• Caleb Atemi

There was an evil glare in his eyes as his hand tightened its grip on the long shiny dagger



The night thugs invaded my office


Dark clouds were rapidly gathering across the clear blue sky. They were moving at such high speed, as if dashing to an emergency meeting. Flashes of lightening lit the sky followed by numerous thunderbolts.


The windows to my office shook and the lights went off. After a few minutes the lights were back again as the skies opened up to a sudden unleashing a heavy downpour.

The earth shook violently each time a fire of thunderbolt fell from the skies. And then as suddenly as it started, the dark clouds disappeared and the sun shyly sneaked back to occupy its place in the sky. As its rays pierced down the drenched city, the rains continued to fall.


I smiled as I looked at the beautiful city of Nairobi from the 19th floor of my office: “Many hyenas must be giving birth today” I told my colleague as I wondered what message nature was trying to pass.


According to Luhyia folklore, whenever the sun shone while it rained, either the hyena or the leopard or both were giving birth. I suddenly had a nudge for my grandmother’s bedtime stories told at the fireside in the warmth of her hut in Waluka village.


I had long forgotten about the sudden rains when evening came and it was time for me to join my karate teammates. I was in low spirits that evening as I entered the dojo. The warm up and stretch exercises were tiresome and laborious. It took extra pushing from my Sensei for me to gain form and break into sweat.


Are you ok today Bwana Atemi? You are not your usual self” asked Sensei Bon Owiti, the Technical Director of the Kenya Karate Federation (KKF), and also coach of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Karate Club where I practiced Shotokan Karate four days a week.


“I am fighting many demons at work Sensei and my spirit is waning” I confided in my karate teacher when we took that precious brief break between intense workouts. I was drenched in my own sweat.


After two and a half hours I felt much better and looked forward to a peaceful night. We had spent one and a half hour going through rigorous Kumite (fighting) drills which included knife and sword attacks and disarming.


The Elders Walking Stick


Soon after we took our last bows, my colleague Nyanzui handed me a wooden walking stick: “Bro you asked me to get you this from the Maasai Market for your village elder” he said as he placed the long, hardwood stick in my hand. It was hard and firm, as strong as an iron bar.


I thanked him as I hastened towards my office at the Social Security House in Nairobi’s Community area.


I was almost absent minded when I opened the door to my office and switched on the lights. My office had two doors. The first glass door opened onto a corridor that led to a wooden door which ushered into the Public Relations Managers Office.


I was startled by a sudden movement. I looked up and there stood five men, some armed with knives. My heart froze. I thought I was dreaming. I took a few steps forward, holding the walking stick in both hands.


My mind went into a spin as I quickly observed the men. They seemed to be in a trance as I slowly walked towards them. My eyes were fixed on the taller man who looked like the leader. There was an evil glare in his eyes as his hand tightened its grip on the long shiny dagger. From the way he held the dagger it was clear he was not a trained knife fighter. That gave me some relief.


I wondered why the Sensei had focused so much on knife and sword attacks during that evening’s training. Was he preparing me for this? Was this real or some kind of prank? It however hit me that since I joined the Fund a few years back there had been several attempts on my life.


Two of the men made a quick dash towards me. My life was in serious danger and I could not visualise dying from knife wounds. I glanced back. The space between me and the glass door seemed bigger than the chasm between me and the armed men. I rapidly moved to meet them hitting the first one on the head with the walking stick while kicking the second man in the stomach.


With the leader down, the other three seemed terrified. One flung his dagger on the floor and sped for the door. I did not attempt to either attack him or stop him. The other two followed suit.


The commotion must have alerted the armed Administration Policemen (APs) who normally guard the building. Two of them burst into the corridor with their G3 rifles ready.

Iko shida gani Sir” one of the APs asked me. I stood over the two fallen men speechless and paralysed. It is only when one of the askaris tapped me on the shoulder that I snapped back to reality.


They handcuffed the two assailants and forced them to squat as we interrogated them: “Sisi tulitumwa tukuuwe lakini hatukujua wewe ni Jackie Chan.” (We were sent to kill you but we did not know you were Jackie Chan) said one shaking like a leaf.


It then occurred to me that I had walked back from the dojo in my sweaty Karategi (white karate uniform). My appearance in a white Gi and a black-belt must have sent shockwaves in the would-be attackers.


The APs broke into prolonged laughter as the men narrated the instructions they had been given by a senior manager at the Fund. They were literally asked to slaughter me and leave the scene. Someone else was to bring in a body of a girl, also with knife wounds and a scene of crime would be complete.


Wangesema uliuliwa ukilala na mpenzi wa wenyewe ofisini” (They would have said you were murdered when you were found making love to someone else’s lover).


The APs recorded their statements. I spend several hours at the office making numerous calls and consulting. I eventually decided that due to the sensitive nature of my job, I would handle the attack without involving the authorities. We set the two attackers free. The APs promised to keep an extra watch over my office.


I reported an hour late to my office the following day. As I passed along the corridor of the previous night’s drama, I thanked God for the gift of life. I would have been found here dead and soaked in blood. I also thanked God for using my Karate Gi to throw my attackers into panic and confusion.


The Evil Visitor


Ironically one of my first visitors that morning was the senior manager who had hired the thugs. He must have been heart-broken to find me seated at my desk sipping my 10am tea.

I gave him a knowing smile and a naughty wink. He had many questions he could not ask and I was not about to volunteer any information.


“Bro this is a strange world with a lot of evil happenings. I pity all the evil men who are always plotting against the innocent in vain. As long as God sits on His throne, they shall fail miserably” I volunteered as I ushered him out of the office.


During my tour of duty at the NSSF, one of the best employers I have ever had, I survived 15 attempts on my life. God in his humour, has allowed me watch my tormentor fall. I never had to throw a punch at him. Life has humbled him. But I hope he will repent of his sins since God still loves him.

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