This is about something that happened at the end my daily foraging/exercise walk.
These are usually rather uneventful, and I try to keep it somewhat interesting by varying the routes. The one constant is an iPod Shuffle providing the soundtrack for whatever road I choose to take.
As I approached a hill I used on the way out and noticed few people gathered at the gate of a home. I was going to take a right at the bottom of the hill to the Kiosk but thought against it as I had purchased the days needs from the supermarket. As I neared the crowded gate, faint wails seeped in over Goyte’s, “Somebody I used to Know.” I stoped pulled out one of the headphones and paused the iPod shuffle. A vague recollection of the video I saw yesterday, about an Akkadian fathers advice to his son came to me. Specifically the part about not lingering around the site of commotion or violence, lest one of the parties involved pulls you in as a witness to defend them, or condemn the other.
I saw some a few people clad in construction overalls pry open the gate to the home and my legs didn’t seem to have much concern for my trying to decide whether the Akkadians advice was pertinent for they were taking me towards the gate. Passing through the gate, I marked a few women, mostly men; most of their number watching and a few jeering.
In front of me were the 2 overalled men and a few others surrounding the source of the wails and shrieks. Over the ones whose backs were to me, I could see this green PVC pipe stroking down rapidly through the air. Each down-stroke punctuated by a wail.
I see a man on the ground. He is being kicked by one of the gatecrashers, as the other continues the piping. The man is surrounded, his meekly upturned hands bloody. The crowd are egging on the assault. Someone launches a rock, , it slams into the small of the mans back. “Mwizi! Mwizi!” is the one word I pick up. (Thief in Swahili.)
Someone else is handed the pipe and continues the ‘discipline.’ 3-4 men continue the assault. This ‘villain’ with the waist of his jeans down to above his knees is vainly twisting away from each successive blow. He has no words I can make sense of, but what worth are the words of a ‘swindler?’
One of the overall men is right in front of me and has stepped back. Did, the bloody gash on the ‘mugger’s’ head gave him a moment of repose? I put my hand on his shoulder and calmly ask what is going on.
Another rock finds it’s mark. I assume the mark was just the ‘criminal’ and not any particular part of the ‘burglar.’ The overalled man is facing me with a somewhat dazed, somewhat crazed look in his eyes, and confirms that a thief has been caught.
With my arm stretched out with down-turned palms, I look around and ask no one in particular what is going on and if the police have been notified. There is a full plastic back on the floor by the ‘crook.’
I ask “Mwenye nymumba ako wapi?” (where are the residents/homeowners?)
Someone else points at the door and says they are in there. Further up the driveway, a heavy set man with Asiatic features emerges from behind the House. He is on the the phone with I assume with the police or some form of authority.
The ‘housebreaker’ continues to wail. A man in a suit was douses the ‘prowler’ with a bucket of water. He is saying something about how they found the ‘plunderer.’ The worst seemed to be over. the ‘heister’ was still in pain, but was no longer being assaulted. Someone began to usher those that had entered out of the gate. As I began to head out the faint smell of human waste was in the air.
When you think you are about to die, your bowels are low on your priority list.
At the gate some of the assailants look back and exclaim that they didn’t even beat him as much as they should have. I incredulously ask them what they mean, they subdued him, why not leave it to the police. One laughed and alluded that the police do nothing the other claimed this was the least he deserved, “didn’t I see how he made that lady bleed.” I did not. I arrived late, but the beating had ended. That was my purpose once I saw what was happening. I asked one of the assailants if it was now an eye for an eye. If they somehow thought beating the ‘larcener’ was how they would show him that violence solves nothing. He looks towards the gate And gives a feeble laugh, and says that if I was assaulted I’d see what i’d do.
In for a penny…
I knew it was futile at this point. But before i disengaged I expressed my belief that self defense is one thing, this assault was wholly another.
This isn’t the first time a similar situation has occurred. I will likely write about it again. The look in the eyes of the aggressors, was not wrath, but futility. This look of frustration, and some sort of catharsis in finally finding a target to release this pent up feeling of impotence on. Here is the evil incarnate! Something tangible to fight, vanquish, destroy. Not someone, but some thing.
I was going to turn right at the bottom of the hill. I could have taken a bus home, could have been a minute later. The music could have been louder and i could have walked right on by.
Could have done more or could have done less. I put quotes around the descriptive nouns to signify that though I saw a human being on the ground the rest must have been convinced that it was something else. Sitting here typing this rAnt, hearing kids in the Apartment complex happily declaring how much they love each other, less than a few minutes walk from where I saw such ugliness…
I’m glad I did something.
The aforementioned advice video. Sargon of Akkad has a rather interesting channel, but special snowflakes be warned, really tears into certain subjects that may ‘trigger’ some butt-hurt.
May include an illustration for this… but will likely include it in a follow-up rAnt about the cognitive dissonance that is evidenced in these impromptu acts of “Social Justice.” Have you Witnessed any of these lynch-mobs? What did you do, or what do you think you would?