Kenya was just dusting its shoulders after Kofi Annan had succeeded in talking Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga to forming a coalition government following a contested General Election whose aftermath gruesomely took away the lives of more than a thousand people.
My uncle was lucky to survive the machetes that rained on his body at a Naivasha stop when the blood-thirsty mob that spoke to him in Kikuyu discovered he is Luo.
This early 2008, however, was the year I thought I found true love. Suzie Daniella had emailed me on Yahoo! citing that she had come across my name on Facebook and was very excited to know that I am Kenyan, further explaining that she would send me her photos and we’d get to know each other if I responded.
There were only two cyber cafes in Mlolongo. The cheapest charge was 1.50/- per minute and that was a lot of money for a jobless boy who had just completed his Form 4 at Pumwani Boys’ High School the previous year.
Suzie’s fine photos streamed into my inbox. Those days, getting an email from a stranger was exciting.
She had a bewitching brown skin that would make a man buy a whole country just at the thought of spending a lifetime with her. The pictures came with her story that went something like;
“I’m a 23 year old Sudanese who fled the country during war in the 90s. The rebels came to our house and killed my whole family but my brother and I managed to escape. I went to hide in the nearby Parish where I was taken in then later brought here in Dakar, Senegal.
Life has been difficult. But my father left some money in a UK bank account whose access he indicated I can only get when I get a husband who shall become a trustee. The money amounts to $780,000 which I’m hoping that I’ll finally get through you then I’ll come we live in Kenya.
The procedure starts with getting an affidavit of oath which a lawyer friend of mine from the UN who lives here can help us acquire. The money shall be wired into your account then you’ll send me some for my air ticket for travel to Nairobi. Send me your photos too.”
First, what the hell is an affidavit of oath? Are we getting into a cult or something? We shall get it whatever it is!
I remember running to our househelp with the news. Two naive human beings who thought they’d hit a jackpot. She asked me to tell my parents. As distant as our relationship was, I did it. Mother asked me how sure I was about this. I could almost swear. They told me to be careful with internet people. I didn’t listen. (Jam to Dunia Ina Mambo — The Mighty Cavaliers here:
I was 19 and a half.
Eva (our househelp) became my ‘accomplice’. She believed in this story as much as I did. One day we used her Nokia 1100 (which was that time’s Samsung Note) to talk to Suzie in Dakar. I was sure that was a lady’s voice however hoarse. Unmistaken French accent.
We began working to get that affidavit. Endless emails with the lawyer guy. At the same time, father made plans to take me to a Ugandan school for my A Level. An idea I rejected from the start.
The affidavit needed sijui how much Senegalese Francs which was equivalent to Ksh.5,000. Eva loaned me this money with the promise that I’d return it to her when the millions are wired into my account.
The day I walked into that Western Union bureau in town, I fed my journal with dreams. How I’d buy Suzie a bungalow in Kileleshwa. Where we’d stay. Install CCTV cameras all over (Hiphop videos can lie to you). Buy a Rolls-Royce. Take her to a driving school. Buy land in Magadi. Stop wearing Gikomba clothes once and for all. My God!
I took a photo, scanned it and emailed her. Mother was making shopping plans that I would go with to Uganda, but I was scheming to run away from home for the fourth time. I didn’t want to go to Kampala. Nobody had asked me what I felt about it. It was law from the first day and I hated that! I love being talked to.
And run I did. A story for another day. Chacha Hampton housed me in his Kibera home. That was one of the hardest weeks of my life. He wasn’t fully convinced of Suzie’s story. By this time, Suzie was saying she had kept some of her mother’s gold jewellery which we could sell if she came to Kenya while we were waiting for the money to be wired. But this meant that I look for cash to book her air ticket.
Me at the back pages of newspapers researching about gold ornaments buyers. Taking their numbers.
I think I started thinking clearly when my aunt in Mombasa emailed me a similar story someone had sent her friend. It was Suzie Daniella on the other end too.
My life crushed!
I’ll never forget.