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Why I would never be found anywhere near a stray lion

Sunday April 3 2016

A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger shoots a lion after it was spotted roaming in Isinya, on the outskirts of Nairobi, after it clawed a man. PHOTO | AFP

A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger shoots a lion after it was spotted roaming in Isinya, on the outskirts of Nairobi, after it clawed a man. PHOTO | AFP 

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For a country that has always had wild animals, our over-amplified excitement at spotting a stray lion is baffling. Perhaps we need to start visiting our game parks more. True, it is not every day that you spot the king of the jungle taking a stroll in your neighbourhood, but had I been there when “Mohawk” the lion made his grand appearance, I would have probably taken off as fast as my legs could carry me, or tried to make myself invisible.

I would not have hooted at it like a maniac, tried to run it over or thrown stones, the major reason being that I am a coward, and tend to fear anything that has four legs or can crawl – minus a small child on all fours that is. I watched the footage of that lion being cornered and shot down on TV, and I must say I got a little bit sad, and wondered why that Kenya Wildlife Service ranger had not just shot it with a tranquiliser gun instead.

True to Kenyan fashion, instead of running away from danger, the Kenyans who happened to be there ran towards it – it is the same way that we run towards gun shots, instead of away from them, or how we mill around an accident scene to gape, not to offer help.

Or how motorists slow down to a crawl at the site of an accident, not to stop and rush to hospital someone in need of it, but so that they can later recount what they saw.

But I was talking about my cowardly nature.



A few months after I moved to where I live, I spotted a monkey staring at me from outside my kitchen window. It was just seated there on the window sill, staring. And it was no baby monkey, it was either the mother or father, because it was big. Not big, big, but big enough. Thankfully, the window was locked and the door shut.

Still, I froze on the spot, staring at the primate in fear, wondering whether it was capable of boxing the window with its fists and breaking it. And why pray, why was it staring at me?

I am a bit superstitious, so this question really bothered me, and so I found myself racking my brain, while still rooted on the spot, trying to remember whether there was anything sinister I had heard about monkeys while growing up. And where had it come from? There are trees in this area, but there is no forest nearby, so where had this monkey come from and had it come with relatives?

When I finally regained my composure, it was to dart out of the kitchen and periodically peep into the kitchen from behind the nearest doorway to see what the monkey would do next. After a long minute or two, it jumped off onto the next door neighbour’s fence, and then up a tree in the neighbour’s compound, before disappearing from sight.

I heaved a sigh of relief, hightailed it to the kitchen and drew the curtain carefully, just in case the monkey decided to come back and continue staring at me. As you can imagine, I did not get out of the house that day, for fear that I would come face-to-face with it, never mind that it was 1pm on a Saturday.

Days after that, I would carefully search all around me before gingerly stepping out of the house.

And did I tell you I have never slaughtered a chicken? I once saw someone sawing its head off and almost got physically sick. I have a feeling I would die of hunger in a yard full of chicken. I don’t mind eating chicken though.

You now understand why I would not have been among those Kenyans who were busy screaming, hooting and shooting at the frightened and agitated “Mohawk”, who is no more.



Best regards and thank you for always keeping one in suspense when reading your articles, which you always write with humour.



You have got it right. As parents we are torn between culture and saying hard facts. May God give us the courage to talk about sex to our children.



My parents talking about sex? My old man was ex-WW2 veteran. The only person he used to talk to was my mum. The rest of us were a small brigade to be seen and not heard. My sisters knew if they ever got pregnant, they had to be miles away from old guy. And us boys knew we could never break the leg of a neighbour’s goat. 



I thank you for the insightful articles you continue to write every week. They really go a long way to encourage and also teach on the various topics you have always touched on. The Sunday Nation really was missing a writer of your calibre, blatant and on point.   There is one issue I would appreciate if you shared your view on or even recap in case I missed it . This is urban etiquette, especially how tenants ought to behave while living in flats. During our days neighbours /tenants had etiquette. Namely, no playing loud music, no soiling your neighbours clothes when hanging yours. The beauty of it was that it was common sense.