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Why Ford may lose his prison job as I gain control of my trees

Saturday April 21 2018

I have always wanted to sell the trees but had never got a good price. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH

I have always wanted to sell the trees but had never got a good price. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH 

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A few years ago, whenever Ford, my younger brother who is a Prison Warder in Shimo La Tewa, came home for leave, he would stay around for so long that people would start wondering if he had been fired.

He would be very good in the first few weeks, buying people stuff at Hitler’s and giving a relative Sh20 here and there. But about a month later, when acute financial drought set in, he would suddenly change.

Wearing his prison boots, side-pocketed trousers, and heavy jungle green sweaters, he would terrorise everyone around, drink at Hitler’s without paying, among other atrocities. Everyone feared him as it was rumoured that he had a gun.

By the time he was leaving, people would be so happy to see his back. But once Ford got married, such visits to Mwisho wa Lami reduced.

I was not surprised since I know the kind of woman he married. If you think that Fiolina, the laugh of my life, is difficult then Rumona, whom Ford married, is impossible. I taught that girl at Mwisho wa Lami primary and secondary and I can tell you that there are problematic women in this world, then there is Rumona.

Ford used to shtua Rumona when he was here, wearing his prison uniforms. She imagined that he was such a big man, but from what I gather from Fiolina, once they got to Shimo La Tewa, she was disappointed to find that Ford was a very junior and poorly paid prison officer who stayed in a ramshackle of a house and was ordered around like a schoolboy


“Hata ushagoo ni afadhali,” is what Rumona told Fiolina. “Wewe na Dre mko na raha. Sisi tuko jela hapa Shimo La Tewa. Afadhali hata wafungwa.” I don’t know if it’s true but I have heard elsewhere that prison warders have problems.


So a week before schools closed, Ford arrived home — accompanied by his clan. They included his wife Rumona, a two-year-old son called Caleb, an 11-month-old daughter called Agnetta, and from the look of things, Rumona is expectant. As usual, the first weeks were OK. Everyone was happy to see Ford’s family. My parents were also happy that Ford has named his children after them. And since Ford still had money, matumbo and rice were common visitors.

Soon, as expected, Ford became broke — and that’s when the problems began. All of a sudden, Ford started asking “clinic questions”, as we call them in Mwisho wa Lami. He started complaining how he had been given the smallest portion of land, and in a bad location. He complained that I had put my gate in his land. He also got entangled into an unnecessary boundary dispute with Alphayo, our neighbour of many years.

But last week, a conflict arose between Ford and I that ended up so badly. You will all remember many years ago that after I had completed my advanced pedagogic studies, I was young, restless and eccentric (I don’t know what that means but I am sure it has a positive meaning!). To while away the time, as I waited for the next step, I planted trees. My father reluctantly showed me a previously abandoned part of his land and I planted 400 high-end eucalyptus trees. Then, no-one was interested in that part of the land, or in the trees. But a few years later, as the trees started growing well, I started seeing interest.

My younger brother, Ford, also took a keen interest, and after high school, he would sit there “protecting them.” Then came the time when my father, Mzee Caleb, distributed the land amongst the three of us. All the three of us wanted that part — because of the trees. From the 400 trees, my father declared that the part with 200 would be his, and that he would make a decision on whom to give the other part.

Since that part was next to his home, and the last born inherits the parents’ home, two years ago, my father declared that the place would be given to Ford — although he said that the tress would be mine. The moment he said this, Ford came home and fenced off the trees.


I have always wanted to sell the trees but had never got a good price. It was a few weeks ago that Maina, the owner of the hardware at Mwisho wa Lami, offered a price that I considered good enough. He gave me a deposit — some good money — and we agreed that he comes for them last week.

Maina arrived with his person last Monday. It was Nyayo, carrying a portable power saw. I showed them the trees to cut and he started felling them one by one. He was on the third tree when Ford came running, shouting at Nyayo to stop. One did not need a calculator to know that Ford was ready for war. He was in full prison gear: heavy boots, green side-pocketed trousers tucked into the boots, a heavy faded green Prisons sweater, jungle green jacket and kirauni. He was also carrying a black prison rod, and something was bulging from his left pocket.

“This is my land, get out!” he shouted.

“I know, but the trees are mine,” I reminded him. “That’s what Mzee said.”

“Hiyo ni yenyu!” he said. “You can’t have trees on some else’s land, go plant on your land!”

“Si ni Dre alipanda hii miti?” Nyayo reminded him. “Rudi kwenu wewe mlevi,” Ford told Nyayo.

“Wewe askari jela huwezi nishtua, mimi nimedeal hata na wanajeshi. Huyu mfungwa ni nini?” Nyayo said as he moved and started cutting the fourth tree. Ford went for Nyayo and I moved to protect him. Nyayo pointed the running power saw at Ford, threatening to cut him. That is when I realised that there is something that Ford learnt at Ruiru Prison Training College that I was not taught at Kilimambogo TTC. I have no idea what Ford did or where he hit me, but I felt powerless and the next thing I knew, Nyayo and I had been handcuffed together.

“Leo mtajua askari jela pia ni mtu,” he said. “Hii ni trespass, attempted murder and illegal logging, hamuwezi hepuka makosa yote tatu.”

He then walked us to the police post at Mwisho wa Lami. Ford and the police officers are never friends but seeing that they could get something from us, they quickly put us in the cell. It took the intervention of Bensouda to ensure that I did not spend a night in the cell. Nyayo spent two days there.

Besouda also helped me to report to Prisons Department that Ford was misusing handcuffs and other government paraphernalia to intimidate innocent Mwisho wa Lami residents. On hearing that we had taken up the case, Ford disappeared the next day, leaving his family behind. No one knows where he went to. Not only could he lose his job, but I will still cut the trees. They are mine and the government lifted the ban on logging in private land!


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