Celebrating East African Writing!

The Wicked Runner of the West

Written by Linda Musita

My grandmother lived in a village known as Mukhweya somewhere around and near Mumias town in Western Kenya. Rumor has it that she was married to Nabongo Mumia’s son – but do I not say!

Anyway, my grandma slept in the same house with her daughters who included my mother. Every night a certain night runner – let’s call him Ebhirenje – would throw stones on the roof and cause such a fracas, it was impossible to sleep. Every time he threw the stones and chanted his wizardly song, my grandma would yell at him from the safety of her home and assure him that one day she would catch him despite the fact that his wife fried the sesame seeds.

Apparently, night runners in Mukhweya made their wives sit on the fireplace at night and fry sesame seeds while their husbands did the run. This protected them from getting caught. The wife could not stop frying the seeds until her husband was safely back in their matrimonial home. She would then stop the frying and felicitate her husband on his successful run.

Ebhirenje was confident in his wife’s sesame seed frying skills that when my grandma warned him, he would bang the door (with what my grandma guessed to be his rear end) laugh mockingly and run off. This went on for days on end and one day my grandmother could not take it anymore. It was time.

She cooked the evening meal, fed her daughters and made sure that they were tucked in and good to go to dreamland. She went to the kitchen with one of those metal karais that people in the countryside were really fond off because they were useful for both cooking and cleaning. The fire was still burning on her three stoned cooker.

Grandma took the cinders and placed them in the karai. It was exactly twenty minutes before Ebhirenje would come running. This night, she did not lock the door; she merely pushed it so that it appeared to be under lock and key. She then strategically placed the basin of hot coals a few steps from the door.

Grandma waited. Ebhirenje came, threw his stones and chanted. Grandma yelled and cursed. Ebhirenje threw his behind at my grandma’s door.

“Eeeeieeeehieeeeh waah, wawa, yaye!” Ebhirenje changed his style of chanting into a painful cry. This cry woke my mother and her sisters. The first thing they saw was my grandmother busy plummeting the poor night runner with her fists.

You see, Ebhirenje fell, buttocks first onto a karai full of fire! While trying to get up from the man-made piece of hell, he also had to ward off my grandma’s fists.

She called out to the neighbours,” Here he is! Come and see Ebhirenje the night runner! His wife did not watch the sesame seeds and they all got burnt in the pan, like her shameless husband’s buttocks! Uuuwiii!”

Indeed they came, Ebhirenje had been outed. They all laughed at him and cursed him, his ancestors and his descendants as he ran off with his glowing behind. In the dark, it looked like a large extraterrestrial firefly!

He did not go running the next night, probably because he had a number of painful blisters to nurse. Neither did he run during the following two weeks. Again because he was still nursing his blistered behind. He did not run for the rest of his life on earth. My grandma had placed a fear in him that Ebhirenje could not overcome.

That was the last time Mukhweya had to experience wizardly nights. Ebhirenje’s wife really messed things up for the Night Runners Society of Mukhweya. The woman just had to forget that the sesame seeds were cooking on her three stoned cooker!

“What was she doing or thinking about that was so intriguing and more important?” they wondered.

This here, is a true story my friends. This incident did occur, I am not kidding you!

©Linda Musita 2009 See More of Linda’s writing  at


2 comments on “The Wicked Runner of the West

  1. Maina
    February 21, 2011

    Short and interesting. Did I mention funny too? I like. I like. 9.


  2. Ruth J. Shikuku
    February 21, 2011

    Too short. Could have spiced it a little more. You know.


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