It was some minutes past eleven at night in my house on a chilly and wet Friday, after a sumptuous meal of Ugali, sukuma wiki and one awesome sweet avocado when Saul Simiyu called me. He wanted his money, as pay back was overdue. He had loaned me Ksh.100,000 as a soft business loan in good faith that I would return it back to him, along with interest in good faith. I had started a brand promotion business and cash flows was a little of a challenge, especially with most of my cash held up by clients who were yet to pay. The money Saul loaned me assisted a lot in settling other pending debts and delivering a Ksh.50, 000 order to Wrigleys, who had ordered for branded executive notebooks and t-shirts. The return was profitable, but I had to risk a 60 day payment arrangement, since they were a key account I had followed up for some time. Back to the after meal, the call dampened my mood as I did not want to destroy the good relationship I had with Saul, who always sorted me out when I was against the ropes.

As I was racking my mind on where I could get the money and pay him back, nothing worth considering came up. Raising even a thousand over the weekend was just impossible. I was really tired after a hard day’s work, following up clients for payments, calming my debtors and pushing hard to beat deadlines in production of ordered branded merchandise. I found time to brush through the day’s daily as I watched the late night news, and all I had were corruption and scandals in government institutions, running to billions of shillings. Since I started my business, I was carefully in the dealings and people I engaged with, and totally avoided the shady deals that could land me in trouble. The NYS scandal was stinking and I knew several guys, who had ran to get tender contracts to supply the troubled parastatal and were now in trouble.

Illustration by Lewis Wafula.

My Blackberry Passport suddenly beeped and started blinking red, as a notification of a new message. I ignored it at first, as I continued perusing the Daily Nation, noting the major headlines and news of the day. That should be one of the guys I owed money, I mused. It was late to do business, and man must rest yawa! The late news was on all the scandals that were eating into government money, including the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), Kenya Power Corporation and Kenya Pipeline Corporation. It was minutes past midnight when I dragged my tired body to bed to catch some sleep. I checked my phone one last time before plugging it in to charge when I saw the message.

It almost got me screaming my head off! Apparently, my Cooperative account had just being debited with Ksh. 20, 000,000. All the tiredness gave way to sudden burst of energy and excitement. Solutions and plans seemed to bombard my brain from everywhere, as I went into an overdrive. I confirmed that indeed my account was having all that money. I did not recall supplying anyone or asking for a loan from any financial institution or individual for that matter to the enormous amount. Ksh.20, 000,000 was simply too much and hot a matter to get my butt tingling and sweaty in excitement. I withdrew Ksh.50, 000 to confirm indeed this was real and not a Kamiti prison crew scheme on me. My Mpesa confirmed receipt of the same amount.

It was a short night, that Saturday. I drew plans on how I would spent that money, including buying a business car to ease my rounds about town, and elevate my profile as a businessman. A friend of mind had offered a Toyota Avensis at Ksh. 750,000, and I felt this was the time to bargain hard and get it at less than that amount, cash money! My small corner office needed an upgrade and good touch up and I just knew the right man for the job, to do interiors and install new stationary and work equipment. On myself, I already knew where to go for the three piece suites which I had always salivated on but seemed too expensive then. What was Ksh.20, 000? I could afford five of the best, designer shirts and boot leather shoes to boot. Land ownership was also another sudden item on my list, and I noted that if all went well, I could as well be an owner of a Villa in own quarter acre plot in Machakos County. I slept a happy man that night, in the dream land. It is true indeed, the famous Swahli saying: Maskini akipata, matako hulia bwata.
I woke up unusually early that Saturday and made my way to town after a hot shower and good breakfast of fried eggs, butter toast bread with butter and two generous cups of chai fupi. I went straight up to the office on Tom Mboya Street and kept on checking my account on M-Coop to confirm indeed the money was intact. Relieved that I was neither mad, nor was my math not wrong, I made up my mind that the best way to work this whole thing out was to make one big withdrawal and deal in cash only to avoid money trail and attracting cash hounds, who smell the scent of the brown paper from miles away. Also, I decided to take a sudden vocation away from Nairobi to upcountry and hole up for a week, as I worked things out and watched out for any developments.

I called many people of ‘importance’ that morning, including Mohamed, who I told I needed the Avensis prepared for purchase, as such all paperwork, log book and registration should commence processing. Money was not the problem, his many questions were and could make him lose a sale, and I warned him. I called up James Njoroge, a streetwise friend of mine who happened to have connections with KRA and asked for enlightening concerning big money matters. Of course, I sorted Saul, his Ksh.100, 000 and apologized for the delay in paying him back. I had never known the power of money until that instant. Everyone seemed suddenly friendly and helpful, even though I did not mention anything about the jackpot burning in my account. Maybe it was my tone of voice, poise or just the spirit that had suddenly engulfed me. Something extraordinary was happening, and people on the streets, when I went down and about my business smiled and gave way to me.

It was about 10 am that Saturday, when I walked into the Kenyatta Avenue Cooperative Bank Branch to make a big cash withdrawal and order transfer of the money into my other accounts. I was a man on mission, and unless otherwise, I did not want to make an ass of myself. I ensured I looked very much a millionaire, in manners and dressing, and not a thug on the run. The first withdrawal was to be for Ksh. 2,000,000 for tithe. 2M for tithe….?!

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