THE SECRET OF THE LYNCHED YOUNG MAN
(A Nairobi’s detective Tim Tutts murder case)
Kenya can be found in East Africa just on the equator. It's population reached 20
million in 1990. The capital is Nairobi. The second city of importance is Mombasa on
the Indian Ocean. Kenya was a British colony until liberated in the sixties during
the bloody Mau Mau rebellion. The father of the homeland is the deceased Mzee
Jomo Kenyatta. The principal ethnic groups are the Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba, Masai,
Turkana, and the Abaluyia. There are also small communities of Arabs, Indians,
Palestinians, and Europeans (particularly British). The official languages are
English and Swahili, and the prominent religions are Christian and Muslim.
According to modern archeology, Kenya is the birthplace of man; it is the home of
the oldest hominid ever found.
A Newspaper Clipping
I t was a hot afternoon at the end of November 1980. The private detectives
office of Tim Tutts was going through a rough patch. The closeness to
Christmas, a relative social calm pressure that mounted in the cooker, the slow
affluence of tourists shocked by the recent murder of a couple of old European
women, all this made Nairobi seem like the world's most boring metropolis. The
capital of Kenya, reputed to be the most important in East Africa, appeared like
a landing strip, or worse, a trampoline to cheap adventure. This is what the
city had become, from two lines of rudimentary tents erected at the beginning
of the century by the fevered engineers of the Mombasa-Uganda Train
Tutts had always thought it a miracle how the city could be approaching
half a million souls. Thinking of those clichés in 1900 of Nairobi as a campsite,
he reflected unenthusiastically: "And all that titanic effort to let some rich and
obese European colonialists go safari hunting, and display the heads of the most
beautiful animals of Africa as trophies on their living room walls."
He was distracted by the thought of a group of old Germans he had seen
in the morning, dressed up like hunters, convinced they were leaving in search
of the great unknown continent, in one of the great safari parks, Masai Mara,
Samburu or Tsavo, guided by a bunch of rascals dying with laughter under their
Fortunately the real game safaris had finished long ago; now these
amateur hunters should be content to shoot with telescopic lenses instead of
rifles. Tim Tutts decided to shake those absurd images out of his head and
return to his reading, the only activity possible in the stifling heat and soporific
Drowsily, the Nairobi detectives waited for a case to come their way; even
just the search for a lost cow, or to spy on an unfaithful wife, would be welcome.
Although one must say, in all truth, that in a country like Kenya, much blood
has flowed over the theft of cattle or women. It would not be the first time that
Tutts and his colleagues have had to put up with banal missions, a juicy murder
case would from time to time fall into their hands, but those were glorious
moments. In Africa when blood appears, there are smiles on some faces.
Only the faint sound of Curly's typewriter, the Somalian secretary, gave
anything of animation to the summer siesta that had befallen Timothy Tutts &
Team, Detectives, private investigators of Nairobi. "A common passion (justice), a
mystic (truth), a collective mind (deduction)" was the extravagant, and
fortunately long forgotten slogan which some advertising wizard had dreamed up
Karima Waweru, Tim Tutts' chief assistant and partner, slumped in an
armchair, said in a voice heavy with sleep:
"Boss. Why don't we go out on the street and see if we can bump into a
fine crime? A beer drinking competition has been organized in the Karibu bar,
and you know this always ends up with punches being thrown, and later the
razor edged pangas appear...."
Tutts lifted his head from the biography of Dashiell Hammett. He
confessed a fervent admiration for the ex-detective of the Pinkerton Agency in
which life was submerged, and answered nonchalantly:
"Shut up, Waweru. Can't you see I'm reading? And another thing, don't
call me boss, you know I don't like it".
Waweru appeared not to hear the comment and tried to insist, stifling a
"It is just that I hate inaction, chief. I'm going to get rusty without any
movement; and, how can you read when it is so hot? I ask me myself, how can
you read full stop? Such a boring activity! You know that our ancestors were
men of action and..."
Tutts interrupted him, genuinely annoyed:
"Waweru, if my reading upsets or distracts you, and you are unable to
stand the silence, you can go. Nobody is keeping you here. Outside in River
Road, or in any other street, there are plenty of bars full of your men of action
huddled around their glasses of pombe. For your information, reading clears the
mind, teaches one to think, and ennobles the soul; and please don't mix your
ancestors with mine..."
Karima, slightly vexed but unprepared to continue the attack, picked up
the afternoon newspaper that had just arrived and, as usual, submerged himself
in the crime section. After starting with apathy, something struck his attention
and he fell completely silent.
The silence appeared strange to Tutts, who left his book for a moment to
discretely observe the perplexed Waweru. They had reason to be nervous with
such a long period of inactivity. Without doubt, not only in River Road, but also
in the commercial district of Westlands, in Karen and Muthaiga (the beaux
quartiers of Nairobi), unlawful transgressions, intrigues, potential murders and
social violence were brewing. All this without mentioning smuggling; or the
female meat market, the specialty of Mombasa.
"It's unfair to be suffering from so much inaction, when the capital and the
old port are full of unsolved misdemeanors crying out for an explanation"
philosophized Tutts to himself.
The criminal consultancy office of Tim Tutts can be found at precisely No.
33 River Road, right in the popular center of Nairobi. Not by coincidence, this is
where illegality and delinquency are the most frequent. But take note, this
country has never been free from violence; on the contrary, it has been built and
rebuilt upon it. Disputed for centuries by the Arab merchants, the Portuguese
conquistadors, the mythological zimba (a group of practicing carnivores that
swept through the land devouring complete villages), and the British
imperialists, Kenya has never been free from spilled blood.
The Arab traffickers founded a culture over the centuries; but decimated
defenseless populations to obtain slaves for the European, American, Caribbean
and Brazilian markets. Later the Portuguese sailors on their passage to India,
put into port and re-founded Mombasa, obtained glory for their empire, but also
caused great suffering; finally leaving their mark on the flora, forming a new
landscape for Kenya.
In the early nineteenth century, immigrants arrived in waves from
troubled India: first as labourers and later as troops; finally imposing themselves
by way of their superior technical and trading ability. Sure they have prospered,
but not without their quota of pain. The British, well, invented a country in the
modern sense of the word, but nobody thanks them for it; their domination was
fought with fury.
"Tim", said Waweru suddenly, lifting up his gaze from the newspaper.
"Listen to this. It's incredible".
Tutts guessed that it concerned news of a downtown chase that someone
had mentioned to him, but he allowed Waweru to read it, at least it might keep
"A well dressed young man, that appeared anything but a thief, was
caught red handed attempting to rob a car parked outside the City Hall in
the center of Nairobi. The owner of the vehicle, an elderly Asian, spotted
the youth trying to force the door of his 1960s Plymouth, taking advantage
of the shadows produced by the rapid Nairobi sunset, before the
illumination of the street lights. The old Asian man started to shout in a
loud voice, rebuking the offender and attracting the attention of several
passers-by from the dark shadows. The suspect approached the owner
and tried to calm him down, but the Asian repeated his cries, fearing
aggression. Some people nearby stopped and began to gather round,
taking the side of the car owner. The accused tried to explain himself, but
amidst the general animosity decided to run for it, followed by the crowd
close on his heals. First, he fled into Wabera Street and then turned
quickly into Standard Street, bumping into people and upsetting the
brushes of a shoe shiner, who also joined the chase. The pursued man ran
without stopping until he reached a dead end road. When the angry
leaders of the mob came upon him, the suspect produced a screwdriver,
for sure the same one used to force the lock of the car; and, with the point,
wounded a citizen in the right temple and assaulted the closest members
of the crowd. The wounded man was a Asian who turned out to be the
owner of the Plymouth. Thanks to this rearguard action the young thief
temporarily managed to escape, but the crowd renewed the chase, this
time up Kimathi Street. Here the thief had a stroke of bad luck, because
near the New Stanley Hotel, an askari acting as a private guard of a
neighbouring building, alerted by the shouts, hit him on the head with a
wooden chair upon which he had been sitting. Despite being unsteady and
dizzy, the thief continued to run, but his knees gave out when a road
sweeper, upon hearing the voices, threw a broom at his feet."
Waweru paused to assess the effect of his words, and noting the interested
faces of his colleagues, continued, but not before displaying a smirk of
satisfaction due above all to the fact that Tutts had put down his book. The
"The frenzied mob, considerable by this time, fell upon the prostrate figure.
The youth desperately tried to get up, but was knocked down again by a
rain of kicks, punches and several blows from blunt instruments. The
screwdriver he was carrying fell into the hands of a cripple, who according
to some witnesses present, who refused to give their names, inflicted
several blows to soft parts of his anatomy. Another unnamed source said a
very tall man delivered the blows. A white woman tried to intervene, but
was repulsed by the furious multitude. After a short while, the robber
stopped defending himself. Inert, his body was dragged to a waste site in
the Jevanjee gardens, where he received a shower of stones and rubble of
all sizes. Someone delivered a pair of terrible blows to his head with a large
rock. None of the attackers were identified."
Karima Waweru paused again from his reading, this time to blow his nose
into a very dirty handkerchief, in order to prolong the finale.
"The photograph on this page, taken by our photographic reporter Charly
Garachu, shows the bleeding body of the presumed thief, Moses Orieyo, 25
years, unemployed, from Kericho. At his side lies the stone that finally
terminated his life. His tie, although slightly skewed to one side, is still in
place. Only his left shoe is on, and his left foot is twisted at a strange
angle. His clothes are torn. In the ghostly glow of a bonfire lit by
bystanders, a tight mass of ragged children and a few women, the majority
pregnant, observe at a distance this unforgiving and ferocious display of
spontaneous popular justice."
Curly was moved, her beautiful eyes, the colour of honey, were moist and
wide open. Tutts was aware of the force contained in certain rhetoric prose,
which was frequently used by local apprentices of Hemingway.
"I guess", he said to Waweru. "It was written by that arrogant reporter
friend of yours. What's his name? I don't deny he has something of an inventive
style. A long article, but interesting, no?"
"His name is Joshua Kuma and he is very good at what he does",
responded Karima with certain dryness, and added: "That's not the way it is
boss. It just so happens that I knew the dead man, and I think it strange that he
was robbing cars in the center of Nairobi and assaulting people. He has been
always a straight guy".
"Now, Karima", insisted Tutts to provoke him. "We both know that your
reporter friend is malicious and incompetent. What he doesn't know, he makes
up, to systematically manipulate the reader. By the way, what is «spontaneous
popular justice» supposed to mean? What is he trying to say? He appears to be
endorsing such barbarism. Why…? Tradition? Folklore? It doesn't wash, my
"Tim, please" said his partner almost wailing. "I'm being serious. This is
very irregular. I'll have to check my files..."
Waweru entered a tiny room that he called his «private laboratory», where
an unlimited number of papers, magazine cuttings, photographs, and records
were kept like assorted confetti in cardboard boxes. Apart from that, there were
some artifacts that appeared more like discarded antiques than scientific
instruments. Everyone thought it a miracle that Waweru could find anything in
that chaos. More than once, Tutts had threatened to throw out his filthy
treasures, provoking crocodile tears from Karima. The truth is that the sullied
archive was essential for his detective work, and also for the smooth functioning
of T.T & T.
Tim Tutts returned to the misfortunes of Hammett during McCarthyism,
thinking that Karima would become occupied with something else and leave him
alone, but fifteen minutes later he interrupted him again with traces of triumph
in his voice:
"I've found what I was looking for. Take a look at this clipping, Tim".
Tutts was a little disconcerted because of the interruption. He had already
forgotten about the Lynching story in the newspaper, but took the crumpled
sheet that Waweru held out to him and read it. It was an advertisement which
announced: «Jane & Jim Mwangi are husband and wife. Jim is a pilot and Jane
a nurse. They are our kind of people». The text proceeded to proclaim the
importance that young couples be cautious and think about the future. In short,
it was designed to encourage saving, as part of a publicity campaign for Mordox
Bank. The last phrase contained the slogan: «These people, the Mwangi, have
made Mordox's bank their bank». In smaller print below one could read: «This
story is real, but the names used in the photograph are fictitious.»
The detective concentrated on the couple in the photograph. The man
called Jim Mwangi was tall, dark, thin and smiling, with an easy manner.
Despite being taller than average he wore fashionable shoes with thick soles and
large heels. His trousers were wide at the ankles. A tight casual shirt with
vertical lines completed the look. His right hand was squeezed into his trouser
pocket, but his wrist identification bracelet, characteristic of pilots was still
visible. His left outstretched hand tightly gripped the right hand of his shapely
wife. She wore black sunglasses, a knitted turban, a silk blouse with an open
neck, wedge shaped soled shoes, rings and flared trousers. An enormous charm
necklace completed the image. They represented a typical, modern, young middle
class Kenyan couple.
"So what?" he spat at Waweru, "What's that got to do with the lynching?"
"The dead guy in the street is exactly the same one as the model in the
photograph!", shouted Karima, almost hysterical. "I've known him for years from
Kericho. A crazy head, with a very bad luck. He came from a very modest family.
But I never thought he would rob, boss. I am not liking it."
"Dear Karima", said his boss trying to console him. "You are dreaming up
things in an effort to escape the bad patch that we are in. As your comrade
Luma, or what's his name says, it’s the law of the jungle. They catch him
stealing, and he is quite rightly stoned, as is fitting for a delinquent. That Jim
Mwangi, or as he was correctly called, Moses Orieyo, is a lesson to publicity
agents who should more carefully choose their prototype citizens. Once, I
Waweru lost his patience. He got up from his chair and stormed out,
slamming the door behind him, although symbolically. Loud door slamming was
prohibited in Tim Tutts' office, and everyone respected this rule.
"The boy seems a little upset", commented Curly, who had witnessed the
whole scene but without stopping from pounding the keys of her Underwood.
"But you, dear boss, sometimes you are a little rude. It don't help none the
harmony of this office to make comments in bad taste" she added, with
trembling voice, returning to her typing.
"Curly, Curly", responded Tutts, submerged once again in his book. "You
are the most attractive girl when you’re mad; but when you’re quiet, you’re
A sudden noise from the machine made him smile with sadistic pleasure.
The typing error that Curly had just made must have been enormous. He looked
joyfully at the black angel face of his secretary, going red from ear to ear. He
became engrossed in his reading once again, ignoring the rest of the world until
he heard a soft «until tomorrow» from Curly. The empty office was by now dimly
lit by the beautiful and bright late afternoon Nairobi sunset. Tutts thought:
"The devils gotten hold of that journalist Kuma!"
He decided it was the time to make some phone calls, of course without
any connection with that damned lynching. They were broke, so he had to do
A mysterious Character
T he following day, when Timotheus Tutts arrived early at No. 33 River Road,
he found Karima Waweru sat at his desk opposite a pile of papers. He had
an air of provocative satisfaction and pride, boasting a smile from ear to ear.
"I know" attacked Tutts before saying good morning. "The girl in the
advertisement, the assumed Mwangi, was the mistress of the lynched man, by
name Orieyo, and her husband had him killed out of jealousy using a group of
paid thugs that simulated the car theft. Good morning, partner."
"How did you guess, boss?" stuttered Waweru stupefied. "But you can't
prove it," he responded grudgingly without responding to the greeting.
"And you can prove it? Or believe you can, right?" Tutts retorted. "Come
on, show me your evidence to entertain me a little, and then I can ridicule your
thin and trivial theory as an easy early morning intellectual exercise."
Tutts at times could be comically cruel with his co-workers, and the truth
is that he loved to have them in a permanent state of tension when on a difficult
case. And this one he realized was sizing up to be a very complicated one. There
were a couple of things that didn't quite fit into this apparently clear and obvious
Waweru was not assuaged, and started to give his report.
"To start with, we have another newspaper cutting. It is a legal notice of
the termination of a marriage contract, the type required in divorce cases,"
He passed Tutts a photograph of a woman wearing a pained expression.
Looking at it closely, it was possible to recognize that it was the same woman
called Jane Mwangi in the publicity photo. On this occasion she wasn't smiling
and her hairstyle was totally old fashioned. She wore a closed dress with a plain
collar, and no jewelry. At the foot of the photograph was the following text. "The
lady in the photograph, Hottensiah Rose Wihu, living in Minet Street, Nairobi, is
no longer the wife of George Njoroge Gathu, of Langatta Road, Karen. Notice is
given that whatever debts incurred by her, are her exclusive responsibility. The
use of the name Mrs. Gathu must be discontinued from now on."
"Gathu's ex-wife lost the divorce case initiated by her husband, a
prosperous business man in the construction industry, and distinguished
member of the Kenyan Chamber of Commerce.” She is a professional model
Waweru added, showing another advertisement, also for Mordox Bank, where
she appears happily dressed as a nurse and once again as the character of Jane
And he concluded triumphantly:
"I have not yet investigated the reasons for the divorce, but my guess is
that she committed adultery, and the third member was the unfortunate Orieyo.
In a couple of hours I will have the proof. The story of the car theft is a load of
nonsense. Orieyo is, or was, as innocent as you or myself. He was not a thief.
They laid him a trap; case resolved" and he added in supercilious tone:
"You were right chief, but you didn't establish the facts."
While Karima was explaining this, another member of the team, Joseph
Ndege, quietly entered the office, shaking the important masses of his belly. His
chief made a gesture with his hand, and the fat man sat down and waited. The
old leather chair creaked on receiving his big frame. He carried a file that
intrigued Waweru, but Tutts realized its contents immediately. Behind him
appeared Curly, extremely surprised to find so many people in the office that
early. Her melodious "Good Morning everyone" floated in the air, like the echo of
a harpsichord, whilst Waweru's monologue sounded as a basso continuo….
When this pleasant reverberation had finished, Tutts looked at the
clippings once again. It was the same woman, but the difference between the
sophisticated publicity photos and the formal air of the official picture was
“Do you have anything else?” Tutts asked Waweru in the most neutral
tone possible, although it was obvious that he wanted the fat Ndege to speak as
soon as possible. He didn't want to provoke rivalry in the office; besides, Karima
Waweru considered Joseph Ndege as his personal assistant, freeing the boss
from his supervision.
Karima shook his head looking out of the corner of his eye at Nedge.
"Your report, Joe" said Tutts, pointing at the fat guy with his finger, who
by this time was sweating with his shirt hanging out.
"Well, chief" responded Nedge, avoiding Waweru's gaze. "I went to the
Nairobi police headquarters and they confirmed that Moses Orieyo had a history
of car theft with violence, possession of foreign currency, and street disorder. He
had been detained several times, but only prosecuted once, coming out early for
good conduct. A few years ago they stopped watching him. He had been taken
custody in a couple of roundups, but without results. They believe that he had
become a reformed character until yesterday's tragedy."
"Yes", said Nedge. "I have a press cutting that describes his actions up to
the date of his sentencing in April 1977."
"I see that we continue influenced by the power of the press" commented
Tutts. "Continue, my friend."
"Right chief. I looked up the Nairobi News in the council library and found
the following report...."
"One moment", interrupted Tim Tutts. "Please, I would like Curly to read
it, your tiresome tone will drug us all." And added to placate the fat man:
"Nothing personal Joe, it's a case of comparative advantages, old man. You
speak many tongues, she manages only one, although like a goddess."
The secretary, going bright red, but content with the ill-intentioned
flattery, started to read the article between Nedge's guffaws:
"An individual that admitted robbing a car valued at 15,000 shillings, was
sentenced yesterday to two years in jail and ten lashes by a magistrate in
the Nairobi court. The 21-year-old delinquent, Moses A Orieyo, was
granted fourteen days to present his appeal. Mr. Parbat N. Patel, resident
in Thika and owner of the vehicle, a Ford Cortina, stated that three
individuals attacked him, armed with the feared traditional machetes
known as pangas, on his way home last Friday night. The thieves had
blocked the road with two large logs they found nearby. When Mr. Patel
got out of his Ford to see what had happened, the assailants hit him
without mercy with the pangas, slicing bits of scalp, and leaving his body
full of wounds. Mr. Patel pretended to be dead thereby evading death,
whilst the delinquents tried with difficulty to resuscitate the stalled engine.
Finally it started, abandoning the Asian at the side of the road, insulting
and spitting over him as they left."
Curly interrupted her reading to drink a few gulps of water. Waweru
looked at the ground, hands on his forehead. Joseph Nedge, fanned himself with
his far from clean folder. A suffocating smell of reheated concrete came in
through the window. The secretary proceeded with the tale:
"During further investigations, Parbet N Patel, 40 years old, a chemist,
recognized two of his attackers but could only register a charge against
Orieyo, the only one of adult age in the group. Mr. Patel suffered a nervous
breakdown during the confrontation; therefore his testimony was
submitted in writing. Prostrate to the present day, the unfortunate
professional of Pakistani origin has been unable to recover from the
horrible adventure. The Asian community in Nairobi has reiterated their
concern due to the frequent attacks against their members."
The clipping, passed around the group, included a blurred but important
photograph. It showed the condemned Moses Orieyo in the moment that he left
the courts flanked by uniformed and plain clothed policemen, smiling and
unrepentant. Orieyo appeared to joke impudently with the public, which seemed
to contagiously affect his guards, who also appeared to be enjoying the moment.
“Your friend was a big shot,” remarked Tutts, looking steadily at Waweru
whilst he passed him the clipping. Repentful or not he must have contacts in
high places. If not, how can one explain the fact that he has only been in prison
once with such a personal history worthy of a Sicilian mafia gangster? You are
right about something Karima. The case is strange. To cap it all, he looks very
friendly with the court officials, don't you think?"
"He wasn't a friend of mine" mumbled the other, pale and agitated on the
verge of tears.
"Some fellow countryman in the court probably helped him" Nedge said
Tutts observed Waweru and realized he was suffering over something that
was eating away inside him. He left him meditate for a moment and then
"Karima. Don't be offended and don't act like a child at what I'm about to
tell you. I am not joking. I would like my ancestors to speak for me. Listen to this
proverb: «Never clean your ass with a porcupine».
Waweru was about to respond furiously, when Curly interrupted him:
"Gentlemen, with so much excitement you have forgotten to read today's
paper. There is more news about the lynched young man. Be quiet and I'll read it
to you" she said, concentrating on the crime page of the Nairobi News, in front of
the expectant detectives all now interested in the mysterious Orieyo.
"A car thief called Moses Angila Orieyo, with a history of this activity, was
captured thanks to the heroic action of an askari, Mathias Munyitaya
Muasya, 37 years old, attached to the Atlas House building next to the
New Stanley Hotel. The employee was drinking his hot evening tea when
he heard the typical shouts of a multitude chasing a delinquent. The clever
guard stood up to investigate and saw the individual pass by a few meters
from him. According to the guard, the pursued changed direction towards
the askari, and gave him a violent blow on his helmet with an English
wrench that he carried as a weapon, but without hurting him. Bravely, in
self defense, the askari hit the thief with his three legged chair upon which
he had been sitting, striking him on the back of the neck. Even though the
offender did not fall immediately, nobody doubted that the heroic action of
the askari was key to the thief's spectacular capture and eventual
"I see that fantasy journalism is in fashion,” commented Tutts
sarcastically. “Now it seems the guy carried a heavy weapon and not just a
screwdriver, and the adjectives are more sensational than ever. Continue, my
"Before this incident, the thief had left the owner of the vehicle, Mr. Velgi
Chakra Shah, ex-director of the Chamber of Commerce, badly wounded
and unconscious. He was taken to the Aga Khan hospital where he was
treated for trauma and wounds to his head, arms and right hand. He was
also informed that his attacker had been captured and killed thanks to the
brilliant action of the askari from Atlas House. Mr. Shah, 52 years old,
who suffered an assault on his tailors shop last year, said that he had
surprised the delinquent who was trying to get into his car with the
obvious intention of stealing it. When he appeared Mr. Shah believes he
saw two well dressed accomplices that were loitering around the vehicle,
but they disappeared into the late afternoon shadows when the scandal
erupted. Mr. Shah expressed satisfaction with the reaction of citizens
against this act, which frequently occurs in the city shadows at sunset."
"What a hypocrite!” mumbled Nedge, without interrupting the reading:
"It was explained to the press that the loyal askari, Mr. Muasya received a
reward from the Shah family, and also from the administration of the
building where he works. The photograph shows the smiling businessman
Mr. Shah shaking the hand of Mathias Muasya, who is wearing his dented
helmet, and exhibiting the famous chair used to stop the thief. At the side
of the bed, the nurses Lucy Guhinji and Mary Kimeuri look very polite and
"Comments please. The floor is open" said Tim Tutts, looking at his
Waweru gave out a moan and rubbed his eyes, as if he had just come out
of a nightmare. He smiled painfully, and cleared his throat to confide in his
colleagues other details of the incredibly tragic, but brief life of Moses Angila
Orieyo, the car thief from Jevanjee gardens, lynched without pity by the vengeful
"S ome years ago, when I was a reporter," started Karima Waweru, "there
was a matatu crash in Kericho, which I covered for a magazine. On this
occasion, two people died instantly and another three were seriously wounded
when two of these illegal shared taxi vehicles, collided head on and rolled over.
You all know the matatu here in Nairobi, and I doubt that you feel like using
them, but in rural areas they are practically the only means of transport. They
are much more ramshackle than here in the capital, and put together with used
spare parts; they appear like the beggars of the road.
"The dead were, I almost remember from memory," continued Waweru
consulting his crumpled papers, "John Mburu, 28 years old, driver of one of the
matatus, a Peugeot 404 station wagon; and a female passenger Anna Angila,
aged 41 years. They were travelling with eight other passengers from the
Kapkugerwat market to Kericho when the accident occurred. I saw the dead
body of the driver, John Mburu, which was trapped for a couple of hours inside
the destroyed vehicle. I remember with horror his long black nails bathed in
blood, his fingers clasped around the wheel, and his hairy head welded to the
"The other matatu, an Isuzu, also carried eight people, but going in the
opposite direction, from Kericho to Kapkugerwat. Imagine sixteen people, boss,
crammed into that pair of metal coffins. Three of the passengers in this second
matatu were gravely injured: Joseph Omindi, a decrepit looking old man, but
who was only 53 years old, greengrocer; David Mureka, 26 years old, also
greengrocer, and Moses Orieyo, a youth of 17 years, without stated profession.
Yes sir, our very same Moses Orieyo, the lynched car thief. All were taken to the
emergency department of the Kericho hospital, along with three other occupants
of the improvised shared taxis, and were treated for minor injuries and later sent
home. The rest of the passengers escaped unhurt, as I understand.
"In the hospital, I was informed that the passengers Omindi and Mureka
suffered multiple fractures and were placed in a special ward to receive traction
treatment; however neither could recover from their injuries and died within a
year. Orieyo suffered facial and head injuries, and a broken nose; he lost various
teeth and ruptured his eardrums, which left him partially deaf, according to the
specialists. I have the original reports in my file. But listen to this. In an ironic
twist, the youth Orieyo was the son of the dead woman in the other matatu, Mrs.
"Moses Orieyo, like the hero of a classic tragedy" declared Karima now in
full theatrical mode, "was, by a strange quirk of fate, involved in the killing of his
own mother. He could not recover from this, as I will tell you in a moment. I
remember how the chief of police in Kericho, Superintendent Reuben Matanka,
begged motorists with tears in his eyes, to drive with extra care on the dangerous
routes that link Kedowa, Kericho, and Kaitui; and warned those owners and
drivers of the prohibited matatu, who transport passengers without any safety
measures, that the police would be implacable, imprisoning owners and
confiscating vehicles. Good intentions that are never carried out, like many more
in this country, as you know. He added that the common leitmotiv of the matatu
brothehood, «we always have room for one more passanger» was in very bad
taste, if not morbid, in view of the large number of accidents involving these
vehicles. Those affected are nearly always poor people, added the overwhelmed
Superintendent Matanka. I interviewed him, and in my opinion, he is a good guy,
but fighting a losing battle against the cruel reality.”
"I contemplated with my own eyes," continued Waweru, "the two destroyed
matatu, transformed into a mass of crumpled twisted metal. One could see
bloodstains and a stream of gasoline that fortunately didn't ignite. I shall never
forget a tyre in the foreground, with its tread almost erased, perhaps the direct
cause of the accident. A small crowd of curious people, of which I was one,
watched from the curbside. There was no authority to prevent the plundering of
the two matatu. An abandoned shoe lent a pathetic and comic mark to the scene,
as if Chaplin had passed by. After the dead and injured had been taken away,
the vehicles seemed to boil on the overheated tarmac.”
"These horrific images are very clear to me. We were in a very dry period
and the fields simmered under an implacable sun. Cows and goats were dying,
and wild beasts came into the villages, looking for food and water. In this
northern region, half way between the west, irrigated by the Victoria lake and the
east flanked by the Turkana desert and its calcinated sands, the drought was felt
hardest, more than in any other part."
(It is worth inserting here that the Kenyans are devotees of good stories.
Able storytellers inhabit the highest places in Kenyan society, and Karima
Waweru was demonstrating that the Gods had blessed him with this gift.)
"Three weeks after the accident, I had to return to Kericho for other
matters related to the drought. Some hyenas, frantic from hunger, had attacked
a school and devoured several small children, in front of a desperate white nun."
The deep voice of Ndege was then heard:
"You remember the Masai proverb: «A dog cannot protect two houses.»
"For curiosity I asked about Orieyo" continued Karima, showing by a
gesture that he agreed with Nedge, "I was very concerned for the fate of this
unfortunate youngster with his air of innocence. They told me where to find him
and I arrived at a modest hut on the outskirts of the village. It appeared
abandoned, but one could see the work of a careful hand, which I guessed was
the deceased Anna Angila, the mother of Orieyo. When I saw him I almost failed
to recognize him, his face bore the marks of the accident. He wore all the
accoutrements of the famous Watu wa Mungu: a white gown, turban, leather
sandals and an enormous cross around his neck. His febrile face told me that
the youth was in a profound spiritual crisis."
Tutts stopped Waweru at this point to reprehend him:
"Karima, take it easy, don't accelerate so much. Your story is interesting,
but tell us more about this sect. The truth is that I have seen them trotting by in
military style every day, with their drums, but I don't know anything else about
this exotic and energetic faith."
Waweru was discontent with the flippant tone of the interruption, but
condescended to explain about the famous "Men of God", which is the meaning
of Watu wa Mungu in Swahili. He closed his eyes and appeared to go into a
trance. It was as if he shortly became transported to a traditional congregational
bonfire, the group heard him speak with body and soul.
"God bless you, Africa!” muttered Tutts.
"Well, this is an important matter for me” said Waweru. “I am a man of
faith. I will give you a summary. In the 1920s in the district of Kiambu in the
north of Kenya, a tall and imposing man called Joseph N'gang'a who worked like
a casual teacher and popular doctor, heard the voice of God after much drinking.
God called him by his christian name, even though he was not baptized, and
ordered him to do a penance in order to cleanse his sins. God also ordered him
to pray for his people so that one day they would be liberated from his
oppressors through faith. N'gang'a became a recluse, alternating between
praying and Bible reading. He lived frugally, barely satisfying his basic needs. He
fasted so intensely to reach sainthood, that he was on the edge of death."
"Hurry up, Karima" interrupted Tutts, amidst complaints from everybody.
"Don't deviate so much towards the hagiography and stick to the facts."
Waweru looked at him with rancor, but held back. Egged on by popular
support, he continued his sullen exposition:
"It was thanks to his mother that N'gang'a managed to survive such a
prolonged reclusion, she fed him and ensured he had the best care, managing to
convince him that God wanted him alive to complete a divine mission. Rapidly,
news began to spread that a holy man was sacrificing himself to reap the grace
of God. Little by little, a band of converts quietly began to gather around the
repentant that the population regarded as a purified man. At the beginning of
the 30s, N'gang'a who was from the Luo tribe, overcame his contemplative
period, and started to go on pilgrimages, making contact with the Kikuyu, then
submissive under colonial British rule. The followers of N'gang'a had adopted the
use of a white cuka; a kind of tunic, which they said, had been bestowed by the
Holy Spirit to differentiate them from the Europeans and their impure clothes.
They had also chosen to grow their beards and wear only sandals on their feet,
like biblical characters. The government began to persecute them, as they would
a small but dangerous subversive group. The official churches considered them a
barbaric and perverse form of Christianity, and did nothing to protect them from
the zeal of the imperialist soldiers..."
"Therefore, Karima" interrupted Tutts once again, our original Watu wa
Mungu dressed themselves for very special reasons, with a fair slice of politics,"
he added in a pretentious tone.
The reciter ignored him and continued with the story:
"There came a more peaceful period during which the sect grew
spectacularly in all the Kikuyu districts; Limuru, Thika, the Rift Valley, and even
in Nairobi itself. The movement contributed to the massive diffusion of the Bible
in the Kikuyu language, which despite the subtle censorship of the translators,
served to reinforce the ancestral convictions of local culture, through the
revelations, the predictions, and ritual prohibitions. Then unfortunately, in 1934,
there was a mishap. Joseph N'gang'a was ambushed, and he fell in a rain of
police bullets, together with his two main followers. The chronicles say they sang
prayers to God in rhythm, in the same way as they do today, when they were
cowardly massacred by the English artillery. The murderers were exonerated by
the white courts, because they said that the dead had carried bows and arrows
to threaten the soldiers. In the opinion of the judge, the soldiers had fired in self-
defense, and were congratulated for behaving in accordance with the law.
Tradition says that N'gang'a had predicted his own death and had impregnated
his followers with a message of faith in the future..."
Surprised, Tutts felt a muffled sobbing at his side. It was the fat Nedge,
who unable to stand the intense memory of the colonial terrors, blew long and
hard trying to hide his tears.
"Little Joe" Tutts said. "We have to learn to be serene and objective when
confronted with history."
Everybody understood that such a silly phrase from the boss couldn't have
another objective but to hide his own emotion. To break the mournful moment,
Tutts hurried Waweru:
"Karima... Quickly finish your tale, this isn't a history class, political
meeting, or an open air sermon. Please continue. Waweru restarted his story:
"There is little more to add, the Watu a Mungu became the most ferocious
and bravest enemies that the British Empire had, killing its leaders was one of
the worst decisions of the colonial administration, because the sect inclined
towards armed violence. On attacking, tradition says they imitated the roar of
lions and the laugh of hyenas. To provoke the authorities, they refused to go to
the hospitals or send their children to white schools, and many orthodox
followers still conserve these confrontational practices. In 1952, during the so
called emergency, the Watu wa Mungu, even though divided into many local
groups, went to the aid of the Mau Mau to fight against the British oppressor. I
can't tell you any more, only to say that on top of the murders, divisions,
persecutions, harassment, and misunderstanding on all sides, the Watu wa
Mungu, the sect born from the word of God through an illiterate and visionary
black, continues to exist to this day, showing the concordance of African thought
with biblical truth..."
"That's called syncretism," said Tutts, "and you have explained it very well
with an eloquence that I didn't know you had. Now I'd like to know," he added in
a jestful tone, "in accordance with your theory, what special significance does
this have for Orieyo?"
"I have to explain something else," replied Karima. "I refer to the concept of
prophesy, so cherished by the chosen people, something that you cannot
understand, Tim. Excuse me but you are in many respects a European and this
idea will escape you. What I would like to say," he jumped in quickly so as not to
give Tutts time to intervene with one of his ironic diatribes, "is that the poor
Orieyo was the victim of his own beliefs. Remember how the mother of N'gang'a
was essential so that the prophet could develop his holy mission? Well Orieyo,
as a strong follower of this faith, could see in N'gang'a a literal example. And you
know that Orieyo, through this unforeseen disaster, and without any
responsibility, felt that he killed his mother in the matatus accident. At least
that's how I understand him. He feels guilty of having committed the worst of all
"Could you speak to him about this?" asked Tutts.
"Yes, boss" responded Waweru. "Orieyo was torn apart when I found him
on that occasion, he was undergoing a strict penance and couldn't accept the
death of Anna Angila. He believed he had been touched by the thahu, an evil luck
that falls upon those "that behave like animals", live impurely, murder family,
touch excrement, or fornicate contra natura. These are prohibitions that carry
grave punishments for those that break them. I think that when I found Orieyo,
he was initiating a process of self-punishment. Nobody comes out of that the
same, you are either converted into a pure man with your soul saved, or die in
the process. That is what tradition teaches, besides," he added in a sad voice,
"remember that Orieyo was put in a hospital, something unacceptable for a Watu
Taking advantage of the pause, Nedge interrupted Karima's rendition to
recite in nasal tones:
“«If a soul touch any unclean thing, wether it be a carcass of an unclean
beast, or the carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping
things... he also shall be unclean, and guilty. Or if he touch the uncleanness of
man, whatsoever uncleanness it be, that a man shall be defiled withal... then he
shall be guilty». Leviticus chapter 5, verses 2 and 3" added the fat guy with a
touch of petulance”.
"Correct" confirmed Waweru. "What I'm trying to make you understand,
boss, is that Moses Angila Orieyo could not have become easily transformed into
a ruffian. He had passed through severe tests to redeem himself, therefore in
some ways, he was a sanctified man."
"How do you know?" rebounded Tim Tutts in a less than friendly tone.
"Did you see him after his penance?"
"I saw him with my own eyes boss" affirmed Waweru impatiently. "He had
become an active member of the sect, beating drums and praying every
Saturday. He would go into ecstasy; once I saw him running past in the street,
his eyes white and mouth full of foam. During the week, he worked in a garage
arduously repairing matatu. Orieyo had a special morbid relationship with motor
vehicles. Afterwards, someone told me that he had come to Nairobi and was
looking for a job. He even became a model. Don't you remember the photo from
the magazine I showed you? There is something incredible in this story."
After a long deep breath, Karima added in a whisper:
"If one accepts that he was robbing that car, and that it wasn't the first
time that he was doing it, there must be a much more complex explanation than
the simple offense. I think I will investigate, I'm convinced the adultery theory is
At that moment Tutts decided to suspend the meeting, he felt the need to
reflect and organize operations, or to simply cancel the investigation there and
then. The firm didn't have one valid reason to take on the case, nobody had
contracted them. "To avoid an injustice committed in the name of such an
unimportant person as Moses Angila Orieyo, is no reason to mobilize ourselves."
thought Tutts. He was in doubt, and without a clear idea of how to proceed,
although the case appeared fascinating and very interesting. He tried to build on
the territorial connections of the story, the answer he felt was near, even there,
perhaps in River Road.
Tutts burns the Midnight Oil.
F or many Kenyans, River Road is a true representation of Nairobi with all
its multiple facets: "the physical and human manifestation of the nation"
digressed Tutts. Despite the fact that Kenya is far from being a homogenous
nation in the sense of a homeland; on the contrary, before the struggle for
independence, from the time when Uhuru, the scream for freedom, meant
nothing, Kenyan territory was a motley and incoherent conglomerate, even a
turbulent mix, of ethnic groups in continuous friction." Tutts flew. "Given these
facts, what an enormous job to construct national unity! What a painful process
to try and unite groups that often faced each other in hateful bloody
confrontations! and more frequently than not for foreign causes, appetites
induced from outside, starting with the monstrous treatment of slaves, then land
plundering, and finally the European wars.
The creation of a nationality has been a rocky, difficult road, given the
hard task of coping with ethnic differences, and, at the same time trying to build
on the similarities. For the sake of national unity, so that the Kikuyu, the Luo,
the Abaluyia, the Kamba, or the Masai, can feel part of the same family, clan or
enlarged group. But Kenyans are so profoundly and organically different! As is
well known: there is a greater physical and cultural difference between a lion
hunter from the Masai Mara, and a grain farmer from Machakos, for example,
than between a Swede and a Japanese, both products of contemporary western
"With so many differences," (perhaps it's better to complete this Tuttsian
digression before it threatens to turn into a sociological essay,) "the intermingling
is alive and present in River Road and in many other parts of the popular
center. The street is the place where all the compatriots chat and are brought
together by warm urban attractions: business, interchange, the refreshments
and other matters. This place is the melting pot from the four cardinal and
cultural points of the territory. All this against a backdrop of the rich black
African current that gives this society its qualitative form; but there is also space
for the Arab, the Asian, and the European inputs which have arrived, for good or
bad, to contribute to the creation of the Kenyan nation..."
The detective quartet that makes up T.T.&T., is a micro example of this
multiple pool. Karima Waweru is a Kikuyu born in Nairobi, a typical product of
urban upbringing. He studied chemistry, journalism, and mechanics, and, with
Tutts, how to be a detective. Tim Tutts is also Kikuyu, although only partially,
his father was a Welsh archaeologist, the famous Dr.Tutts Thompson; and his
mother, coloured, the product of a Kikuyu farmer based in Muranga who had
taken an agricultural course in Aberdeen and met a Scottish lady. Like many
past generations Tutts constituted then, a living testimony of the colonial period.
His other assistant, Joe Nedge, is an Abaluyia from Kakamega who emigrated to
Nairobi, firstly doing minor work as a cook, doorman, and chauffeur. Like many
of his countrymen he is a genius with languages. Finally, Curly, the secretary, is
Galla, a Somalian subgroup. One should feast eyes on her: very tall, sculptured,
with perfect facial features.
It's easy to demonstrate that Kenyan unity is based upon racial and
cultural diversity. If one talks about drinking houses, the serious but cordial
face of a Kikuyu can usually be found behind the bar, administering to the needs
of pombe, (or beer) to those passing through the center. There are the traditional
brands, Tusker and White Cup, that enliven the soul, along with those doubtful
home brewed elixirs that arrive from remote parts of the interior. To maintain
order, its not uncommon to see a Masai or Turkana warrior, armed with his club
and spear, maintaining guard to placate disorderly customers. Nor is it strange
to see an Abaluyia from the northern provinces serving tables, the supreme
proletariate of this highly stratified society.
With a healthy appetite, there is nowhere better to eat than the Arab or
Swahili restaurants, where meals are served amidst the glorious smells of
barbecued goat kebab, roast beef, kuku soup (from chicken) all spiced with hot
pili-pili sauce; and also the sukumawiki and the ugali, the irio and the African
chapati made from eggs and spiced meat. If you are tempted by vegetarian or
meat Indian foods, River Road boasts some of the best Indian or sikh restaurants
to delight the appetite, with rare varieties of lentils, crispy nan, meat, chicken or
fish curry, and roasted chapatis. In addition, for the less exigent or those on a
small budget, one can also eat the abominable fish and chips in River Road,
dripping with oil, that the British left as a legacy to their culinary barbarism.
Paradoxically it's not unusual to see a retired Luo fisherman from lake Victoria
behind the counter, wrapping up a stinking fish, as if he were in a cold London
If one needs construction materials or tools, the smiling Kamba offer the
advantages of their ancestral talents inherited from their great war and hunting
feats, the mother and school of Kenyan technical development. The very same
Kamba that due to tradition, form the majority of the military and the police
force of the country.
Naturally anything to do with clothing and groceries, tourist souvenirs,
stationary, furniture and other items for the household, is the predilection of the
Indian and Pakistani immigrants that are dedicated to trade the unreliable
products of local industry. As dubious technically and aesthetically as is possible
to imagine; these mingle with Chinese articles, Czech shoes or Korean radios
which are traded between the poor, quality at a certain price...
Krishna, and Guru Nanak temples, a pair of Islamic mosques, and diverse
Christian churches appear to live in quiet coexistence. Amen to all those roaming
salesmen, peripatetic preachers of various sects, chattering shoeshiners, and
lottery ticket vendors, that all share the pavements with the modest corn
roasters, and fast food sellers. Old book shops hide unexpected treasures in
River Road. It is the real Kenya, the local satisfaction of community needs, the
other side of the coin to international tourism.
Here in River Road is where one finds the offices of T.T.&T., Detectives,
and the raison d'etre of our hero Timotheus Tutts, a mulatto of Welsh and
Kikuyu stock, 34 years old, single, detective by choice. It was he who said it
would be difficult to find a more appropriate place to install themselves, as this
street was the spine of the city; and more profoundly, the marrow of Kenyan
In River Road the legal and illegal are bound together with a handshake
which characterizes a way of doing business in this beautiful if slightly sinister
land. This is the raw material for detective work; the explosion of contradictions
that stirs Kenya as a young nation, no longer a village, but now governed by laws
that its citizens didn't create, that originate from the contemporary world.
Tim Tutts returned to reality. It seemed impossible to fathom out the
complexity of the case that he was investigating. From his name and origin, the
murdered Moses Orieyo was a Luo, the ethnic group associated with the villages
on the edge of lake Victoria, water source of the sacred Nile. A nomadic people
that once occupied the territory that extends down to the Cape of Good Hope:
However, from his physical appearance, his thinness, the softness of his
features, so distinct to the rough Luo, it was clear he was a mix with another
race, perhaps Masai, the brave and savage war tribe described with colour in the
novels of Rider Haggard.
The probability that Orieyo was a mix between Luo and Masai was very
peculiar, and to complicate things, he was a follower of the Watu wa Mungu, a
religion that was associated above all with the Kikuyu. The surname Angila from
his mother was Luo, therefore one could suppose that the Masai blood came
from his father.
It was clear that this person was a cultural and racial enigma, full of
contradictions and subject to fluctuating strange traditions. A circumcised Masai
fathered Moses Orieyo with a Luo, that do not practice genital surgery, male or
female. How could something so abnormal occur with an impure woman? That is
taboo for the Masai. They accept women from other tribes but only if they have
had a clitoridectomy. Tutts deduced that only in the city was such a mix
possible. Once more his thoughts passed to River Road; that is where he felt the
answer was hidden to the enigma.
The detective looked through the window onto the topsy-turvy street and
from his desk could see that a couple of policemen in blue suits, boots and
macks, were in the process of arresting a drunk that was shouting curses and
insults whilst receiving blows to his prominent ribs. A group of bystanders were
provoking them, laughing at the desperation of the individual. Someone went
near and gave the drunk a kick up the backside. In compensation, the aggressor
received a fierce blow on his right shoulder with a truncheon from one of the
policemen. He collapsed. The public roared with pleasure. Even the drunk
showed a smile of vengeance that didn't last long because the policemen started
to beat him once again. River Road was offering one of its regular spectacles:
justice a la carta.
"Holy shit." philosofied Tutts.
The private detective returned to his thoughts. He was in a valley without
an exit, interested in the problem, but with no clear reason to get involved. Tutts
had left an important post in an international organization to become a detective,
and had roped in an assortment of people to help him with this task. he had
assumed responsibilities for them, "his team." Above all they had to live off their
work; and the most vulgar problems were generally the most profitable...
However, everything changed the following day with an unexpected visit:
someone broke the idleness at No. 33 River Road giving sense to the whole
mystery. That is how life is in a detective agency, suddenly something happens,
the money arrives... and the job starts.
Gathu's ex-Wife accuses.
E verybody had gone out for lunch, and Tutts was about to listen to some
music which nobody else in the office liked, and to glance at his mystery
books. He often liked to do some research on the composer, update his
professional files, or complete other more or less Epicurean or sybaritic tasks.
The detective was a fanatic of crime novels, and apart from collecting
them, felt guided by their dubious witness. He confessed to have been inspired
by the detective Nero Wolfe "The man of the Orchids" created by Rex Stout. This
is when he decided to become a detective. According to Wolfe, the eradication of
crime by the force of the law was a clear an unequivocal sign of civilization.
Crime with impunity was a primitive thing, only existing in lawless societies.
Tutts concluded that he wanted to help create a respectable and respected
Throwing himself into one of the leather chairs in the office, chosen not by
chance, but to imitate a detective studio he had seen in the movies, Tutts
thought once again of this crucial moment and was pleased with his choice of
career. He had swapped the daily routine of the diplomatic corpse, with its easy
successes, for the possibility of submerging himself into the darkest depths of
his country. That nauseous and dangerous zone, attractive to him as a magnet,
that mixed a bloody past with the uncertain present characterized by a grey
contradictory area where drinkers of crude blood lived side by side with religious
vegetarians, polygamy with strict celibacy, ritual sacrifices with collective
hypnosis, mutilators of children, and lepers exhibiting their scars. Here occurred
many strange demeanors, ambiguous law, injustice hidden behind tradition, in a
society still lacking a clear identity: this was Tim Tutts' detective universe.
An ice cold bottle of White Cup and a roast beef sandwich made his day. In
truth, Tim Tutts much preferred the company of a book to a human being, good
or bad. Then without warning a woman interrupted his sancta sanctorum
providing the key to the whole episode. Cherchez la femme say the old
chronicles... and that's just the way it was. He hadn't even managed to take the
record out of its cover, nor to open his beer and choose a novel, when he heard a
knock at the door.
It was her. Hottensiah Wihu. Tutts was stupefied. Gathu's ex-wife
appeared only moderately affected by time. She had a sophisticated, bourgeois
air, and was very attractive in her maturity, as promised in the advertisements,
although her figure seemed to have deteriorated slightly. The years and suffering
had left her face wrinkled, tense, framed by a disorderly hairstyle. A few grey
strands suggested a loss of self-respect, an abandonment of ideals. In summary,
decadence. Despite being in her thirties, a marvelous age, thought Tutts, she
appeared like someone retired in their fifties. Only her frame was left and a hint
of flirtation which Tutts noted instinctively, as if there were a touch of theatrical
characterization in the faded aspect of the woman.
On detecting a look of admiration from the short detective, she was taller
than him by around twenty centimeters, she stared down at him with damp,
imploring eyes, still he noted, full of passion. This gave Tutts the impression
that the woman was still not defeated. Those intense feelings that provoke
dramas, which fed the broad sheets, seemed to boil in her.
Promptly, he offered her a seat and a cup of tea, whilst engaging in a brief
but eloquent introduction that he considered fundamental to relax his clients,
and give the impression that he and his team, where in the best position to
resolve the most worrying problems in the world.
"I'm Timotheus Tutts," he said introducing himself "I run this office of
private investigators dedicated to the service of educated people in Nairobi,
Mombasa, Kiambu or Kisumu that need efficient, rapid effective and above all
Tutts paused to observe her. "Discrete; kabisa" he emphasized, using the
Swahili word in what he supposed was an amusing British accent, but he only
achieved a slight grimace of displeasure from the woman. "My team and I,"
continued Tutts slightly put out, "fear no danger and we maintain contacts
within the corridors of power, the banks, businesses, the church, and within
diplomatic circles. We also operate in Kampala, Dar-es-Salaam, and Zanzibar.
You may completely trust in Tutts & Team. My distinguished lady we are at your
disposition to help you with your problem Mrs...."
"Wihu" responded the visitor in a very low voice, "Hottensiah Rose Wihu,
Tutts had already guessed her name. She was clearly in a very nervous
state, on the border of crying. The woman looked like a typical Kikuyu from
Muranga or Limuru, with an air that made her appear like the owner of the
country and the natural founder of Kenya. The Kikuyu had become the natural
enemies of the dominant English. Even though there was today much mythology
in this, the fury of colonization has been replaced with the urgency to fill ones
"One could almost say that Gathu's ex-wife was an aristocrat, except that
this term has little meaning in a society based on community structures"
thought Tutts. The detective said to calm her down:
"You realize Mrs. Wihu, that we are not the police. That we don't
investigate to charge anyone, much less to administer punishment. We are here
to serve our clients, and to clarify the truth. What you do with the information
we provide is your business. We limit ourselves to providing incontrovertible
facts, cause and effect relations, details that you may manage to approximate the
The woman looked at him disdainfully, bored with such polite rhetoric.
Anyone could see she was used to giving orders to servants under her control, in
exercising power in a rich household. But at the same time, he felt that this was
a thing of the past, and now she was forced to rub shoulders with the rest of her
"Mr. Tutts" she said, "I have come to ask for your help to clear up an
injustice committed against the memory of a dead man. I don't want anything for
myself, nor wish any harm to anyone. I only wish that this person, of great
significance in my life, has his name cleared; and his honor vindicated."
"Mrs. Wihu" interrupted Tutts softly, "that is not normal work for us. But I
see you are very determined" he said quickly noting disappointment on her face.
"Could you be a little more explicit please?"
"I can't for the moment give you any more details, Mr. Tutts. I beg you to
understand" she said in trembling voice "help me organize an investigation that I
can't do alone."
In response to the exaggerated look of surprise on the detectives face (on
these occasions Tim Tutts tended to overact), the woman countered:
"If its money, don't worry. I have some savings of my own and a pension
that I receive from my husband, from whom I am divorced."
At this point Tutts decided to provoke his interviewee whose short breaths
and sweating palms had subsided, partly due to the infusion of Lapsang
Suchong which the detective had served her:
"Tell me Mrs. Wihu. Is your ex-husband, by coincidence, a prominent
industrialist in the construction industry, a director of the Chamber of
Commerce, an ex-member of Parliament for the district of Limuru, and therefore
a prominent militant of the governing party, Mr. George Njoroge Gathu?"
The woman remained calm, and smiled with sadness:
"In effect, Mr. Tutts. It's obvious that you saw that shameful advertisement
in the newspaper. Gathu is a public man. We were married for five years. We
have two small children that live with him. I had to fight a legal battle over
custody of them, but the power of my ex-husband overwhelmed my ethical
arguments, and my personal qualities as a mother. In this country woman are
simply exchanged, Mr. Tutts" she added with a touch of irony "They think we are
disposable, interchangeable. Mr. Gathu demonstrated in court that the children
would have better replacement mothers." she spat bitterly.
"What was your ex-husbands main argument?" asked her interrogator,
knowing he was entering firmer ground.
"Well the argument the judge held up against me was the accusation of
adultery. My husband managed to prove it by tricking me, he said I ran off with
another man, and that I didn't care for my children adequately. You know that is
a grave crime in Kenya" she affirmed with renewed symptoms of desperation.
"I agree" retracted Tutts. "But in that case, how come you are here talking
with me? You should at least be in jail, right?"
"The explanation is very simple, Mr.Tutts. The judge knew that it was all a
huge lie. In league with my husband they contrived to give me a light
punishment, relieving me of my access rights, and to cut himself off from me.
And what is more serious, he is paying for each of his favours, one by one, going
through a lot of money." completed the lady "Many functionaries received their
dues in diverse forms, including the honorable magistrate Mr. Lytton, despite his
regal wigs, and that air of an English Lord."
"If I understand well Mrs. Gathu, you are accusing the honorable Mr.
Joseph Njoroge Gathu of corrupting the state's public servants, including a
respected court judge. Very grave" said Tutts solemnly in a very low rough voice.
"Not only that, Mr. Tutts. I would also like to show that he, my ex-
husband, is responsible for a crime. A crime," she reiterated, looking at her
interviewer with a certain wide indignation indicating that her temperature was
rising. "A crime, a murder, a violent death! What do you want me to say so that
you understand me, Mr. detective? Isn't that also quite grave?"
Tutts couldn't decide whether to react calmly which would have been
logical, or to show the excitement he felt hearing the sensational declarations of
"Mrs. Wihu" he elected to say. "Lets proceed step by step. When we
started this conversation you stated that you wanted to revindicate the honour of
a dead person (of a man he deduced), and that was your only intention of
approaching us. Now you tell me you want to accuse someone of bribery and
murder. Can you explain this contradiction?"
The woman began to sob. It was clear that she was on the limit of
psychological control, and she could break at any moment. Tutts thought it was
better to leave things as they were, and to make a further appointment to
conduct a less dramatic interview.
"Mrs. Gathu" he said. "Please calm down. We are going to help you in every
way we can, but its important that you are in a sound emotional state. We must
analyze the facts coldly, and for that we need you to be clear and explicit."
"I understand" answered Hottensiah with broken voice. "I understand and
respect that. I need your help and appreciate your willingness. I will return when
I am a little more calm. There is something that perhaps may help you. I wrote a
letter to my ex-husband, accusing him of what he did. I sent it today and made a
copy for you. I think it clearly shows my position." and added "He will find it in
his post tomorrow morning. Please tell me what you think. Here is my present
She took a faded card out of her handbag, along with a creased
handkerchief folded in four, which Tutts imagined was humid from the tears of
this pathetic woman. She put the card on his sleeve and quickly said goodbye,
making for the door in the clumsy manner of her compatriots.
"Mrs. Gathu" Tutts said, cutting her off, "I hope you understand that my
interest in helping you is sincere. Our secretary will talk to you about the
payment arrangements afterwards when we reach a formal agreement. Let me
study this letter, and I will have a questionnaire prepared for next time as a step
towards the elucidation of this case. I will contact you once I have a clearer
The detective thought it necessary to assure her with this promise, and, on
the other hand to ensure that their income was guaranteed. Even though
Gathu's ex-wife was in pain, in T.T.&T., they weren't in a situation to ignore
these details. On the contrary, if the till was not replenished soon, there would
only be smiles to distribute at the end of the month.
"Mr. Tutts" exclaimed the woman, whilst re-opening her handbag. "Allow
me to give you a down payment. Will this be enough? It's all that I have with me"
she added holding out a fistful of notes. "Please accept it. I would like your
support now. You understand that I need help urgently." and added looking at
the detective with an imploring yet resigned look. "I am afraid Mr. Tutts, I fear for
my life, and I need help from someone."
"Excuse me Mrs. Wihu, but I cannot accept this money" Tutts quickly
responded, a little embarrassed with himself for having to utilize such a bluff. "I
can't become involved in a mission that I can't visualize, to unravel a crime,
where I don't even know the victim, to look for a suspect that, according to you,
is your husband, that by coincidence you have just been divorced from. I'm
sorry, but I don't get involved in domestic emotional melodramas."
He forced the situation a little more, even though he perceived the
progressive deterioration of the woman on the brink of a breakdown. To finish
her off, he said in a histrionic and slightly depreciative tone:
"It appears like you are a woman after vengeance, it's not the kind of role
that I encourage for this office. I need you to give me additional details, or I'm
afraid there is no reason to continue talking."
"Detective Tutts" repeated Hottensiah Wihu in between sobs. "I will tell you
everything. Give me time. Everything will be explained. I beg you out of
"Believe me, I understand" was his reply, "but I cannot help you under
those terms. Not out of cruelty, but there has to be a minimum of trust between
us so that we can work in a rational way."
The woman broke down. Tim Tutts let her sob freely. Then after a while
"I'll tell you everything. I had a lover. His name was Moses Orieyo. He was
killed the day before yesterday in the street and I believe my ex-husband was
responsible. I am an adulterer," she added bitterly, "the judge was right. Now,
will you help me to establish justice?"
She gave a weak smile that touched Tutts very deeply, but not so much as
the new advance of notes she thrust into his hand.
"Mrs. Gathu, try to relax" he blurted, folding the money with an air of
unimportance. "This is quite irregular, but I believe you. Let me at least give you
a receipt. I will start work immediately on your case. We will settle the bill when
the case is resolved. Don't worry, you can trust us" he added.
"I warn you Mr.Tutts, there is nothing to be gained by talking
with Gathu. He will flatly refuse to collaborate, as he has systematically done
with me. He is used to power, and is very authoritarian, he alone decides what
is, or is not important" she stuttered saying goodbye.
"One last question Mrs. Wihu" said Tutts detaining her. "Can you tell me
how you arrived here?"
"I am often in River Road, detective Tutts she responded. "I have seen your
"Goodbye. You will be hearing from me" responded Tutts, closing the door
of his office.
The Detectives get moving.
utts began to analyze the situation and resumed his lunchtime snack, his
mise en scène, once the woman had left the office. He was worried by the
revelations he felt were sure to follow. Everything so far indicated that sooner or
later they would have to confront some big fish, but he wasn't clear who as yet
might be involved. He also hated himself for the farce of the anticipated payment;
he had fallen into the worst cliché of the detectives novels of which he was such
a big fan!
"But in the end, that's the way things are." he concluded, and he set about
the task. First of all, he made a list of events as they had occurred up to the
moment for the benefit of the rest of the team. This is how it appeared in his
First. We have a dead man called Moses Orieyo, that, according to the facts
so far presented, was stoned to death by an angry crowd after attempting to rob
a car. We must start with the afternoon paper. Technically: death by stoning.
Action: Speak to the journalist called Kuma who wrote the article. Assigned:
Second. There are many witnesses, but nobody has been identified
delivering the mortal blows. At the moment we only have a victim of theft, an
asian called Velgi Shah, a member of the Chamber of Commerce; and a guard
that helped to capture Orieyo, called Mathias Muaysia. Action: Speak to the
police and the judge in charge of the case. Assigned: Tutts.
Third. The deceased has a criminal background following various
misdemeanors, although he has been found guilty only once. Action: Ask for a
more detailed report. Assigned: Ndege.
Fourth. At the time of his death the man had a lover, one Hottensiah
Wahu, ex-wife of George Njoroge Gathu. He is involved in politics is a
construction entrepreneur, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce. They
were recently divorced. The woman is a model, a local beauty in decline. Action:
Acquire a complete account of her relationship with Orieyo. It would be better if
this were done on a "woman to woman" basis. Assigned: Curly.
Fifth. Perhaps completely unrelated, the deceased had a past full of family
tragedies and religious anxieties. He was partially deaf as a result of his accident.
Action: Investigate in River Road for friends, or anyone that knew him or confided
with him. Assigned: Waweru and Nedge.
Sixth. Confirming our suspicions, (above all Waweru's intuition), Gathu's
ex-wife, believes that Orieyo was murdered, and that her ex-husband, whom she
hates, is involved. She has put all this into a letter, a copy of which will arrive
shortly. Action: Analyze the letter. Assigned: Tutts.
Whilst he wrote the summary, Tutts imagined himself in the role of a
detective in a novel, preparing a dose of opium, or twiddling his mustache to
activate his brain cells, or even running into his greenhouse for a reassuring
glance at his orchids. It was clear that he was confronted by a real case.
Furthermore a case that was well financed, which to his mind was absolutely
Tutts finished his memory-help when, in drips and drabs, the whole team
returned to the office. They were all very agitated and talked uncontrollably at
the same time. To calm them down, Tutts read what he had written, and later
"At the outset, I would like each one of you to tell me your latest finds in
the Orieyo case. Because I suppose that is why you are all so excited. I must tell
you from the outset that we have been employed by Mrs. Hottensiah Wihu, ex-
Gathu, to investigate the death of her lover. Exactly as I say," He spoke in
particular at Curly who wore an astonished expression. "The lady has admitted
maintaining an active sentimental relationship with the deceased. In her
desperate state of mind she told me that she loved him. Furthermore the woman
believes the crime was orchestrated by her powerful husband. We need to find
evidence in order that she can proceed with a court case. I must say Karima was
right; there are some very strange things that surround this stoning..."
"«A long process means poverty»" murmured Joe Nedge under his breath.
im Tutts told the fat man to be quiet, and with a gesture offered the floor for
"Boss" Waweru opened fire. "I have already made some enquiries. I had
lunch with my friend, Joshua Kuma, the reporter from the Nairobi news. He told
me that he had directly interviewed the witnesses in order to substantiate his
story, firstly the grateful Asian, and secondly the askari that delivered the blow
with the chair. They both confirmed that it was too dark to identify individuals in
the crowd; however their stories coincide with the intervention of a white woman
on Orieyo's behalf. Kuma doesn't know the name of the memsab but he thinks
he knows her face from official receptions. I am mobilizing my contacts to try and
identify her, Kuma thinks she works at one of the embassies or international
"Since when are journalists going to receptions?" asked Tutts. "Apart from
having a morose mentality, I believe our friend Kuma is also a social climbing
"There is another detail" proceeded Waweru, ignoring his Boss's diatribe,
"The askari confirmed that one of the mob was the shoe shiner described by
Kuma; and added that he was very popular in River Road, and goes by the name
of Mwangi or Mwanza..."
"Like hundreds of thousand of our compatriots" Tutts scoffed again, "But
carry on Waweru. No more asides" he added quickly.
"Well chief, if I may finish. The Asian does not remember any cripples.
According to him, Orieyo's executioners were an indistinguishable mass. The
journalist also made a point of saying that. Nevertheless, the askari remembers
and is prepared to identify him, even though the police have not approached him
"Nor will they" murmured the fat Nedge in palpitations, who took
advantage of the silence to launch another proverb: "«He who looks for his goat
in the house of the goat hunters, should not expect to find it»" .
"But there is something more" continued Waweru "The askari mentioned a
tall mulatto amongst the pursuing crowd. A mulatto with almost white skin,
dressed as a gentleman, and, although you won't believe it, he had a patch over
"That I won't accept, Karima" Tutts asserted with a serious tone. "At your
age and experience, you shouldn't believe that coming from an askari. You know
they make up stories in order to justify their jobs. They would have us believe
they are the world's best observers. Frankly, Karima Waweru, we are descending
into a level of children's fantasies. Now please can you tell me why this person
was not mentioned in Luma's story?"
"Elementary, dear boss" responded Waweru, appearing very sure of
himself. "Kuma, as my friend is called, and not Luma, says that the mulatto was
included in the article, but was taken out by the editor who doubted the askaris
story, and preferred not to stir racial sentiments. He believes there are no other
"OK" responded Tim Tutts. "at least for now. Is there anything else that
you could learn from the journalist, Mr. what's his name?"
"Just impressions, Tim. He was not a witness to the facts, but he thinks
something isn't quite right in this matter. He wasn't very explicit, but I believe he
is incubating his own theories. We both agreed that everything appeared too
perfect against Orieyo, as if it were a set up. I will try to identify the white
European, the shoe-shiner, and the tall mulatto ..."
"I prefer that you leave the shoe-shiner to Joe Nedge, and concentrate your
thoughts and talents on the mzungu woman, and the mulatto gentleman." said
Tutts. "Thanks Karima. Now it's you turn Nedge. Come on little Joe," he added
indicating to the fat guy.
"I don't have much to add to yesterdays report, boss. Lunchtimes are
dedicated to exercises to see if I can make myself slim." he answered with a loud
"There's no need to worry about that, Joe" said Tutts continuing the game,
"everyone knows very well that there is nothing nicer than fat people. Sure,
nobody wants to exhibit themselves in public when they are overweight, but its
quite likely that these same fastidious people rejoice in private with other
dumplings, because there is an evident sexual attraction in warm and
overflowing fat, full of hideouts and promises, glory to the perverse opulence
born out of uncontrolled alimentation, psychological gluttony of the glands, the
rebellious tenacity of the genes! There is nothing better than fat people, Joe, keep
your head up!"
During half of this lecherous discourse, Nedge was crying with laughter,
attracting a reprimanding look form Curly. Tutts, proud of his improvisation,
tried to placate her:
"But let's not forget the slim ones like you buttercup, the angels of the
erotic altar, which sweeps the walls of my fundamental and privileged residence
on this earth: the brain."
The detective realized that all his team were looking at him with amazed
expressions. The incoherent metaphors that he was espousing were far too
complex. He decided it was better to return to the case under discussion:
"Nedge, find out who the judge was in charge of the case, and speak to the
official that received the summons, afterwards I can get interviews at a higher
level. Speak to the morgue, and initiate a search for the shoe-shiner that
answers to the name of Mwanza, or Mwangi in River Road. Fly to it Nedge."
(A few words about the name Nedge. It is derived from an ancient tradition
which must be explained. In Swahili it means "bird", and, as an extension, plane.
In the tradition of the Abaluyia, Joe's tribal group, it is common custom to place
names on people that are connected to important or special events around their
birthdate. In this case the appearance of aeroplanes over the skies of Kenya.
Giving rise to the name Joseph Nedge).
Tim Tutts raised his voice to control the meeting:
"Now, gentlemen, its Curly's turn."
"I have a pair of ideas, Tim. As you know, before working as a secretary, I
moved in artistic circles. I think that on one or two occasions I have seen miss
Wahu, long before she became a prototype bourgeois urban model. I remember
seeing a few photographs, I will check it out, but I think she once posed nude. I
will make some enquiries before meeting with her. I will try to get hold of
something for tomorrow..."
"Is that all?" asked Tutts without looking at Curly.
"There is something more" replied Curly. In this same circle, I met Gathu
more than once. I could try and secure a meeting with him under the pretext of a
project or business deal, or maybe just a binge. He is known to like skirts,
despite being overweight. He could complete in the eating Olympics, and win..."
"Give priority to Gathu" Tutts ordered her and lets leave the woman until
later. That's your mission Curly."
(Curly Negatu, besides from being a discrete and efficient secretary of
T.T.&T., possesses the sister qualities of seduction and force: Few can resist a
stare from her honey brown eyes, and even less, the mighty blows she can
deliver thanks to her knowledge of martial arts.)
Tim Tutts finished the session with the following reflection:
"You all remember the Kikuyu proverb: «Our people know how to guard the
bow and arrow, but cannot guard a secret»"... and added: "What the journalist
has written is full of hints. He knows much more than he writes, and writes
much more than he should. We will have to sort out this puzzle. Everyone that's
involved with this case is hiding something, and we must try to get it out of
"Besides, «Each host has his own song»." chipped in Nedge almost choking
with laughter. "I think Kuma is trying to warn us, and nobody else, about
something transcendental in this mystery, by laying out avenues and clues to
follow. Or perhaps deviating us from the path because of dark and hidden
reasons," he completed using the same words as the journalist in mysterious
"You appear like monkeys in competition for a bunch of bananas" offered
the beautiful Curly. Try to remember the Masai saying: «There is nothing more
equal than two men walking». Even more so in darkness."
Everyone laughed. The group was embarking upon one of its favourite
sports, that is, one-upmanship in proverbs and sayings. It was a way of taking a
breather when things were getting complicated. And, within vernacular
knowledge, ways to exit a labyrinth often appear. As the Kikuyu uses to say: «We
speak in proverbs: he who is intelligent will understand».
Mwanza, the Shoe-Shiner, speaks.
he following day, Tim Tutts arrived at his office around midday, and
discovered, with the satisfaction of an exploiter, that everyone was busy
with their missions. The first thing he did was look for his mail on the desk.
There were three letters, one from Mrs. Gathu, that she had promised to send,
the other, a copy of the police report of Orieyo's death, and the last, the
declaration of the judge.
Without further delay, he read the letter written by the divorced
Hottensiah Rose Wahu, an obscure text, that, paradoxically, shed some light
upon the mysterious Orieyo case:
"George Njoroge Gathu:
"Why did you invent that despicable trap involving so many people in your
cruel revenge. A murder that was all your doing, taking advantage of
peoples trust. "Did you have to kill Moses Orieyo? Why? if you had
already renounced and ridiculed me to the bearable limit and gotten rid of
me. You had snatched my children from me and destroyed my honour.
When I saw that crooked Indian friend of yours in the newspaper giving
out hypocritical gifts in the hospital. When I saw that fanatical and farcical
shoe-shiner at the place of the crime. When I felt the repugnant smell of
the mulatto of the harufu, a cold shiver ran down my spine. Then I knew
your servile executioner had also been there. When I realized the car you
used was my motorkari Plymouth, my wedding present, the test of your
love for me, how could you sell it to that cruel Asian? Then Gathu, I
understood everything: you and your hoods laid a cruel trap for Orieyo.
"You knew that he had reformed, that he wanted to rebuild his sad life
with me, that the bloody ghost of his mother followed him continually, that
he couldn't stand the vision of his demented father walking the wet streets
like a robot. You knew that he had suffered injuries to his ears. What you
did was impardonable cowardice.
"I know that nobody believes me, Gathu, but I want you to realize that I
know what really happened, you cannot fool me; Now I know how Moses
fell into the snare: We used to meet every day outside the City Hall, he
would get in my car, we would talk, make plans, and from there go to
River Road. I don't care how you found out, Gathu.
"You committed the perfect crime, but too many people know the truth: I
know me myself, the shoe-shiner knows, the asian knows, his crazy father
knows, the mulatto of the harufu knows, the twins know (they know
everything), and, the worst for you, is that you yourself know, your
conscience will never leave you in peace, the dead will follow you forever,
and the living will be present to remind you of your deed. How many more
will you have to kill before you can relax, Njoroge Gathu?
"That day we were going to celebrate his birthday. You put an end to that.
"With all my hate.
The police report was a model of bureaucratic hypocrisy, where the people
involved featured zero, and the search for the truth received little importance.
"On November 25th, 1980. The officials Calestous A. Kamau and Thomas
K. Olembo, responding to an anonymous call, found a body in the
Jevanjee Gardens belonging to a youth of 26-35 years old, well dressed,
approximately 6 feet tall. He was wearing only one shoe and carried the
identification card of Moses Angila Orieyo, in his pocket, born in Kericho
on 25 November 1955, son of Anna Angila Orieyo also of Kericho and an
unknown father. It was unclear if the body corresponded to the
photograph on the card, due to the degree of facial damage, but the
examination of finger prints is positive. According to witnesses, the
individual tried to steal a car, but was intercepted by a crowd that
proceeded to stone him. The deceased has a record of various similar
crimes, as detailed in an annex of this report. Signed: Peter W. Karanga,
Commissioner of Nairobi."
To finish, the pronouncement of the judge was another aberration. A mix
of a head in the sand ostrich attitude, with touches of underdeveloped
Machiavellian and Pontiopilatism falseness.
"On November 26th, 1980. Seeing the police report attached, beeing clear
the form of death, and being impossible to identify the perpetrators, the
state closes the case. Testified the aggrieved Mr. Velgi C. Shah, living in
Westlands, and an askari, Mathias M. Muasya, of Mathari Valley that
helped in the capture. This court considers that an autopsy or further
investigation is not necessary. Final verdict: Road Accident. The city will
take charge of the body of Moses Angila Orieyo. Signed: Sir Henry P
Lytton, civil judge of Nairobi; Ashok K. Patel, clerk of court; James M.
"How simple it was for «the white, the indian, and the black» that signed
such a functional declaration!" reflected Tutts. "The case of Orieyo was closed, in
one day, and there was nothing he could do to re-open it. What a shit! He would
have to rethink everything. Perhaps a public scandal, a smear campaign, an
accusation in the press. It was urgently necessary to speak with Mrs. Wahu once
Tutts re-read her letter, noting the inconsistencies that in a certain way
clouded the problem. In each paragraph there were unclear suggestions,
hyperbole, and irrelevancies. The sign of someone very bitter that was unable to
take any action.
Three people appeared in the letter as accomplices: the supposedly
assaulted asian, a hideous mulatto and assistant of Gathu, and the shoe-shiner.
This confirms what was reported by Kuma. Three witnesses were mentioned,
Orieyo's crazy father, and a pair of twins, apparently mentally disturbed or
One could also deduce that Ms. Wahu arrived at the place minutes after
the trap was sprung on her lover Orieyo. Now Tutts realized what questions he
needed to ask her.
Shortly after, Joseph Nedge appeared in the office with his report. He came
in bathed in sweat and panting as usual. He collapsed in an armchair and
vomited the words with stuttering verbosity.
"Chief... I managed to find the shoe-shiner... a humpback... called
Jeremiah Mwanza... he's a real character from the center of Nairobi... at the
weekend he preaches in Moi Avenue... the rest of the time he works in River
Road... it was difficult to talk to him... but in the end I did it... and I secretly
recorded part of his incoherent speech..."
"Excellent" answered Tutts. "But before tell me about this character, and
please try to recover your breath, you are making me nervous."
"Every Saturday and Sunday morning, Mwanza installs himself in front of
the Kenya Cinema" continued Nedge more calmly. "With a piece of chalk, he
writes an appropriate page from the Bible on the pavement to assist his matinal
sermon. According to those who frequently listen to him, his favorite themes are
women, and the things they do to make men sin. But he is also against all those
sins that run contrary to the sixth commandment boss." emphasized the fat guy.
"An expectant and joyful public mill around to listen to such interesting
harangue" added Nedge changing his tone. "All the tramps, dropouts, beggars,
pickpockets, lazy askaris, money changers, and the deformed of the city, enjoy
and comment upon Mwanza's interpretations on the expulsion of Adam and Eve
from Paradise, the conversion of Magdalena, the story of Sara, Abraham's
woman, the immaculate conception of Christ, the prophecies of Hulda, and the
limitless possibilities offered by the sacred text. Somebody assured me that from
there, emerge the best dirty jokes that are circulating in Nairobi and Mombasa."
"A curious character" commented Tutts.
"But it would be a good idea if you were to listen to his voice to separate
the chafe from the wheat, boss" suggested Nedge. "I have tried to record the part
that interests us. The guy is really incoherent."
Nedge pressed a button on the old machine, that started with a strange
sound, suggesting that it needed urgent maintenance:
"I am here installed outside the Rajamputra Bar, bwana, right here where
you see me. Take note how I've constructed my commercial stall. Every
day it takes me a little longer to organize it. My official job is a shoe-shiner.
The most precious thing for me in life is footwear. That is how I know
people, their social qualities, their responsibilities, their backgrounds, and
even their state of mind. I can easily distinguish between a businessman
and a soldier, an artist and a thief. I feel the smell and the warmth of the
feet when I work, and I can guess many things. Sometimes it isn't
necessary to look at their faces, it's enough with their shoes...
"The nicest thing for me is to give a new pair of shoes their first polish,
bwana. It's a great challenge: to return them to their initial beauty:
magnificent. I would say to you, bwana, that shoes are at the center of my
business, and I also sell shoe polish, brushes, shoehorns, tacks, inners,
spare soles, and other diverse things, all related to the happiness of the
feet of my fellow citizens...
"But, bwana, there is something much more important for me, over and
above even shoes. The greatest thing is to be simply Mungu, God: the
eternal. That is why I exhibit the images of the holy father, and the saints
that you see, which I don't sell for profit, but for faith, bwana. To serve the
lord in every working moment of the year...
"There are two days of the week upon which I do not work: Saturday and
Sunday morning, when I preach in Moi Avenue. For me the truth is in the
Bible, it is the word of the Lord, the divine book. I am going to explain why
I chose the text of last Sunday, bwana. He that says: «If a man have a
stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or
the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not
harken unto them. Then shall his father and mother lay hold of him, and
bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place...
and all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so
shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all the people shall hear
and fear». Deuteronomy, chapter XXI. verses 18-21...
"It's a personal experience. I am not going to give you details, bwana,
divine justice doesn't need to be paid with vain justifications. It is simple
to participate in the persecution of a delinquent, a despicable man, a bad
son. I was not far from what this sinner had done, and to feel all those
people chasing him, and what is worse, I felt his violence, and I realized
that he needed to be punished. He hit me and all my working implements
were kicked over in his blindness. I believe the divine hand guided me, as I
ran behind the sinful one, and God guided my hand to punish him...
"I'll stop there, bwana, but Mungu is a witness to my acts, inspired by him
and his omnipotent fury. I have preached for the wicked, bwana. I know
he is a victim of his lust, that he committed adultery and killed his
mother, that he made his father crazy. God had revealed to me. I Keep one
of his shoes, bwana, which speaks for his condemned soul..."
"In my opinion the tape reveals that not only was he a witness, but also a
co-author of Orieyo's death; and, listening to his words, he appears proud of the
fact" said Tutts.
"I also took his photograph" added Nedge whilst he passed Tutts a
crumpled greasy polaroid.
The colour photograph shows Jeremiah Mwanza an insignificant man of
medium height, installed with his shoe shine instruments at the side of the
Rajamaputra Bar in River Road. Painted on the glass one could see a colorful
picture of three old men without shoes drinking traditional beer in bulls horns,
sat on three-legged stools, typical of the Kikuyu chiefs. They each wore long
robes and seemed to be enjoying the conversation and the sour taste of pombe.
Behind Mwanza a bunch of John Paul II posters, and other pious images are
seen together with shoe accessories, and framed proverbs, calendars with semi-
nude white women, and photos of president Moi and Jomo Kenyatta. The bar
doors are slightly open to allow people to enter and leave, but it is impossible to
see inside the dark interior.
"Did you ask him about his participation in the stoning?" Tutts asked
Nedge whilst continuing to study the photograph.
"Well yes, I tried to clarify his relation with Orieyo, but he confused me
with a series of biblical parables and religious metaphors. When I mentioned
Gathu, he closed up like an clam, and he sent me away on the pretext that he
had a lot of work to do. I think we should approach him again but with a
different tactic." proposed Nedge.
"You realize, I suppose" insisted Tutts, "that the biblical texts quoted by
Mwanza are teleological justification for the crime against Orieyo. Furthermore
its curious how quickly he arranged his sermon on this very incident. This
character knows much more than he says. Keep on it."
"I will do, boss responded Nedge. There is something disturbing in his
speech, which suggests he intimately knew Orieyo, because he talks of his
mothers death, his crazy father, and his carnal sins."
"It's the same thing that appears in Wahu's letter. The problem is how to
get these people who have their jaws wired up to talk." complained Tutts.
"There's another important thing, big guy. You must quickly get hold of that
shoe. If it belongs to Orieyo, then at least we will be able to accuse the shoe-
shiner of theft." he added, "and make some noise with the case. We have to do
this before they bury him. By the way, find out when this will happen."
Nedge went off about his business to leave Tutts meditating in the office.
He tried to telephone Karanga the commissioner, but his assistant would not
pass on the call due to the unimportant nature of the matter. The case was
closed he was tersely reminded, but he managed to learn that nobody had so far
claimed the remains of Moses Orieyo.
Tutts applied for an audience with judge Lytton, he knew his secretary, so
was able to take advantage of the friendship to arrange a meeting for that same
afternoon. The judge was Kenyan, but of English origin who according to general
opinion, stayed on at his post like a true patriot. The Mzee Jomo Kenyatta
himself had asked him to stay when the country achieved independence, not
only to give continuity to the justice system, but also for his renowned integrity,
despite having acted for the colonial power.
That's why the court statement and Wahu's accusations that the
calibrated judicature was involved in Gathu's turbid waters appeared so strange
to Tutts. He thought: "Let's see what happens in this interview." He had learnt in
any case, that the magistrate had a reputation as a connoisseur of whisky.
Down River Road
T utts decided to go out for lunch in River Road and take a quick look at the
scene of the crime. It was a sunny day if a little fresh, and the street was
full as usual. It was Friday, the day that the people of Nairobi love to barter, from
every corner one could hear enthusiastic conversations about price and quality.
He walked down the colourful arteria, until he arrived at the Rajamaputra
bar. It had quite a reputation amongst the gourmets, above all for its roast beef
with herbs; and its chapati na mayai, a succulent dish with eggs, lamb, rashers
of bacon and green peppers, all well basted with flour. The bar boasted a strict
meat and drink specialty. Its owners were a pair of Kikuyu citizens that managed
the business with an attentive eye... and a regiment of askaris of Masai origin,
that added local colour as well as their traditional ferocity. They were there above
all to keep the quarrelsome drunkards in order, should the need arise.
At the entrance, Tutts noticed Mwanza concentrating on a pair of shoes
belonging to a public official. He really seemed dedicated to his work, seeking to
eradicate the most minuscule particle of dust with each stroke of his brushes.
He observed the large number of religious christian paraphernalia that
surrounded him, especially photos of the pope in diverse poses. There were many
crosses. Tutts judged by the large quantity and type of artifacts that the man
was catholic; Yet he was a street preacher. "Curiosities of Africa," thought Tutts.
In any case, he appeared to Tutts to be taking advantage of the image, rather
than a true devotee. He didn't wish to stare at him, daunted by his deformities;
but instead turned his attention to the bar.
The place was fresh and dark, smelling of barbecued meat and barrelled
beer. The first thing that a visitor noticed was the walls of the place. They were
meticulously decorated with multicolored murals that represented mythical
scenes: a Masai fighting a lion, a couple dancing, a furious elephant, a mermaid
with large naked breasts, provocatively staring at the clients and smiling. A
couple drinking beer almost filled another wall, the man holding a large bottle of
White Cup; she a small Tusker Export. Everywhere there were scenes with
women wearing high heels and tight trousers. The works were not very close to
the classic cannons, but showed no shyness to the palate of colours. One could
say they were done in a cool naïf style.
Such decoration gave the place a singularly sensual air. The majority of
the customers were men, although one could make out a female presence,
contradicting the notice at the entrance of the bar prohibiting access to women
Tutts sat down at an empty table, and immediately plates of spiced meat,
a salad, and a respectable portion of chapati na mayai were put in front of him.
He also ordered a small beer and proceeded to study his fellow citizens. For most
part they ate in silence with their heads bowed. A few shouted in conversation
above the music, blaring out from old, distorted speakers. At that moment they
were playing something by Joseph Kamaru, a Kikuyu singer and writer from a
Nairobi shanty town. His urban arrangements of traditional rural tunes was in
complete harmony with the bar's heavy atmosphere.
The immobile profiles of Masai warriors inhabited the doorway, displaying
their bare legs and spears. A frowning Turkana youth had his elbow on the bar
like a client, but was also on duty with an air of boss about him. The man had a
perfect physique, but knowing these people, he had probably never laughed nor
washed in his life. Another Masai was standing opposite the wash basin. It was
not a boisterous time, everyone appeared relaxed and solemn. The Masai were
happy in their security role, content with their miserable but secure pay they
would receive for their work... which they would soon spend on alcohol.
There was a continuous flow of people in and out but none of the bar's
occupants were notable. The other places at Tutts's table were occupied by a
group from the neighborhood. Nearly all were drivers from the nearby
interprovincial bus terminal, who were preparing for their afternoon drive. They
spoke very little, and of always the same thing, the state of the road, the time,
the movement of passengers. As far as he could understand, the latter was
intense. And the roads, each time were worse. Someone started to give an
account in Swahili of a bloody accident.
Tutts focused on the Masai. "What a pathetic throng"!, he thought. Before
the first conquistadors appeared, whatever the colour of their skins, the Masai
ruled this part of Africa. Nomadic warriors, worshipers of dance and their own
bodies, they lived at one with nature, occupying the whole Rift Valley and not
just the thin strips they now had left, inappropriately named reserves. Their
territory was once enormous, with an abundance of grass, enough resources to
support a well fed, happy and imaginative people. For the Masai cattle are a gift
from the Gods, therefore they are willing to take them from wherever they are
found, without concerning themselves of the owners. Wars finished the power of
the Masai, and the flu reduced their number to just a few thousand.
One could see that the Masai sat here in pleasure, amongst all these
delirious murals. It was an painful example of obligatory acculturation. "Poor,
out of place, sad types" repeated Tutts "so devoid of initiative, so prone to
mockery, so naive and helpless."
Tutts finished his lunch, and was served a herbal sweet tea with milk and
aniseed, which he started to drink with pleasure. Suddenly the blaring music
stopped and everyone was silent for a moment, nobody moved, as if time stood
still. Tutts had the sensation that they all formed part of a picture, that each one
had become a character on the wall, losing their corporal dimension, as if all the
customers had been converted into paintings.
The sensation ended a second later when a new tune started, and
conversation and movement resumed. Tutts breathed relief. He lent back and
looked up. Almost the whole ceiling was covered in a painting. It depicted a man
running, followed by a crowd armed with sticks and torches. He had the face of
death, and his eyes popping out of their sockets revealed an indescribable terror.
Those that chased him, showed different degrees of hate on their faces, mixed
with insane exaltation.
The detective, suffering from giddiness, couldn't continue and hastily
abandoned the bar, but not without first paying at the till near the door. The
heat and bright sunshine in River Road left him semi-blind. He quickly went in
search of the shade in the office of T.T.&T. He kept his eyes closed for a full half
hour to recover his composure.
Tim Tutts arrived at his meeting with judge Lytton at 3 PM sharp. He
waited almost an hour before the grand magistrate appeared, almost drunk,
obviously arriving from a well lubricated lunch. His shirt hung out of his
trousers, and his face and nose shone like a mounted ruby. He greeted the
detective in a Shakespearean stentorian style with a stammering voice and wine
"Tutts my dear boy, the offspring of my illustrious friend, the worthy Dr.
Tutts-Thompson, the most knowledgeable man that ever explored this marvelous
country. The discoverer of the Lamu, Shela, and Takwa secrets, along with other
mysterious places, the last of a line that produced Allan Quartermain, Stanley,
and Livingstone, MungoPark: incomparable heroes of intellect and bravety", he
emphasized with bravado. "Please take a seat my son" added the judge,
spreading himself out in his enormous armchair from Zanzibar, "and tell me
what brings you to this old anchored boat in the final port of the calendar.”
Tutts was amused by the absurd greeting from this gowned colonial
official, always with an authentic preoccupation for justice. He was famous for
his attitude during the Mau Mau trials, when he freed people that had been
wrongly accused. Tutts appreciated all of this, he was born in Nairobi, of
authentic British parentage, but felt more attached to the land where he was
born. He was one of those that preferred to stay when the imperialist troops
departed, and had integrated himself into a new free and sovereign Kenyan
Lytton asked Tutts about his activities. The judge did not approve his
change of lifestyle to become a detective, but was respectful, because he was
aware that they moved in similar circles, that is, crime. The old judicature took
advantage to tell him at length of his most recent experiences. At last he
permitted the youth to put a foot in and explain why he was there.
"My lord" said Tutts without pretensions of irony," I have come here to
speak to you about the Moses Orieyo case, an individual that was stoned to
death by a crowd at the start of the week. The case passed through your hands,
and you proclaimed, rather briskly in my opinion, that it was an accident, and
that nobody was responsible. I have been asked to investigate the truth. I can't
reveal the person that contracted me" he added quickly, seeing the old man
become a little green.
"My dear Timotheus," responded Sir Henry with ceremony and theatrical
intonation, quickly sobering up and regaining conscienceness of his position, "in
effect I was in charge of this matter. But I considered it, and still do, a quite
routine case. It was like a dozen or so that arrive every year, you know as well as
I do, and I don't mean to offend you old boy, but the African tradition is to stone
thieves. There aren't more cases like this simply because the police usually
intervene, as you well know..."
"This case is different, my lord" repeated Tutts, before the old man started
to launch another sermon. "We have pulled together enough facts, that permit,
before the court, show that the stoning was induced by people that wanted to do
harm to the victim."
"Excuse me old boy, but I think that's impossible. That chap, Orieyo I
think he was called, was no more than a vulgar and contumacious car thief. He
deserved it. Besides, he resisted capture. There's nothing more to add. If he had
cooperated with his captors he might have avoided his final punishment. I feel
sorry for him, but it was his own doing. I am beginning to think you've lost touch
with the people, are you perhaps becoming a snob Timotheus Tutts?"
"Orieyo was the lover of a friend of yours Sir Henry, the entrepreneur
George Njoroge Gathu." Tutts launched unexpectedly.
The old man became livid with fury. His whole face metamorphosed into a
boiled beetroot until the point where his lines almost disappeared. He tried to get
out of his seat, but his belly interposed. Instinctively he reached over to the desk
for his wooden hammer, but the effort exhausted him. Tutts remained unmoved
by this theatrical show. The beetroot chided him almost choking on his own
"Listen Tutts. Don't you dare have a go at me" and he accented the me,
that came out like thunder, "with these sordid insinuations. Everyone knows
your anarchic inclinations, your obsession with accusing the most respected of
our society, your morbid liking for rooting around in the filth. For what? to be
noticed, nothing more than that, downright social climbing that's what it is."
The detective withstood the rebuke, then the enraged old man added:
"It's true that Gathu is my friend, he is a fine and respected property man
in this country, who gives work to hundreds of people. You don't even reach his
"But you failed in the judgement over the divorce with his wife. I suppose
strictly speaking you shouldn't have even sat on the case if he was a friend of
yours." added Tutts aggressively.
Once again the veteran became apoplectic, and launched a roar, then he
tightened his fists until the knuckles went white. But instead of throwing a
thunderbolt, he answered him:
"You may like to know, my presumptuous boy, that at that moment I
didn't even know Gathu. I judged the divorce with a clean conscience conforming
to the law. I didn't come down in anyones favour. She was guilty and deserved
the worst penalty, but the punishment was light, I applied the minimum that the
law demands, which was asked for by her own husband, who won on every
point!" he howled. "Now leave me alone before I set the dogs on you to chew your
balls, and accuse you of contempt of court. You'll rot in a cell for the rest of your
"Thank you, milord" Tutts said sluggishly. "You don't now how illustrative
your magisterial lecture has been on the quality and objectivity of our justice
He left quickly before Lytton had a heart attack. He knew that the old
buzzard was right. He could destroy him just by moving a finger, and nobody
would support him. Judicial power is untouchable. Tutts thought he had to look
for another tactic if he wanted to obtain success in the Orieyo case. On the legal
side he was not going to get anywhere. The picture was quite clear. The
conspiracy was even greater than he or his team had first feared. He would have
to approach the misdemeanor which had arrived in the office in a much more
It started to get dark when he returned to the office of T.T & T.
"What a day" Tim Tutts philosofied to himself.
E ven though it may sound like a tautology, the cemetery in Nairobi is a
place of death. It doesn't appear like a place to rest in peace like other
cemeteries. On the other hand neither is it macabre, picturesque or poetic,
failing to inspire photographers or attract the deranged. Its strictly divided areas
along religious, tribal and racial lines, geographically illustrate the
heterogeneous nature of this country.
The cemetery in Nairobi is not very appealing, in fact one gets the
immediate urge to run out of there. The only permanent impression is that of
dirtiness and abandonment, the same feeling experienced in a rubbish dump. Its
passive occupants must be dismayed where their souls were laid to rest, and
cursing their bad luck the day they were brought to that place, instead of where
they should be, together with their ancestors, brothers, family, and friends; in
other earth, other continents and other more comfortable times.
This is where a few people gathered one cold Saturday morning to pay
their final respects to the stoned youth from Jevanjee Gardens. On Tutts'
request, and in the absence of family, Karima Waweru took charge of Orieyo's
body. The mourners were Wahu, Waweru, Joe Nedge, and Tutts himself. It would
have been a quite normal scene except for a few unexpected events which gave it
an unreal touch.
Hottensiah Wahu arrived and was almost unrecognizable. In homage to
the man she loved, she had dressed up as if still in her prime. All her attributes
which had made her a top model, and society lady, all her femininity that she
once boasted, were now on full display.
In strict black, she wore a tight dress, showing immediately that her
voluptuous curves were still intact. She had applied makeup to her face very
carefully, to cover the cruel punishment that time and the recent suffering and
depression had handed out. Her head was covered by a small cylindrical hat
pushed forward on her forehead, so that a ball of clean and ordered hair
protruded behind in afro style. A black knotted vail hung from her hat covering
part of her face, and a dark red rose was carefully placed on top, the same shade
as her lipstick, meticulously applied. Her legs were sheathed in black stockings,
and she balanced on patent leather shoes with incredibly thin high heels.
The whole picture was mournful, theatrical, and pathetic in a grand way.
Hottensiah oozed an intense eroticism assisted by the strong perfume chosen for
the occasion for the fabulous negrèsse (difficult to express it another way); one of
those aphrodisiac odours, a specialty of Swahili women, that are capable of
giving a marble statue of a benedictine monk an unforeseen erection.
"Hottensiah Wahu is a cross between a nubian princess, a high class
prostitute, and a suffering biblical character, a trinity monument to female
immortality" poetized Tutts.
They recovered the body from the city morgue. It was sad to see him like
that, so abandoned, so reduced to nothing. They had cleaned and dressed him
up a little, the labour of a careful hand, keen to make him more presentable to
the creator. But there was something that was impossible to conceal: the
apparent lack of a shoe. The only one that Orieyo wore was dirty and
The improvised relatives silently contemplated what was left of a life which
read like a compendium of tragedies. They remained static for more than a
minute. Then, in an admirable touching display, Joe Nedge, like a great
performer, put his hand in his pocket, and pulled out the missing shoe. It had
been repaired and cleaned with impeccable care. With a simple movement he
placed the shoe on the foot of the corpse. It was an act of religious significance,
and everybody felt that Orieyo would have been thankful to Nedge for his
genuine, although modest requiem.
The three men helped to put Orieyo into the basic coffin, appropriate for a
poor Kenyan. At last they went out into the fresh air and walked to the non-
reclaimed persons burial area: the stony suburb of the Nairobian lugubrious
A few drops of rain began to fall, and in the distance a division of black
clouds sounded their advance with thunder claps and sporadic lightning. A gust
of wind disturbed Hottensiah's vail, and she clasped her skirt even tighter.
Those present listened to nature weep, whilst a pair of poorly dressed, and
sweating auxiliaries began to lower the body into the freshly dug grave. The
rubbing of the ropes produced a strained impertinent sound against the coffin.
Suddenly from afar, they heard the light tinkering of bells, and the beat of
drums, which became mixed with the burble of extended phrases of
predominantly female voices. Little by little a long line of figures dressed in
turbans and white robes could be seen coming nearer at a slow rhythmic trot,
out of time with the litany. They came from the opposite direction to the storm.
Their very dark skinned leader, wearing a wild beard, stared directly ahead with
bloodshot eyes. None of them seemed to notice the presence of Tutts and his
It was the Watu wa Mungu. They had come to grieve the passing of their
fellow brother and recite a death song in Swahili. The official ceremony stopped,
shocked by this strange vision of believers, their white robes now picked up by
the strengthening wind, and their mouths open in a wail of sorrow. They
arranged themselves around the tomb, whilst their monotonous songs remained
suspended in the air. The voices of the women rose in a kind of crescendo that
made Tutt's skin crawl. The words said: «Come and return to our womb, loved
son, we will make you a new beautiful child.»
The fat Nedge, for a change, let go a sob, took out a multi-coloured
handkerchief and blew like a trumpet. Tutts noticed that Waweru was also
touched, but camouflaged it with another expression. Hottensiah Wahu
remained static, immobile, faithful in her role as the classic unperturbed
Meanwhile, the defunct Orieyo was lowered into his final resting place.
Everyone contributed with shovels of earth and stones. The musical lament
ceased and the women broke into fits and shouts of despair; some tugged at
their clothes and locks in an unbridled hallucination. An old toothless women
fell to the floor in convulsions, then another spat foam from her mouth. The rest
left them alone as if it were normal. The whole business of closing the tomb was
converted into a improvised howling contest. Nature contributed to the morose
atmosphere with ever closer bursts of thunder and lightning.
To finish the church burial, Hottensiah Wahu plucked the red rose from
her hat, and tossed it into the grave. It was the only flower that Orieyo received
at his funeral, yet it was grandiose. Hottensiah didn't utter any kind of wail, but
remained composed, shedding no visible tears. Her veiled face was a typecast
monument of distress. She was the classic example of what it means to have
been a woman in love.
The Watu wa Mungu finished their ceremony, the women got up, and they
all began to trot away with their triangles and drums. Tutts forever the observer,
noticed the profile of a Masai dressed in rags standing on one leg 50 meters
away. It also occurred to him to glance behind, and he saw two identical figures
disappearing behind a clasp of rickety trees. He did felt sure they were laughing;
or perhaps crying.
But there were others present that day in the cemetery. The wails of the
Watu wa Mugu had drowned the noise of an approaching automobile that had
crept along the path which led to Orieyo's eternal resting place.
It was a luxury Mercedes Benz, with the kind of black windows that
prohibit the chance to see inside. The occupants however must have been
observing the ceremony. When the group started to disband, the car moved away
After all this had taken place, Tutts addressed the mourning woman:
"Hottensiah" he said, please receive my condolences. I have various
questions to ask you, but before that, I must apologize for having doubted your
words. Looking at what I have studied up until now I think you are right to think
that there is a conspiracy here."
"Timotheus" she responded in trembling but sure voice." I beg you, let's
postpone this conversation until Monday. I am conducting some enquiries
myself, and I think that I could make a more reflective and serious contribution
than the letter I gave you. The time for tears is over. Now is the moment to act."
Tutts accepted her explanation and they all walked to the gates of the
cemetery. A hot breeze blew, and thick raindrops announced an imminent
violent shower. Mrs. Wahu took the same taxi that had brought her, refusing to
go accompanied. Before climbing in, she gave the detective an envelope that she
had taken out of her elegant handbag, and said:
"Here are some documents that might interest you. They prove nothing,
but they show what is going on."
Tim Tutts and his comrades got into the ramshackle Land Rover of T.T.&T.
that started with a backfire and a cloud of smoke. Nedge, who was driving, made
an observation which Waweru and Tutts had already spotted:
"Boss, did you see the crazy ones?"
"I saw them Joe," answered Tim Tutts yawning widely: the day had left him
exhausted. "For sure they were witnesses to the crime. I'm intrigued by the
twins, although they aren't twins, but very similar. Now without doubt, the old
Masai is Orieyo's father.
"From his ornamental dress, I believe he is a Laibon," said Nedge, "one of
those spiritual and military leaders that the Masai have elected since
"Yes but their dignity has really gone down hill" added Waweru. "Nowadays
the Masai are nothing in this society, they have been decimated by syphilis,
drought, with no government help and all the plagues that on can imagine. They
have no interest in adapting to modern times." and he added with irony: "He
could have been a Laibon, but within the limits of his manyatta family."
"In any case" insisted Tutts, I would say that he was an ex-Laibon that has
known better times, he appears to be in his last state of misery and
helplessness. That is, apart from being demented."
Tutts was amused to think that Waweru, a Kikuyu, a traditionally pacific
race, accustomed to trade (but always untrustworthy) was frequently
regurgitating his ethnic rivalries with the Masai, renowned fighters for any cause.
Intelligently, he quickly changed the subject, addressing Nedge:
"Now big guy, tell us about that shoe. You stunned everybody. You realize I
suppose that was an important piece of evidence which is now well and truly
buried. Although I have to recognize that your gesture was magnificent,
aesthetically Pre-Raphaelite, I dare to say."
"Boss" responded Nedge. "Let me explain. I persuaded Mwanza to sell me
the shoe, which he had already repaired. In any case we had already proved that
the item was effectively Orieyo's. But I couldn't squeeze anything else out of
Mwanza except the shoe. I have the receipt just in case you want me to return
it." he added dryly, giving Tutts a guilty look.
The detectives remained quiet as they approached the center of the city,
whose tall buildings were now visible in the distance. The sun timid and pale,
tried to break through between the clouds. It appeared as if the storm would
soon break. There was a strange mix of hot and cold air, and an electricity which
made one twitch. Waweru who was reading the Nairobi News supplement,
suddenly shouted at Tutts in the ear:
"Tim, Here's an article by Joshua Kuma about the city and its key players.
He's referring to our case. Kuma is a genius! Listen carefully" he added starting
"The city of Nairobi has nowadays become bypassed by tourists, and is
merely an obligatory transit stop before going on safari. Few foreigners
bother to wander the streets; they are only interested in their air
conditioned rooms, luxury hotels, international food, travel agents; and
eventually some take a fancy to our young prostitutes. Many end up
buying false craft work which is passed off as genuine «primitive African
"But, the city has more life than those boring, tired travelers in their
ridiculous safari costumes, and ignorant collectors of fake handicrafts. The
city continues its irrational and chaotic growth, with a concomitant
deterioration of poetry on the limit of infamy as well as periodic bursts of
violence. The city of Nairobi is not a small village any more, but a suitably
underdeveloped deep hole. To live here is as dangerous as living in any
other metropolis, yet it is as equally fascinating as other cities which have
much more history.
"The streets of Nairobi are full of crazy people, a byproduct of the
pathologies generated from a particular lifestyle very different from the
African tradition. The city has existed for no more than three quarters of a
century since it was a dusty bowl inhabited by a cluster of tents used to
house the railroad constructors that would carry so called civilization to
the edge of Lake Victoria. The train eventually arrived but at a cost of
gallons of blood, sweat and tears. Above all from the black contingent."
"Kuma never misses an opportunity to air his Bolshevik sentiments, right
guys?" interrupted Tutts as usual, but when he realized that his jest was not
received with much enthusiasm, he begged Waweru to continue."
"Many people have felt the shock of city life, adopting to a strange
unnatural rhythm, a plain lifestyle without surprises. The natural
innocence and simplicity of traditional community life, has fallen by the
wayside in the urban whirlwind. From the small and friendly maternal
tribal villages, to the traumatic move to the city in search of a better life
which is not always found. Progress has done away with tradition, the
customs of old, the songs and games.
"That's why so many Africans turn crazy, just like Ole Oleitipitip, a tall
Masai, dressed in rags who runs majestically with the rush hour traffic
with a hallucinatory stare on his face. The great Ole believes he is nothing
less than... a car. He circulates on Kenyatta Avenue, Westlands or Ngara
Road, exercising his rights with exaggerated gestures, accelerating and
braking at traffic lights, changing gear and blowing his horn, aggressively
challenging the rest to overtake him, pumping his arms in the middle of
the road, with an aromatic branch beneath each armpit. His rags are a
mixture of Masai and western strips, proudly accompanied buy his shiny
shoes and colourful socks. In the evening he looks for a parking spot to
rest on one leg, in the ancient way of his people.
"On the 25th of November 1980 parked in the twilight shadows of the City
Hall, Ole Oleitipitip saw for sure a tall youth that appeared to be waiting
for someone, leaning on a red and white sixties Plymouth. And, without
doubt, he also saw an asian with white hair shouting and pointing his
finger at the youth; Furthermore he probably saw the presumed thief
trying to babble an explanation, and many shadows with bright eyes close
in threateningly, and then, saw him run off falling over himself, but not
without throwing various insults at the unfair Asian.
"For sure, Ole heard the shouts of thief! thief!, and smiled to himself in the
shadows... and then changed leg.
"But Ole not only saw that. Perhaps he was also witness to the following:
On the periphery of the circle of aggressors, two identical figures smiled
with special irony. They were two Asians, with black hair, short, angled
faces, and olive skin, both dressed in white shirts, blue trousers and
canvas shoes. It is not an optical illusion: they are the Shah twins (or
Patel: they say in Nairobi that all the Asians are called one or the other).
Due to their double and silent presence, they have become famous as
great observers of notable events in the city. They merely watch, without
commenting or criticizing. Sometimes they interchange a few muttered
words, without taking their eyes off what is happening; then they leave in
search of other incidents worth registering.
"On the day of Moses Orieyo's bloody death, the twins were at the City Hall
enjoying Ole's mechanical manoeuverings as he tried to master the
complicated process of parking. No doubt when they heard the traders
shouts, they diverted their eyes to observe Orieyo and his desperate
attempts to explain himself to the furious crowd that had quickly
"They ran along the opposite sidewalk to the pursuers, their eyes fixed on
the running man. They saw how he was trapped in the narrow street and
then escaped, hitting out at his attackers. They enjoyed the feats of the
askari giving him a blow to the head and the way the sweeper felled him.
They memorized everybody that took part in the chase and noted each
"They also went to the Jevanjee Gardens where they registered every face
and every stone. Afterwards they retired, murmuring and warbling softly."
The three were stunned silent, gobstruck. The journalist had accurately
reconstructed the crime and the role of the demented witnesses, although
without clearly identifying the guilty partners, nor even suggesting who they
might be. Nevertheless in many ways he was insinuating that the attackers were
not just an anonymous mass, but rather flesh and blood individuals.
Waweru made the point that this was a simple literary trick of which the
journalist Kuma was an expert. "As we have already seen." invected Tutts.
"I know that he is always taking advantage of certain news facts, and
transforming them into stories or articles." said Waweru "It's just pure
coincidence that he chose the Orieyo case. Perhaps the role played by those two
poor crazy guys is a figment of his imagination."
"Look Karima" repeated Tim Tutts, "one of the things I have learnt during
years in this office, is never believe in coincidences. Furthermore as Ross
MacDonald says, the whole of life is united by a thread, nothing is casual. Don't
try to tell me that the journalist just improvised these insinuations. To my mind,
he knows important things that could throw some light on this case. Either he
didn't want to tell you, or you didn't know how to extract the information. We will
have to look for an avenue of investigation and approach Kuma with a few well
thought out questions. And for God's sake try to ensure he answers seriously,
look at the type of poor humor displayed in his articles. I trust you to tackle this
delicate job" he added.
Afterwards he turned to Joe:
"I suppose you took the license plate of the Mercedes."
"Of course" responded Nedge, and I bet it belongs to the honorable Gathu.
This is beginning to make more sense little boss."
The fat guy took advantage to put in one of his proverbs:
«If you see a quiet snake, it's because she has another in her belly».
"There's something else" added Tutts with no time to celebrate Nedge's
ingenuity. "We have forgotten the sweeper that launched the broom, was he
"Negative, boss" responded Waweru. "None of the witnesses that I
interviewed remember him. Even the journalist is unsure. Perhaps he invented
him as well"?
"Dammed loony" shouted Nedge depreciatively, whilst braking suddenly to
avoid two jousting matatus.
"Kipilefti" he screamed out of the window. A little further on, they reached
their destination and Nedge pulled over.
The team separated outside the Supreme Hotel, at the start of River Road.
Karima Waweru headed off in the direction of the bus terminal to see his family
in Limuru, stuttering something about secret enquiries. Joe Nedge parked the
jeep, gave the keys to his boss and also vanished.
T utts stood for a moment looking up at the sky, and then proceeded to his
office listening to the retreating storm. On the way he stopped to re-fuel at
the Suprema Hotel, the Nairobi temple of Indian vegetarian food. He ordered a
half dozen samosas, those small Indian triangular rolls filled with spiced
vegetables; accompanied with a carton of yogurt and a couple of delicious carrot
and orange jalebi. Clearly the weekend had started.
There was a sealed envelope on his desk with Curly's handwriting. Tutts
picked it up even without taking off his jacket. It contained a series of large,
glossy colour photographs of the young Hottensiah Wihu, the type displayed in
entrances of music halls to attract customers. Some were very creased and
showed the pin marks where they had been hung up.
The impact of the spread was spectacular. In one, a resplendent full
frontal, she wore stripped sparkling trousers that reached down to her calves.
She wore a chain round her left ankle, and high heeled shoes. Both legs, were
well separated, her hands rested on her naked waist which displayed a star in
her belly button. Her undulating upper body was covered with a tight soutien
gorge also with green and violet spangles. Her hair, tight in a large bun that
extended in a pony tail, offered a harmonic profile to the admirer in the street.
"She possesses a hypnotic beauty, there are few adjectives to adequately
describe her." stuttered Tim Tutts.
Another photo showed her in a small white top, without straps, leaving
her athletic shoulders and muscular arms exposed. A cascade of pink beads
hung from her waist sparsely covering her bare legs. Her nails were also
delicately tinted in the same bright pink. Her head was covered in a ball of silk,
also pink and white, simulating the African head dress tradition. She looked like
an Amazon goddess ready for war.
In another image she was naked from the waist up, with a direct and
provocative look, her fleshy lips slightly parted, her hair platted in complex
patterns, and arms raised to emphasize her well shaped neck and full, smooth,
turgid, bust, displaying a pair of brown nipples of perfect conical shape. A small
piece of leopard skin covered her crutch giving her the impression of a wild
animal. The photo exaggerated her youthful passion, and gave the impression of
But it is impossible to leave out one last side view posture, on her hands
and knees, staring at the camera like a wild beast on heat. A Spanish hat on her
head gave a perverse air. Her mouth, heavily coated in rouge, was open in an o
shape, an obscene allusion to the promise of oral sex. Her legs formed in a
triangle, highlighting the separation line of divine buttocks, from where
protruded a tuft of soft pubic hair, shiny with humidity. She parodied an animal
prepared for anything, in particular to die and kill for pleasure.
The whole description is necessary to emphasize her integral beauty, the
immaculate negro, the sublime eroticism of the young Hottensiah Wihu. The
images were testimony to her gold period, during which time a prominent
politician called Gathu snatched her from that den of iniquity, to firstly make her
his lover, then wife, and mother of his children, then just for good measure,
repudiate and destroy her.
There was also a brief but eloquent note from Curly on his desk: "Tim,
here are the photos of Hottensiah Wihu, who in this period was called «Ayesha
the wild». Don't look at them too much. Tonight I am going out to dinner. Guess
with whom. Exactly, with Njoroge Gathu. Tell you about it Monday. Curly". And
she added a postscript: "Take it easy boss, nothing will happen to me. I know
how to look after myself."
Tim Tutts became enchanted with the photographs, and sat contemplating
them despite the recommendation of his secretary. He thought about himself,
and his single lifestyle, a sentimental life punctuated by a succession of romantic
adventures, torments and pleasures. He had never been seduced by routine, but
preferred to lose everything in one heady afternoon with a woman of bad
reputation, and sense of humor, instead of yawning in front of a boring daughter
of a rich man in search of a husband. Tutts used to say that he hated to be
considered "an object man", which went down very badly in good company
The detective liked to boast his culture. In a country where music, within
the dominant class, was divided between the traditional and religious, the
detective often forced his occasional visitors to listen to Mahler or something
from John Coltrane. In a free and arbitrary way he cited Aristófanes, Simon
Templer "The Saint", Cervantes, or the Scarlet Pimpernel. He proclaimed a
preference for the circus, and would say to whoever would listen that the cinema
was finished after the retirement of Alfred Hitchcock. Occasionally he would
launch into incoherent discourse on impressionist painting that would quickly
bore his listeners.
Apart from reading detective stories Timotheus Tutts felt an absorbing and
undeniable passion for music. He was accustomed to announce in pedantic tone,
looking for inexistent complicity: "You will excuse me if I occasionally speak to
you of Scriabin, of D.K. or of Thelonius Monk".
That is why at that precise moment he wanted to investigate something
that had him puzzled from the previous day. He appreciated the music of Joseph
Kamaru, the one he had heard in the Rajamaputra bar, and knew him well; and
he had been present at a few of Kamaru's concerts. The musician worked in
River Road close to the offices of T.T.&T., where he had his sound and recording
studio. His record shop was just a few yards away. He was a modest
professional, which Tutts admired. His music was unmistakable and popular,
and nothing like the degraded commercialization of the Bomas of Kenya, a
musical circus-like show for tourists, lacking any pure ethnology. His was, one
could say, a new young urban art, connected by strong links to the rural world.
Kamaru's music was a subtle artistic expression of the rural-urban migratory
But in the Rajamaputra Bar on Friday he discovered a new dimension to
these songs. Tutts searched in his shop and found a pair of his best recordings.
They were melancholy and sad songs, based on traditional themes using local
instruments (various types of drums), mixed with more modern ones (electric
guitars, accordion, double bass). But they were also danceable rhythms, happy
in their way, infectious. And, above all, they told the story of all the difficulties
faced by Kenyans who migrate to the great orb in search of a better life.
Tutts was moved by some of Kamaru's songs, such as one dedicated to the
memory of J. Kariuki, a progressive parliamentarian assassinated for political
reasons. A treacherous crime making a mockery of Kenya's precarious
democracy. And the scandalous Ndiri Mwarimu (my good teacher), which is about
the turbulent love affair between a schoolteacher and one of his students, which
provoked a protest organized by the teachers union.
Kamaru sings, well, the sadness and happiness of Nairobi's youth and
aged. His music had become the precise sound to illustrate the sad fate and
drama of Moses Orieyo.
E very Sunday morning, Tim Tutts leaves home early to climb mountains. It
is his weekly spiritual and physical exercise. When one talks of mountains
in Nairobi, one is referring to the Ngong Hills. Tutts parked the "official" and only
vehicle of the firm in a remote part of the mountain chain that separated Nairobi
from the Rift Valley; recognized as the birthplace of man, which extends to where
Africa finishes. From there the detective starts his climb to the top, and spends
several hours walking along the spine at seemingly cosmic altitudes.
This Sunday his theme for meditation was the Orieyo/Wihu case. Tutts
had the impression that everything was resolved, and that there was no point in
investigating further to find the guilty party. The situation was clear. There was a
crime and the assassins appeared to be more or less identified. The problem was
a different one: and had become transformed into an ethical dilemma. The law
had closed the case. The status quo had made its decision and would not be
questioned, but decency and justice required recompense.
He reflected that if something good was to come out of this, it was to
disentangle the thicket of power and corruption, the abusive knitted bullying
arrangement between a group of powerful men, that had become so enraged with
a humble man, a victim not only of his personal instincts but also of a cruel
He was impressed suddenly by the view, and Tutts forgot all about these
characters and his problems. After walking for more than an hour and a half, he
reached the first of the hills along one of the infrequently used paths he called
his "secret roads". He was absolutely exhausted, and felt his accelerated pulse
and a trickle of sweat on his face and neck. Beneath the bright sunlight the
silence was total, he used a flat rock as a stool to rest for a moment. He waited
until his conspicuous presence dissolved into the scenery and his body mass
metamorphosed into a natural phenomenon.
Far on the horizon, he saw Mount Kenya its snow-capped peak emerging
between the clouds. He remembered the German missionary Krapf, who passed
by during the middle part of the last century, and recorded in his memoirs that
the Kikuyu venerated a mountain whose uppermost part was covered in a sugar-
like substance. That sacred mountain was now before Tim Tutts's eyes.
His immobility eventually convinced some birds to return to their stations.
The first to arrive were the swallows executing close flights over his head. It was
the magic moment he had been waiting for; to hear the atmosphere rich with the
humming sound of the small birds cutting the air with unpredictable and
Suddenly a strong fluttering of wings beat overhead. A magnificent eaglet
landed on a rock that jutted out over the valley, not five meters from where Tutts
was sitting. A blue and yellow lizard was still wriggling from its beak. The
predatory bird used its claws to patiently dissect it, but unfortunately the victim
was too large for him. A second eaglet installed itself on a nearby rock and
looked on with envious greed at his little brother's booty. The larger bird began to
flutter its wings and emitted threatening sounds until the other left in search of
Faced with the behavior of the birds Tutts exclaimed:
"Ambition, the inability to be satisfied with little, is the mother of all evils.
As the old Kikuyu say: «Birds agree when they fly downwards, but they don't
when they fly upwards».
After climbing a little further, Tutts the amateur mountaineer halted to
check the time. Whilst looking for his watch in his jacket pocket he felt the letter
that Hottensiah Wihu had passed him in the cemetery. How irresponsible he had
been in forgetting about this evidence, he thought, and had to admit that the
photographs of the divine Hottensiah, had been on his mind.
After descending, he climbed into his vehicle and drove off to the small
town of Ngong. It was market day, which meant it was the best day to sample
some traditional African food, prepared in the open air, close to the heat of
business transactions. Located at the foot of the mountains, the best produce
arrives there first, the finest and blandest meats, choice cereals, and the freshest
fruits and vegetables.
Tutts installed himself in the shade of an old flame tree, the stall of a
friendly mama that considered him an appreciative and loyal client. A jug of beer
and a succulent piece of baby lamb accompanied with irio (a mixture of grains
and vegetables cooked with a special recipe following local unwritten wisdom)
was the prelude to an analysis of the material passed to him by Hottensiah.
First of all, he pulled out a series of photographs. One was a group pose of
members of the Kenyan Chamber of Commerce corresponding to 1979 (the year
was printed at the bottom). In the middle one could see the dignified, presiding
figure of the recently nominated president, Daniel Arap Moi. He was smiling
flanking by the prime minister Charles Njonjo and the acting president of the
Chamber Mr. Velgi C. Shah.
Here Tutts paused for a moment, taking a drink of his Tusker beer, to
wash down the succulent lamb and the soft irio. (The irio of mama Gachoki
always had a special smell and taste, due to the spiced and sweet herbs that few
could identify). He returned to the photograph. This Shah was the same person
who had pointed the finger at Orieyo. "This is undoubtably very interesting,"
He continued to examine the same photo. There were 75 people in the
group, of which 57 were black (amongst them 3 women), 8 Asians (3 of which
were sikhs with turbans) and 10 whites (1 woman). Concentrating on the photos
made him hungry and he continued his lunch with renewed vigor.
The majority of the blacks were Kikuyu, but he could make out at least 3
Luo by their coloured bonnets, 2 Swahili that wore small muslim turbans, and
one mulatto with some European blood, blind in one eye. President Moi with his
accustomed pose, held the stick of supreme authority, common amongst tribal
chiefs; his open smile announcing the lack of a lower incisor, the initiation mark
within members of the Kalenjin ethnic group of which he belonged. The
honorable Njonjo wore his usual dark checked suit with watch chain hanging
from his waistcoat, and a carnation in his button hole. He appeared more
pseudo-British than ever.
The whole group appeared well dressed, well fed, and denoted a
harmonious racial mix, faith on business, and a feeling of entrepreneurial
solidarity. Mr. Shah exhibited the same kind smile that he displayed in the
photograph taken in the hospital, a few hours after the attack he suffered at the
hands of the car thief. In the second row on the left, stood the stocky figure of
George Njoroge Gathu, ex-member of the Parliament and now a prominent
construction tycoon. His face was roughly circled in pencil.
Tutts concentrated on his hippopotamus neck, his wide gorilla nose, his
spiteful buffalo forehead… He was smiling, but beneath one could detect
something to be feared, the hardest of the hard, astuteness. It's possible that
once upon a time Gathu was kinder, and a promising businessman (although
perhaps a little stocky) that could attract such a magnificent beauty as
Hottensiah Wihu. "Although terribly ambitious, at least he had something of
good taste." He was provided with more answers amongst other documents that
A yellowing newspaper clipping, not dated, showed the young face of the
executive George Njoroge Gathu, he was smiling with a pipe in his mouth,
appearing very sure of himself. Below it read: "People and Progress. Mr. G.N.
Gathu of H. Jackson & Southern Ltd., has returned from England where he has
completed his studies in civil engineering with a specialty in construction.
During his stay, he became involved in the principal projects of the Jackson
Group of London, Manchester and Canterbury. Mr. Gathu was named assistant
manager of the prestigious Anglo-African firm. He is the first Kenyan to reach
such a high level."
The detective returned to examine the photograph of the businessmen.
This time stopping at the blind, tall mulatto, much paler than the rest. His only
eye was a penetrating knife. Of course the photograph proved nothing, but it was
quite probable that it was the same mulatto mentioned by the askari and Wihu.
"We will have to wait for confirmation from my comrades", reflected Tutts.
Another enormous photograph with artistic intentions judging by the
vulgar frame, corresponded to the certificates and prizes ceremony. It showed a
group of 19 injured and veterans, all rewarded with official compensation for
years of service or accidents at work. In the top left border there was a date, 1st
of August 1978, The group was divided in two rows, there were 12 standing, the
majority old Africans, except the third from the right who had his left hand in his
jacket pocket as if injured. The rest appeared to be merely retired. One was so
tall that his head reached the border of the photo. Amongst those kneeling, there
were 7 people, all black, except one mulatto, a bold patch over his right eye
accredited an accident for which he now received compensation.
The mulatto had thick lips, dressed in a dark suit and tie, and stared
straight at the camera with his healthy eye, it appeared blue or at least clear (it
was a black and white photo). He was younger than the rest of the group, and
the only one that insinuated a smile, although definitely challenging. His left
shoulder hung lower than the right, denoting a possible twist in his vertical
column, or it could have been a crafty trick of a cunning animal.
Tutts took out a red pen and circled the face of the mulatto in the photo of
the Chamber of Commerce. Then he looked at the white woman. Her face told
him nothing. Only she appeared by her posture, nimble, and judging by the
closeness of the African at her side, his wife. He was handsome and elegant in
the style of a Ugandan prince.
Somebody removed the cold dish which he had abandoned, and placed
traditional tea with milk in front of him. He looked around and was surprised by
the noises and activity everywhere. He had become so engrossed that he had
ignored the world. The market of Ngong village was humming, in full session.
Tutts loved this place, so original, popular and natural, so far from tourists. He
was distracted for an instant by an amusing interchange between an annoyed
Hindu and a vegetable smallholder. The detective inspected another photo.
It was a creased wedding photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Gathu opposite the
All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. They were both smiling happily, surrounded by
parents and friends throwing confetti and streamers. Hottensiah appeared like a
virgin in her white dress, which was very tight but covered most of her body. It
appeared as if various colleagues from the Chamber of Commerce were present,
both Africans and Asians, but no whites. The stout face of the mulatto was
present again with a discordant look, from his one good eye, he seemed to train
his sharpened teeth on the bride. Her fearful expression appeared authentic.
"The aforementioned" Tutts said to himself. He couldn't ignore a slight but
sickly feeling of jealousy to imagine the voluptuous Hottensiah in her moments
of consecration on her wedding night with that thick skinned Gathu.
Between the photos there was also a visiting card with the name: Ms.
Nancy R. McDougall. Technical Assistant to the Director. Institution: UNESCO.
Below in small letters, her address and telephone number in Nairobi. Tutts
marked another red circle, this time around the head of the white woman. He
had found another clue.
When he returned to Nairobi, he went directly to his apartment in the
United Kenya Club. He needed to read, listen to music, and rest. He needed to
forget about the case a little and leave the facts simmer. As soon as he opened
the door, he heard the telephone ringing hysterically. It was Waweru, excitable
as usual. He launched into a never ending diatribe, that he had probably
memorized hours before:
"Boss, I have identified our mulatto. The name of the individual is Ezekiel
Cockburn. Everyone in Limuru knows he is a paid assassin and they fear and
respect him. He has an Australian father and Kamba mother, and was brought
up in the forest as a warrior and lion hunter. They say he has a strong smell, a
harufu, acidic and aggressive, not for lack of washing Tim, but from cultivated
animal instincts. He has sharpened canine teeth as is the tribal custom, with
which they terrorize their victims. The legends say that they kill animals and
humans with terrible bites to the neck. Torturer and assassin, he is protected by
the rich and powerful bourgeoisie in the Limuru section of the Kenyan Chamber
of Commerce. He has never been accused of anything, but the word on the street
is that Cockburn is a terminator, a killer, an askari hodari. All this I discovered
accidentally boss, going about my business. This case is a real mystery for me,
everything is happening. But Mungu is with us."
"Amen, Karima. what's happening to you? responded Tutts. Control
yourself, man, there is a lot of work to be done, and none of it mysterious. Have
you heard about the "Old Man in the Corner?" There is no mystery in connection
with crime; everything is a matter of applied intelligence. Stick that into your
head. Anything else?" he added to quickly cut him off.
"Nothing more to add." replied Waweru, clearly irritated, "I'll see you
Tutts couldn't sleep that night, obsessed with Ezekiel Cockburn. He was
aware that many compatriots, mulattos like himself were different. They shared
the stigma of being the product of broken norms, of prohibitions that were
imposed by traditional tribal taboos. They were a result of a fusion of an unclean
mix of a wealthy black with a white, or a white rapist with a black woman as
often portrayed in popular tales. Tutts knew that there was nothing less
universally looked down upon and at the same time feared as a mulatto, and the
likelihood of confronting one of his own rotten race held little pleasure for Tutts.
He would have preferred any other kind of challenge, even to confront a hungry
lion, or even debate with Sir Henry P. Lytton.
"Loneliness is my best friend" declared Tutts philosophically.
M onday was very intense. Tutts had left instructions for his team to
prepare reports, so that at the end of the afternoon they could have a
general meeting. He remained working in his department, until a little before
three in the afternoon, whereupon he left for an interview in UNESCO with Mrs.
McDougall. To secure the interview he passed himself off as someone interested
in primitive art (not exactly a lie in Tutts' case), that way he wouldn't have to give
explanations or run the risk that she would refuse the meeting. He knew from
previous experience that international officials tended to value their time in an
exaggerated way. It comes from being paid in hard currency, thought Tutts.
Despite everything he had to invoke the name of his revered father so that
the lady would condescend to see him. He deduced that she only finally agreed
out of curiosity, to meet the son of the mythical Dr. Tutts-Thompson.
We will remember that Timotheus Tutts' father was a famous welsh
scientist, an archeologist with a world-wide reputation for his important
discoveries in the Lamu archipelago. He was also a crazy dreamer that
disappeared one day without trace, but that's another story.
The woman was interesting, in her late thirties, dressed slightly mannish,
but elegant. She chose her clothes with a militant concept of femininity, that is,
blouse, shirt, high heels, tights, silk handkerchief and jewels. She appeared to be
passing through Nairobi, as if her natural place was an art gallery in Vienna or
New York. "About as attractive as an old leather suitcase with fine locks."
thought Tutts to himself. It was the same woman as the photo, the one that
could be seen buttering up to the handsome Ugandan. That indicated to the
detective that his intuition had been correct.
To dissipate his doubts, he began a discourse on wall murals, and
expressed surprise at the type of decoration found in bars such as the
Rajamputra. He wondered, in all humility, whether this constituted real "art".
The officer seemed convinced that this insignificant mulatto in front of her was
worthy of her time, and offered an explanation:
"I think Mr. Tutts, if there is an important plastic expression in Kenya
today, it is popular street art, which is exactly what you saw in that bar, and
what one can observe in many public places like it. Naturally it has nothing to do
with the painting of Caballete, nor is at the vanguard of plastic art. It is not
"serious" art, as conceptually conceived in Paris of Hamburg, nor is it to hang on
the wall, or sell in the market. In this world of individual appropriation, the
mural wall painting in Kenya is an anonymous and community demonstration. It
is a visual testimony that brings together needs, suffering, happiness and
"Convincing, but arguable." repulsed Tutts. "Don't you think it is just a
basic expression of a semi-literate population, and incorrect to call it art?"
"One moment, my dear friend" interjected the art expert, "lets take it step
by step. African tribal art, called primitive for lack of a better word, has made as
you know a great contribution to modern art. One cannot understand Picasso, or
Derain, or Modigliani, or Gauguin, or Brancusi, without reference to indigenous
paintings and statues that adorn European museums..."
Tutts noted that the woman was enjoying addressing her own captive
audience. It wasn't that Tutts was in disagreement with her, but he was
purposely extending the erudition, without allowing controversy to enter;
"However I understand your position," proceeded McDougall closing her
eyes and putting her fingers together, "it's true that we often find ourselves
before a painting which transmits messages at those who know how to interpret
them. It's also true that artists barely understand the rudiments of drawing and
colour. And all that is the exteriorization of underdeveloped publicity techniques.
Such an analysis would be correct Mr. Tutts," the expert appeared to go into
ecstasy, "but it's unjust, exaggerated. It is a failure to understand, I repeat, this
kind of art is no more than a communal expression."
"That's how I also see it." Tutts told her. "Because the mural that
impressed me the most in that bar was of a man attempting to run away from a
mob that was intent on stoning him. I suppose that is what you are referring to
when you mention community expression." he added playing the innocent.
"Well" replied the expert, with three quarters of her composure lost, "Not
precisely, I think that they refer more to positive expressions, that is to say, to
congregate rather than separate, to integrate rather than protest. What are you
getting at Mr.Tutts?"
The detective noted how the woman started to retract like a animal waiting
for an attack. It amused him to see how her coating of civilization gradually
melting away, allowing her survival instinct to take charge. He tried another
"My distinguished teacher don't you think that in that primitive semi-
literate expression, there is something magical, mysterious, a way of
communicating using occult objects? I'll explain: the individual stoned in the
mural, is, perhaps, the ghost of a man that asks for justice. As you yourself said
the author of the painting is anonymous, it is the community that is demanding
justice. That is how it is right? What do you think?"
The woman had become white whilst Tutts was speaking, and remained
mute for a moment. Her hand made a movement towards the telephone, but
stopped short. At last she asked:
"Who are you and what do you want from me Mr. Tutts?"
"Mrs. McDougall" answered the detective I don't want anything that your
not prepared to give. But permit me to inform you that Saturday, the day before
yesterday, I and a few other people buried a poor devil. His name was: Moses
Angila Orieyo. Nobody claimed his body. According to the law he died in a road
accident, but the truth is he was murdered on the pretext that he was stealing a
car. In a few words, they stoned him to death..."
"Your not really interested in popular art, are you? the woman blurted,
half hysterical. "It was just a pretext to get to me..."
"It interests me much more than you might think." replied Tutts quickly,
"but there are more important things to keep me busy at the moment. I am a
detective, and they have asked me to clear the name of the deceased Orieyo, the
one accused off stealing." he insisted, "when he had no intention; and was
expressly executed by the community, when in reality he fell victim to a trap laid
by a wicked mind."
Tutts noticed a pair of thick tears run down the cheeks of the international
official, leaving grotesque lines in her makeup. She didn't try to dry up the flood.
The detective put his hand in his pocket to offer her his handkerchief, as in the
films, but decided not to when he felt the crumpled rag that was hiding there, he
felt deeply embarrassed.
"I wanted to stop them." said the woman between sobs. "God knows I tried
to do everything possible."
"I believe you." said Tutts trying to calm her down. "Various people saw
you there and can confirm that you did. But no one so far has been identified. I
found you, but only by working my brain cells. I want to ask you an important
question. Think before you answer: What were you doing there?"
"I have nothing else to add." McDougall closed up tight. "I repeat, I was
only trying to avoid what was happening to that young man, for humanitarian
reasons. I don't know him from Adam. I was merely a passer by."
With his best poker face, Tim Tutts took the photo of the Kenyan Chamber
of Commerce out of his briefcase with her face clearly marked by a red circle. Her
first reaction was to ask, "Where did you get that?" but she controlled herself,
realizing that she could not be foolish with this person, and instead opted for
"That's me. I was in that gathering accompanying my husband. I have
nothing to do with those others, I just wanted to meet president Moi."
"Mrs. McDougall" proposed Tutts, "I am not accusing you of anything. Just
tell me if you know or are friends with those persons marked by a red circle"
(which was Gathu and the mulatto).
"I know them perhaps by sight, Mr Tutts. But I repeat, I have nothing to
do with them." and added getting up from her seat: "I'm sorry to have to suspend
this meeting. I have a lot of work to do. I repeat, I'm sorry about what happened,
but I have nothing more to add. Goodbye Mr. Tutts."
The detective bowed his head slightly. He was clear that she was a key
witness. Not only had she been present at the stoning, but she appeared to be
connected to the conspirators. He started quickly for his office, expectant to
know what his colleagues had found out:
He found everyone lazing in easy chairs watching the world cup on
television. He bellowed "Good afternoon" and everyone quickly jumped to their
"I hope you have all successfully completed your missions." thundered
Tutts, patronizingly. "We are working against time. First Karima."
"Efficiency and effectiveness, that's my motto, boss" declared Karima,
which made everyone smile except for Tutts, who felt the need to reprimand him:
"I'll ask you not to behave like a clown, Waweru, it is not synonymous with
a sense of humor but rather the ridiculous. Your report, please."
"I first went to the United Nations, and afterwards to Foreign Relations
with the card that you passed me." blurted Waweru, embarrassed by the
comment. "She is Canadian, with a Phd from Columbia University, and an expert
for UNESCO. She has diplomatic immunity. The Canadian embassy told me that
the lady is from Vancouver and has lived in United States, but remained a
Canadian citizen. That's all I have on the lady, boss. She was married with
Rudolph Gatungi, Ugandan, resident in Kenya, a construction entrepreneur
specializing in ecclesiastic architecture, fellow worker of Gathu in England. They
are property partners. I said were married, because they were divorced two
months ago according to Canadian law. They have no children. They don't live
together. And have not re-married. They have no criminal record. He is a political
refugee persecuted by Idi Amin for his opinions. I told you about the mulatto,
Cockburn by telephone. But let me add something important: Cockburn is
Gathu's right hand man, bodyguard, and is trusted by him. He has also done
special jobs for Gatungi. That's all I have on him, boss.
"Thanks Waweru" manifested Tutts in conciliatory tone, when you put
your mind to it, you can be unsurpassable. Anything else?"
"Something brief, boss. The Indian Shah, who is supposed to own the
vehicle, well the car is not legally his, in fact it is registered in Gathu's name,
who had verbally given the car to Wihu. Shah is also associated with Gathu
providing him with various construction supplies."
"A sinister link" commented Tutts. "And now you Nedge."
"I have some surprising news, boss, perhaps dynamic. Mwanza has
disappeared. I couldn't spot him Sunday, nor did he appear Monday at his shoe-
shine kiosk. There is someone else in his place, who says he has no idea where
Mwanza might be, and that he found the stall empty. Neither did the Sunday
revellers see him, instead they entertained themselves with a couple of bell
ringing leopards showing their ulcers. I digged as far as I could, but the knot is
sealed around this person. In any case," he closed "I'll keep on it."
"Thanks Joe. What you have told us could be a very significant fact. Curly,
your turn." said Tutts without looking at her.
"I also have some spectacular news, Tim, I'm going to marry Gathu."
It was impossible for Tutts not to laugh, infected by the strident guffaws of
his colleagues. When they had finished, Curly continued:
"Really what I should say, is that Gathu offered me marriage. As you all
know, I had dinner with him on Saturday night. He picked me up in his
luxurious Mercedes, the one with polarized windows..."
"Excuse the interruption, Curly" interjected Nedge. "I had forgotten to tell
you, boss, that the Mercedes is the same one we saw in the cemetery. Proceed,
"OK" continued Curly, "from there we went to the Carnivore restaurant. A
torture, because I am a vegetarian. Well anyway, Gathu, apart from being the
most obese man I have ever seen in my life, is a real flesh eating machine. I have
never come across a beast like him. He ate a whole cow, a dozen chickens, a
couple of pigs and a bowl of fish, accompanied by several sacks of sweet
potatoes, kilos of raw and cooked tomatoes, and whatever else. To wash down so
much food he drank at least two barrels of beer, froth included..."
At this point in the story, the fat Nedge almost suffocated himself
laughing, and they had to pass him a jug of water to drink between hic-ups and
tears. Waweru had to go to the toilet, from where they could hear his screams of
laughter. He must have wet his trousers, because he came out shielding his flies
with a folder. Tutts asked Curly to be a little more serious.
"Well, guys, I'm exaggerating a little, but I had to watch the whole show. I
barely spoke to him. One supposes that we went out to talk business, I had
passed myself off as a fashion designer, and I proposed to decorate one of his
shops. I had to convince him that until recently I was a model, which is easy to
prove. Well, Gathu stared at me the whole time whilst he was stuffing himself,
but I couldn't get a word out of him because his mouth was continually busy
grinding bones. When he finished quite drunk and out of breath, he asked me of
I wanted to marry him. We agreed to see each other. He said he would call. I'm
sorry chief, I failed."
"It doesn't matter" said Tim Tutts lightly, "I hope you have more luck next
"I didn't get very far with Wihu either, Tim, added Curly. She went to the
Tsavo national park for the week end in one of those luxury hotels. She is
supposed to return tonight."
Tutts decided to terminate the days work.
"Africa"! he cried at the ceiling.
Things get complicated
T he following day, one full week after the death of Orieyo, was a pivotal day
in that the slightly speculative case that Tutts and his team were
investigating was transformed in a distinctive, threatening way. Things started to
happen which transformed the cause into a multiple enigma on the one hand;
and a sinister conspiracy on the other. In short, the concerned were brought
together in order to wreak justice for Orieyo.
On entering his office Tutts received startling news. Joe Nedge, very
uptight was standing talking quickly with Curly. He had just managed to open
the door, when his collaborator barked:
"Boss...don't take your jacket off... they found the shoe-shiner Mwanza...
Dead... in one of those watering holes where the wild animals drink in the
Nairobi National Park... a friend in the police told me... they've already gone... I
wove a plan... let’s get thjere..."
Tutts and the fat guy left. Tutts asked Curly to be patient, she had news to
give him, but it would have to wait until their return. After filtering through the
usual early morning bottlenecks, they left the urban limit and joined the road to
the park. They had already closed the gates to the flocks of tourists furiously
complaining in various languages. The park keepers didn't know what to say.
The private detectives entered but not before showing their detectives credentials
(that they always carried), and entering into a long discussion with the guard,
invoking the name of Superintendent Matanka, and pressing notes into the right
All the guards appeared to be congregated around the what is know as the
Hippo Pool. The police were there and several apprentice lawyers taking no. It
was 11am in the morning, and terribly hot; the country was passing through a
dry period and one could feel it in the air. The well stank, and the whole park
appeared like a desert of predominantly yellows and browns, with very few
touches of green.
Nedge discretely approached the group with the purpose of flushing out
more information. They let him proceed. Tutts asked a few questions, but nobody
had any idea of what had happened, except that the man was very much dead.
Mwanza's remains were almost unrecognizable. His body lay in the papyrus
reeds, with the head semi-submerged, covered in bloodstains. His body had been
savagely mutilated with blows from panga. There were deep cuts on his arms,
legs and back, already plagued by flies. The head almost separated from the
body was however intact, missing a few clumps of hair, pulled out with rage,
leaving in their place a few clots of blood, dry by this time. The reek of the body
in rapid de-composition was unbearable.
"It's Mwanza" murmured Nedge, which Tutts confirmed.
They had gone wild with his body. It reminded them of photos taken
during the Mau-Mau terrorist emergency, when badly mutilated corpses (blacks
and whites) appeared all over the place. The majority of the blows were not
mortal in themselves; one could imagine the suffering inflicted on the mystical
shoe-shiner, assassinated by an accumulation of shallow cuts, and internal
injuries. It was the horror of death under the attack of a panga.
Clearly, the idea of the assassins was that the death should appear like an
accident, to simulate a surprise attack by wild animals during the night. But
none of the wild animals could have caused such havoc and ravage a body like
that. Nobody among those present was capable of estimating the time of death,
as usually happens in novels. They would never know it either. The local police
were not going to waste resources that they didn't have on investigated a death
so apparently straightforward; and even less on a person of little importance
such as the shoe-shiner from River Road. Only Tutts and his team knew that he
had disappeared some time during the previous Saturday, and had been
involved in mischief.
On the return to the office, Curly at last could finish recounting the latest
developments. The previous night she had a very long conversation with
Hottensiah Wihu. Although the information did not help much in clarifying the
crime, she did provide interesting information about the various protagonists in
Wihu said that she had met Moses Orieyo in the publicity agency where
they participated in TV spots and fashion shows. She was attracted to him
because of his delicate appearance, and air of suffering. He appeared a tortured,
lonely individual, which didn't impede him being photographed like a common
relaxed person in advertisements. Besides, Orieyo was physically harmonic,
handsome, and quite tall. Hottensiah admitted that this had also influenced her,
and made him very attractive. She had been married for several years with
Gathu, who had been transformed from a nice person, perhaps with a slight
tendency to obesity, to a repulsive, overweight, violent beast. The only sexual
contact was brutally mechanical which she finally avoided. In a word, her
marriage was a failure in every aspect.
The ex-Mrs.Gathu realized that her relationship with Orieyo could be very
unbalanced, given the social and cultural differences, as well as age. Above all
they were from a different tribal origin; but they tried to overcome these
difficulties with what she simply called love. It was a case of two unhappy
human beings that were in need of affection and understanding. Hottensiah also
admitted that she helped Moses Orieyo with money, and that she normally paid
when they met clandestinely.
She knew many of Gathu's associates, although only superficially. From
the beginning she realized they were an unscrupulous band that operated on the
legal limit, protected and aided by juridical contacts. It wasn't that they were
fully dedicated to illegal businesses, but rather utilized bullying tactics, bribes,
and blackmail to push through their projects. The mulatto Cockburn was the
worst, he was in charge of the dirty operations. The woman hated him because
he spent the whole day trailing Gathu, and interfering in the private life of the
Hottensiah believes it was the mulatto that discovered her love affaire with
Orieyo. He had been personally spying on her, with the help of his cronies,
amongst others, the shoe-shining preacher Mwanza, a diabolic impostor, and the
right hand man of the mulatto. At least for the time being, because Cockburn is
a cold hearted, solitary and independent brute.
Wihu confirmed that Shah was the worst of cowards, and was pushed into
participating, probably under threat, if not he would be implicated in another
felony that they had previously committed together; and, against his own Asian
community for sure. Shah had no alternative but to collaborate with his
accomplice and benefactor, he owed Gathu too many favours to risk
On the day of the set up, a surprise visit by her husband to her apartment
near the Milimani Hotel caused her to arrive late for her meeting with Orieyo.
Gathu had detained her with talk of problems related to the divorce. She
suspected nothing at that moment, but now she thinks that it was deliberate, so
that the trap could be laid for Orieyo.
When she finally arrived at the City Hall, there was nobody there, nor the
car. She asked about the Plymouth, and someone mentioned the frustrated
robbery and that the thief had been trapped in the Jevanjee Gardens. She went
there to find her lover dead and mutilated by the stoning. According to Wihu, she
ran away and locked herself in her apartment, until some time later she calmed
down and made her way to the offices of T.T&T.
She didn't know the ragged Masai personally, but knows Orieyo tried to
help his father, but the man lived in another world, she thinks he is crazy.
Despite this, he recognized his son and always tried to be near, casting enigmatic
looks at him. But when Moses approached him, there was no conversation. He
would take the money or food that was offered, and leave in the same laconic
manner in which he had arrived.
This produced a terrible doubt and worry in Orieyo's mind causing him to
fall into deep depressions. He interpreted the silences of his father as
accusations. She had to muster all her feminine attributes in order to pull him
out of his spiritual darkness." Tutts morbidly imagined all the attention and
warmth that Hottensiah would have to give in order to cheer up Orieyo.
"Lucky guy." popped out of his mouth in front of the surprised face of his
secretary, slightly flustered, he asked her to continue with her report.
"Wihu admitted that the mention of the Masai in her "open letter" to her
husband was pure speculation. She supposed, with a high level of probability,
that the crazy old man was at the scene of the crime and that he had assisted in
setting the ambush for his son. Regarding the false Indian twins that she had
seen at the City Hall, she had the feeling they were waiting for something. She
tried to speak to them, but in vain, because they ran off, frightened, without
apparently understanding anything that she had said to them. They were, in her
words, like a pair of simple animals without any ability to reason. She noted that
they had also followed to the Jevanjee Gardens."
"Did you find her statements authentic"? Tutts asked Curly, once she had
finished her report.
"I'm not sure," answered the secretary. "At one point I had the impression
she was being very melodramatic, theatrical, especially in the words she chose.
But frankly I wouldn't like to say if she lied or not." she added.
In any case, thought Tutts, the most interesting part of the tête-à-tête
between Curly and Wihu was the confirmation that the woman wanted to
continue the investigation to the end, to implicate Gathu and clear Orieyo's
name. She referred to the complete silence from her ex-husband after she had
sent him the letter, which was suspicious in her opinion, because the letter was
very strong. Gathu had been accused and informed, now Tutts should not lose
the opportunity to prove it.
Two Difficult Conversations
T hat same afternoon, to take advantage of the fresh and perfumed sunset,
Tim Tutts made his way to the United Kenya Club. Instead of directly
entering his apartment, he installed himself on the tiled terrace of the oldest, and
the first multi-racial English style club in Nairobi.
Tutts had been in the place for years which was a hybrid between an
apartment block and a hotel. The place assured independence, and privacy, yet
also provided contacts; The price was reasonable, and it also resolved his
logistical problems because the location was ideal. By just going down the
principal arterial road of Nairobi, the Uhuru Way, he could reach the French
cultural centre and the Goethe Institute, where one could see good cinema and
listen to concerts. There were several good restaurants nearby, and libraries
holding expositions. Amen to churches, although Tutts was not essentially
interested, they entertained him with their rituals often mixing primitive drums
with European choirs.
The terrace of the Kenya Club was one of his favorite observation points.
He ordered a passion fruit juice, as well as a pineapple one, with plenty of ice
and a little sugar, just the way he liked it. His folders of notes and various pencil
cases were waiting for action on the table. His idea was to reflect upon the Orieyo
case and note down the main points, with the intention of forming a tactical
strategy to tackle the entrepreneur Gathu, the principle suspect in view of the
Just as the drinks arrived, Tutts felt the presence of an enormous
palpitating figure. The table rocked, and the chair opposite him let out the
equivalent of a moan on receiving the huge frame of the one and only George
Njoroge Gathu. The detective suddenly felt pale and an avalanche of adrenalin
pumped for a few moments. He felt trapped.
"So you are a detective"? Chided Gathu in a menacing and hoarse voice.
"Something like that Sherlock Holmes of Scotland Yard?"
The entrepreneurs spongy mass agitated sporadically as he laughed at his
own joke, or what he thought was a joke. His smirk quickly disappeared into
coughs which left him out of breath. To recover, he took a large gulp of the White
Cup beer that had been put in front of him. His bulging eyes watered when he
felt the cold liquid run down his throat. Tutts watched him drink, like an
overheated train, dirty and weak.
"There's nothing more delicious than a White Cup. A marvelous invention
the beer, right Mr. Tutts?" he spat with malice, and laughed again. Choked once
more, then drank.
Tutts continued waiting for the man to broach some subject, as he had
been surprised to silence by Gathu's sudden apparition. He opted to drink his
juice at the same rhythm as the other.
"I have never heard anyone speak of you, Tutts. A detective in Nairobi?
Fantastic" he exclaimed waving his fat arms, the muscles were noticeably
Once again Tutts had to bear the cycle of laughter, spluttering, and the
gulping of beer. Only this time the drink exacerbated Gathu's cough, spittle
exploded from the fat millionaires mouth, and cascaded down his neck, staining
his far from clean tie, continuing down to his trousers and the chair of the UKC.
Tim gave up waiting and tried to start a conversation.
"What did you want to talk to me about Mr.Gathu?" he asked looking
towards the garden.
The huge blob contemplated him as if hypnotized. He appeared to be in
another world, but Tutts perceived that he had all his faculties concentrated
upon him. He noticed his nostrils open and close with an ever more violent
rhythm, giving the impression that he might suddenly dive over the table and
throttle Tutts until he felt his neck bones crush. He noted his reddened eyes due
to liquor, tiredness, and anger.
"Clearly there's nothing I like about this guy." thought Tutts. He realized
that the man wanted to give him a physical demonstration of force, as if merely
his presence could squash him and push him out of the way. With this
pretentious show going down very badly, Tutts delivered him a double blow:
"Giving me ugly looks is futile if you want to talk Mr. Gathu. If I want to
study orangutans suffering from bad livers, I'll go to the zoo..."
To Tutt's amazement, Gathu remained calm, and even appeared to relax a
little with the insult. He laughed again, this time a little more naturally.
Suddenly he became serious and responded:
"I didn't have Orieyo killed, Tutts. I know that is what my ex-wife believes,
and she contracted you to prove it, but I didn't do it. I have committed
regrettable things in my life”, he added looking at his glass of beer, “but I swear I
had nothing to do with the death of Orieyo. It was an accident. I wasn't there. I
was with her at the time."
Tutts remained silent, puzzled how to respond. Gathu proceeded:
"I am not afraid of court action, because I know it is impossible. The case
is closed. But I don't want noise to be made, so that my name, or that of my
children, is stained by scandal."
This time the detective remained silent on purpose. He drank a little of his
fruit juice, and looked at him without blinking. It was Tutts' turn to stare.
"I have no idea why Rose hates me so much." Gathu continued his
monologue. "I pulled her out of the worst place imaginable. It's true she has
always been very beautiful, but she lacked talent, her future was undressing in
front of people and moving around a bit simulating a few dance steps..."
"What had your friend and partner Mr. Ezekiel Cockburn to do with the
stoning of Moses Orieyo?" Tutts threw in his face.
"Pure coincidence I suppose" responded Gathu after a pause, clearly
unsettled. "He mentioned something to me, but I only found out the details from
"Did you find out the same way that Orieyo was the lover of your wife?
"I admit I knew before, Mr. detective" responded the entrepreneur
disdainfully. "I lament his death. It's always sad when young people die. But for
me that guy was a thing of the past. I had already divorced Rose, my woman"
this he said almost sighing.
"Was Orieyo the cause?"
"Not just Orieyo. She was behaving like a vulgar prostitute, excuse me Mr.
Tutts, but I couldn't tolerate any more. Marriage for me is something very
serious, divine. That's why I preferred to divorce her and look for a more
appropriate mother for my children. I haven't found her yet. My own mother and
sister are taking care of them. And very well, as Rose knows..."
Tim Tutts felt a token of pity for this character. The poor, obese rich child.
After so much talk, Gathu became thirsty and ordered another White Cup. Tutts
ordered a coffee to clear his head. "That my rival is relaxed right now is just what
I want, but I need to be lucid and on form" calculated the pragmatic Tutts.
"She was a slave to her business" muttered Gathu. You know that in those
boîtes and discothèques they not only act and prance about on stage, but they
perform behind as well. Rose was very assiduous in nightclub tasks, where quick
sex is practiced in the darkness. That's where I pulled her out from. But I feared
that she could never forget that world which was so much part of her life" and he
added: "You understand how humiliating it is for me to tell you all of this."
There was a short blast of a horn and both men looked from the terrace to
the club car park, that was lit by the ghostly moonlight. Gathu's impeccable
European Mercedes stood out brilliantly. Tutts realized that he would have to
move quickly in order to get something out of the conversation.
"How can you be so sure that your friend Cockburn was present just by
accident at Orieyo's death?" persisted Tutts. "Excuse my insistence, Mr Gathu,
but it's important." he added.
"In truth I have no idea Mr. Tutts" was his reply. "I don't put my hand in
the fire for him, but I tend to believe his version. He has no reason to lie to me"
offered Gathu with a humble, innocent look.
"And what can you tell me about Jeremiah Mwanza?" he tried in an
attempt to surprise him.
"Who? I don't know anyone by that name" responded Gathu.
"He was a poor shoe-shiner and preacher, a collaborator of Ezekiel in dirty
and less than saintly activities. They found him dead, presumably murdered. We
know he was a witness to Orieyo's death."
Gathu looked everywhere as if asking for help. But he composed himself
"I know nothing about that, Tutts. Please forget this matter."
Tutts leaned closer to Gathu and delivered a low blow:
"Do you think there was something romantic going on between your wife
and Mr. Cockburn, your employee?"
The heavy set businessman straightened up in his seat. A powerful stench
of beer rushed out of his mouth. He began to visibly sweat and his eyes turned
white. Tutts at first thought he was suffering a heart attack; but remembered
that African meat was tough. Finally Gathu pulled out a clean handkerchief with
which he mopped his brow and neck, leaving the fine material stained forever.
"I don't know about that either, nor do I want to. I have to go, but before
that I want to leave it absolutely clear. I am innocent and it appears that you
don't believe me. I just want to warn you that before you attack me in the press
or any other medium, that you are very clear of your facts. I could destroy you in
hours, I could destroy you now, but I appeal to your sensitivity and intelligence."
"I also have friends Mr. Gathu." repulsed Timotheus Tutts, "if you want to
exchange threats. But let’s not go into that. I have noted your statement and also
your request for caution. It would be prudent, but I advise you that I am
continuing with the investigation. I have my responsibilities."
George Njoroge Gathu started to get up from the table, with the same
difficulty as a hippopotamus leaving the water. He offered his hand, humid and
cold, like a sick person, and said nothing more. As soon as he was on his feet,
the car silently approached the steps of the terrace of the U.K.C. Tutts couldn't
see who was driving. Gathu opened the door on his own and collapsed onto the
back seat. The Mercedes purred away.
The detective was alone on the terrace of the club and felt like an
abandoned suitcase. The late chatter and bellows from the last clients escaped
from the bar and the evening breeze brought the habitual fragrances up to him
from the garden. Tim noted in a corner protected by the darkness, two waiters
that were looking over at him. He only saw their eyes shine in the light of the
moon. Gathu was well known to them; Tutts almost a foreigner. Had he left the
opportunity to question the businessman slip away? Was he lying? Was he guilty
or not guilty? Could he believe Hottensiah?
He concluded that he must confront, as soon as possible, the mulatto
Cockburn. He trembled at the thought. He also realized that he hadn't asked the
ex-Mrs. Gathu the right questions. He felt ashamed, incapable, clumsy, and
stupid. Perhaps he had analyzed everything wrongly. He stood up and dragged
his feet along, thinking only to seek refuge in his bed. He tried to remember
where he had left the sleeping pills. The case which appeared simple at first, was
beginning to take on a snowball effect.
Just for a change, when he opened his apartment door, the phone was
ringing desperately. But strictly speaking, perhaps it was Tutts that was feeling
desperate. It was Curly, who announced in short breaths that Wihu had just
been assaulted at home. Three masked men apparently thieves, had taken
money and jewels, and destroyed valuable things. The had threatened and
terrorized her, but hadn't touched a hair. Even less so when she started to throw
pots and pans at their heads. Hottensiah had no idea who the attackers were.
The detective asked Curly to go immediately to Hottensiah's apartment
where they would meet to help their client, and assist her to fill out the
necessary papers. Tutts left himself the job of advising the police, knowing that
way he would have time to investigate before the uniforms arrived.
When he entered the apartment, Curly was talking with Wihu. They hadn't
touched anything. The lady had little much else to add, except that it appeared
curious that the individuals had treated her with so much respect, despite the
artillery barrage. They only laughed and tried to avoid the projectiles whilst they
upset the place looking for objects of value.
The apartment was very conventional, with low cost but new furniture.
There wasn't the exaggerated accumulation of bad taste, typical of so many well
off Kikuyus. There was more plastic than wood and cloth, more bibelots than
works of art. But the effect was agreeable. To Tutts it appeared very impersonal,
belonging to a migratory person.
A couple of sleepy policemen appeared at two in the morning. They took
statements from Hottensiah, and spoke to the askari of the building who hadn't
heard or seen anything. A pair of tramps were wandering nearby, that were
kicked and beaten with sticks, then bundled into the police truck. They left,
"It just lacks one of Joe Nedge's proverbs" commented Tutts weakly,
closing the apartment door.
"What do you think about this one boss"? joked Curly: «Attacking in
numbers shows false courage».
"Although it sounds very Abaluyia, it's not bad" the detective was forced to
The group started to tidy up a little, and the girls prepared some tea.
Hottensiah was still not fully dressed, and in her thin undergarment she looked
very attractive. Curly had thrown on informal but fresh clothes. Both women
could have taken a month each in one of the most elegant erotic calendars.
"There's nothing like tall slim women, as long as they are generous where they
should be, tits and bum", reflected Tutts, loosely. But he preferred to go straight
to the point with Hottensiah, who was looking at him wantonly when she
realized that Tutts' eyes revealed admiration:
"Today I had a long conversation with your ex-husband. He plainly denies
planning Orieyo's death, what do you think about that"?
"That he lied." she responded without pausing. "He lies with impudence.
He is the only one that could have dreamed up the crime, including this
supposed assault. I know that he still loves me," she added looking at her feet,
"but he detests me because I haven't died away. He's a real macho pig."
Wihu trembled with tension. Curly had to support her shoulders and rub
her gently, forcing her to sit down and drink her hot tea.
"Hottensiah," Tutts said to her, now with a more gentle tone, "Isn't it
possible that Cockburn is behind everything? You have already told me how
much you dislike him, but, doesn't he have his reasons? Look how he's trying to
get somewhere with you? I am not explaining very well, but I hope you
"I think I see what you are insinuating," answered the beautiful black
woman. "It is true, I have to confess that Ezekiel is mad about me, and the fault
is mine, because I led him along a little. Try to understand," she added quickly
looking at Curly, "my marriage was a nightmare, the treatment I received from
my husband was unbearable. I accepted Ezekiel's advances, but without them
leading to anything else, I swear. But later he began to harass me which became
insupportable, he's a repellant, frightening beast. I repeatedly asked him to leave
me in peace, and I also told my husband, but he found it so disturbing that he
"It was against this background," Tutts interrupted her," that you started
your relationship with Moses Orieyo?"
"Yes," she answered laconically. "I wanted to completely forget the place
that was called home. There is something that you must know," she added,
"Ezekiel Cockburn isn't capable of elaborating a complex plan like the one
against Orieyo. He is a simple being. Strong and astute, if you like, but of limited
"But you don't have any concrete proof that Gathu was responsible. It's
just personal conjecture, well founded perhaps, but not enough to convince a
judge." affirmed the detective.
"Maybe you are right. But I'll stick to my opinion. It could be that Ezekiel
was obsessed with me, and I wasn't sufficiently tactful to ignore him from the
beginning. But I insist, nothing occurred between us."
The woman blew her nose and shed a tear from tiredness. It was a
convenient place to terminate the interview:
"Timotheus, I am exhausted, my nerves are wasted, I beg you that we may
continue after I have rested a little."
"Please, one last question, Hottensiah." requested Tutts, looking his client
straight in the face. "I'm sure Curly told you about the death of the shoe-shiner
Mwanza. What do you think about that?"
"She told me. I think it goes along with what's happening." responded
Wihu. "I am sure Cockburn did it. It's his style. I wouldn't be surprised if he did
it with his own hands. Of course, I can't prove it." she added with a touch of
"And the assault here, What do you think?" Asked Tutts.
"They are trying to terrorize me. I don't know exactly why, but the possible
objective is that we stop investigating. Now Tim, I just want to sleep."
"Of course, Hottensiah. We will leave you in peace. Make a detailed
inventory of all the things stolen or broken. Someone will have to pay for all this.
"Curly," said Tutts turning to his secretary, "I think it a good idea if you stayed
the night with Hottensiah. I will speak to the administration and the askaris to
double up the watch." He noted the slightest trace of disappointment on Wihu's
face, but said goodbye to the two women and returned to his apartment. At last
to sleep. The sweet smelling Nairobi night surrounded him. The ground was wet
from the fine rain and reflected the moon, creating strange shadows. He walked
the six long blocks which separated him from the UKC.
Closing on the Beast
T he night, the wise say, is a good advisor. It helped Tim Tutts to settle some
dark points in the investigation. It was necessary first of all to put aside the
misleading theories and overcome the lack of cooperation, by compromising
various people who knew much more than they admitted to come out into the
open. It was obvious that he would receive little cooperation from those directly
involved like Shah and Cockburn. But it was inexcusable that the journalist
Kuma and the international officer, Mrs. McDougall were so tight lipped.
Tutts decided to invite them both to a meeting. He wrote a letter the
following day that summarized the dramatic state of the situation. The most
important paragraphs read:
"Recently I contacted you regarding the death of Moses Orieyo, stoned by a
crowd in circumstances which as you have verified as strange.
"Lamentably, your collaboration to date has been minimal. I respect your
reasons, but there are many loose threads and incomplete information
which is blocking the investigation. There are facts which need to be
cleared up and explained.
"In the first place a shoe-shiner called Jeremiah Mwanza, an active
participant in the stoning, was found dead in Nairobi's National Park.
Everything indicates that he was murdered. In second place, a lady called
Hottensiah Wihu, a friend of Orieyo's was assaulted with unclear motives
in her apartment.
These acts of violence force me to ask once again for your collaboration
with the aim to end this rising bloodbath, and, above all, to achieve
justice, an objective which I am sure you share."
Both letters were a call to forget fears and doubts in order to reach the
truth. It was a sort of challenge. To the surprise of the detective, both characters
reacted favourably and were prepared to talk, and without conditions. He told
them both by telephone about the attack on Hottensiah's apartment, and his
suspicions that it was an act of intimidation. They promised to provide him with
more details about Mwanza's murder and voice their own opinions. Humbly he
asked for help; but also spoke of ethics and responsibility. He fixed an interview
with both of them soon, convincing them of the urgency of the case.
The meeting took place in the dining room of the UKC. Tutts had reserved
a table separate from the rest. The club, despite signs of irreversible decadence,
and advanced deterioration, at least conserved two things: sober fittings, and the
quality of the kitchen. It was not necessary to concern oneself over cleanliness,
because everything was spick and span and could be found in its rightful place.
The courtesy of the old, experienced and cordial staff, was exemplary. Nor was it
necessary to torture oneself studying the menu, the dish of the day was always
healthy, copious, and quickly served. There was always piping hot soup, fresh
wholewheat bread, with the best butter. The abundant main course consisted of
beef, lamb, chicken or fish, served with diverse vegetables with simple but tasty
sauces; to this was added the salads, local cheeses and various sweets. Tonight
they were offering fennel soup and filet au poivre with a sauce made from
enormous local grains.
The first few minutes of the meeting were dedicated to extolling the
surroundings and to analyze the food. During the soup, little was exchanged
about the Orieyo crime; but whilst they waited for the second course, Tutts
started to make a comprehensive summary of the case, putting emphasis on the
many doubts which remained. He admitted that he and his team had come to a
dead end, although some leads still remained to be chased up.
He also told them that the case had been lightly treated by the police and
the courts had officially at least, closed the case.
"I am not in any position to make corruption allegations, or of a cover up
or whatever," outlined the detective. "It would be very bad for me if I did so
without irrefutable proof, I have already been warned. What this means for the
moment is that there is nothing within sight to help me clarify this matter."
"But of course. All of this was perfectly predictable." commented Kuma.
The journalist had a modern aspect, almost youthful, dressed in a casual
and colourful style, in contrast to the grays and sober dress of the other two. He
emitted a cultivated spirit and worldly experience, with a sharpness about
international affairs. Tutts felt a common communion with Joshua Kuma, who
he had previously treated with ironic cruelty in front of his own staff, to show
himself superior. He only disliked the literary way in which the journalist spoke.
"The worst thing is that we have to wait for something else to happen,
another reaction on their part." continued Tutts. And added: "A reaction that
could be serious, because the scale of violence could escalate with unpredictable
Tutts perceived that both were disturbed by the situation, and decided to
push them a little:
"My friends. I ask you to put the information that you have on the table.
You are civilized people and cannot continue hiding information on immoral
acts. I think its the only way to avoid more serious bloodshed."
Tutts' guests looked at each other as if to invite the other to speak first.
Then after a brief pause;
"I'll start." said Nancy McDougall, "Someone has to. Just one thing Mr.
Tutts. Everything I tell you is strictly confidential and I hope between ourselves. I
am not afraid to speak in front of Mr. Kuma. He also discovered who I was, but
opted to respect my anonymity. As a matter of fact, we've known each other for
some time, and I know that he's a gentleman and a man of honour..."
"You have my word that nothing that you tell me will go further, Mrs.
McDougall," Tutts interrupted. "Please continue." he added encouragingly.
"Well. As you both know, I was married to a Ugandan, Rudolph Gatungi, a
powerful and rich man, and Gathu's partner in construction and property deals.
I said I was married because we separated a while ago. I won't explain my
reasons in detail, but I will tell you it was for ethical questions. Gathu and my
husband were getting involved in dubious money matters, political protection,
and corruption, which runs freely in this country. I don't want to say any more
on that, because for one, I don't have any further details, and secondly, its not
what we are presently concerned about. In any case I have legally become
financially independent from my husband. I only mention these aspects of my
private life because they could have a bearing on this case."
The woman paused to drink her soda. Then a waiter came to the table to
advise Tutts that he had a phone call. He refused to answer it with elaborate
hand waving, explaining that he couldn't be disturbed and asked them to take a
message. He begged the U.N. official to continue.
"Through my husband, I became aware of Gathu's dishonest affairs
continued the international expert. That marriage was a nightmare for both of
them. Hottensiah is very beautiful, but with a past of a vedette and model, which
at first fascinated Gathu, and made him proud, but later turned to
embarrassment. Little by little the couple became separated. Gathu was given
two children, but later kept them and abandoned Hottensiah to her own fate,
which is the custom in Africa. This distancing still meant however that Gathu
maintained an eye on his woman, a certain control. Kenyan husbands consider
it an unforgivable affront if their wives cheat on them, no matter how much they
"Allow me a question, Where you a close friend of Hottensiah during this
period?" the detective interjected.
"Not precisely" replied McDougall, "we only met each other on rare
occasions and then exchanged only a few words. She is a sweet and shy girl,
despite her vampire poses; but above all she greatly lacked culture and intellect.
For that fact she wasn't interesting to me as a person. Physically of course she
was very attractive, something that Rose, as her husband called her, knew how
to manipulate very well. She liked to be the center of attention. I'm reluctant to
call her an instinctive actress, but she intelligently and astutely used her innate
"And what was your reaction to Gathu?"
"Unfavourable. Frankly, I feared and disliked him. He was and continues
to be physically repellent and an brutal African bourgeois. Excuse me. Don't get
me wrong. I am not a racist. I'm referring to something else, his size, his scabbed
skin, his constant sweating, and his aura of a wild bull. I would feel the same
confronted by a Swiss with the same characteristics. I don't know if I explain
myself very well. Returning to your question, Timotheus," added the woman, "I
hardly spoke to Gathu. I only went to his house on obligatory occasions, to
important receptions connected to my husbands business. But I never cultivated
a degree of intimacy with them. Later I heard that Rose had started to openly kid
on her husband..."
"I suppose there you met Ezekiel Cockburn" asked the detective.
"No. The truth is that I met him much before. I presented him to my
husband who in turn presented him to Gathu. I have known Ezekiel a number of
years. We both belonged to the Christian Science Church. His father was an
Australian missionary who founded a community in the Kamba country, near
Voi. Ezekiel's mother belonged to that tribe. The reverend Cockburn was very
well liked by his flock, but died of malaria. The young Ezekiel was sent to Nairobi
in the hope that the church would help him. I became his guardian, and
introduced him to the local congregation for whom he did minor jobs; askari,
cleaner, gardener and messenger. It was there that he lost an eye, trying to stop
thieves from assaulting the temple. I asked my husband to guide him towards
better work. Poor Ezekiel was, besides, a devote person." bubbled the woman,
with moist eyes.
"However he ended up with Gathu as his assassin." said Tutts purposely.
"They corrupted him, believe me, Tim. Ezekiel was a simple and clumsy
guy, but with a good heart. Gathu and Gatungi transformed him into a hard
man, a killer..."
Once again the tears began to gather in Nancy Mc.Dougall's eyes. Tutts
watched her with a confused expression. He aggressively asked her to clarify her
"We are aware of some of Cockburns wicked deeds, Mrs. McDougall. I
would like to know how you qualify religious following with such acts of violence.
In other words, how Cockburn could have degenerated into a sort of killing
"Neither do I understand very well Mr. Tutts." spoke Mrs. McDougall. "At
first he started to do the same tasks as before, but then he began to change,
dressing himself in a more flamboyant way, and building himself up, believing
himself invincible...He is very tall as you know," she added, "and can really
shock and frighten people if he wants to. I was happy at the changes that
appeared to be doing him good, but afterwards he became strange, distant. I my
opinion he was slowly and systematically converted into a paid hit man."
"There's one important point, Nancy." intervened Tutts. "Do you know
anything about Ezekiel Cockburn’s relationship with Gathu's wife?"
"Only that they had become lovers." she replied in a jittering voice. "The
conditions were favourable, they were made for each other. A pair of beautiful
and ill-treated specimens living by the most primitive laws that exist between
male and female. They were like animals faced with the call of the wild, the needs
of reproduction, unaware of committing a sin..."
Kuma, the journalist, that until now remained silent, couldn't bear any
more and began to smile discreetly. Tutts was surprised and scrutinized
McDougall's face, which had turned red. Her hands were also clenched.
"Mrs. McDougall, "pressed Tutts. "I see that you are considerably worried
about your ex-charge. Anyone would think that you hold yourself responsible for
Cockburn's spiritual purity..."
"Please don't be ironic with me Mr. Tutts." pressed the woman. "With all
sincerity, and as a believer, I assure you that I lament more than anyone his
"I'm sorry, Nancy." apologized Tutts, so as not to allow the conversation to
deviate towards a fruitless debate. "There is something else which greatly
interests me: Did you know that Hottensiah was the lover of Moses Orieyo?"
"I knew. And I also know that the relationship was the reason that Ezekiel
and that woman broke up. She trapped him in her net, he was strung along until
he went crazy. She made him try her carnal treasures, and submitted him to
severe tests that almost finished him. Then, she passed the poor boy Orieyo in
front of his nose, to make Ezekiel jealous, Mr. Tutts." McDougall added with
passion, "excuse my language, but Hottensiah is the same manipulating bitch
she's always been. Available to the highest bidder. The man she really wanted
was my husband. He of course is the opposite, an aristocrat, waiting for his
opportunity to return to Uganda in glory. But above all, he has money, and that
excites Hottensiah more than anything else in the world. Ezekiel and Orieyo were
merely her instruments. Ezekiel still is. With her skills she made them both
enemies, provoking the death of one, craziness in the other. That's my vision of
The woman looked at the detective with incensed eyes. She was slightly
outside of herself breathing short and noisily. She finally spat:
"Do you want to know my personal opinion? I think Hottensiah planned
this whole crime. She was not interested in Orieyo. She just wanted to
manipulate him so that Gathu would get the blame, and she would receive his
wealth. Her romance, to give it a name, with Ezekiel, was just a screen in order
to de-stabilize Gathu. She was even less concerned for Ezekiel.
"Why were you present in that place precisely on the day of the event?"
asked Tutts briskly.
"It's very simple, Tim." she replied. "I was present because Ezekiel told me
everything. I wanted to avoid what had been conspired."
"So you lied to me in your office." interrupted Tutts.
"Ezekiel assured me he was not going to go through with the plan, and
blamed himself, but I know that she planned the crime and convinced Ezekiel to
do it. I was afraid, he is so in love with her that he is capable of anything just to
keep that woman, to swallow all the humiliation just to receive a few favours..."
"That's a strong accusation." noted Tutts, "against Hottensiah and
"Of course it is" responded McDougall. "But our friend Joshua Kuma is
also here, why don't you interrogate him as well?"
"All in good time." replied Tutts. "Before that, let me ask one last question:
How do you explain the fact that it was Hottensiah that asked us to investigate
"Elementary Mr. detective," the white woman responded ironically.
"Hottensiah wanted to implicate Gathu, and wasn't the least interested in
Ezekiel. She knew very well that he would never accuse her of anything."
"And the attack on Hottensiah, what have you to say? insisted Tutts.
"Contrived by her. As simple as that." was the riposte.
At that moment the maître approached them clasping his hands. They
were the last guests sitting in the dinning room. The old, smiling waiter invited
them very politely to pass into the adjoining room to take coffee. The group got
up silently and moved to a corner of the old room, far from a television set which
appeared to be transmitting an international football match.
N ow it was Kumas turn. "Well I've been summoned by my distinguished
friend, Nancy, and feel impelled to give my version. But before that Tutts, I
must tell you that I have no direct relationship with those implicated with this
horrible matter. I have only been able to speculate on the lamentable death of
Orieyo; and to scribble a little bit about it. My apologies of course to the victims.
Perhaps I can help by sharing a few of my conjectures with you."
Tutts took a sip of coffee and made an approving gesture so that he would
"Well, the truth is that I preferred to concentrate on a person little
mentioned in these events: Mr. Velgi Shah, the Asian businessman supposedly
attacked by Orieyo. I have visited him several times, and on these occasions he
has talked to me of his business and trusted me. I also visited him in hospital
and gave him the newspaper cuttings. I have kept in touch on a more or less
regular basis, and I believe I have discovered things that could be of interest to
The journalist was interrupted by the group watching television, noisily
celebrating a goal occurring in some remote part of the world. Tutts took
advantage to suggest another cup of coffee, which was accepted by the other two
and they filled their cups.
"I must tell you, Tim," restarted Kuma, "that Shah is in a very difficult
financial situation, only sustained thanks to Gathu who has managed to obtain
special conditions at the bank, and help him stay afloat in order to avoid
imminent bankruptcy. He has been trying desperately to solve his problems, and
may have lent himself to the Orieyo stoning farce. This is just a supposition of
course, the matter is far from clear," added the journalist, "and I have the feeling
that if he willingly participated, he did so without realizing the full gravity of the
"I understand that the famous car used, actually belongs to Hottensiah"
"Yes, correct. According to Shah," responded the journalist, "Gathu sold
the car to him, and said that his wife didn't want it; then he telephoned him to
fix a meeting the exact same time as Orieyo had agreed with Hottensiah. The
youth had a copy of the key, and when he tried to get into the car, Shah logically
interjected. He swears that he was not the first person to shout that he was
stealing the car, rather someone that was watching in the darkness. When the
group started the chase, Shah led them as it was hoped. That's his version at
least. He remains firm in that it was a spontaneous stoning and approves of it.
He swears and re-swears that he didn't know Orieyo beforehand."
Whilst Kuma was speaking, Tutts made some notes to organize his work.
He launched a question at the journalist:
"None of this denies his possible complicity. Have you noticed any special
"Well. There is something that doesn't quite fit in, Tutts. Shah appears to
be more comfortable now than before. I feel sure he has received an injection of
money which is keeping him afloat. But I believe the situation is so bad that his
tranquility is short lived. In any case just after the stoning, he gave generous tips
to his employees. I have tried to get to the bottom of things, but he's tight lipped
and is still nervous over something."
"How do you mean?" asked Tutts.
"He thinks he is being watched, and followed. He wouldn't give me more
details, but I know what he refers to. Excuse me Tutts if you think I'm stalling a
little, but I don't want you to think that I invent things, above all after having
read my articles..."
"I believe nothing of anyone." asserted Tutts. "Come on Kuma, spit out
"Well, as it happens, I also started to watch Shah, at a distance and with
precautions, of course, nothing illegal." he added with an innocent gesture. "I
know who he fears: the crazy Masai and the Asian twins. The three of them are
harassing him. They don't say anything but follow him all day long. Shah is
terrified. He believes they are accomplices of Orieyo's, and that they saw him the
day of the murder. I have advised him to inform the police, but he flatly refuses. I
think he has a guilty conscience. The most he has done is sent his workers to
disperse and scare them, but they slip away and return a short while later. I am
worried. Something will happen there."
"What do you mean to say by that Kuma?" asked Tutts with an irritated
tone. "Don't keep on with your riddles."
"I have my reasons, for example one day I payed a surprise visit to Shah' s
shop, and found him talking in broad daylight with Cockburn. He made nothing
of it of course, but I had the impression that Shah was asking, or rather
demanding, protection against those poor guys. I heard him mention them by
"Do you fear some sort of direct action?"
"Of course I do Tutts. I'm sure that they killed the shoe-shiner Mwanza
because he was talking too much, both with you and me for example, and I
mentioned it to Shah. Obviously they simply killed him before his tongue wagged
to release more details."
"I don't know. I'm not sure. Cockburn is a sure possibility. But I can't
confirm it or say who is behind it all. Perhaps Gathu, as you all think, or Wihu,
as Nancy believes, or a discordant third party. I don't know. An investigation is
There was a pause in the dialogue. The football had finished and the
armchair sportsmen had dispersed to their rooms or the bar. The room was left
in silence, ideal for meditation. Each one of the three was buried in their
thoughts. Tutts threw open a question that was bothering him:
"Tell me Kuma, what did you find out from Mwanza?"
"Well then, the murdered shoe-shiner was very confused, as you know,
Tutts, parabolic, biblical, apocalyptical, cryptic and whatever else. I spoke to
him, and tried to deduce whatever I could between those unconnected
mutterings of subterfuge of the prophets, and all kinds of pseudo-christian
rhetoric. I managed to piece together that he had received a revelation that a
delinquent was going to commit a robbery, and that he, guided by God, was
close to the City Hall when he saw the bandit; this delinquent pushed him out of
the way upon his escape and scattered his working implements. He couldn't get
a grip on him, but ran behind the sinner and hit him when he fell. He
contemplated how they made divine justice in the Jevanjee Gardens and prayed
for the tainted soul of that individual. He said that he saw him die, but didn't
intervene. He approved, saying the sinner deserved it..."
"That we already know," said Tutts impatiently, "I'm interested to know if
there was something else. Come on Kuma, don't speculate anymore on his roll,
and be clearer."
"Well there is something else. I believe I understood him to say that bad
people were present amongst the crowd. I say that because everything that
Mwanza said to me was elaborately expressed in a symbolic and almost
incomprehensible way. He spoke of the harufu mbaya (bad smells) that
accompanied the stoning throughout, and that those bad smells murdered
Orieyo. He referred to dammed souls, half man half beast, that bit the falling
man, furious with him for offenses committed in another world, in a journey to
darkness or something like that. He mentioned a squaring up of accounts on
behalf of ghosts and demons that had come to cover crimes Orieyo perpetrated
against his own blood, and then bombarded me with prolonged sayings mixed up
with phrases in poor Latin; he spoke with hate and terror of a tumbo kubwa (fat
man) that directed operations from his mzungu (white) house, meaning his
mansion, and that the fat man was an instrument sent by the God of the British,
the unique, and only true God throughout the centuries, and at this point he
babbled on in very rough latin..."
Kuma stopped to take a sip of cold coffee. A group of teachers came into
the room from the near by Nairobi University, and Kuma said hello to them with
warm gestures. Then he proceeded with his story.
"Well. He also referred to a bwana kubwa (boss) that commanded the
forces from the top of Mount Kenya. Just imagine! That I least I could
understand. He finished with a diatribe against a nyoka mbaya (venomous
snake) with the body of a woman, the cause of everything, that was waiting in
her house in the savanna for the arrival of the bodies of the victims of her
concupiscence to devour them at sunset, like some kind of biblical sinner. I'm
sorry it's not very precise, but the guy was a real nut case."
"What hodge-podge." commented McDougall. "Fascinating as popular
urban mythology. It has much in common with our mural paintings, right,
"There's something in that." said Tutts thoughtfully. "I'm not surprised
that they killed Mwanza, because in his strange way he mentioned everything, as
he perceived it."
"There's something else," added Kuma, "he alluded to certain witnesses
that don't speak because Mungu (God) has them in darkness, bewitched, but
when one opens, I don't know which seal, they will tell all."
It's obvious that there is some kind of insinuated threat in his words
commented Tutts. And the poor guy didn't realize the consequences of talking."
"Yes. I think it's difficult not to imagine the hand of Ezekiel behind all of
this." offered Kuma, looking at McDougall obliquely.
"Perhaps," she replied, "but I continue to insist that he is not capable of
organizing this horrendous trail."
"Tutts decided to end the meeting. He thanked the two participants for
their comments, but he admitted that he felt more confused than ever. There
was considerable personal opinion, an excess of emotion, unsure information
and many interests at stake, is how the detective viewed the situation.
They agreed to meet again in the near future, once Tutts had planned a
strategy, and could assign them a job to do, and collaborate if and when
After Tutts had said goodbye to his friends at the door of the club, he went
to his apartment for a much needed rest, but found the fat Nedge sitting on the
steps waiting for him.
"Boss," his colleague quickly said to him, "very strange things are
continuing to happen. They ran Shah over in the middle of Biashara Street
where he has his business. He had just closed up at six in the afternoon, when a
matatu without passengers mounted the pavement and swept him away. He is in
the Aga Khan hospital very grave. If he doesn't die, he will be very bad they told
me. Several witnesses took the license plate of the vehicle, that drove off without
stopping. The matatu was stolen, as one would imagine. A mulatto was driving
with dark sunglasses. There are at least three witnesses prepared to swear upon
it, and they all agree on the description. One of them says that the culprit drove
off laughing. It has all the hallmarks of Ezekiel Cockburn."
"I suppose you tried to reach me?" grumbled Tutts.
"Of course, boss, but you were busy" repulsed Nedge. "Besides there's not
much we can do."
"You are right, big guy. I'm not accusing you. Perhaps we should follow
"It's already done, boss. Karima Waweru is on his trail. He discovered the
stolen matatu two hours after the event, and left for Limuru to look for the
mulatto's possible hiding places. We are going to trap him, boss. Don't worry."
"I'm worried, little Joe, for Karima's safety. Ezekiel will behave like a
wounded wild animal. He can do a lot of harm, and I have the impression that at
this moment he is attacking indiscriminately. Tomorrow we will have to study an
emergency action plan, with the emphasis on defense," although Tutts had no
idea of the logic of adopting such tactics.
"Now, Joe," he added to end the day's work, "I want you to dedicate
tomorrow to following Hottensiah. I want you to call me on the hour to inform me
of her movements. And please, with the utmost caution that she doesn't see you,
if she does, we'll lose all that we've gained, fly Nedge." he said finally. "I need to
sleep. Good night."
It was a wise idea. The following day was going to a very bad one for
Assault on the Fortress
T im Tutts and his assistant Karima Waweru arrived almost together at the
office the following day. Waweru appeared exhausted, he had a deep
scratch upon his face, sullen eyes, and his clothes were splattered with mud.
One could also detect a pronounced limp. He had been on Cockburn's tail all
night and had found out several interesting things, although he was now
displaying the price of his exploits.
"Boss, I suppose you know the news about Shah." Waweru said to Tutts in
a tired tone upon entering the office.
"In effect, Karima. I gather you found the vehicle that ran him over.
According to what Joe told me, it was stolen and appeared to be driven by the
"Not only that, boss. I think that I can prove that the aggressor was
Cockburn, once that we have analyzed the testimonies. But there's something
more important Tim. I was able to follow his scent and it gets very ugly."
"Don't keep us on a knife edge, Karima, tell us." Tutts hurried him.
"Cockburn is recruiting an army in Limuru, boss." said Waweru. "I never
saw him in person, but passed by a few pretty wild places a short while after.
They say he has hooked in around twenty men, the most sinister and unruly of
"What for?" interrupted Tutts.
"Nobody knows," proceeded Waweru, "but I bet for nothing very good. The
only sure thing is that he pays well and offers plenty of action. There are people
that consider him a guerrilla leader, and will follow him without questions. I was
on to it all the night. I can personally and painfully tell you." he complained.
"Well done Waweru, although permit me a digression." interjected Tutts. "I
doubt that he could be able to convince as many as you say. Knowing our
people, it's more probable that the majority have only accepted to participate
under threat in such an adventure, and will run off with the coins afterwards
and spend them all on beer... We know that when the critical moment arrives,
many brave men can't even see the end of their noses."
"Perhaps," replied Waweru slightly vexed, "but more than one he is going
"And for what vile motive could he want these mercenaries?" commented
Tutts. "I hope not against us. In any case we should prepare ourselves for the
worst, as I suggested to Joe Nedge last night. Your face is a little beat up my dear
Waweru, come on I'll treat you to breakfast."
"There's another thing, boss." added Waweru, "there is a lot of movement
amongst the Watu wa Mungu. My contacts say they have spent several nights in
congregation singing until dawn. I heard the drums in the distance. Something
strange is happening. Perhaps it's nothing to do with our investigation, but it's a
funny coincidence, isn't it? A couple of old Kikuyu told me they haven't seen
anything like it since the glorious days of the Mau Mau.
"Don't start again with your scatological fantasies and mysteries, Karima."
Tutts ridiculed amicably. "Serve yourself a strong coffee with plenty of maziwa.
You did a good job, and you need to recuperate your energy and calm your
But there was no time to relax. A few strange noises on the lower staircase
caused them to pause before resuming their conversation. When the antiquated
clock chimed 8 in the morning the pandemonium broke loose at No. 33 River
Tutts and Waweru barely had time to smell their coffee which Curly had
poured, when they heard heavy footsteps and metallic sounds coming up the
stairs of the building. The uncertainty lasted for just a moment. In a fraction of a
second Tutts realized the time had come, and reacted like lightning. He kicked
the door closed and locked it, whilst shouting to his colleagues to take cover.
Waweru had already dived towards the armory where the reduced but
impeccable arsenal of T.T.&T. was kept: four antiquated Luger pistols but in
good condition, a pair of Mauser repeating rifles, and plenty of ammunition.
Curly no less agile than her bosses, protected herself behind a chair with the
telephone in hand and was already calling the police.
Waweru had not even managed to distribute the arms, when a pair of
shots destroyed the door lock. A large man shining with sweat and armed with
an enormous panga, burst into the office. Tutts put him down with a quick
wrestle hold, whilst Waweru shot repeatedly at the open doorway. The attacker
screamed in terror because he was in direct line of fire. Bullets flew both sides of
Tutts and Waweru took advantage of the pause to kick and push the
gorilla outside and close the door the best way they could, whilst firing
indiscriminately. A hellish shooting match started as Waweru, a pistol in each
hand, fired shot after shot to give the impression of heavy fire power, helped by
Tutts who reloaded the Lugers; Waweru, with surprising cold blood, continued
firing through the large hole where the lock was once mounted.
There was a moment of silence. A scream from outside told them to come
out immediately or receive a grenade. The shot up door crashed into the corridor
noisily, creating a few seconds silence. The air was almost unbreathable, thick
with cordite smoke. They coughed and spluttered but maintained alertness. The
aggressors appeared to be organizing themselves for a full frontal attack.
Suddenly an incredible sound came up from below, but first of all, it has
to be explained that the offices of Tutts and team are on the second floor of three
in River Road, and there is just one staircase linking the upper floors with the
street below. That staircase was almost directly opposite the T.T.&T., agency.
Various drawings on the wall announced a ladies hairdressers, an astrologer,
and other professional activities. The most elegant was the bronze plate
identifying the detectives.
They heard the strange sound once again from below. For a moment they
were sure they had gone crazy. As ridiculous as it sounds, they thought they
could hear through the open and destroyed doorway, the roar of a lion.
Furthermore the sound appeared to be coming up the stairs towards the second
floor. Succeeding this improbable sound, they saw a vision which would have
been fitting for delirium tremens.
Old Ole Oleitipitip, Orieyo's crazy father, armed with a large metal lance,
and protected behind a leather shield decorated with traditional designs,
devoured the steps bellowing like the king of the jungle, a sound that the peeling
corridors of the building repeated with horrible echoes.
The Masai was wearing a black head-dress made from the mane of an
African lion. Semi-nude, his thin hanging shin was decorated with the war
colours of his tribe. It was nothing like the ragged ghost like figure that they had
seen running with the traffic in the Nairobi streets, although he hadn't
abandoned his western shoes and corresponding socks, his only luxury. The
detectives saw him come up the stairs like a train. That was the sensation of
strength that the old fighter gave.
At first Tutts and Waweru believed that the old man had come for them,
but when they heard the spontaneous and incoherent screams of their attackers,
realized that Ole was on their side. An unexpected allie for sure, but very
welcome all the same. In a flash the detectives copied the bestial screams in the
Masai tradition, and stopped shooting so as not to risk hitting the old man.
Simultaneously, the inspired and alert Curly set off the buildings alarm, which
filled the place with a new gamut of piercing sounds.
Tutts and his group realized that the attackers had headed for the upper
floor with the intention of escaping onto the roof; although it was evident that
they were much more worried by the appearance of the Masai, a traditional
terror of the savanna, than the Lugers. Everyone knew that the Masai were
implacable, it was the same to them if they lived or died in battle.
Tutts pocked his head around the door and shouted at Waweru:
"Upstairs! I'll cover you!"
Karima climbed the steps very tensely but with the security of his modest
but lethal artillery in each hand. The great Ole on the other hand, hurried
downstairs bellowing and shaking his primitive weapon.
The passage on the third floor was empty, at the end there was a ladder
which led to the roof. Waweru looked behind him to be sure that Tutts was
following and crept cautiously towards the opening. He started to climb slowly
up the iron ladder bedded into the wall, holding on with one hand with the pistol
jammed in his waistband.
When he popped his head out onto the roof, he received a hail of fire, but
without injury. The three attackers were trying to jump over the gap between the
two buildings. They were trying to pluck up sufficient courage, because they
were a long way up. Below they saw the narrow public passageway lined by
kiosks selling artesenal goods.
Waweru saw one of them jump successfully onto the neighbouring roof
and disappear into an opening. The second also jumped, but without sufficient
force, his foot slipped on the other side, leaving him clinging precariously to the
rainwater gutter. He gave out a fearful cry when he felt his legs swinging in mid
air over the urban abyss. The public below upon seeing him in that condemned
position, shouted with the same enthusiasm used to celebrate a goal at a football
But there was worse to come for him: At the same time as he was
struggling not to fall, a long and shining object sped through the air and speared
him in the buttock. It was the lance of the great Ole, who had been following
events from the street. The man's eyes went white as he tried to grapple at the
guttering, but it gave way and he fell noisily onto the awning of an artesenal
kiosk, where he became trapped, and cried out in pain amongst the
multicoloured kangas, straw bags and wooden statues. The public received the
fall with much jubilation.
At exactly that moment the police arrived with sirens blaring. They had
probably heard the shots down at the station, which must have woken half the
world, and nobody wanted to miss the spectacle. "That's why they arrived so
quickly" reflected Tutts, who had by now reached the street, "otherwise they
would probably still be thinking what to do with our telephone distress call." He
looked for Ole but he was nowhere to be seen. A policeman began to shout all
kinds of things in Swahili through a megaphone made from a tin can.
Upstairs meanwhile, Waweru disarmed the third attacker, the same one
that had burst into their office. With the blows he had received, and hearing the
fate of his colleague, he submitted easily. He dropped his weapon and raised his
arms in rendition, while he pleaded pity from Waweru. The detective answered
him with kicks to the face and genitals, which made him collapse spitting blood
and clutching his crotch.
Meanwhile, the one who fell to the street pulled out the lance, recovered
his nerve, and limped away shouting curses along the network of streets that
surround River Road. Nobody thought to follow him due to the rapid succession
of events. The kiosk owner that received the man through his roof was so
shocked that he could only mount a weak protest. We must mention that River
Road is not like the tourist area of Nairobi; here the solidarity between
highwayman is what counts. Although it wasn't going to be so easy for the one
with the perforated bum.
Despite the relatively rapid and successful escape of the attackers, at least
they had caught one. Waweru brought the surrendered man downstairs. He held
him by the scruff of the neck; various red trickles ran down his face. He was bent
over with one hand covering his cudgelled wedding tackle. Waweru had placed
an unloaded pistol in his free hand to accentuate the appearance of a dangerous
The public, which by now had congregated in large numbers, gave another
shout of pleasure, and more than one started to applaud. Spontaneous punches
were thrown in the direction of the attacker, which Waweru stopped by shouting
and waving his gun.
The police became activated by the appearance of blood. They snatched
the attacker from Waweru, and before asking anything they fell upon him with
their wooden clubs leaving him unconscious. Afterwards several of them dragged
him to the police truck. One of them threatened a passer by, and they left
without further ado. The siren continued to blow during the whole operation. The
whole scene was fitting for a silent movie, perhaps something out of the Keystone
cops. Not one of the policeman bothered to ask what had happened, if anyone
else was hurt, or interview witnesses. They merely left with their bloody trophy.
"We'll never know who sent them" snapped Waweru, still brandishing the
"Take it easy, Karima" said Tutts as they walked up the stairs closely
followed by curious spectators keen for more action. "Lets try and clean up the
office a little and then look for the two that escaped. It's the best we can do, you
know how the police are."
Amongst all this confusion, a group of Watu wa Mungu had also
congregated in River Road, and were now beating their drums in front of the
offices. The hub-bub seemed to have put them into some sort of mystic trance,
chanting out of tune, and swaying their hips inelegantly, as in a very rough
choreographic number. The public divided in two, one group still near the
building, and the other observing the spontaneous show.
With this, the sensation of chaos was total in the busy street, much to the
delight of the habitual vagabonds. But it was not welcomed by everyone. Almost
all the Asian businessman had pulled down their metal shutters, and the askaris
paced up and down in front of the shops to show efficiency to the owners. A
group of fair skinned tourists looked on from the precarious protection of their
open Land Rover, snapping photos as if it were a wild life spectacle.
At this point Nedge appeared. Before explaining anything to him, Tutts
sent him below to clear the area. He went downstairs and started to shout
threats until the rest of the crowd dispersed, including the Watu wa Mungu who
preferred to look for a more agreeable place to play their music.
The detectives sat together to evaluate the situation. It appeared that by a
miracle nobody was hurt. Waweru, the most active, was full of tension and very
tired, still with the pistols in his belt. Curly contemplated with disconsolate eyes
the disaster in the office. She was the first to say something:
"Tim if you like, I will organize the clean up of this tip. Look how those son
of a bitches left it."
"Just a moment, buttercup," replied Tutts, surprised by the choice of
Curly's vocabulary, she was usually so polite. "Let's not touch anything so as not
to get into trouble with the police, we don't want to affect the investigation..."
"What investigation are you talking about!" exclaimed Waweru furiously.
"...It's better if I contact my friend Superintendent Mataka," continued
Tutts without paying attention to his partners demonstration of anger, "so that
he can authorize us to investigate on our own. We won't get nowhere with
Commissioner Karanga. We know that he wants nothing to do with us." and
added: "For now at least the best thing we can do is leave here. We will return, I
promise." he added after observing the sad faces of his colleagues. "I propose
that provisionally we install ourselves in my apartment at the United Kenya
Club. I only ask you to be discrete so as not to shock the administrator, a moody
mzungu with zero patience. And we can't go around displaying artillery, Waweru,
please put away the Lugers don't you think?"
But Tutts and his team were going to receive unexpected help, because at
that moment Ole re-appeared. He was pulling the bandit he had wounded with
his lance, up the stairs by the scruff of the neck. The old man was puffing with
tiredness, but he made it up to the second floor with his capture leaving a trail of
blood. He then screamed his war cry, shook his spear and left, bellowing with
laughter. He moved a small crowd that had once again gathered to jeer, but
without climbing up the stairs for fear of Nedge, who was very severe with them a
few moments before.
"These Masai, peculiar and noble" commented Tutts. "They can't but take
everything as a joke, even death."
Waweru on the other hand, launched himself at the groaning figure and
kicked him until Tutts dragged him away.
"Karima, my son, what's the matter with you? Calm down partner, don't
behave like a brute as well."
At the same time, the attacker started to cry swearing his innocence. The
almost incoherent babbling indicated that Ezekiel had forced them to drink a lot
of pombe, he was so poor and begged not to be given to the police, he had
fourteen children and was a good christian, etc.
Tutts interrupted his cries for pity:
"I'll let you go now, only if you sign a statement, saying that Ezekiel
Cockburn had forced you to attack us. And add the names of your accomplices. I
recommend you to do it, if not then jail is waiting for you. And you know very
well how they will treat you there..."
He agreed instantly, almost content, signing the paper that Curly wrote,
then ran out the doorway but not without avoiding one last kick from Waweru,
in the healthy buttock fortunately for him. Nevertheless he stayed for a moment
on the stairs afraid to bump into the grand Ole. Only upon seeing the irritated
face of Waweru did he launch himself down the stairs and into River Road
disappearing up a side street.
The boss of T.T.&T. was quite confused over events. It was evident that a
great deal of disproportionate fury had been launched against them, and that it
was linked in some way to the death of Orieyo.
"That's enough, big guy." he said to Nedge, who with sagacity was taking
polaroid photographs of the disaster. "Continue with that after, we're very tired,"
and added: Let's save our energy for what is coming."
"What's coming?" howled Waweru.
"Take it easy partner. Hakuna matata" responded Tutts, making an
exorcist gesture with his hands. "I feel events will soon catch up with us."
T hey had begun to pack up their things for the move, when Curly told Tutts
that he had a telephone call:
"Tim. I have Mr. Gathu on the line. What shall I tell him?"
"Give it to me" responded the detective, "Let's see what our charming M.P.
and entrepreneur has to say."
"Tutts, my friend" said the raucous voice of George Njoroge Gathu at the
other end of the line. "Listen to me carefully. I tried to prevent it. I think Ezekiel
Cockburn has gone crazy and wants to kill you. He is going to sent a group of
troublemakers to look for you. He is convinced that you want to separate him
from Hottensiah. I think there was a violent scene between them and the poor
old boy is desperate."
"Your warning arrives a little late, Gathu" replied Tutts angrily. "They were
already here and we just managed to save ourselves. I hold you personally
responsible for the intrepid activities of your employee. For you he is merely a
"poor old boy," Tutts said sluggishly, "but in my opinion he is an assassin and a
criminal. I demand to meet you, Gatungi, and Cockburn as soon as possible to
put an end to all this. Otherwise, I will have to turn to the courts..."
"Easy, Tutts, don't over react. I will pay you for the damage with interest. I
would appreciate that you do nothing rash. May I invite you pass by my office
around five in the afternoon? I can't before. I promise you that we'll put an end
to this nightmare, which is affecting me more than anyone, Tutts, believe me.
The only thing I'll say is that I can't guarantee the presence of Cockburn..."
"If you can't guarantee it, who can? In any case, I trust you will do all in
your power. See you later, Gathu."
Tutts was pale and distressed, remaining silent for a long time. None of his
colleagues wanted to interrupt him, he appeared hypnotized. The detective
walked over to the window over River Road, and looked down at the dirty street.
It was clear of onlookers, with the sole exception of a pair of Asian twins in white
shoes and robes. Both stared up at the window of the office with strange looks.
Tutts shuddered and the Asians smiled, meekly, but suddenly, something
distracted them and they walked off quickly.
Tim Tutts watched them until they reached the end of the popular road
where they disappeared, then he breathed again. The situation was beginning to
get on top of him, but he felt lucid and alert, and would pluck up false courage if
that was necessary:
"Waweru, Nedge, put everything to one side, I want you to get hold of
Ezekiel Cockburn any way you can before the meeting with Gathu. Now that his
"army" has been disbanded, its more likely that the rat has bolted to a hole. Go
armed, but please take care and use your heads, nothing from the "wild west"
scenes. Remember that a dead Cockburn is no use to us. You have to capture
him alive so that he confesses. It's our only hope. The other story tellers in the
game are too astute."
And he added to Curly:
"Precious, your job is to ensure that Hottensiah also goes to that meeting.
By force if necessary. We are going to clear up this mess once and for all, with all
the characters of his mediocre drama present, where the only one who seems
worth the trouble is the deceased Orieyo. Any comments?"
"Yes boss..." said Nedge.
But Tutt's assistant was not able to complete the phrase, because they
heard terrible screams and undescribable sounds from below.
"Now, what?" shouted Karima Waweru whose nerves were on edge from
the emotional stress.
Nedge walked out into the corridor, below he saw a battalion of semi-nude
Masai and Turkana warriors. Tutts recognized them immediately. They were the
askaris from the Rajamaputr Bar. The third aggressor, who clearly hadn't
managed to escape along the roof was in the middle of them cut up from pangas
and lances. His agility hadn't helped him at all against the fierce askaris, who
appeared to be fighting on Tim Tutt's side. Those that weren't poking the
delinquent were beating the ground with their lances in a pseudo military
rhythm that maintained the improvised patrol at boiling point.
One of them wore the thugs pistol around his neck, it was a crude
weapon, no more than a home made copy, and the rest had shared out the
bullets, transforming them into adornments for their chains and deformed ears.
Despite their war like appearance, the group appeared to be content, in contrast
to the horror on the face of the prisoner, whose only fortune was that they could
do anything they wanted apart from eat him. Luckily neither the Masai nor the
Turkana were cannibals.
Tutts could only say to his secretary:
"Curly, you will have to prepare another statement. When the hoodlum
entered the devastated room, he tried to hide himself behind the voluminous
Nedge. Waweru on the other hand wanted him out in the open so he could
strangle the guy with his bare hands. Tutts obviously would not permit it, but he
let him take a little revenge for a moment, otherwise the askaris would have
taken offense. They tried to interrogate him, but he was incapable of expressing
anything, except to monotonously repeat the name of Cockburn. Once the paper
was signed, they returned him to his spontaneous captors that left buoyantly to
entertain themselves with their prey.
The detectives looked at each other and could do nothing more than smile.
"What do you say, Joe?"
"Boss, as you asked me I was watching Ms. Wihu very carefully." replied
the fat Nedge. "She has only left her apartment to buy some things. I think she is
very frightened. I left the job in the hands of a trustworthy man before coming
here: I wanted to advise you that an informant told me they were preparing an
armed attack on us. I am very sorry I arrived a bit too late..."
"It's not important little Joe" replied the detective almost shaking with an
attack of hysterical laughter, then he said in melodramatic tone:
"I'm going to the U.K.C. as we agreed, to prepare notes on all of these
scoundrels, it will be useful for the crucial meeting this afternoon. If we manage
to bring them all together I think we will succeed in solving the case once and for
all. Out of that meeting we ought to know the truth. We have to be prepared for
what may come, and above all, we can't let this opportunity escape us. T.T.&T.
closes its offices in River Road until further notice. We will only return once
justice has been declared for Moses Orieyo and Jeremiah Mwanza. Lets go team!"
he added enthusiastically.
But the confusion was still not over in River Road. Someone with good or
bad intentions, had called the fire brigade. Exactly an hour and a half after the
bullets were flying, Nairobi's volunteer fire fighting force arrived. If it had been a
case of a real conflagration, they would not even have found ashes, cold ones at
that. Ninety minutes delay was a record for them especially since their
headquarters was just two blocks away from No. 33 River Road. A horde of
fascinated youngsters swarmed around the fire engine, its siren wailing aimlessly
for a full fifteen minutes.
Tutts couldn't stand any more and asked Nedge to try and silence the lost
machine. Fortunately he did so and peace returned once again.
Everyone was on edge, with no visible means of calming down. But Nedge
didn't return empty handed, he carried a paper heaped with hot and spicy
samosas which, with the coffee prepared by Curly, allowed them to compose
themselves and recover their spirits. The smiles returned once again and Nedge
took advantage to launch another proverb:
"As the Masai say: «Flesh that has not suffered, is flesh that is not alive»,"
and added: "The only way to become wise is through death. His words were one
more addition to the absurd situation. They all looked at him as if he had gone
crazy, but the cheeky grin of the fat man brought him back to reality. Only
Waweru was not amused by this type of joke, and was furious with Nedge. He
started to chide and insult him, but they all pulled his leg, Tutts launched
"Karima, continuing with the Masai, don't forget that «Smells from the
mouth are worse than smells from the armpits». In that sense, moderate your
words and recover your sense of humour otherwise we're all lost. We have an
almost impossible task ahead."
"«Someone who pays himself cannot guard the cattle» remarked Joe Nedge,
making reference to the difficulty Karima was having distancing himself from
Waweru smiled and waved a hand of apology. Tutts shouted "Lets go
Troops!" The four held hands and recited their shortened version of the Masai
war cry out loud before leaving for their dangerous missions. A dog surprised by
the strange sound, barked in the street below. Someone repeated the cry, and
other jokers responded from further away causing a rupture of laughter. River
Road was entertaining itself; in its own dissolute way of course.
Tutts looks for Advice
O nce installed in his apartment, Tim Tutts started to think about the case,
trying to take a wider view of the situation. He needed some music to
calm his nerves. Given the circumstances he chose to listen exclusively to the
urban variety, starting naturally with his favourite Joseph Kamaru. He also
separated the records of Daniel Kamau, the Mangelepa and Kachamba Kwela
Band. Once this spiritual vacuum had been filled by the rhythms of River Road,
he could submerge himself in deep deliberations.
But before that he decided to read some detective literature. It often helped
him in his cases, and quite often he would apparently abandon work to
submerge himself for a whole afternoon in a crime novel. His colleagues never
accepted this habit, and would accuse him of negligence and irresponsibility.
But Tutts knew what he was doing.
He seldom preferred a classic, but this time he searched for his fragile and
mouldy 1909 English edition of The Old Man in the Corner by baroness Orczy. He
opened it at random, sure in his mind that whatever utterance of the characters
would help him solve the mystery of the Orieyo case. He found an attractive idea
in the following phrase of the old milk drinker, one of the characters created by
the baroness. "Crime interests me only when it resembles a clever game of chess,
with many intricate moves which all point to one objective, the check mating of
"Not bad, at all my dear baroness" expressed Tutts out loud with an
affected accent, giving the refrigerator a prolonged stare.
"Chess signifies the systematic study of alternatives, cause and effect
relationships in a two dimensional space, audacity controlled by the brain
concentrating on the opponent. Chess is a game of war. That is," he concluded, "I
have to put all the characters on a chess board, or something similar; and see
how they square up to each other."
He had three principal suspects: The businessman Gathu, his employee
Ezekiel Cockburn, and Ms. Wihu, Gathu's ex-wife. There were three victims:
Moses Orieyo her lover, Mwanza the shoe-shiner and Velgi Shah, Gathu's
partner (still alive but grave), and a character mysterious until now: Rudolph
Gatungi, the Ugandan and Gathu's partner. Concerning the victims, the
principal one was Orieyo, the other two were the result of premeditated and
successful attempts to keep them quiet. One would eventually have to add
Hottensiah amongst those affected, the object of a strange attack. And not
forgetting himself and his team, who had suffered the trauma of an assault on
the offices of T.T&T.
Hottensiah was the one who had involved Tutts and his team, interested in
identifying the mind behind the death of her lover Moses Orieyo. But that does
not eliminate her from suspicion. On the contrary it could have been a move to
deflect suspicion away from her. But this appeared rather improbable to Tutts,
however, he left it as a provisional working hypothesis.
Something was absolutely clear: The authorities had no intention
whatsoever in clarifying the deaths. Given the basic nature of the crimes (a
stoning, death by wild animals), and of people who mattered little socially (an ex-
convict, a shoe-shiner), all were treated as more or less routine cases where the
search for culprits was unnecessary given, say, the normal circumstances.
Therefore why dig further? The logic of the courts was perfectly clear. It is not
that they were especially corrupt, but had insufficient reasons to overturn their
decision. That had been clearly pointed out to him by both his lordship Sir Henry
Lytton and Commissioner Karanga.
Within this outline, Tutts asked himself, Why if Hottensiah is guilty, did
she want to reopen a case that was already buried by the authorities? "There was
something here which was still a mystery which should come out in the final
chapter." mused Tutts ironically, the reader of mystery novels.
"Furthermore there were various possible motives for the crimes: jealousy,
lust, vengeance; or a mix of these. Without doubt the guilty parties had many
combined and hidden reasons, the most likely is that conflicting passions and
interests were all involved to some extent or another at different times. Not one of
the suspects appeared to be completely innocent. The most obvious culprit was
Gathu, and one could visualize the mulatto Cockburn and Gathu's ex-wife as
pawns of the powerful businessman. In this scenario, Gathu's accomplice was
Cockburn and the motive, to harm his ex-wife by murdering her lover.
However despite this analysis which constituted the central line of the
team's deductions, the most probable judging by the testimony of those involved
was that Hottensiah had planned everything, especially considering the
statements made by McDougall. He remembered that she had classified
Hottensiah as nothing less than a man eater. Although it also appeared obvious
that her participation in everything was inconceivable without the assistance of
The mulatto was the source of all the violence associated with the case,
the killing hand; whatever might have been his motives: perhaps determined to
win the favours of Wihu, or face losing her forever.
The least probable of the possible options was that the mysterious
character Gatungi was guilty, but there was an enormous gap in knowledge that
Tutts couldn't fill despite his many attempts, the man was practically
inaccessible. Once again it was the voice of the UNESCO expert that provoked
distortions in the scheme. Was Gatungi really the object of Hottensiah's sexual
ambitions? And if so were their other dark links between the two apart from the
erotic? There were as yet no answers to these questions.
In any case for his intervention, he would have to be somehow linked to
the interests of Gathu, Shah, and Cockburn. The problem was to find the
common links of desire and hate between all of them.
He could conceive a fourth possibility that was even more remote: that
Cockburn was acting alone, for strange motives closer to instinct than reason.
But against this hypothesis contradicted the majority of the statements
describing him as incapable of planning it all.
Tutts perceived that Cockburn and Orieyo had much in common, both
from humble origins and complicated ethnic mixes, with lives peppered with
suffering. In both, the primitive had at one point dominated, ancestral ways so
fundamentally anchored on terror and myths. Both had affiliated their lives to
the christian tradition in rural areas, where the limit between orthodox biblical
christianity and animism was diffuse. Here there was an avenue of analysis
which he hadn't explored sufficiently.
Tutts decided to construct a series of tables, following the advice from the
Old Man in the Corner, based on the two main groups of characters: those that
loved, and those that hated. And they were all divided in turn between assassins
The first box indicated the following (the sign ♥ indicating love, the sign
hate, and the sign ? unknown or indifferent emotions, the arrows ↓ indicate
feeling for of each assumed assassin for their victims; and the arrows → indicate
feelings the victims might have had for their presumed assassins):
Assassin → G.N. GATHU E. COCKBURN H. WIHU R. GATUNGI
M. ORIEYO Rival ↓ Rival ↓ Lover ↓ Acquaintance ↓
→? → →♥ ♥ →? ?
J. MWANZA Stranger ↓ Pal ↓ Stranger ↓ Stranger ↓
→ ? →♥ ♥ → → ?
V. SHAH Partner ↓ Partner ↓ Acquaintance ↓ Partner ↓
→♥ ♥ →♥ ♥ →? →♥ ♥
To give an example of how to interpret the table, in the first box, Gathu and
Orieyo are rivals because they were both in love with Hottensiah. Gathu hated
() Orieyo for stealing his woman; but Orieyo feels, or rather felt indifference (?)
to Gathu, who had done nothing to him until his death. That is the way to read
the table for the presumed asassins (4) and victims (3).
Tutts didn't feel very happy with the table: it was necessary to clarify love,
because there was obviously a difference between passionate love and a business
relationship, such as that between the group of conspirators, united by business
or job contracts. Then he recomposed the table introducing this subtly, with a
new sign (♥♥ signifying true love; and ♥$, meaning economic interest):
Assassin → G.N. GATHU E. COCKBURN H. WIHU R. GATUNGI
M. ORIEYO Rival ↓ Rival ↓ Lover ↓ Acquaintance ↓
→? → → ♥♥ ♥♥ → ? ?
J. MWANZA Stranger ↓ Pal ↓ Stranger ↓ Stranger ↓
→ ? → ♥ ♥ → → ?
V. SHAH Partner ↓ Partner ↓ Acquaintance ↓ Partner ↓
→ ♥$ $♥ → ♥$ $♥ → ? → ♥$ $♥
The only relationship that appeared unclear for Tutts was between
Cockburn and his sidekick Mwanza, although in league with the mulatto, he was
killed or ordered to be killed by him without remorse or pity. The shoe-shiner
had also referred very unfavourably to Cockburn. That's why they were united by
a love-hate relationship (♥) in the table, reflecting ambiguity and providing
much to think about.
Tutts couldn't remember without trembling that Mwanza was also a
religious man; a genuine fanatic. Like Orieyo, active in the Watu wa Mungu, and
like Ezekiel Cockburn, the illegitimate child of a pastor, Mwanza was the third
side of the triangle formed by those that the Masai call “he that separates the
roads”, God, the supreme being, Allah, the great eye.
"Had he given sufficient attention to the religious angle of the case?"
reflected Tutts. He decided to postpone further thought on the point and
concentrate on the direct evidence.
It seemed that the only relation of visible mutual love, apparently
authentic, with arrows in both ways between potential assassins and their
victims, was Orieyo with Hottensiah Wihu. This was supported by reality, "If not,
Hottensiah is a brilliant actress, and shouldn't be where she is, but in Hollywood
or somewhere like that", declared Tutts. He remembered the first meeting with
her and the conversation at Orieyo's funeral. He went over some of the
paragraphs of the letter she wrote to her ex-husband, and thought once again
about the strange assault in her apartment. He tried not to remember the
photographs, they were very erotic and he didn't want to distract himself.
Returning to the table, in all the other coinciding relationships there were
monetary interests, hate or indifference. Tutts thought that the categories helped
to explain the situation. Only one person stood out as being the most
surrounded by hate, and that was the shoe-shiner Mwanza. But there was also a
considerable appearance of this sentiment in Hottensiah, Cockburn and Gathu.
Gatungi remained a mystery.
Tutts believed it was a good idea to differentiate between indifference and
lack of information, in that the former was very easy to discern. Therefore he
decided to introduce a double question mark (??) in the table to show this
Assassin → G.N. GATHU E. COCKBURN H. WIHU R. GATUNGI
M. ORIEYO Rival ↓ Rival ↓ Lover ↓ Acquaintance ↓
→ ? → → ♥♥ ♥♥ → ?? ??
J. MWANZA Stranger ↓ Pal ↓ Stranger ↓ Stranger ↓
→ ? → ♥ ♥ → → ??
V. SHAH Partner ↓ Partner ↓ Acquaintance ↓ Partner ↓
→ ♥$ $♥ → ♥$ $♥ → ? → ♥$ $♥
The table now appeared clearer: Orieyo was unconcerned about Gathu,
who in turn was unconcerned about Mwanza. But what was unclear is how the
enigmatic Gatungi was related to the deceased: Orieyo and Mwanza. The later
had referred to Gatungi with a mixture of hate and fear in his obscure
Tutts was still unhappy with the table which failed to illuminate various
important relationships, for example, the connections between the group which
gravitated around Hottensiah. He decided to cross the males with the only
female, in the following way:
Males → G.N. GATHU E. COCKBURN M. ORIEYO R. GATUNGI
Husband ↓ Infatuation ↓ Lover ↓ Acquaintance ↓
HOTTENSIAH ♥ ♥ ♥ ?
Wife → Seducer → Lover → ♥ Coveted → ♥
"That's it!" reflected Tutts out loud. "Three men desire Hottensiah,
including her husband, that has lost her. But there still exists the great mystery
in all of this, what does Gatungi feel for Hottensiah? The basic question is: Are
they all prepared to kill to keep the beautiful and attractive woman?
The detective appeared to be quite right to view Gatungi as the key to the
whole thing. Judging by the play on the abrasive words used by Gatungi's ex-
wife, Mrs. McDougall there appeared to be something between him and
Hottensiah. Tim Tutts trusted in his intuition to validate his conclusions from
a) They all apparently were in love with Hottensiah except Gatungi, who
might be, but the information is insufficient to prove it.
b) Hottensiah hates her husband and the mulatto, she loved Orieyo and
possibly wants Gatungi.
Tutts synchronized the matrices to introduce love-love (♥♥) and love-
material (♥$), which turned out like:
Males→ G.N. GATHU E. COCKBURN M. ORIEYO R. GATUNGI
Husband ↓ Infatuation ↓ Lover ↓ Acquaintance ↓
HOTTENSIAH ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ??
Wife → Seducer → Lover → ♥♥ Coveted → ♥$
Finally, Tutts completed his analysis revising what the knew of the
chronology of Moses Orieyo. The result was the following:
1955 Moses Angila Orieyo, born on the 25 of November in Kericho,
illegitimate son of Ole Oleitipitip (Masai) and Anna Angila (Luo).
1973 In a matatu crash in Kericho, Anna Angila aged 41 years, passenger
in one of the vehicles, is killed. Her son Moses aged 17 years, was travelling in
the other matatu, and was slightly injured.
1973-75 Moses Orieyo becomes part of the Watu wa Mungu a religious order
with animist-christian tendencies. Works as a mechanics assistant. At the end of
1975 Orieyo emigrates to Nairobi in search of work.
1975-77 In Nairobi, Orieyo laboured in garages, and continued connected
with his church. He finds his crazy father, and starts criminal activities.
1977 Moses Orieyo becomes involved in car theft and contraband.
Participates in disturbances. In April he is condemned to 2 years in prison and
10 lashes after a brutal attack on an Asian.
1978 Orieyo is released from jail early, for good conduct. Works as a
publicity model, and appears reformed.
1979 Orieyo meets Hottensiah Wihu, also model, and they become lovers.
She supports him economically. He helps his crazy father but fails to
communicate with him.
1980 On the 25 November 1980, aged 25 years old, Moses Orieyo is
stoned by a mob in Jevanjee Gardens, apparently robbing a car belonging to
The truth would undoubtably appear at the meeting in the afternoon, but
Tim Tutts felt that he had to establish some links between the characters. He
knew it was important to devise a few key questions.
Tutts puts some Questions
T im Tutts grabbed the telephone and called the offices of UNESCO, and
asked to speak to Mrs. McDougall. After the usual jousting with operators
and secretaries, always prepared to protect the backs of their bosses, and in
effect their own jobs, he managed to communicate with the International expert.
"My dear Nancy," said the detective without further preamble, "I have a
very important question to put to you in connection with the stoning. It's the
following: Did the deceased Moses Orieyo and Mr. Rudolph Gatungi know each
The expert delayed a little in responding, but then did so very assuredly:
"In truth, Mr. Tutts, I believe I didn't mention it, but neither did you ask
me. Yes they knew each other. They met a few times, in connection with a
lawsuit over the temple project on the outskirts of Mathari Valley."
"When was this?" inquired Tutts, excitedly.
"That occurred around the middle of 1976, in April or May. I remember
because there was a great deal of national concern due to the drought. But let
me tell you what happened added Mc Dougall. The sect that Orieyo belonged to
used a piece of waste ground for their rather secret night ceremonies, and
Rudolph as an engineer and businessman started to build a church in the same
place on behalf of a Catholic congregation. The Watu wa Mungu venomously
opposed it, and Rudolph had a few arguments with its leaders, one of them was
the unfortunate Orieyo.
"Was there anything else apart from verbal exchanges?"
"I'm not one hundred percent sure, but if there was some violence as you
suggest, it was no more than a few shoves..."
"Interesting" interrupted Tutts. "Was there anyone else involved?"
"Well, yes, now that you mention it... Rudolph had to take Ezekiel along as
a bodyguard. And naturally the Catholic community also supported them."
"Do you remember if there was a cripple by the name of Mwanza in the
"The murdered shoe-shiner. I think so, I am just trying to remember. I
think I heard Rudolph refer to this poor fellow; in a very bad way in any case. He
was possibly amongst the catholic throng."
"Do you know what happened to the temple project?"
"It had to be temporarily abandoned. Some parliamentarians and
protestants worked behind the scenes to oppose the construction, under the
pretext of helping the Watu wa Mungu."
"Do you have anything else to add dear Nancy?" said Tutts, radiant with
"I don't think so Tim" replied McDougall. "Only that I'm sure my husband
had no further contact with Orieyo. When Gathu told him that this was the lover
of Hottensiah he couldn't believe it. He thought him a wild man of the worst
"Thanks Nancy. You don't know how much you have helped me, Goodbye".
Without waiting for a reply, Tutts quickly put down the phone ending the
"I was only looking at one part of the table" reflected the detective. "But all
the same, on the side of religion I felt there were too many loose ends."
At that moment the phone rang. It was Curly:
"Tim, some bad news. Shah has died. His wounds were too grave. I rang
the police headquarters but nobody is concerned. They consider it a transit
accident. They say they are looking for the driver, they found the matutu and will
continue investigating. By the way, nobody has turned up to enquire about the
assault on our offices..."
"Understood. Hurry up petal, so that we might have time, I have to make a
"Boss I've finished. I spoke to Hottensiah and she is willing to go to the
meeting. I am watching her just in case she tries to run for it. Don't worry I will
arrive with her even if she's over my shoulder. Any instructions?"
"No, my girl" replied Tutts. "Just that I think you are absolutely marvelous.
See you in a while."
The detective didn't hang up, but marked the number of the Nairobi News,
and asked for the journalist Kuma. He needed to ask a second question, also
"Kuma, Tutts here. How's it going old bean? I've had a doubt for several
days about the Orieyo case. Think before you answer, it's very important. I have
re read your reports and there appears to be a confusion over certain details.
This suggests to me two possible reasons: that you were a prescience witness, or
perhaps you are a complete liar. Answer me yes or no, were you present at the
Tutts felt the heavy breathing of Kuma the other end of the line. Finally
the reporter exclaimed:
"No. I wasn't there. But I informed myself well and deduced the details.
But listen, you have made a mistake with the really important questions, Tutts...
"Elementary. Incidentally what I am doing for you is a favour OK.
understood? What you should be asking me is, first: Are you involved
romantically with Hottensiah Wihu?" And the answer is "No, but I was there in
my youth." The second key question is: "Are you financially involved with Gathu
or Gatungi?" And the answer is once again, "No, but they tried to bribe me on
one occasion". And the third and last key question is: "Are you or were you
politically involved with Orieyo? And the answer is: Yes. I helped him in his
battles against the hypocritical builders of churches, Gathu and Gatungi, the
mutant vampires that can't even be repulsed with crosses..."
"Are you still there Tutts? Do you want more? I was the one who presented
Moses to the beautiful Hottensiah. I wanted to help him and persuaded him to
pose as a model. He had just come out of jail and had no money or future. The
attempted bribe I refer to came as a result of a church construction. They
wanted a favourable press. They never realized that I was on the side of the Watu
Tim Tutts was stunned to silence. He tried to open his mouth to say
something, but all that came out was a groaning sound. At the other end of the
line, Kuma laughed loudly:
"What happened Tutts? Did I give you a fit? Take it easy, man. Get on the
job. Any more questions, o' wise one?"
"Well if nothing occurs to you, I'll make a few of my own. said Kuma
cockily. "Why write all of that in the newspapers?". And the answer is: "Because I
wanted to clear the case up. I don't know exactly who killed Orieyo, but I believe
it was a conspiracy, and that's what I hinted at in my articles. It was a contrived
stoning". You will understand that I couldn't say all this the other day in the
presence of Nancy McDougall, ex- Mrs.Gatungi. Bye-bye Tutts. Don't hesitate to
call me if you think necessary. By the way I'm sorry to hear about the attack on
your office and the death of Shah. Good luck in your meeting this afternoon.
Don't ask me how I knew. We journalists have our own secret informers. I feel
your are on the verge of resolving the case."
The journalist Kuma hung up.
Tutts remained like a statue with the telephone suck to his ear. He felt a
trickle of sweat run down his cheek. He held the receiver away from his face until
his wrist complained, then hung up. He went to the bathroom and tried to
unsuccessfully urinate. Then he grimaced in front of the mirror until his face
"The bitch that gave birth to presumptuous cocky journalists!" he shouted
at his own image.
The detective tried to overcome the humiliation, making the third and last
call. The third key question was:
"Bar? Tutts here from apartment 23. Could you sent me an export Tusker
beer, really cold, a ham and cheese sandwich, and a flask of coffee? Is that OK?
Tutts didn't feel like showing his face to the inclement weather, and
preferred to eat alone in his apartment, trying to cool his irritation and prepare
himself for the big meeting in the afternoon. He changed the local music that
was playing for a symphony of Bruckner and submerged himself in that
incoherent and erratic teutonic sound that he barely understood, but it
permitted him to ignore the perplexing outside world. The Nairobi detective fell
asleep for a few moments, and dreamt that he was boxing for the world title,
receiving the worst punishment in the history of the sport, until the bell sounded
to save him from being K.O. He woke up. It was room service.
A Tense Meeting
T utts arrived five minutes early for the meeting outside the building called
Trasimeno House in honour of the Italian restaurant that occupied the
whole of the first floor. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious civic
centers in Nairobi. The attractive building was set back a little from the
pavement, allowing the builders to make a small plaza along the whole front.
Wooden seats and flowerpots gave it an unexpected and placid European
character. Normally it was a quite corner, but not this afternoon.
Tutts felt sure that the whole of River Road was there. At first, he saw a
multi coloured gathering that appeared to be a dance group; But as he got closer
he began to distinguish its components, more grim than happy. The askaris of
the Rajamaputra Bar were standing in more of less orderly formation with their
prisoner closely guarded in the middle. The eyes of Cockburn's accomplice were
popping out in pure terror; every time that he moved, he was poked with a lance
or lightly smacked with the flat part of a panga.
A little closer to the building, Tutts recognized the great Ole, with his
respective prisoner, the one that had fallen from the roof; his trousers were thick
with the blood from his wounded buttock. Standing on one foot, the old Masai
smiled as if posing for a photograph, with his capture firmly and precisely held.
The Hindu twins had also put in an appearance, and found nothing better
to do than stand up on a bench to take in the view. But they were occupied
observing other matters, as Tutts verified shortly when the air became filled with
a rhythmic, metallic sound and mumbling voices: it was the Watu wa Mungu
returning to center stage. With an expectant air they installed themselves below
the office windows, singing in a soft monotonous tone, accompanied this time by
just their triangles and tambourines. Fortunately they had left their drums at
Tutts almost fainted to see the Watu wa Mungu bring their own prisoner.
Unbelievably it was the third attacker, the one taken away by the police. "How
did they manage to get him out? Did the police release him? Another mystery to
add to this delirious case". resounded Tutts to himself.
Tim Tutts entered the lobby of the building. Curly and Hottensiah were
already waiting for him. The woman was once again wearing her suffering and ill
treated face. Elaborately dressed in old clothes now out of fashion, and matching
hairstyle which made her appear like a needy girl in an English film. But behind
her contrite gestures, Tutts guessed that the magnificent female was enjoying the
situation, as if she were participating in the mise-en-scène of a movie. Her
natural histrionic manner dominated the dramatic situation.
The three returned to the doorway to see what the commotion was in the
plaza. They saw Nedge and Waweru approaching, Tutts assistants, holding a
tense figure buy the arms that was two heads taller than either of them. It was
Ezekiel Cockburn, who at first impression appeared to have offered little
resistance to his transportation. But Tutts noted the enormous force that the two
men were using to restrain his large elbows. When the three hurried from the
street to the building the Masai roared and shouted, along with the Watu wa
Mungu who changed their monotonous chanting into directed shouts. Cockburn
stopped despite the pushing from the detectives and aggressively showed
everybody his sharpened teeth. Lances were raised in the air, ready to attack,
but before anything could happen, Waweru and Nedge ushered him into the
lobby almost dragging their prisoner.
The building's caretaker did absolutely nothing during the commotion,
perhaps because his own askaris were either taking a siesta somewhere, or
hiding in the remotest place possible, unprepared to face the large multitude
outside. The man who had been attending the telephone, came over to politely
inform Tutts that Mr. Gathu wished them to go up. He was waiting in the
conference room on the third floor.
The motley group waited for the lift. Curly and Hottensiah kept themselves
as far away as possible from Cockburn, who emanated a repugnant smell. Wihu
in particular was very uneasy in the presence of the mulatto. They had to wait
however for another passenger. Gatungi had just arrived announced by fresh
cries from the plaza outside. The Watu wa Mungu let out a piercing note, the
loudest their lungs would permit. Gatungi faced this show with princely
elegance, ignoring the protests.
He had a notable physical beauty, like many noble Ugandans, the
descendants of the mystical Buganda kings, and was dressed very elegantly. The
doors of the dim lift closed before Gatungi could fix his eyes on all the occupants.
Shortly his nose detected the presence of Cockburn, his face went red and
looked strained. The mulatto peered at him showing his fangs. Passing by the
second floor the smells from the Trasimeno Restaurant entered the lift. Tutts felt
his empty stomach complain, and began to prepare himself an imaginary plate of
pasta as the lift came to the third floor. The group walked orderly out towards a
room guarded by two armed askaris and an usher with a solemn air and ravelled
"This way, please, ladies and gentlemen" he proclaimed, "Mr. Gathu is
They all entered the ostentatious room, where at the head presided the
unmistakable Gathu, reading a folder, he appeared like a ball rolled up in a regal
chair, his glasses dancing on the end of his bulbus nose. But his air of a grand
executive soon evaporated when he saw Curly enter with Hottensiah, his glasses
bounced off his nose in surprise. Gatungi went closer to him taking a seat on his
right hand side.
Tutts couldn't believe it, a miracle had occurred. All those involved in the
Orieyo/Mwanza case were there in the room sat around the magnificent table,
apparently prepared to clarify the enigma. All besieged by the strange mixture of
smells, ravioli from the restaurant, and the repellent odors from the mulatto
from the harafu.
Gathu and Gatungi with hard faces entrenched themselves at the head of
the table. They were surrounded by armed guards, and contemplated the
heterogeneous group. Waweru and Nedge had literally sandwiched Cockburn
and didn't take their eyes off him, ready to pounce on him at the start of any
kind of violence. They had sat at the other extreme of the table leaving various
empty seats between them and the businessman. Curly and Tutts sat either side
of Hottensiah giving the effect of another threesome, the detective appeared to be
playing the role of grand protector. They sat along the side of the table but closer
to Gathu and Gatungi.
Everybody sat waiting for the other to take the initiative. After a long
silence, Gathu was about to start the session when the door suddenly opened
and an obese mama wearing a coloured scarf on her head, entered the room,
loaded with brushes, brooms and cloths, with the obvious intention of doing the
cleaning. To the surprise of those gathered, she proceeded to mop the floor as
she probably did every day.
Gathu asked her to return later, but the woman paid no attention. One of
the askaris explained that the woman only spoke Kikuyu. Gatungi showing who
was the boss between them, told Gathu to order her out, without further ado.
The fat businessman stood up with difficulty and tried to throw out the cleaner,
who resisted at first, but then she finally left mouthing curses.
None of this show served to alleviate tension or put a smile on faces. On
the contrary the air became thick with constrained violence. Finally, Gatungi
thumped the arm of Gathu, who coughed and began to speak:
"Ladies and gentlemen. We have been brought together by a confused
situation, for which we must look for a civilized solution. A solution that hurts
nobody, yet on the other hand favours everybody. This problem must be resolved
between ourselves and nobody else, and soon. I have spoken to the authorities,
and they have told me to put a stop to this matter which at any moment could
be transformed into a scandal. I admit we have made some mistakes, but I
would like to know what Mr. Tutts and his employees have to do with all this? I
accuse you, Rose, of having complicated things..."
The woman began to tremble with rage, out of control she spat at her ex-
"You are a sham, Gathu. Nobody can distort all they touch like you, I
recognize that merit. You are a diabolical human being. I contracted Mr. Tutts
quite rightly so that you can't continue to deceive me..."
She couldn't go on due to her sobbing which left everyone paralyzed except
one. On seeing her tears, Ezekiel Cockburn leapt to his feet before his captors
could react, and dived across the long table at Gathu, taking the water jug and
glasses with him. He would have probably strangled Gathu if not for Tutts' timed
intervention, grabbing him by one leg causing him to fall. Gathu's guards rained
down several blows before he was rescued from the massacre by Waweru and
Nedge. They dragged him by the legs back to his chair, and held his arms tightly
whilst the giant mulatto continued making animal noises. The blows he received
didn't appear to have affected him.
Hottensiah's protest and subsequent attack by Cockburn had been
partially heard in the street, and the noise of the angry crowd came in through
the window. Gatungi was furious with the scandal, and gave orders to the
askaris to go out and clear the front of the building. But with faces pale with
horror, and shaking legs, announced that it was a hopeless possibility. Gatungi
got up suddenly and purposely went over to the telephone; but the apparatus
failed to respond, despite the blows and insults from the Ugandan. It was
probably out of order. He held his head as if about to explode, and went outside
"Just a moment. I am going to call the police." Gathu, frightened by being
abandoned by his partner, stood up and left the room saying:
"Just a minute, I have to go to the water closet."
He disappeared behind a door that read LADIES in large letters. Everyone
saw the light go on, and heard a stream of urine hit the lid of the toilet, followed
by Gathu's stifled swearing. Only Tim Tutts could raise a smile with this comedy
of errors. Nobody else found it amusing, and Nedge expressed concern:
"Boss. If the police come, they'll start a small war downstairs, the people
are mighty agitated."
"They know how to defend themselves" replied Tutts. "What I don't know is
how his pair of cheats are going to face this problem. They are tangled up in a
real web of lies."
Briskly the door suddenly opened. But it wasn't Gatungi coming back in,
but the three attackers of No. 33 River Road... with their respective guards.
Everybody froze in surprise.
Grand Ole entered first of all with his injured capture. Then the bearded
leader of the Watu wa Mungu, dragging the police's ex-prisoner. Then finally one
of the Turkana Askaris of the Rajamputra Bar with the remaining delinquent
firmly held by the neck. The group moved solemnly, or in mortal shock,
depending if they were captors or prisoners, and installed themselves behind
Cockburn's seat. Tutts asked himself how they had managed to get inside the
room. He looked at the lances, and looked at the hot headed faces of the captors
and imagined his answer.
After a few moments Gathu and Gatungi entered simultaneously. The first
had taken his time trying to dry his trousers, that were still damp from urine,
and showed a few spots that everybody noticed. The second was beside himself,
he had tried to call for help; apart from the idleness of the police, the fickle
Nairobi telephones were the most unlikely means to do it. Both remained almost
mummified when they saw the latest intergrants of the meeting.
"What's this carnival all about" chided Rudolph Gatungi.
His reply was a menacing silence. Tutts decided to take advantage of the
momentary confusion to take charge of the situation:
"Gentlemen, please take a seat and let's try to order the proceedings. I will
explain to you who these people are. This morning our offices were attacked by
the individuals you see against the wall" and he indicated them with an accusing
finger. "They are accompanied by their (he coughed) ...custodians. Fortunately
they were repelled, but we were in grave danger. The person responsible for the
attack, Mr. Cockburn, is an employee of yours. We also have the signed
confessions of two of them. Before anything else I would like you to explain all
this. It is also the wish of those congregated below. Afterwards we will try to
disentangle the other mysteries of the case. We have three dead people all linked
to the people present in this room..."
Gathu and Gatungi stared at each other, unsure whether or not to take
into consideration the words of the detective. They opted to sit down, but not
without staring disapprovingly at the askaris who had allowed these new
participants to enter. Gatungi once again elbowed Gathu who began:
"Really, we have nothing to do with that attack, Mr. Tutts. Mr. Cockburn
no longer works for us..."
His short discourse was interrupted by a bellow from Ezekiel. The askaris
lifted up their clubs, but Gatungi restrained them with a gesture. In a guttural
voice and in brief phrases, the mulatto said:
"Yes. I attacked. Tutts bothered Hottensiah. Vengeance..." and he tried
once again to rise from his seat, but this time the detectives were alert and
prevented him. The prisoners guards at the side started to beat their lances on
Before chaos erupted once again in the room, Rudolph Gatungi stood up,
and hit the table with the palm of his hand and started to speak...in French.
Waweru laughed out loud, but was cut off by a sharp look from Tutts. Gatungi's
speech was very brief, everyone tried to understand but couldn't; it was directed
solely at Joe Nedge, the polyglot of the group.
When the Ugandan had finished and retaken his seat, he made a gesture
to Nedge that he should translate for Tutts. The fat man got up and went over to
Tutts to speak in his ear:
"Boss. He says that he will explain everything, but in private with you and
Gathu. He agrees that Cockburn and his accomplices be turned over to the
police. But you have to get rid of all these people."
"I agree, Gatungi" replied Tutts out loud. "But Hottensiah must be
Gathu contorted in his seat, his eyes going white. A bubble of saliva
escaped from his lips. Gatungi made a gesture of something between resigned
agreement and exasperation.
Tutts acted out the next stage very well. He started a long speech in
Swahili directed at his spontaneous allies, giving his word that the guilty would
be punished, and asked them to guard the prisoners in a special room in the
building until they were handed over to the police. His words were received with
large smiles and gestures of approval. Gathu gave some orders to his askaris,
who went off to prepare a temporary dungeon for Cockburn and his accomplices.
After a long wait, the askaris returned with reinforcements, and the prisoners
and their improvised guards left the room, along with Tutt's team.
"I hope you are able to keep your promises gentlemen" reminded Tutts. "I
take it you don't want to be stoned by the mob outside?"
"Tutts, let's forget this circus and speak clearly," replied Rudolph Gatungi,
"to overcome this mess once and for all. We are prepared to hand over Ezekiel
Cockburn and his band. He did work for us and was charged with a delicate
mission which I will explain. Cockburn excelled at certain things, particularly
violence, he alone is responsible for the attacks and crimes that have been
perpetrated against various people, including Miss Wihu, Shah, and yourself.
Our company declares that it is innocent of this blood bath, and we would be the
first to start court proceedings against Ezekiel Cockburn, including other
criminals if necessary."
Hottensiah wanted to intervene, but Tutts touched her arm as a gesture
for her to wait a moment. Gatungi poured some water from what remained in
one of the jugs and continued:
"The damage to your office Mr. Tutts, and payment for having helped in
the capture of these criminals will be made in full. As soon as you can, send us
the corresponding invoices. We have no reason to assume these expenses of
course, but we are prepared to do so in order to maintain the peace. That is what
we will declare before the authorities."
Gatungi remained quiet, waiting for a reaction. Tim Tutts replied:
"You promised us an explanation, we are still waiting."
George Njoroge Gathu started to shake, appearing to be fading away before
his time, but Gatungi gave him another poke with his elbow and the fat
businessman seemed to calm down, closing his eyes in a kind of painful stupor.
On Theology and Business
"Y ou must know Mr. Tutts," expressed Gatungi the Ugandan, "that one of
the specialties of the company of which Gathu and I are majority
shareholders, is religious architecture. That is to say that we work for the
churches, especially the ones that do missionary work in our country. We
develop temple construction projects, sanctuaries, mausoleums and other sacred
works. We take them on once the church decides on their construction and
possesses the necessary resources to finance them. We work all over Kenya, and
also in neighbouring countries, I assure you we are the best in the business.
"Excuse me Mr. Gatungi but some of them are grotesque obscenities" fired
"You excuse me Mr. Tutts. It may be that you and a few other purists don't
like our churches, but they are functional and adequate for our people. Those
who contract us are proud of them and very grateful to our company."
"Wouldn't it be more worthy to build hospitals or houses for the poor?"
insisted Tutts, just to irritate Gatungi.
"Mr. Tutts please don't barrage me with slogans. We are talking seriously.
This is a commercial company and we respond as best as we can to the demands
of the market. We don't question the reasons or morals of our clients.
Furthermore, the glory of God is reason enough to justify these works of art. I
consider it trivial and pointless to even discuss the subject. May I continue?"
"That is what we are waiting for Mr. Gatungi. Until now you've explained
nothing." clarified Tutts, ill-disposed to give the magnate a breathing space.
"You will understand that in our business we are often forced to work
against time, and we cannot afford to get mixed up in the type of controversies
you have already mentioned. There are also economic rivalries between the
churches, it's sad to admit." added Gatungi, once again playing the role of great
patron, "but it often occurs. Our society is very democratic in this respect. All
religions have the right to exist, as long as they abide by the constitution and the
ruling government. But there are churches which are irresponsible and take
advantage of this liberty..."
"I hate to interrupt you, but, what do you call economic interests?"
"It's difficult to be precise. There are no two identical cases. It could be
that a few influential members of society oppose the use of a determined space
for religious purposes; or simply fear of paying extra taxes; or perhaps an
industrialist that is wary of the political inclinations of a certain progressive
clergy; or the contamination of many Kenyans to foreign influences: You know
that the majority of the churches come from outside of the country, from the
United States or Europe. Well there are many diverse factors, as you can see. We
have had to battle against all of these..."
"Tell me, what is this about the rivalries between sects?" Tutts cut him off.
"Its the most common. Very often the erection of a temple is pushed by a
Christian church that wishes to have more influence in a new area, or
recuperate lost followers. This is often resisted by those negatively affected and
may cause considerable disturbances, and not only in predominantly muslim
zones, as occurs at the coast...
"And this is what happened with Orieyo, Right?" lanced the detective.
"That is what you are driving at?"
"To be sincere Tutts, that is what more or less happened..."
Tutts felt that Hottensiah was about to sob, but preferred not to attend to
her. Curly gave her a glass of water. The last thing the detective wanted at this
moment was interference, the fight was now between the big boys. He
remembered the Kikuyu proverb: «The old men always drink last». Gathu slipped
steadily down in his seat, as if to hide. The obese industrialist breathed with
difficultly, on the border of choking.
"I'll tell you briefly to put you in the picture" Gatungi continued his duel
with Tutts. "I will omit the economic and political details. We had an important
project to build a catholic temple in Mathari Valley. An authentic cathedral that
was oriented to play a fundamental role in consolidating all those suffering souls.
The whole of the ecclesiastic hierarchy was involved in the project, adding real
input, and they had received considerable help from the vatican for its
construction. The government had donated the territory and everything appeared
to be running relatively smoothly. However, when we arrived to take possession
of the site, we were faced by a group of activists of diverse sects that were
determined to prevent our access..."
"They must have had a reason." suggested Tim Tutts.
"I don't deny it" replied Gatungi without delay. "They appeared to be using
the site for their rituals. But you must be clear that they had no right to do so.
They had installed themselves there only because it was an empty site and
nobody claimed it."
"But they had been there for years" rebounded Tutts.
"May be, its not my business, I am not an ethnologist, nor social worker,
or religious man. For me, to have the backing of the church and the state was
sufficient to ..."
"But you lost." the detective interrupted.
"That's right, but were are still fighting. We have been physically attacked
and there is a court case pending. We are still hoping to continue with the
"Despite the opposition of all the protestant churches?"
"You appear to know a great deal about this." responded Gatungi upset.
"I followed the case in the press" was the detectives dry reply. Don't try to
throw false accusations, everything is public knowledge."
"Not everything" replied the businessman, in a cold but passionate tone.
"There are things that you don't know. In the first place, they practice pagan,
satanic, obscene rituals, animal sacrifices and similar aberrations. A lot of people
wanted to finish with all that. Secondly there are blasphemous characters who
proclaim themselves "Men of God", who realize political meetings where they
conspire against the regime. Certain activists in the city such as pseudo
university students, deranged bearded writers, sensationalist journalists and
other subversives take advantage of this to cause disorder. And thirdly it is a
focus of delinquency and insanity. Hundreds of thieves and crazy people have
had their instincts and delirium agitated and fueled there. Our project was a way
of overcoming this filth, this embarrassment to Nairobi. It was also a way to
promote development for the Mathari Valley."
"Besides the anathemas that you impart so eloquently," said Tutts with
irony, "what is clear is that there wasn't a consensus over the good intentions of
"As you wish." answered Gatungi "as you wish, but we still believe it would
be the best thing for this city..."
"And one of the most ferocious protestors was the slightly mystic Moses
Orieyo, right?" the detective hurried.
"Now its you who are using adjectives, Tutts. Orieyo was not a mystic.
What I know for sure is that he was excitable, violent, and an impudent
anarchist, opposing any sort of dialogue. There were meetings were people like
him stopped any kind of agreement that would have benefitted everyone..."
"And that is why you had him killed?" suggested Tutts in a confidential
Gatungi laughed falsely out loud, whilst Gathu groaned trying to relieve
himself of the tension which had him on the border of collapsing. Hottensiah had
decided to play the catatonic number, and stared at an undetermined point on
the polished table.
"Listen to me carefully Tutts," continued Rudolpho Gatungi, "you insist in
lowering the level of this conversation. We are talking of business. Of millions of
"Precisely, you tried to bribe several people so that they would come down
on your side in favour of the project..."
"Tutts, don't be crass. We only tried to assist the people who helped us.
That's not bribery but business tactics."
"And Orieyo didn't want any ... "assistance", as you put it.
"Neither did we try, Tutts. He was a demented fanatic, a sick person that
believed he was in direct contact with God..."
At that moment, Hottensiah broke out of her chains and threw one of the
jugs with terrible aim at the two businessman whilst shouting:
"Tutts," Gatungi said, slightly flustered, "control that woman as you ought
to. She is the only whore in the world who could think about jumping into bed
with an animal like Orieyo, transforming all this into a passionate melodrama.
She is another dangerous imbecile, and shouldn't be here, I suggest you sent her
out quickly so we can continue talking."
"Impotent asshole!" screamed Hottensiah, totally uncontrolled. Your
woman must have left you for a good reason. Rotten fish! Greedy little prince!
Disgusting eunuch! Immoral..."
Just at that moment the door opened and Curly's face appeared. With a
gesture from her boss, she walked over to Wihu, and in a polite but firm way,
escorted her out of the room. Gathu during all this had remained mute whilst a
trickle of sweat had run constantly down his face. He neither opened his mouth
to attack or defend his ex-wife. Gatungi, was visibly rankled by the verbal attack
from Hottensiah, and was showing symptoms of overheating. He loosened his tie
"What in the hell has happened to the air conditioning!"
Now it was Tutts turn to grab the bull by the horns taking advantage of
"So you decided to do something to neutralize Orieyo."
"Not so quick, detective the Ugandan recovered. "I must tell you that this
individual tried to blackmail us, to stop the project. He deceived this poor
nymphomaniac bitch into becoming her lover as part of the plan. He wanted to
weaken Mr. Gathu, always worried about his image." He emphasized the
ultimate word giving the mass of his partner a depreciative look, who had by now
converted into a great blob of fat over the whole chair. "And above all to spy on
us. Between the pair of them, they hood winked that cretin mulatto Cockburn.
Hottensiah flirted with him, and, Gathu's employee, not mine," he retracted, "fell
into her spiders web. We tried to explain to Cockburn that Hottensiah was using
him, and it seems he understood, but it made him absolutely furious."
"And then?" hurried Tutts.
"So we decided to give Orieyo a little shock. Understand me clearly Tutts, I
said shock. Nothing more than that. But we didn't take the passion of Ezekiel
Cockburn into account. That is how it happened. But I swear to God, we only
wanted to give him a warning."
Ambiguous and Proverbial Close
"A shock?" asked the fat Nedge.
"Exactly little Joe. Just a shock. A simulated stoning that Moses Orieyo
would recover from and stop bothering the businessmen" answered Tim Tutts.
Two days had passed since the meeting in the offices of Mr. Gathu, and
the detectives had come together to conclude the case. As their offices continued
uninhabitable after the attack by the one eyed Ezekiel Cockburn alias the
mulatto of the harafu and his band, they had installed themselves comfortably in
Tutt's apartment at the United Kenya Club. They had brought in thika chicken,
chapatis, fried potatoes and drinks to celebrate the close of the Orieyo case.
"So, finally, the series of murders and assaults, including the raid on
Hottensiah's apartment, were a particular initiative of our friend Cockburn."
"At least that is Gatungi's version, and he's stuck to it. Gathu appears to
agree with him. It's a relationship composed of terror, Gatungi manages him as
he likes, insulting him in public and ordering him to be quiet. For Gathu the
most humiliating aspect is the public airing of his ex-wife's infidelity."
"But why did Cockburn have to kill Mwanza and Shah?" insisted Nedge.
"To keep them quiet" responded Tutts.
"But there's something else, boss" intervened Karima Waweru. "In that
version they are implicated as accomplices, not to mention Hottensiah Wihu, our
employer. Do we agree?"
"It matters little what you or I think." replied Tutts, "She doesn't know
what's best for her, and is trapped in a maze of contradictions. I think she came
to our offices because she was convinced that the whole problem revolved
around her mixed up sentimental emotions, without realizing the case's religious
and political complexity."
"Habarri ya pesa?" inquired Curly, the most practical of the group, always
preoccupied for the finances.
"Its all under control, buttercup. I returned the money to Hottensiah, who
received it without complaint. We have to prepare invoices to send to Gathu to
cover our expenses and damages. There is an agreement and we will respect it.
But it doesn't leave me very happy with the ethical aspects of the case. In other
words, are they as innocent as they say? Even though it was supposed to be a
simulated stoning, to what extent are they responsible for Orieyo's death without
even considering the subsequent murders? Should everything be put on
Cockburn's shoulders? What do you think my friends?" declared Tim Tutts with
a straight serious face.
"These are really serious questions" intervened Waweru once again,
thinking, and added: "For mixed reasons, I doubt that Orieyo intended
blackmail, he was more interested in religious idealism."
"Its possible" conceded Tutts. "But how can we prove it? If Gatungi is in
the driving seat, it will be very difficult, and the rest of them are a bunch of liars.
There are various people that could indicate Orieyo's true objectives." reflected
the detective removing the top from a white cup. "Whether he was out of his
mind or illuminated."
"Who" jumped Waweru, appearing more interested than anyone in the
honour of the deceased.
"His father, the great Ole; and perhaps the leader of the Watu wa Mungu;
or the Asian Twins." enumerated Tutts.
"Pure wazimus" blurted Nedge.
"Zombies" defined Tutts.
"Crazy people, I agree," argued Waweru, "but worth a try all the same."
"Excuse me Karima, but in my opinion no, absolutely no, in respect of
T.T.&T" replied Tutts. "For our modest agency the case is closed, and firmly
closed, I'm sorry for the victims; and remember that we could of quite easily
joined the list."
"But we have to do something." insisted Waweru.
"OK Karima, for your peace of mind." responded Tutts. "You didn't see me
yesterday because I was preparing a thick dossier for judge Lytton. Exactly. He
called me by phone, and apologized for the way he had received me, and said he
would personally investigate the matter. As you know all those involved are
under surveillance or behind bars, including Hottensiah. And I doubt if our
entrepreneurs are going to have an easy time of it. Lytton is honourable..."
"In spite of the fact that he is a friend of Gathu's?" retorted Waweru.
"I think Sir Henry will be determined to prove he deserves his wig, but let's
attack the food before it goes cold." said Tutts.
The detectives remained quiet for a moment while they ate and drank. The
Nairobi sunset fell quickly, and the horizon glowed with yellows, reds, pinks, and
oranges, all mixed up in wild competition. With his mouth full Tutts added:
"A point in favour of the truth is that the charges against Cockburn and
his accomplices were brought by Gathu and Gatungi. In a way they are trapped
by their tactic of trying to relieve themselves of suspicion. And with a judge like
Sir Henry Lytton on the case, they are going to have plenty of problems."
"And what about Ms. McDougall, our elegant expert from UNESCO?"
"She is trying to stay on the margin." responded Tutts. "She doesn't want
to lose her privileges, but she will have to testify anyway, I know Sir Henry. He
will oblige her to confess all that Cockburn had told her."
"I think I should be compensated" intervened Curly, with a contrary face. I
lost the best opportunity in my life for a good marriage. Although thinking about
it carefully, the way things are going I would have to spend the rest of my days
taking enormous quantities of food to the jail to feed my obese husband..."
Everyone laughed loudly. Nedge took advantage to give his jaws a
moments respite by launching a proverb: "«Why do you come close to me in the
fashion of Odeya and Luboka»?"
They all sat staring at the fat man. Tutts couldn't restrain his irony:
"Little Joe, the only thing I understood was a couple of Abaluyia names.
Could you do us a favour of explaining it to us?"
"The white mzungu would say: «Who will save me from my friends»? What
I am telling you is, just like Odeya and Luboka, Gathu and Gatangi will finish
turning on each other."
"As the Kikuyu say," chipped in Tutts: "«He who drinks beer in company,
also sharpens an arrow»."
"By the way" interjected Waweru with a face of mischief, Hottensiah wasn't
very gentle with Gatungi's virility. Are those accusations well founded?"
"I don't know or care" replied Tutts. "It's possible that something might
have occurred between them, which may have acted as a detonator. Personally
I'm not interested if Gatungi is impotent, or think of Hottensiah as a whore. In
any case its clear that she felt enraged."
"I have a question, boss." said Nedge, almost choking on the chicken. "How
is it that our third attacker got loose? Remember that the police had taken him
custody, yet later he mysteriously appeared in the hands of the Watu wa Mungu.
"I've no idea" responded Tutts. "Kenyan police are very unpredictable. Now
I have a question for you Joseph Nedge. How did Rudolph Gatungi know that
you spoke french?"
"I once interpreted for missionaries, boss.. during my mystical period
added the fat man, smiling. Perhaps he remembered me from there. In any case I
never met Gatungi personally. I hope he goes to hell!"
"You don't need to repeat it Joe." commented Tim Tutts. "He is a hated
character, as was shown by the people in River Road and Mathari Valley..."
"Kabisa" Tutts assistants exclaimed in unison.
"Waweru, Nedge, don't be shy, tell us you managed to trap Cockburn. To
be frank, I never thought you would do it" exclaimed Tutts.
"It was relatively easy, boss," responded Karima Waweru, whilst Joe
Nedge's face lit up. "We just followed his footprints...
"Karima had previously discovered his hideout near Limuru..." the fat man
"When I investigated the attack against the hindu Shah..." said Waweru.
"I asked a few questions, twisted a few arms, and bustled here and
there..." completed Nedge.
"And we brought him back to Nairobi..." said Waweru.
"To the temple of the Christ Science." it was Nedge's turn. "More precisely
to his carpentry workshop were Cockburn tried to fabricate weapons. We
overcame him without violence..." he added.
"Let me tell it Joe." pressed Waweru. "We took advantage of his passions.
We told him we had been sent by Hottensiah. And that she needed him
"So you completely fooled the poor man by playing with his sentiments. A
couple of clowns." Curly told them off jokingly.
When the laughter had died down, Waweru added:
"It appeared the best thing to do. He's too strong a man, even for us. We
would have to have half killed him to get him to the meeting."
"Brilliant" declared Tutts. "Congratulations..."
"There is also another Kikuyu proverb which is apt here intervened Curly:
«The supposed aggressor is, in the end the loser».
"Well said, buttercup, because the best part comes tomorrow. Our friend
Kuma the journalist... Yes Karima," he added sensing Karima's sarcastic look." I
recognize that he's a worthy fellow, and that I have made something of a friend
with him. None of you know how much he has helped resolve this case. He say's
that tomorrow an article will appear in the Nairobi News that will shed some light
on the truth and incriminate Gatungi and Gathu. I think they are trapped. Do
you want to know what it says?" said Tutts, taking out some papers from his
jacket with triumph. "Kuma sent me an advanced copy of the original. Curly,
give us another demonstration of how beautifully your tongue works."
Between the laughs of her colleagues the secretary read for those present
the last chapter of the sad story of Moses Orieyo stoned in Nairobi:
"The case of Moses Orieyo, young follower of the Watu wa Mungu who was
killed by a crowd following the supposed attempted theft of a car, has
taken an unexpected turn. After the authorities closed the case as a "road
accident", recent revelations have transformed it from a simple stoning
into a conspiracy. The whole matter is linked to the construction of a
catholic temple in Matharri Valley, that was denounced once in the Nairobi
News. As our readers will remember a group of businessmen tried to put
their interests first against the opinion of local independent christians,
that used the territory for their religious ceremonies and had declared
intentions of continuing to do so.
"It transpires that the youth Moses Orieyo, representing his faith, was
opposed to the construction of the temple. He was offered bribes and
threatened by the businessmen, but remained firm in his convictions.
Finally he fell victim of a trick, stoned to death by a crowd that was far
from innocent, because the mob contained elements that had been sent to
"The principal suspect, who is now in the hands of the police is the well
known mercenary and assassin, Ezekiel Cockburn, with a long history of
violent acts for which he has never paid. Cockburn was an employee of the
same company that is behind the construction of the Mathari Valley
temple. But he is not the only one responsible, apart from his assistants
that accompanied him on this and other crimes, there are others
implicated. We accuse nobody, but his employers, Mr. George Njoroge
Gathu and Rudolph Gatungi, must respond to the courts and demonstrate
before public opinion that they had nothing to do with these sinister and
"We are helping mafia activities in this city. Mafias linked to economic
interests that have no scruples in attacking those who oppose their plans.
Mafias that step on, and push to one side, the natural religions of our
countrymen. Mafias that believe they are above the law and public morals.
"These scandals must be brought to an end. As the Masai proverb says «If
an elephant is hit by many hands, he has little opportunity to save
himself». Now is the time to fight for the truth together."
They all remained silent. Tim Tutts got up from his favourite chair and
looked out of the window, onto the dark gardens of the United Kenya Club. In
the grounds he could see a line of white shadows and heard the distant sound of
tambourines. In a corner of the garden, a raggedly dressed Masai standing on
one leg, waved to him with his lance and ran off pumping his naked arms.
Behind him as he left, he could barely make out two pairs of white shoes and
two double rows of white teeth which appeared to shine in his honour.
"Orieyo will have his justice" murmured Tim Tutts.
"Amen." replied Waweru and Nedge in unison.