WHEN THEY SAY NO.
“Laihilla illa ‘Lahu”-
He could not even help looking disappointed as the water meant for his morning ablutions wet the dust. He lifted the ‘pure water’ nylon sachet. What it contains is barely as much as two mouthfuls. He looks around. Other people are already loitering, getting ready; and the gutters, bursting with slow-flowing malodorous water.
Today is the third day of their struggle. Though, their number goes wan, but the struggle remains strong. A struggle for food and freedom. They converge again as they did the days before and they would the days after until...
Most of them do not know what the government has said, that sparked an uprising so. Karimu does not know what make the man on the platform speak with so much vexation.
The man on the platform was speaking with so much vehemence and oyinbo grammar that many members of the crowd like Karimu could not understand. He spoke like a pastor, too.
‘’Is he a pastor?” The reply was in affirmative.
As he wondered why a pastor should be this loud outside the pulpit, Karimu shouted when everyone else did. He remained calm while they were. He thought of his wife and baby girl. He remembered his wife’s plea not to join the civil action. He could almost hear his daughter’s cry while he left the house the day before. But he had to join the fray. That is the end for which a man is born for. What shall he do while his mates stand for dignity? Lie between his woman’s thighs, under a blanket? No.
The government wants to do something. He does not know what it is but he is told it will make life more difficult for him and his danfo-bus driving job, his livelihood, his essence of manhood. No. He have to fight this through.
A swipe of his Ankara wiped off the sweat stream at the side of his face.
More and more talk. Then, the pastor began to chant. More like a juju priest. The crowd responded in an uproar and moved away battalion-like. With placards and slogan-chanting, they took the streets. A blockade was formed.
A police bandobast stand nearby. A section of the protesters moved towards the police and mobbed. The police maintained their cool as the protesters shouted, chanted, shrieked as they were an example of the real system they are up against.
Another uproar –this time, louder- came from somewhere around the head of the crowd. A shot heard. The crowd dispersed in a rush. And, a man wearing Ankara lies lifeless in the dust.