MAN IN THE HOOD: Ugly catfight in my apartment block

Wednesday April 17 2019

As I took a turn and began walking towards my door, I heard a commotion. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH


After recently moving into an apartment, I thought life would be peaceful.

I thought the excess ploti drama that I was used to witnessing would be history, together with tales of Lwanda Magere and the Maji Maji Rebellion. I was wrong. One of my neighbours has a house help that is causing more havoc than a typhoon.

Late last week, I came back from my usual hustles earlier than usual. It was about 2.30pm. No human could be spotted because…you know apartment people…they are either busy or locking themselves in their houses.

As I took a turn and began walking towards my door, I heard a commotion. Upon twirling my head to look, I saw the house help in a catfight with another woman.

I couldn’t tell who the other woman was because I still don’t know people here that well. I recognised the house help because of her deep voice. She sounds like a combination of Ja Rule and Fred Obachi Machoka. She always shouts at her employer’s children and whenever she does that, the baritone of her voice reverberates through your bones like a tremor.



On my second day as a tenant, she had also stopped me by the stairs and initiated a conversation.

Kumbe unaitwanga nani wewe? (What’s your name?)” she had asked.

Many years ago, someone decided it would be nice to add ‘nga’ after almost every Swahili word. This practice has been passed from generation to generation. The person who started it all should be disciplined by the gods of grammar. Wallah Bin Wallah, Ken Walibora and Rashid Abdalla need to take turns to cane him.

Anyway, in keeping up with the vibe of ‘nga’ I responded with, “Mimi naitwanga Jermaine Cole (My name is Jermaine Cole).”

Wauuu, si uko na jina supuu (Wow. You have a beautiful name),” she smiled.

“Thanks!” I said. I was almost about to pull the ‘aki dhenks’ just for fun but I shelved it because I would have made myself laugh too.

Jermaine Cole is actually the name of the American rapper popularly known as J. Cole. Sometimes I like playing around with people.

I was about to tell her that Jermaine wasn’t my real name but upon seeing how impressed she was, I decided to keep it that way.

Unaeza chukua number yangu. Ukikuanga na kazi mingi pia unaeza niita nikusaidie (You can take my number. When you have a lot of work, you can call me to help out),” she added after a few moments of silence.

That was unexpected. She was definitely hitting on me. It’s been a long while since someone hit on me. So, I have to admit, it felt a little bit nice. She was also offering free labour? Which bachelor doesn’t like free labour? I took her number.

“Bye Jermaine,” she said as she walked back to her employer’s house.

However, I never got to experience the free labour. The next day, she saw me and came charging. She accused me of lying about my name. I don’t know how she found out that I was actually called Philip.

I was about to regret it but then she started insulting me and saying I was not all that special and she could get another man like me by evening. At that point, I knew I had been right to not get into any sort of ‘friendship’ with her. I just walked away.


Now here she was, a few days later, fighting with another woman. There was no one else in sight and the logical thing for me to do would have been to stop the fight, right?

There was no way I was even going to try to separate them. The last time I tried being a peacemaker, I ended up with injuries. So I folded my arms and began watching. If only there was popcorn nearby.

I was rooting for the other woman, given that I was now in conflict with the house help. For the first few minutes, the fight was even but then the house help began gaining much control. She was a ruthless fighter. She combined everything; blows, kicks, scratches, bites…you name them. It was a bloody battle and the evil me was just standing there, enjoying every bit of it.

I was hoping that the other woman would pull a last minute comeback. “Come on, you can do this,” I kept cheering from the inside without actually uttering the words.

You know how it happens in movies? Sometimes the hero is usually brutalised by the villain but then in the dying minutes, he shows everyone what he is made of and beats up the villain. I was hoping for that but it didn’t happen.

When the other woman’s wig was plucked from her head, I knew it was time for me to declare mayday. I took out my phone and called the watchmen stationed at the gate. They responded as quickly as LAPD and as they separated the women, a few other tenants came out of their houses to find out what was going on.

Apparently, the house help had given the angry lady’s child chipo mwitu when she was not around. The child, who is used to pizza and burgers, ended up having intense diarrhoea and dehydration. The lady was a tenant as well. She wasn’t happy that another tenant’s house help had caused so much anguish to her child.

Now she had a sick child, a bloody nose and a fallen wig. Life is unfair, huh? Your child gets food-poisoned then you get beaten?

As the house help was being escorted away, she channelled a cold stare my way and said “Next ni wewe…ukicheza na mimi (You are next…if you play around with me).”

What? Next ni mimi? Easy tigress! What did I do now? You should have seen the shock that registered on my face.

All this because I lied to her that my name was Jermaine?

Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i please, I need 24-hour security. I have been threatened. Take some guards from that governor who said the hilarious ‘kijana mfupi mnono round’ statement and send them my way. He doesn’t need security. I am sure no one has a problem with such a funny governor.

Or I’ll just hype myself up and say “Siogopi, wacha akuje (I am not afraid, let her come).”


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