Of Dangerous Careers and the Curse of Sisyphus

of dangerous careers and the..

Yester night I could not sleep. No, it’s not what you think. I was just thinking of this old man who had a son working hard in Nairobi City. You see, there is something about human ambition. It is fluid, dynamic, and omnipresent; never goes away. Even Old men have ambitions. There is something about ambition, though. It is an undetectable assassin. Anyway, back to this old Mzee who gives me night stallions (hope you see what happened there). So, he reminds me of myself as a young boy. I had four choices of careers I would have loved to pursue. The first one involved becoming a medical doctor. It sounded not only exciting, but also very noble to be relieving people of their pains. The only danger I could foresee was maybe an accidental mishandling of the hypodermic needle and endangering my life. I didn’t think somebody would try to actually kill a doctor in the line of duty. The second option I had in mind was to become a licensed pilot. I could imagine the claps and ululations upon safe take offs and landings, travelling the world and seeing the earth from way above the clouds. The only life-threatening risk I could foresee was an accident scenario, most of which are often fatal. But that is just that; an accident. The perspective of someone planning that, as a pilot, I would die as a collateral to a “bigger cause” did not cross my mind. This is the third, right? No it’s the second. So, the third consideration revolved around joining the forces. The military perhaps. Talk of dangerous careers.

“I want to serve my country,” I would say, “plus, I love making strategies, I love weapons. The journey of a bullet sounds fascinating.”

Well, as a military man, something is always assured. One way or another, you are living on the edge of life. Something here. Something there. And you could lose it. Your life. But that is just a life lost in the service of a country. There is nothing more honorable than that. Or so I have been made to believe.

As they say, you are not fully alive until you find something you want to die for. After finding it, do it to the best of your abilities. As if it is your last day on earth.

My fourth route of a career was to be a scientist. I see the confusion in your eyes. I mean, this is so general and vague. Look. You think that I was devoid of focus from a young age. But look, am sure it will help you so much if I said I wanted to become a rocket scientist. Yeah. So I wanted to be a scientist. And a scientist I am. A forensic scientist. If you want to know what I do as a forensic scientist, this next post will help. In a nutshell, we are the people who use science, technology, and intuitive analytical skills to solve crimes. We are the guys who link the justice system to the intricate world of science. And this is one of the dangerous careers. I say this because there is a significant difference between the campus real talk and analysis of crime has been replaced by absent-minded politically-correct bravado. These days, the obvious zeal and fascination towards the use of evidence-based science to explain the events at a crime scene has become too dense and has sunk deeply. You meet some people whom you looked at as the pioneers in the study of Forensic science in Kenya. You ask them what they have been up to. Business. Studying BA. Doing Academic writing. Well if I start listing the paths my colleagues have taken, I will take the whole day but one thing is for sure; nothing close to Forensics will be mentioned. And the question I ask myself is obvious. Why? You see, like I always say, when we are born, we are born curious. It’s natural. We want to know what it feels to cry. We cry. We seek to understand the intrigues of laughing. We laugh. We grow much older and we begin to wonder why things fall down and not up or sideways. But we are told that Isaac Newton was curious before us. He had found an answer for us. Then we grow much older and wonder why people behave the way they do. At this point, some guys have grudgingly, willingly or inadvertently, dropped out of this school of thought. They have delved into the less dangerous careers. Those who go on are the enthusiastic keepers of the faith. The faith of dangerous careers.

But this faith has been distorted by the unfathomable ostentatious benefits of being fake. Being vague. Being mincers of words.

So much that if I throw a question to one of my learned friends. A random question.

“What do you think happened to Jacob Juma? What could have been the COD, MOD, and who could be responsible?”

I don’t know, man

Word has it that he could have committed suicide. Too much stress perhaps

I don’t know, man

Word has it that he could have committed suicide. Too much stress perhaps

I don’t know, man

Word has it that he could have committed suicide. Too much stress perhaps

I don’t know, man

Word has it that he could have committed suicide. Too much stress perhaps

Yes, I had to repeat that that many times. And yes, I had the same look you have in your eyes when I first heard that response. But I got acclimatized with the high degree of surreptitious intellectual degradation among our elite. These are dangerous careers. These are dangerous times. Because such is our country.

When you have a certain truth you want to convey to a friend, a bullet will pass through your pharynx and you’ll be left squawking like a thirsty duck. Dead. Striving to do the right thing assigns you a mark on your forehead. You are person A. You have offended person X. You and the information you have are detrimental to the progress of this important person X. Person B is waiting for a signal and he will come for you. Because you are in a dangerous career. Injected with the lethal dose of poverty laced with duty and his blood flowing in tandem with the nasty tune of “the greater good” person B will surely come for you. It does not count that there is an ongoing conflict resolution process in the corridors of justice.

No, why would we wait for the perfectly functioning institution to sort this issue. No, not us.

So, this old man trembles his way to their meeting place. Today he is not saying hi to everyone. Not even to the young people who usually make him really excited about life. Something is, as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, very wrong. Looking closely, he is much older that he was a month ago. His hair are grotesquely greyer. Furrows of cracks dominate his wise lips. The cloudy eyes which seem to be source of the intermitted salty tears that form white marks on his cheeks tell it all. There is something about sadness that explains gerascophobia. But this old man is suffering from a pain so deep and pinching. A pain that it too horrible for any pen to trace. A pain that it so terrible that many mouths cannot phrase it.


Our old man makes an effortful entrance into the hurt. They call it Kenya. This where they meet, the three of them. Once or twice or thrice a month. Sometimes even more frequently.

Our old man makes an effortful entrance into the hurt. They call it Kenya. This where they meet, the three of them. Once or twice or thrice a month. Sometimes even more frequently. Today there is not a hint of alcoholic smell. They usually prefer to drink something-for their stomachs as the good book says-as they discuss the political direction of the chiefdom. Sometimes they keep quiet with the stillness of a Buddha and let the both the alcohol and the news on the TV sink into their systems. The last time they had a hearty laugh was the beginning of the 5th month this year. No. It was towards the end. I think it was just last month. Aaaagh… who cares. They had a hearty laugh, anyway!

“My son is soon going to be a very big lawyer soon. I have never seen a more hardworking young man,” our old man had volunteered to his friends.

“Anapambana na wenzake huko Nairobi,” he adds trying hard to delete any signs of cockiness from every seventy-year muscle in his body.

“Mine has been having troubles with the Police, medical bills are killing him, but my prayers have been answered! He found a very good Lawyer and there could be light at the end of the tunnel,” one of his distraught peers chipped in.

“Eeeh! My friends. Chill please please. You haven’t heard? My son just acquired a contract to be cruising along the Nairobi roads. He is a taxi driver,” the funniest of the friends asserts raising above the naughty chuckles from his.

“First, he has a driver’s license, which is hard to get in the city. Secondly, my son. My son is only twenty-three. Imagine what he will be at the age of forty!” he had to add and they had laughed. They had sipped their drinks. They had watched the News on TV.

On this day it is a different situation all together. Two fat minutes pass lazily as the old man takes his seat between his friends. The room appears to be darker today. Replaced by the solid dark clouds of somberness pregnant with an impending storm, the roof is all gone. These guys sit quietly as the thick films of tears magnify the news reporter on the Television. They are listening to the wise people in Nairobi. The wise men who insist that their sons had beaten themselves cacophonously. That they had taken hard, blunt objects and hit themselves on their heads and body. And that being a learned friend and a Jurisconsult, our old man’s son found it within his area of jurisdiction to mutilate his own private parts. Finally, as if tethered to the tenterhooks of a possession by a demon, which he devil him/herself disowns, they get into sizeable gunny bags and toss themselves to the river. This is the alternative theory! From the wise. Since no one is responsible for the disdainful fate of our people of dangerous careers.

So, what now for these old men. Just bury their sons and Hope. Hope for the time when dangerous careers will be a thing of the past. Hope for a time where sons of other old men will not “go just like that”. Hope! For a conscientious Nation. A nation that will #StopExtrajudicialKillings.

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