Celebrating East African Writing!
Marsabit. 27th April.
It began with hushed whispers passed from tongue to tongue under the cover of darkness, the usually noisy market women did not pick this up like any other gossip. The streets were not to be trusted, even their own living rooms could not provide security anymore. No one was to be trusted. The force against which they were talking had a long hand and an iron fist for that.
The bearer of “the terrible news” was Guyo, who always said there were people spying for the big guys. Who these big guys were, he never revealed openly and he seldom mentioned their names.
Had it not been for several arrests made by the police, the ‘terrible news’ won’t have been that terrible after all, it would just have gone into oblivion, it brought the news to the rumor mills and gossip cafes. The market women picked it fast and it spread like wildfire in a dry savannah, facts that had carefully been concealed and kept secret now came into the open.
Questions were asked but none had the answer. How did the NSIS get involved?
Major David staggered out of club Novida at 2am, he stepped into the cold Nairobi air without wanting to. At forty he was an accomplished pilot and had over the past weeks shared with his friends on his retirement plans. But today he had this eerie feeling hanging over his head-a premonition of some dark force, he shrugged it off and blamed the events of that evening and the sudden feeling of a pending duty ahead of him.
He had joined his friends in the evening to show his undying support for his premier champions Manchester against their rivals, Arsenal. It was around 9pm when he received a phone call from a strange number. He courteously walked to the washrooms.
‘Hello David, have an early rest tonight, you are taking a team of imminent personalities to Marsabit early, tomorrow morning.’
‘What? I …I can’t …I’m …,’ He couldn’t get his thoughts right because of the suddenness of this new task.
‘This is lieutenant Kiganjo, more briefing from your immediate seniors in the morning’
It was only then that he became aware that he was speaking to one of the senior most officers in the air force; he regained his consciousness and immediately stood akimbo.
‘Yes sir, yes.’
‘Most definitely sir…I’m sorry I…’
‘Have a goodnight’ and the phone went off.
He stood their like a statue, not knowing what to do, the whole issue hit him like a thunder bolt and he became worried.
‘How in the world could a lieutenant call and assign me duty at night? I am answerable to lesser ranked officers’
There was no protocol observed!
Nothing could spoil his evening and he ran back to join his friends at the table.
The elite NSIS officers had been receiving frantic phone calls. The central intelligence officers and the special squad had all done their part.
‘Hello, is the plane ready?
‘On its way. sir!’
‘Hello?, Major Kiganjo. ?
‘in a moment…’
‘Hello? kiganjo speaking!’
‘Have the explosives ready, they should be at the airport by 5am.’
11th April, 2006
At 6am, the six year old military Harbin Yunshuji Y-12-II, registration 133 slid majestically into the Eastleigh air field. In exactly one hour the cargo was all packed and it was only waiting for the crew and take off at 8am.
Extra gallons of fuel and several explosives were well concealed among the luggage at the command of Terror.
Nine months earlier five undercover operatives in operation ‘eliminate clashes’ had completed their five year assignment in code area ‘Shamba la mawe’. Every three months they had sent a coded three page briefing to the head office in Nairobi. This case was under Terror’s immediate command.
The residents of the vast northern Kenya plains went about their business unaware of the elite special squad in their midst.
The first three years yielded little result and just when the operation was about to be called off did they send-in the first of a series of what Terror considered top secret; Pictures, minutes and video clips found their way on Terror’s desk.
Col. Terror was a relic of the old regime, he had been a trusted employee of the Mzee and was appointed by the Mzee to his current position, many believed he master minded the 1990’s assassinations, he followed no protocol and over the years Terror adopted short cut solutions to problems of national security which he treated like a private affair. When he presented the report on operation ‘eliminate clashes’ he minced no words and told the minister of security,
‘The root of the problems is the leaders and to solve the problem we must destroy the roots’
The minister was startled. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
‘On the fifth of May 2003, the dominant tribe raised Kshs.25 million through their M.P for purchase of several hundred hand grenades and automatic machine guns’
‘The other three members of parliament have a similar ploy and they are arming their people’, he threw pictures on the table showing one of the MP amid well armed individuals, several other such pictures filled another folder which he gave to the minister.
‘The idea of elimination can not happen! These are government officers… besides several people already know about this, we simply can’t’, the old minister was now nervously pacing up and down.
‘We need to buy time to destroy some of the documents under their control; they are also involved in investigating the Anglo-leasing scandal in which you are implicated’, the minister stopped dead in his track and starred at him, Terror was not fazed by the look of fear in the minister’s eye.
‘There is no denying that they are government officers, but considering the security of several thousands of innocent civilians, it’s a small price to pay’, he said this as he walked to the window.
‘don’t worry about a thing, no word will get out, make sure they are ready for a peace negotiation meeting in a few weeks, I will forward a list of others who will help with the negotiations’, Terror walked out leaving the old man in his contemplative mood.
The minister felt freed, at his age he could not handle such matters, it was Terror who was the expert of national security issues, and his decisions had greatly yielded fruits before despite their mundane approach.
Terror had all this time played his cards well, every stage of the operation had been executed by different people and departments. No one could ever put the dots together.
He took a few puffs from his cigar and scribbled on a piece of paper names of several people with their titles besides their names, two assistant ministers, three members of parliament and several other prominent people. He then called and read out the names to the minister who could only listen in silence.
As he reclined in his chair, Terror thought how shocking it will be for the minister when he finally receives the news.
Two weeks latter, the ministry of security sent out letters to all the people Terror had identified, this was followed up by phone calls two days to the 10th of April, by the minister himself.
They arrived an hour before time and all seemed busy making long calls, in all truth they were avoiding each other because of their differences and some wished they could travel on different planes but the minister, at the instructions of Terror, had insisted that they fly together.
They had been in air for almost an hour, engaging in little chit-chats, others just stared out of the window at the scenic view below. As they approached the mist covered Marsabit region, David and his co-pilot had difficulties in visibility and as protocol commanded they were not required to land, He radioed their flight controllers, they were asked to go ahead to the segel plains 30 minutes drive out of town where they could land safely.
They were approaching segel when the pilot received another call instructing him to turn back as the mist was beginning to lift and that they should land without any difficulty. David knew the Y-12 was not conditioned for cold weather, but his instructors told him otherwise.
All the seventeen aboard sat still, each preoccupied by deep thoughts and a deathly silence reigned amongst them. As they came out of the mist into a clearing David was stunned by what he saw a few meters ahead, an imposing mountain fast approaching, his instincts sprang into action and just as he steered the plane from the mountain side, a heavy explosion from the plane’s rear rent the air rocking them out of control, the plane came down like a stack of cards, crushing to pieces into the rocky mountain with thick smoke billowing from every corner and filling their lungs. Prayers and screams filled the air. The wreckage burst into flames. Then all was silent as the flames leaked all what it could …only three survived the plot of selfish Terror.
A whole nation stunned, three days of mourning declared. The course of Terror and his crony’s plot accomplished with the sacrifice of innocent blood.
It was only after the state burial of the fourteen fatalities that the rumuors in Marsabit began and the questions without answers asked. Why?…why?…and more why?
©Dalle Abraham [Dalle’s blog: ON THE SPOT.]