Celebrating East African Writing!

Samuel Kinyanjui, Sammy to his friends by Paul Kariuki

Samuel Kinyanjui, ‘Sammy’ to his buddies, had, of late, never known peace after his estranged wife had walked away on him and some grey heads of elders had uninvited come to his compound to plead with him that he should have a mature dialogue with her and take her back but this had made Sammy the more indignant and in a fit of rage, he had lashed out a fist jab to one of the elder knocking him out completely and had a fit pouring out verbiage diarrhea to the others while kicking them out of his compound.

Did they think that having fewer yellowed – brownish stained teeth in their mouths, eagle balded heads with few tufts of hair at the fringes or wooly like cotton white hair qualified them to be elders and marriage counselors who had the audacity to barge in his house and call shots on account one in their delegation happened to be his father-in-law, for their ‘wisdom’ sounded nothing more than reticent prattling? And who were they to tell him how to live with a ‘mang’aa’ woman of a wife? That’s what made Sammy blow the roof of his head and shepherd them out of his presence.

And in his wide rage, he had slapped one geezer accidentally knocking out one of his sparse tooth out and the hurt party had called him a name he didn’t catch and had threatened him with what he, Sammy, will regret ‘for as long you live.’

And that was the epicenter of his problems.

For in a matter of days strange happenings were manifested in his house. Framed wall pictures would fly from the wall on their own accord and smash on the floor splintering to dozen pieces, or, when cooking, the sufuria with its boiling contents would be hurled from the jiko by invisible hands and whatever was cooking be scattered about the kitchen floor and, at times, he could hear strange conversations in his house but on checking out, no one was there.

Sammy had not been a superstitious person but this time he had the cause to believe in it, for when he rushed to his parents house and poured out what had been going on, his father, without a second thought, had diagnosed the problem as the ‘evil eye’ and took him to the dreaded ‘seer’ whose methods of business was next to bizarre.

The ‘seer’s’ house was at the edge of the village. It was a blend of tradition and modern architecture, in that part wall was stone brick, part local mud brick with a rusty iron roof. His compound was a total neglect where grass and weeds rose to a tall man’s stature. It was rumoured that dreaded speaking serpents roamed the compound and many a soul muttered a prayer before venturing in.

The seer welcomed father and son to his foreboding room where strange artifacts, herbs, and roots of strange plants and animal skins and parts hang or were scattered about in the awe inspiring room. And before any of the two could state the reason of the visit, the man of strange trade, sitting on a monkey skin, with his visage painted the colour of an occultic animal, was invoking the spirits and intoning a strange incantation that made Sammy’s hair to stand at their roots end.

“Your son,” the seer said to the father’s son, “had provoked the wrath of the spirits of one visitor that called on him recently. He showed disrespect to the elders and thus the spirits are angry and punishing him for the wrong he did, and, unless something is done, this young man will do a thing that will hasten an end to his existence.”

Father and son were dumbstruck at this.

The seer said that a goat, white in colour or white and speckled, would have to be carried on Sammy’s back to his father-in –law’s house to signify humility and atonement for the provocation to the elders and the spirits and the goat had to be taken there by any means necessary, so long it had to be strapped on the man’s back the whole way, and upon the man’s arrival to his wife’s home, the elders, whom he had offended, had to be called and the goat slaughtered in a special ceremony and some blood sprinkled on the offender’s forehead and, after the ceremony, he had to carry his wife piggyback as far as out the gate of his in-laws compound and thus would be the spirits be satiated and the man’s life carry on as usual.

Sammy knew that these so called ‘wagangas’ were in reality ‘wajanjas’ that profited much on their clients fear and ignorance and he didn’t carry out what the ‘oracle’ the cunning seer had decreed on him. But his problems had persisted on and to some point invisible assailants attacked him until it was too much to bear.

He kept a few goats and the one he had nicknamed ‘kibuchi’ was his choicest but unfortunately, it was of the colour specified. This goat was the mother, grandmother and great grandmother to his expanding flock and it daily supplemented him with nutritious milk and he hated to have to sacrifice it or part with it but the choice was not with him owing presently he had no money to purchase a substitute with another.

So, Sammy had to strap this particular goat to his back as a mother does her child and, riding a Raleigh bicycle, he attracted much attention and laughter as he cycled to the next village. With each push of the bicycle’s pedals, his heart sank, and the goat, as if sensing what was going in the master’s mind, struggled to kick loose of this bondage and at times making belaboured bleating until the two agonized creatures braked suddenly in the front of the house where their respective fates awaited them.

© Paul Kariuki 2010

If you would like this piece to win the Man and His Goat Picture Prompt Contest, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. Be sure include your critique/comment after the vote.


7 comments on “Samuel Kinyanjui, Sammy to his friends by Paul Kariuki

  1. njeri ngeru
    February 1, 2010


    This was a good story. Very creative and breath taking.


  2. Maureen Nyadida
    February 1, 2010

    I give him a 4. Completely lost the plot.


  3. Njoki Njurai
    February 2, 2010

    This is really creative. Reminds me of stories that kept us at the fireside all evening. I give (9)


  4. annette
    February 2, 2010

    4-paul,paul,paul.Are you a lawyer?you must be ….your sentences are TOO LONG.What happened to the use of full stops.How can your entire story have only 16 fullstops.HOW???You had a creative story in mind but it is your long unwinding sentenses that makes readers lose interest.No offence!Anyway,that how we learn.Try this….Rewrite the story and this time,shorten your will be magical.



  5. peris siamanta
    February 2, 2010

    hey your story is fantastic. you could woo a lion from its den man……


  6. Moraa Gitaa
    February 3, 2010

    Heard many tales like this – Mombasa and visiting amorous upcountry men getting stuck up coconut trees, sound familiar? Better than Atwoli’s though. He gets a 7.

    Moraa Gitaa


  7. Christine
    February 5, 2010

    And in his ‘wild’ rage, he had slapped one geezer accidentally knocking out one of his sparse ‘teeth’ out … i assume this is what the sentence was supposed to go like.

    To be honest i don’t think it was unexpected and didn’t keep me entranced. I think it may have something to do with the extremely looooong sentences and the fact that witchcraft animal sacrifices is overdone.

    I give a 5.


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