agreed. I walked away with the jeans and a huge smile on my face. I hadn’t smiled that much since Aisha, a girlfriend to one of my long-term hood enemies, told me she loved me. I know you are now curious to hear that story. Don’t worry. I’ll tell it soon. Just be patient the way I was patient with the mitumba guy.

It pains me to have to stop wearing those jeans. But it is what it is.

I am now officially putting a bounty on the dog. As we speak, my graphic designer friend Josh is designing a ‘Wanted’ poster, just like those ones that are made for dangerous gun-slinging criminals outlaws. I am declaring a reward, which is my next month’s salary, to anyone with information that leads to the capture of the dog. Bring it to me when you find it and I will…I will…I will probably run again. I guess this is not a good idea after all. Just leave it.


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