CITY GIRL: Mr Sonko, train and put these Kanjos on a leash, they have all gone rogue - Nairobi News
2 months ago, 10 Aug 19:54
In the hierarchy of my greatest phobias, nothing tops my fear of Nairobi City Council askaris, also known as Kanjo. They are the reason I never buy anything off the streets no matter how cheap it is or how attractive it looks.
I live in the fear that I might get caught up in a random melee between the Kanjo and hawkers and receive one of their famous resounding slaps or the concussion-inducing blow to the head.
We have stories of hawkers losing limbs, wares, money and their lives in the hands of Kanjo. All who live or work in the CBD or visit the city centre shares one thing in common: We fear Kanjo more than we fear thugs and the police.
If asked to choose, I would rather face a battalion of filthy street urchins than face a single Kanjo askari. Don’t even get me started about being bundled into those unroadworthy contraptions they drive around. I would require truck-loads of prayer and therapy to recover from the trauma.
In Nairobi, we do not have City County askaris, we have animals. What we have is a cabal of blood-thirsty beasts hopping over puddles of sewer to get from one miserable street to the other, hunting for hapless victims.
They do not operate under any law and the concept of professionalism is foreign to them. Nairobi City County askaris are a law unto themselves and a dangerous clique of hooligans that needs to be contained. Governor Mike Sonko should halt everything else and put a leash on these criminals as a matter of urgency.
I was reminded of the brutality and viciousness of the Kanjo when I learnt that Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor had been assaulted and arrested by Kanjo while running her own errands in Lavington last week.
Ms Owuor, who had just come from a shop in Lavington Mall where she had purchased some oil, was caught up in a scuffle between Kanjo and hawkers. When she refused to run like the rest of us would, she was attacked by a man from the back and she naturally screamed and pushed back, thinking she was being robbed.
The burly man roughed her up, straining her wrist and in the process, she lost her glasses. One of the Kanjo also stole her phone. They bundled her up in one of those rickety jalopies and charged her with three counts; hawking fruits without a permit, using abusive language and dumping garbage on the streets.
Ms Owuor is not a hawker. She is in fact an internationally-recognised author and the recipient of various prestigious awards, including the Caine Prize of African Writing.
Now I know that the Caine Prize is perhaps a concept too complex for the brawny numbskulls at city hall to comprehend, but Ms Owuor, by all accounts is special. She is a national treasure.
We knew about her case because she is relatively famous within some elite circles of Nairobi but mostly due to the fact that the media and her sphere of influential friends tweeted about it ...
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