By Ted Malanda
Although we have an army, this land and nation boasts of many other informal armies. Even a watchman is called soja. It may not exactly be legal, but who cares?
There are many parallel things going on in legal circles anyway. A friend says when he tripped on tomatoes on Kibera, he was hauled by the seat of his pants to a kangaroo court. The ‘court’ fined him Sh500 for ‘expenses’.
I am not sure if the Kenya Revenue Authority got wind of that transaction and pocketed what was due to Caesar. But KRA ought to know it is not the only revenue collection body around. We have Mungiki and the bandits who prowl city streets and village pathways, too.
Note, however, that my friend was arrested before he was hauled to that Kangaroo court. In this place, there are lots of people who enjoy powers of arrest although they are not policemen. And they can judge and execute you, too — with stones — never mind what Prof Githu Muigai says in Latin.
My friend could have insisted on being taken to a real court, but even there, he would have met a parallel court system — faster, more efficient, but at a price, of course.
Speaking of prices, shops in Nairobi offer parallel prices. You can pay the official price, which includes VAT, or a smaller one that enables you to kick KRA in the teeth.
Alternatively, you can hold a furtive discussion with the shop attendant and pay a fraction of the cost, tip him and walk out while the watchman pretends to be scratching his armpit.
And doesn’t armpit remind you of the perfumed one that we take to work and the sweaty one that we saddle our wife with when we stagger home in the wee hours of the night singing “I love you Khadija” when her name is Mercy?