Celebrating East African Writing!

The Black Tie Affair by Stanley Mitoko

George Bidii or Georgie as he was known by his peers was the new kid on the block in the so-called elite of the money minting world. An IT genius, he was the most sought after personality by the media, entrepreneurial world and governments in the new era Africa ever since he created THE DAWN, the newest and best magazine reviews like PC World’s ‘Before Bill there was none, after Bill there was George- Before Microsoft there was nothing after it ….it DAWNED’.
No doubt THE DAWN revolutionised the cyber world in ways unimaginable, for despite its many properties and uses, it was easy to use by persons with basic computing skills yet a brain tease for highly trained individuals.
THE DAWN had turned the twenty -six year old George into an overnight billionaire globally with a net fortune of one point five billion U.S dollars and rising if you believed the market reports. So it wasn’t surprising that he received an invitation to attend a party whose guest list comprised f thirty of nations’ richest men and women. This was Kenya’s most coveted party known only by the crème de la crème of the monied class, unheard of by the common mwananchi. The only raia present being of course the cooks, attendants and security personnel all under strict oath of silence to the going on before, during and after the auspicious happening. All of course being under the employ or ownership as they liked to joke amongst themselves of Nyakua Investments.
Nyakua Investments was owned by the party host and super prominent Nairobi businessman Mr. Ondiek Chamo. The two were constantly in the news, if not for Nyakua Investments winning lucrative contracts from the government, then it was for Mr. Ondiek publicly expressing his anger by declaring that the Appellate Court Judge Shidaa Tupu would soon suffer the consequences of awarding his ex-wife a paltry five million shillings, two cars and house in a just concluded bitter divorce case. The Honourable Judge would soon find himself out of a job and blacklisted for any other opportunity available as was typical of anyone who dared go against the great man.
Other reports of the two Goliaths would feature prominently on front-page headlines of the dailies.
For example, the day’s front page of The Daily Notion, ‘Nyakua Buys half of Kenya Railways.’
Or the report on The Star Dud two weeks ago, ‘Ondiek Gives Ksh. 2 Billion Loan To Govt- Deni Tax Increases.’
On this night of the party, George was getting dressed when his bedroom door open and in walked Thoma and Mang’aa, his best friends from his childhood days in the slums of Kibera. Being his friends they were the core constituents of his ever present entourage whenever he was not busy punching in indecipherable codes on his keyboard. Thoma the corn rowed, designer jeans, jewellery embodied stud, would have been a highly qualified professional if he had not given in to the pressure emitted by the likes of Mang’aa, and quit fighting the good fight after high school. Instead he quit the education channel as he fondly called it and instead turned his high intelligence to the low frequencies of pleasure seeking at whatever cost. The result was a women dependant semi-gigolo until of course Georgie struck it big.

Mang’aa who since his first baby word, “Kwenda.” was cut for the life of a ghetto ‘king’. His long walk towards the glorious sunrise of respect and fortune began at the tender age of nine when he felt too old for his agemates and started hanging out with a local marijuana peddler where his apprenticeship began with deliveries to other suppliers to eventually being the dealer’s number two. Before long while in his second and final year he knew he had to step up his game if he wanted to be a major player. He knew that he had to make a name for himself fast, since his mentor was losing face and everyone knew it would be a matter of time before the old timer lost complete control of his piece of the territorial jigsaw piece of Kibera. So Mang’aa dropped out of school to noone’s befuddlement and began his long voyage to the mountain top of the criminal world.

A long journey it was, because in their world every second was treasured, every minute seemed a lifetime, every hour an eternity. In their world nothing was taken for granted, the tiniest bit of information would give one an edge over a rival or the authorities. Fortunately for Mang’aa, he learnt well and fast thus in no time at all he was a renowned personality in the underworld despite his tender age. He seemed to have been around for a lifetime (from his marijuana courier days to muggings both late at night and early mornings to acts of violence whenever partying and deeds in humane such as rape, to make a name for himself). Word was that he was a faceless villain of his times for whenever his name was mentioned, the police had the image of  a tall muscular beast with a hardened and battle scarred face.

How wrong they were! Standing in Georgie’s room scarless and clean shaven, in a pair of tight jeans and equally tight T-shirt with a rude boy pose (hands across the chest) to complete the ensemble. George could see his smirk an indication of high spirits.

“Niaje Georgie? Si tutupe kabash hapa maboys watokee na wasupa itubambe.” he asked.

To which Georgie replied, “ Zii. Hiyo upuzi unajua silike afadhali hiyo dough tujenge mtaani maboys wapate opportunity za biz. You look for a good adult education centre like we discussed. Now guys if you don’t mind stepping out I have to dress up or I’m a be late.”

Half an hour later, uncomfortable in his Armani tuxedo, though in the comfort of his top of the range S-class Mercedes Benz, Georgie studied his invitation card for the hundredth time. Humoured again by the fact that he was refereed to as ‘Sir’. In its gold coated thread intricately woven into paper upon which words written in silver ink was;

Dear Sir George Bidii,

You are hereby invited to the grandest of grand events ever in Kenya’s history. This is due to your outstanding contribution towards National development.

Feel proud to be amongst the guests.

It will be held at Mr. Ondiek Chamo e.s.q palatial residence, formerly The Smithsonian Institute for Colonial Preservation, on Friday the 13th of  February 2009.

Don’t miss this for the world

Ms. Stein for

Mr. Ondiek Chamo e.s.q.
Miss Stein was Ondiek’s personal assistant. Word was wherever one saw Ondiek, Miss Stein was somewhere closeby. It was also rumoured that she assisted in more than just officework. It then hit George why she was so alive in his mind, her past.

Divorced from Gilbert Dertbrg of DIRTBAG ENTERPRISES, one of the nations leading manufacturers . Apart from Kenya DIRTBAG was a household name in major world cities like Tokyo, New York and Boston, Milan, Paris, Cape Town and Johannesburg,, London and Dubai. Where they distributed raw material to top companies with their latest money well being the distribution of cotton to top fashion houses. Apart from that, DIRTBAG also had factories in many African, South East Asian and South American cities under various assumed names, of course for the cheap labour one would say without being mocked for making assumptions of little base.

To the lusty Miss Stein was simply irresistible, results of the fine craftsmanship via her plastic surgeons hands. At forty-five she was constantly mistaken for being in her mid twenties something she treasured. It was said that even Ondiek believed her to be an ageless wonder. Filthy rich in her own right (mostly though from her divorce settlement where Dertberg always joked, “she doesn’t settle for little”.  She was especially known for her investments in the hotel and FM radio industries. And despite their divorce, she was still close to her ex-hubby quite evident in their Wednesday meetings at one of her restaurants in the upmarket Wastelands. Word amongst their circles was that they were working on getting Ondiek to merge NYAKUA with DIRTBAG.

“Georgie tunawai kwa huyo sonko” boomed Karis the driver, yet another one of George’s imports from the Ghetto. A high school dropout with a thing for pretty girls and fast cars, he was a constant pain when not in George’s company or behind the wheel, otherwise he was considered one of the city’s finest drivers from his matatu driving days.

“EH! Si unakaa ka clown na hiyo suti buda” he added. George displayed his fine set of teeth in a forced smile knowing Karis hate for uniform and any attire that represented order. “I might want to leave earlier than these beauracrats expect, Kwa hivyo usipotee looking for girls. Sawa?” George joked to which they both laughed heartily.

The sleek car halted before a mammoth pair of iron gates from whose side emerged two watchmen in faded green uniform that had both seen many a tailor and many a day. Their boots too sere a patchwork of old leather and unevenly worn threads peeking alongside the wearers toes like guests of the state at any of the city’s gaol on a Sunday morning upon hearing one of their cellmates names in anticipation that theirs too will be called that they experience that glorious sun-filled day that comes with freedom. The guards looked so hungry that George could only wonder whether their first concern was their next meal or maintaining security.

“Your invitations please.” the younger of the two asked as soon as Karis had rolled down the window, which he received from George and waved before the watchman’s face who signalled his comrade to open the gates as he flagged them through.  As they drove past George noticed that the gates were electrically operated, which if were it not the case the old man manning them would have collapsed before he could ever move an inch of the deep cast iron.

Inside the compound George noticed sharp contrast with the outside where fully armed guards from various security departments roamed around like Hannibal’s army marching around Carthage. As he steeped out of the car and walked towards the rotunda that was the lobby, a guard of honour style clad attendant (or at least that’s what figured in George’s mind) asked for his invitation which he dutifully retained after reading it and pointed him to a huge oak wood door at the end of the round glass topped lobby.

“That way sir.”

“Thanks” George responded as he walked for what seemed like forever to the door. As if on cue the door slid open the moment he was five feet to it, before he had time to admire the two giant sculptures that stood on the left and right side of the door, the sculpture of a half- cat and half-human image. Probably some Egyptian god, he thought as he entered a world of glittering lights, sweet scents, colourful drab and expensive exotic food and drink, or so he thought.

Once inside he noticed an artistic touch that shocked him. For judging from Ondiek’s public image, the guy just didn’t seem the type that paid attention to art of any nature. A very thick wall to wall Persian rug whose pure white fur felt like the mane of a prize horse owned by Arab royalty, crystal chandeliers hung above these elite heads like the waterfalls of Calypso’s island and on both sides of the cotton white walls were paintings from classic Van Goghs to South African flavours, a few of which George recognised, like George Pembas’ ‘Playing Dice’, Tommy Motswais’ ‘The Tea Party’’ Richard Baholus’ ‘Ask The Penguins’ and back to Nordic art where he recognised one as Lovis Corints’ ‘Salome’.

But none from his native country, or was there no art in Kenya?

A waiter soon appeared by his side, carrying a tray full of assorted drinks from which he picked a glass of tequila.

Then he felt a not so gentle pat on his right shoulder, a touch that almost made him spill his newly acquired drink followed by a boom of a voice that drowned the chatter around the room and Mozart’s symphony No. 40. “Karibu bwana. I see you’ve made it just in time.” even though George was thirty minutes late thanks to a sewer pipe burst on the main road thus he had to rely on Karis’s knowledge of the city’s back roads.

“There are people I’d like you to meet. Come on.” The huge voice added as the bearer crudely pulled George into the crowd, this time successful in spilling half the contents in his glass.

First on the acquaintance list was Mr. Dertberg and Miss. Stein who seemed engaged in serious discussion. After their introductions Dertberg wandered in a different direction while Miss Stein stuck by their side from then on. Next he was introduced to the minister for Propaganda and Miscommunication, the Honourable Nansesi Maneno. The Hon. Nansesi was a regular feature on state radio and television constantly chattering, murmuring, talking, singing about the strength of this government economically, socially and whatever ally he chose to use. This time though he simply nodded and drifted into the crowd. Then there was the Honourable Harakaa Baraka, vice president and minister for National Secrets who was in the company of the only person without a suit or black tie Professor N. Other Einsteins from M.I.T currently in the country scavenging for natural resources.

As they were introduced George couldn’t help but catch a snip of their conversation.

“If I strike gold in the Coast province it’s people will be rewarded handsomely” said the professor, and the vice president go, “No. The ruling party first then I see what to give those dumb people, understood? Or do I have to look for another mzungu?”

They were soon joined by yet another minister Dr. Kula Chagua Kula, the minister for Injustice and Unconstitutional Affairs who didn’t want to miss a word of the conversation his colleague was having with the professor. In result he only shook hands with George and immersed himself deeply into the hunt for golden apples. Next was Pastor Makata of the End of The World Church of God, famous for his prophecies of doom and material wealth being key to sin and eternal pain yet quite comfortable in a Prada suit and Gucci alligator skin shoes, while playfully dangling keys to the latest model Range Rover sports model. As he sipped on champagne (Champagne only was his nocturnal partying slogan) the bubbles competing to reach the top of the frozen glass tip and meet his lips. George recognised the look on the pastor’s eyes as he spoke to Dr. Kula’s wife being quite similar to the look Thomaa wore whenever talking to a beautifully nubile lass. The lady herself was a young beauty plucked from Haiozi University, while on her third year pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Mr. Haramu a top businessman in Kenya as mysterious to the public as he was unpredictable to his associates was George’s next meet. Word was that he was the nation’s top drug baron with a constant supply of cocaine and heroin always arriving at various airports and docksides, not to mention the acres of bhang spread all across the nation from the slopes of Mt. Kenya to the western region of the nation. And even though he cleverly concealed his real occupation under the guise of importing cheap sub-standard electronics and exports of agricultural produce, rumours went through and round the country on his real dealings. He also murmured a low “Hi” as George was pushed forward by Mr. Ondiek.

Then it was Mrs. Saa Mbaya the head of Kenya W omen Association for Underdevelopment, whose main objective was to incite women to abscond from maternal responsibility and use the girl child as a weapon against the male species. She looked like a villain out of a cheap nineties horror flick, effects of her constantly fooling around with cosmetics. Once an ebony queen, her face now covered in a balding patch of a head, a left cheek so yellow the other quite dark, large red eyes over sagging bags coloured purple in eye pencil and purple lips. For a post independence beauty queen one would be forgiven for thinking that the tall woman in purple silk clothes and gold rings all over her fingers, arms, ears and neck, was one of the invited guests mother and not a woman slightly younger than half of the guests.

She mumbled something inaudible then raised her voice to say, “Here’s my card, call me when ever you need my services.” And to passing waiter, “We leave sooner than arranged handsome, understood?”

“Ma’am I may lose my job.” He answered. This enraged her in that George, Miss Stein and Ondiek had to cover their ears when she shouted, “I said I’ll pay you double your monthly earnings stupid. Just make sure you tick right.”

The youthful attendant now shamefully looked around the room hoping no one especially not his colleagues heard what the wench just said. What he saw made him wish the earth would split open and swallow him whole, for he was the latest attraction in that he finally understood what his favourite rap artist meant when he sung ‘All eyes on me’. He felt a tug on his shirt sleeves and turned to find himself staring Miss. Stein, his boss in the face.

“Here it comes” he thought, so sure his marching orders were a sentence away. Instead she whispered in his ear, “Do whatever the lady says.”

With that she followed the already marching Ondiek and George towards the middle of the room where stood the Chief of Intelligence one Mr. Kamiti, the Honourable Gongi former Security minister now finance minister, and the Afro- Asian tycoon Mr. Kashni. George felt a chill run down his smile as he shook hands while trying as hard as he could to maintain eye contact with the man whose so many directives had taken the lives of his kinsmen and friends back in the ghettos throughout the years. Ever the aggressive personality Kashni wasted no time in an attempt to win an ally with strings of praise in George’s direction where words like sublime, genius, guru, king of cyberspace were used to describe George and his programme.

“Mr. Bidii, your programme could help cut costs at intelligence, especially in the operations department.” the Chief Spy cut in to Kashni’s monologue.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister pulled at George’s chin with more enthusiasm than was necessary and spat in his face, “Can The Dawn design money? See, we are designing a new five thousand shillings note and you might just get the tender if you talk to me vizuri.”

Kashni’s lips were on his left ear whispering, “Come to my offices tomorrow and we will discuss serious business. If you play your cards by my rules no doubt I’ll make you rich beyond your craziest dreams, we will rule this world. Imagine your computer genius blended with my creative ills boy.”

“Like I’m not rich beyond my dreams.” George thought.

As he lifted his hand to take a first sip on his drink a sharp pull from Ondiek spilt what was left of the contents in his glass onto his one-day-old-too-expensive-for-his-taste Dolce&Gabbana milk-white shirt.

How the trio got to the far right end of the room was only a blur in George’s mind for all he could picture as his senses came back to him was Ondiek’s call for total silence. Once he got the attention he sought, Ondiek roared, “Ladies and gentlemen, this here…..” his long chubby fingers stabbing painfully at George’s’ shoulder, “…Is George Bidii, the gifted creator of THE DAWN now functional in almost all your offices. This is a kid with a bright future ahead of him.” someone in the background loudly cleared his throat.

“Of course, only if he submits to our will and joins the club. Hopefully, he will under my arm. So if you wish to lay hands on him,” the crowd chuckled, “see me later”. With that the crowd cheered and Ondiek left his side to attend to his other guests. Turning left, George found himself alone except for Miss. Stein who slipped her arm into his and seductively whispered, “Now that leaves just you and me hotshot. Come on I’ll show you a night of your life.”

© Stanley Mitoko 2009

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


3 comments on “The Black Tie Affair by Stanley Mitoko

  1. mimi
    November 10, 2009

    A word of advice to the writer, a short story should not have too many characters as it confuses the reader. I could not get the point of this story, and THE DAWN is not really explained. What is it exactly, a software programme, a search engine perhaps?
    I’ll give it a 3 for effort.


  2. Kyt
    November 11, 2009

    Nice article, though the flow was a bit off to me, but it was very good. Giving it a 9


  3. Tabu Bin Tabu
    November 11, 2009

    A good piece. However, much space was used to build auxiliary plots and characters. This makes the story disjointed somehow.
    give a 7


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