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MAN IN THE HOOD: Shylock shopkeeper serves Easter drama

Thursday April 25 2019

Some of my neighbours owed the shopkeeper money. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH

Some of my neighbours owed the shopkeeper money. ILLUSTRATION| IGAH 

PHILIP ETEMESI
By PHILIP ETEMESI
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My new residential place continues to serve more drama than an African-American reality TV series.

This past Sunday, I had a good time watching (and trying not to laugh because I might be next) as Okello the shopkeeper decided to ruin the Easter of his debtors by showing up physically to collect his money.

Apparently, some tenants had his money and they hadn’t paid him for up to three months.

And here I was, thinking that most apartment dwellers are only two years away from appearing on the Forbes rich list.

I was at Okello’s shop when he decided to close it briefly and storm the apartment block.

He was specifically triggered when he saw one tenant passing by his shop with a shopping bag full of items from one of the major supermarkets.

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He couldn’t believe that a person who owed him had the guts to just walk past his shop with goodies from somewhere else.

NOT YOUR ORDINARY SHOPKEEPER

You see, Okello is not your ordinary shopkeeper. His shop is a state-of-the-art facility. It looks so good the government can lie it cost 10 billion to build. He has a 40-inch smart TV in it that he watches whenever he’s bored. He likes to watch CNN and Discovery Channel. He’s always up to date with American news. He’ll be selling you bread then he goes “Are you aware that Robert Mueller redacted his report about the misgivings of the Trump administration?”

Say what? Robert who?

He also has a woofer where he plays rare music every day. Yes, every song that is heard playing in his shop is a song you’ve never heard before.

Apart from being a shopkeeper, Okello also doubles as a shylock. He is the Tala of the estate. He is literally competing with China when it comes to lending money.

For Okello, English is his default speech setting but when he is angry, he usually switches to Sheng very quick. That’s why when Calvo, my Subaru-driving, always speeding neighbour saw him approaching and decided to make a U-turn, he shouted “Oyaaa buda! Hepa kama una mbio!”

Calvo had to humble himself because he knew he was no Eliud Kipchoge. He pulled out the few remaining notes from his pocket and place them on Okello’s 15-acre hand.

Okello has a big hand. Big is not even a good enough word for it. He has a humongous hand. It can even serve as a playground for children. It can hold a political rally. You can buy about ten things from Okello’s shop and he will hand them all to you using one hand.  

There’s also a tenant called Shiro. She’s as beautiful as commercial flower fields in Feyenoord.  When Okello banged at her door to demand Sh3,000 that he had lent her, she refused to open. He thus decided to pick her expensive red heels which were lying outside the door. She came out screaming, “Nipatie heels zangu.” Her claws, I mean nails, were out like the Wolverine.

‘KNEW HER RIGHTS’

She vowed to call the cops on Okello because apparently, she knew her rights. She claimed to have bought her heels for 100 euros when she was in Paris a few months ago. According to her, since the shopkeeper’s debt was only Sh3, 000  (around 25 euros), he had no right to auction her heels to recover his debt. Okello being Okello vowed not to return them. He said he didn’t care whether she got them from Gikomba or from the Cathedral of Notre Damme.

“My wife will love these,” he said with a wicked smile. “She wears size 7 and these ones are size 5 but atafinyilia mguu tu ndani.”

Shiro was so angry she vowed to call everyone including the police, her lawyers and Jesus. Ummm…I don’t think Jesus wants to be disturbed with cases after resurrecting. Right now, Okello is still smiling in his shop so I don’t think Shiro has called anyone yet.

Mama Derrick was the hardest hit when she learned that her 9-year-old son had taken items worth 4,300 shillings on credit using her name. He would go and say “Mummy amesema unipee Fanta 2 litres atalipa.” And it was all a lie. Then he’d go have a mini party with his mini friends. I bet the boy got a caning of a lifetime. 

Everyone was shocked when Okello came for Bill too. Bill is usually the flashiest guy in the apartment block. He comes with a new car every week and his tuxedos can make the producers of James Bond consider hiring him as the first black man to play that role.

By the end of it all, not even one person was remaining with Okello’s money.

Due to his aggressiveness, he might have lost a few customers permanently but at least he got his money.

In future, whenever someone owes me money, I know who to hire as my debt collector. People who haven’t picked my calls since last year because of 500 bob, be warned.

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