William wakes up an hour before his alarm goes off. He did not sleep well, not only because of what he saw the day before yesterday, but also because of the fear that has gripped him since he spoke to the Group COO that same day. He has been staring at the ceiling in the dark for most of the night, unable to get sleep.
William is a guard at the Macunkwa Orange Farm, having joined the service five years ago. The pay is good, and it has helped him support his parents and siblings in the past five years.
But now he is a worried man. Two days ago, his colleagues beat up a man to near death, and that has been haunting him since. It became worse yesterday when he learned that that man, whose name was Job, died from his injuries. Guards are strongly warned against snitching on colleagues, and William has obeyed that rule for the five years he has been working at Macunkwa Orange Farm, which is known by the locals as the Estate.
That same evening, however, something snapped in him and he snitched. Perhaps it is the brutal way in which that man was beaten. Yesterday, when he learned that Job had died on the way to the hospital, he was glad that at least he had tried to help. If he had kept silent, that death would have haunted him for years to come.
Nevertheless, he is worried that his colleagues will find out that he snitched on them and punish him and his family. He doesn’t come from the area, but details about his home area, including the names of his parents and siblings are in the staff file. And he has heard that the guard service will go to any length to punish any of its members who goes against its code of secrecy. William learned, after joining the service, that the guard service is a fraternity that polices itself.
He knows that he, his girlfriend Frida, or their family members might be killed if the other guards realize that he has betrayed them. He didn’t see any other option though. His conscience has been suffering for years because of the evils he has witnessed in silence, and after yesterday’s unprovoked attack on a frail, sickly man, he just could not contain it anymore.
He knew he had to speak out, whatever the consequences. He spoke to his girlfriend about it, and she not only agreed with him, she also offered to assist him. He protested because he didn’t want to put her in danger, but she insisted. She correctly said that the only person in the entire company who could be trusted to do the right would be her boss, the COO, and she, being his secretary, would set up the meeting. She wanted William to personally tell the COO what had happened to protect himself; if the COO heard it from William himself, he would believe that he had nothing to do with it.
Frida set up the meeting, and William told Kennedy, the Group COO, everything that had happened.
William doesn’t regret snitching on his colleagues. But he would be lying if he said he isn’t afraid of the retaliation he and his loved ones might face from his colleagues. He gets up slowly from the bed and kneels beside it. He starts praying for himself, Frida, and their families.
His prayers are interrupted by a phone call. Ordinarily, he would have ignored it until he completed his prayers, but it is early in the morning…too early for anybody to be making a routine call.
It is his girlfriend calling. William’s heart skips a beat even before he picks up the call. Why would Frida be calling so early in the morning?
Frida does not respond. She is sobbing uncontrollably.
“Babe, what happened?”
“My parents. Their house caught fire last night and both died in there.”
For a minute, William is too stunned to speak.
“I will be there in a moment,” he says when he can speak again. He rushes to the shower and later dresses in jeans and a T-shirt. He doesn’t put on his uniform because he has decided that he will not be reporting to work, whether his superiors approve it or not. He is going to spend the day with Frida, comforting her.
He texts his supervisor and the unit manager informing them that he won’t be reporting to duty because he has an emergency to attend to.
William is the third born of his parents’ seven children. His two older siblings and the one who follows him did not perform well in KCPE. They did not proceed to secondary school. The older ones became motorcycle riders, and the younger one, a sister, got married early and became a housewife.
William got 279 marks in KCPE, which was impressive considering he was in a public school with limited resources. His father managed to get him a spot in the nearby day secondary school. Numerous harambees and bursaries saw him through high school, where he emerged top of his class with a C+. But his father was not able to support him beyond there, because the three youngest siblings were showing promise academically and needed support as well. William joined the boda boda trade like his older brothers.
William saw the advertisement for the guard service on Facebook, and he decided to give it a try. All they needed was someone with a KCSE certificate, irrespective of the grade, a strong healthy body, and who was between 18 years and 22 years of age. William had only three months to go before he turned 23, but he applied anyway.
To his surprise, he was called for an interview, and when he attended, he realized that it was a fitness and literacy test. The tests were held at a primary school near the Estate. The shortlisted candidates were first given a simple language and math test to do. As they waited for the results, they were taken to a doctor who ran a bunch of tests on them. After that, they were made to run a ten-kilometer race. William was fifth in the race.
They were then separated into several groups and then called into classrooms individually. When William got into the tent, the guard who was there told him that he had qualified but that he would need to pay thirty thousand shillings to secure his space, especially because he was very near the cut-off age. William did not have the money, and he could not raise it on short notice. Besides, he is a Christian and was uncomfortable with the idea of bribing to get a job.
All the interviewees, about a hundred of them, were served lunch and told to wait for the results. A man in a suit, who William later learned was the Deputy Director in charge of Recruitment, Training & Guard Welfare, came and read out the names of the ten men who had made it.
William’s name was the first to be read, to his utter delight and surprise. The men were told that they would not be going home, but that they would be taken directly to training school. William called his parents to share the good news before he got into the van that took him to a private hostel, where he and the other guards were housed as they undertook their training. Each of them was given a set of six tracksuits, six pairs of socks, six t-shirts, two pairs of pajamas, and three pairs of sports shoes. Their clothes were confiscated, and they were told that they would be returned after the end of training. They were also issued with personal effects, including towels and bathroom slippers.
The training lasted five months, and after that William and his new colleagues were posted to patrol duty. Each of them was given a two-bedroom apartment within the Estate. They signed contracts that gave them a starting salary of a hundred and fifty thousand shillings a month and included medical cover, membership to the Estate fitness center (other employees have to pay to use it), and a host of other fringe benefits, including free meals at the Estate cafeteria.
They were warned that while going to the gym wasn’t mandatory, every guard was expected to remain physically fit. Getting fat is the quickest way for a guard to get fired at the Macunkwa Group.
The Macunkwa Group Directorate of Security and Surveillance has a hierarchical structure. It is headed by a Director, who reports directly to the Group Executive Chairman and President. Below the Director are three Deputy Directors: DD-Recruitment, Training & Guard Welfare, DD-Patrol & Surveillance, and the DD-Procurement, Operations & Logistics.
Every year the Macunkwa Group recruits ten guards from amongst young men who must be physically fit and between eighteen and twenty-two years of age. The DD-Recruitment, Training & Guard Welfare advertises the positions then he and his team interview candidates. The selected candidates must be approved by the Director before the DD-R, T&G places them in a private guard school operated by a private security company that the Macunkwa Group has a memorandum of understanding with.
Once the newly employed guards complete the mandatory five-month training, they are deployed to patrol duty. Since part of the training is usually a driving course, the recruits are usually the drivers of the three-man (all the guards are male) patrol team. After serving three years on patrol, they are promoted either to the dog unit, logistics & procurement, recruitment & guard welfare, surveillance, or reception.
The ones posted to the dog unit remain in the patrol unit as the dog handlers. They are in charge of the welfare of the dogs that they patrol with. The logistics guards mainly deal with the procurement of items in the department, including maintenance of vehicles, radios, and CCTV cameras. The ones who move to recruitment deal with HR matters within the directorate. The surveillance team monitors CCTV cameras and also deals with intelligence reports. The reception guards man the gates to the Estate as well as entrances to buildings.
The guards serve for three years in their new stations before they are due for promotion again. Those who are promoted become supervisors, each leading a team of three. After three years as supervisors, they can become managers of the sub-units. The managers become Deputy Directors, but only the finest make this jump. Most guards leave in search of greener pastures after serving as supervisors for several years, to avoid a situation where they have to report to their juniors who earn promotion to manager. Many are absorbed into other departments within the Group, but some join other private security companies. Few companies pay as well as the Macunkwa Group, and many opt to remain within Macunkwa. They lose many of the benefits that guards have, but their salaries are maintained.
The company, however, does not allow anyone to make an interdepartmental shift unless they have served as a supervisor for at least two years, or stagnated at the junior levels for five or more years.
It didn’t take long after William completed his training for him to understand exactly what he had signed up for. Just three weeks after his posting, he witnessed an incident that left him scarred emotionally till now. He and his colleagues were doing patrol inside the farm when they came across two women eating oranges. It was past working hours and everyone else had gone home. Immediately they saw the guards, they panicked and started running. The guards always patrol in groups of three: two ‘walkers’ and a dog handler. One of the walkers is usually the senior most guard in the team-the supervisor- while the other is usually the junior most. The dog handler is usually the in-between guard. William was the junior ‘walker’, so when his supervisor jumped out of the van to give a chase, he followed. Dog handler also jumped out of the back seat of the double cabin pick-up truck together with the dog and joined the chase.
William expected that they would “arrest” the women and either take them to the administration (because they were employees and still had their work t-shirts on) or to the police. But when they caught up with them, his two senior colleagues lifted their skirts, tore away their underpants, and raped them. The women pleaded for mercy, saying that they were only eating the mangoes because their wages had been delayed and they had nothing to cook. But the guards did not listen. The supervisor and the dog handler each grabbed a woman and raped her, and then switched places as William watched in horror. The women screamed their lungs out but the guards did not seem worried about that.
To William’s dismay, when his colleagues were done, the supervisor ordered him to take both women by force, but he refused.
“I am a Christian, and I am not going to sin against God in this way.”
“Don’t give us that nonsense about being a Christian. You are a guard now and you have to abide by the code of guards. Which means you have to do this and then forever remain silent.”
When William dug in, his supervisor together with the dog handler lowered his trousers by force and pushed him on top of one of the women. William did nothing. They rubbed his genitals against the woman’s genitals, and William was relieved when his manhood refused to become erect.
The supervisor ordered him to stand up and put on his clothes.
“Listen to me young man,” he told him even though he was barely thirty years old himself. “I don’t care about your nonsense Christianity. If a word of what happened here ever leaks out, just know you and your family will pay the price. Just go and ask your friends about Amin.”
The experience left William traumatized and humiliated. He did ask other younger guards about Amin, and he was told that Amin was a devout Muslim who refused to beat up and rape an old woman who refused to pay a bribe. His colleagues went ahead and raped the old woman and beat her up until she died. His colleagues warned him not to say a word about it, otherwise he and his family would be punished. Amin could not stomach what he had seen and decided that he could not keep silent. He reported the incident to the Deputy Director Patrol, and when no action was taken, to the police.
In a strange twist of events, the police arrested Amin and charged him with both the rape and the murder. Two days after his arrest, gangsters broke into his parents’ house and killed both his parents and his younger sister. Before they were killed, Amin’s sister and mother were sexually molested. Nobody knows for sure who the thugs were or how they got to know where Amin’s parents lived, but it is widely believed that they were fellow guards and that the information was gleaned from Amin’s staff file. The crime has never been solved, but two years later Amin was convicted of the crimes he did not commit. He died of dysentery while still in prison.
That story has become folklore amongst the guards at the Estate and is used to instill fear into recruits who refuse to toe the line. It certainly made William shut his mouth. He had planned to report the rape, but after he heard the Amin story, he was scared enough to keep his mouth shut.
Two days after that incident, a woman sneaked into his house at night. She was a voluptuous babe, and she was certainly beautiful. Before William could process what had happened, she stripped naked and started kissing him. William was almost getting carried away when he came to his senses and snapped out of the trance her sexual appeal had placed him. He promptly dragged her to the door, threw her out while still naked, and bolted the door. He threw her clothes out through the window.
He later learned that she was a local prostitute who had been hired by his supervisor to test his sexual resolve and that he had passed the test. From that day he was referred to as “Pastor” by other guards. That has spared him from being forced to commit atrocities over the years. The supervisors allow him to remain in the vehicle while his colleagues commit their wicked acts. Nevertheless, he became the target of derisive jokes and petty humiliations. He however learned to take everything in his stride because he needs the job. His family is dirt poor, and he is their only hope. Two of his younger siblings are at the university, and the last born is joining soon. He is the one who has been paying their fees since he was hired by Macunkwa Group.
William soon discovered that the entire directorate of security of the Estate is a criminal gang whose members commit wanton criminality without fear of reprisals. They seem to be protected from high above. In as much as he has not committed any crimes in the five years he has been working at the Estate, William feels part and parcel of the criminal gang because he condones it through his silence.
William had been hoping that after his first three years in patrol duty, he would be moved away to an assignment that wouldn’t involve open criminal acts. But while he got his promotion after the three years, he was retained in the patrol team as a dog handler. Patrol is the epicenter of the directorate’s criminal activities.
While eyeing a move away from Patrol, William had hoped that he would be shifted to logistics, which happens to be the least attractive posting within the directorate, but which is the quietest. Guards hate it because there are no opportunities to steal. All the other units have corrupt practices. The most coveted lot, of course, is Patrol. These are the guards who go around collecting bribes from villagers and casuals in the fruit farms. Reception guards and the surveillance team work together to help employees steal items from the company at a small fee. They look away and the employee pays after successfully pulling off a theft. Recruitment people scam young men who want to join the guard services, and it is also known that they manipulate the welfare budget to their advantage. The money that is illegally collected by all the guards is distributed around the chain of command and goes up all the way to the Director.
But the logistics sub-unit is the most difficult to steal from. While the Director reports to the Executive Chairman, procurement and logistics sub-units fall in operations, so their budget falls under the COO. The Group COO is a man called Kennedy, who is the heir to the Macunkwa empire. He is the son of the Executive Chairman & President, who also happens to be the owner of the company. Kennedy watches the procurement budget like a hawk, making it impossible for the security department (or any other department) to steal.
William had hoped he would be taken to logistics and grow into a supervisor there, and then seek a transfer from security to another department. He has been preparing for that eventuality. He enrolled for a Bachelor of Business Administration degree program shortly after being hired and has been attending evening classes. He told his manager that he was pursuing a diploma to reduce friction that may have arisen due to jealousy. The manager congratulated him for his diligence and agreed to assign him day duties only so that he could attend evening classes. He graduated last year and enrolled for his Master’s degree immediately. He didn’t have to tell anyone because his Master’s is an online program and therefore he has flexible study hours.
William hoped that armed with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, he would get a managerial position in another department and get a raise. He has been a dog handler for two years now and is due for promotion next year. Unfortunately, yesterday’s events have ruined his plans. If he comes out of this alive, he will have to find another job. This place will just be too hostile for him.
The day before yesterday started as an ordinary day. He woke up when his alarm went off and slowly got off the bed. As is his usual routine, he went to the toilet to take a leak. He knelt beside the bed after returning to the bedroom and said his morning prayers. After that, he grabbed his towel and walked to the shower. He sleeps in his boxers, so he didn’t have clothes to shed. Only the boxers, which he washed after showering. He then put on a pair of shorts and a vest and walked to his kitchen. He heated some water with the electric jug and then prepared a mug of instant coffee. He took the coffee with three slices of buttered bread. Then he brushed his teeth and went back to his bedroom, spread the bed, and put on his uniform. This is his daily routine; at least on the days when he is on duty.
After dressing up, William walked to the dog section. His day starts and ends in the dog section. On the way, he called his girlfriend Frida. She is a lovely Christian lady, and he has been dating her for the last two years. They have been thinking about marriage, but he wants to complete his Master’s degree and get a move away from patrol before he can commit to family.
Frida works as the COO’s secretary, and for months now she has been telling William that she might mention his credentials to the boss. But William has been hesitant. He doesn’t want to canvass, which he knows might land both of them in trouble. The tentative agreement they have is that if he is not moved away from Patrol next year, then she can intervene on his behalf. William will have completed his three years as a dog handler next year, and he also expects that he will have completed his Master’s degree. He is already done with the coursework and is laboring with the thesis.
After the events of the last few days, however, he wishes he had allowed Frida to mention him to the boss earlier.
Frida is also an ambitious lady. Last year she enrolled for a Bachelor of Communications degree, shortly after completing her diploma in Business Administration. Although her current title is ‘secretary’, she has told him that she is preparing for the rise of her boss to the helm of the organization. The Group Executive Chairman & President does not have a secretary. That role is performed by his Executive Assistant & Office Administrator. This is a powerful position within the company, and the minimum qualification is a Bachelor’s degree. Frida is keen on taking the job when her boss rises to the top.
William terminated the call when he got to the dog section. He was the first one in the section, and his assigned dog started wagging its tail when it saw him. William has been working with an experienced dog called Chase since he joined the unit, and Chase will probably retire when he (William) completes his tour in the dog section. Although he is still a very strong dog, he is already eight years old, and the Estate retires dogs when they reach this age. The only reason he cannot be retired this year is because the company usually doesn’t retire any dog in the middle of its handler’s time in the section. The retired dogs are sold to middle-class owners who can keep them as pets or guard dogs until they die. The Macunkwa dogs are very popular because they are well-trained and disciplined. There is usually no shortage of buyers.
William walked to the dog kitchen and got Chase’s morning meal: the dogs are fed fortified whole-grain porridge in the morning and meats in the evening. He walked to the kennel and released the dog. As Chase ate, William cleaned its fur and also cleaned the kennel. Once that was done, he put the dog on a leash and walked to the security assembly ground. This is where the patrol guards assemble every morning so that they are allocated their routes for the day.
William found his team already in position. His supervisor, Mark, is actually younger than him. William joined the guard service at almost 23, and after five years with the company, he is now 28. Mark joined the guard service shortly after his eighteenth birthday and completed his first three years at 21. He did his turn as a dog handler and completed at 24. At 26, he is now in his second year as a supervisor, and he is said to be the frontrunner to be the next manager of the patrol unit next year. The current manager is rumored to be the next Deputy Director-Patrol & Surveillance, as the current holder of the office is retiring.
Mark is known for his unbridled ambition. He is ruthless, corrupt, and, in William’s opinion, very greedy. He will do anything to make an extra coin, or to get higher in the corporate ladder. Somehow, he is the blue-eyed boy of the guard service and tipped for greater things.
William knows that Mark resents him, but he tolerates him. At least until yesterday. William realized a while back that ever since he started dating Frida, his colleagues became careful around him, and the petty humiliations that he experienced before ended. People instinctively know how to self-preserve, and they knew that since William’s girlfriend is the boss’ secretary, messing around with him would be a bad idea.
The third member of William’s team is 19-year-old Bruce, who joined the guard service last year. He adores Mark and has made it his business to emulate everything the supervisor does. To him, Mark represents the quickest path to success in the guard service. He is probably right.
That morning, William was acknowledged by his teammates with nods, as he took his position on the left side of Mark. When everyone got into position, the manager appeared and made the usual general remarks then allocated routes. William’s team was sent to the South Western part of the Estate. There are no oranges in that part, mostly mangoes. The mangoes are not yet ripe, and therefore not due for harvesting. William therefore expected a quiet day at work. The people on the routes with oranges were more likely to encounter thieves.
The day went almost as smoothly as William had anticipated. Their route was quiet. No one tried to steal the unripe mangoes. He and his team drove up and down, parked for lengthy periods at some of the known illegal entry points, took the designated breaks and generally got bored. At some point during the day, William was called by his cousin Maureen. She was in the area and was wondering if she could pass by his house and spend the night, before returning proceeding to Nairobi, where she works, the following day. William agreed and managed to convince his supervisor to allow him to pick her up and take her to his house.
Mark agreed when he learned that she was a woman. He asked if she was his sister, and William realized that Mark would harass her, wanting to sleep with her, if he said yes. He said no, and let them assume she was his lover. Excited to see “Pastor” cheating on Frida, Mark had Bruce drive to the stage to pick her up, and they dropped her at William’s house before they returned to their duty.
William knew that they would use knowledge of his “affair” to blackmail him in the future, but he didn’t care because he intended to tell Frida about Maureen at the end of his shift. Maybe he would even ask Frida to host her in her apartment.
Throughout the day William and his teammates argued about all manner of things to stave off boredom, as they always do. William got along quite fine with his colleagues, even though their value systems are different, and even though they may not like each other.
They discussed political affairs, the economy, and football. Mark is a Manchester United fan, William a Liverpool fan, and Bruce, the youngest of them, a Manchester City fan. They taunted him about his team’s lack of a long history of success, while he taunted them, especially Mark, about their teams’ lack of notable recent success. William argued that Liverpool has a recent Premier League and Champions League title, while Mark insisted that Manchester United is the most successful team in England.
At 4.10 pm they went to the Estate cafeteria for their evening tea. They hit the road again at 4.20 pm. Barely ten minutes later, they reached a farm where a man was tilling land. They had seen him throughout the day, but Mark and Bruce hadn’t paid attention to him. William had noticed him because he looked frail and seemed to have trouble tilling the land.
“Boss, this farm belongs to that stingy woman Lundia, doesn’t it?” Bruce suddenly asked Mark, as he slowed that patrol van down. William’s heart sank because he knew what was about to happen. Bruce always insists on calling Mark “Boss” and Mark seems to like it.
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“That woman doesn’t pay protection fees.”
Mark smiled as he realized what his subordinate was saying. Most of the farmers in the area pay “protection fees” to the guards to avoid being harassed. Those who don’t have to pay a bribe every time the guards feel like harassing them or their workers. Mark opened his door even before the truck came to a complete stop.
“Please don’t do this, Mark. That man looks sick,” William pleaded as the supervisor hopped out.
“Shut up Pastor. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to, but please keep your mouth shut.”
Mark opened the back door of the double cabin truck where William was seated with the dog and let out the dog. By then Bruce had completed parking and jumped out, and the two of them plus the dog chased the man who was already fleeing. Soon enough they were out of sight, but while William could not see them, the screams that soon rent the air confirmed to him that they had caught the man.
When Mark and Bruce dragged the man back into the van, William was horrified. The man was bleeding and was so badly beaten that he could hardly stand. Mark and Bruce threw him into the back of the van and drove off towards the police station, where they dropped him off and returned to patrol. The shifts usually end at 6.30 pm, but William begged to leave early. It was the beating he had witnessed that was bothering him, but Mark and Bruce assumed he was just eager to go and ‘entertain’ Maureen. They dropped him at his apartment while taunting him.
When he got to his apartment, he immediately called Frida. He had never told anyone about the crimes he had witnessed in the five years he had been working at Macunkwa Group, but this time he felt he couldn’t keep quiet. He was certain that that man would not survive the night. William called his girlfriend because she was the only one he could trust.
“I think I should come and tell your boss, babe. You told me he is a trustworthy man, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Kennedy’s heart is always in a good place. We can trust him. But if you come here you will officially become a snitch. You don’t report to him so your visit to his office will be suspicious.”
“That man will die, babe. Maybe your boss can ask his girlfriend to go and try to get him medical assistance.”
“Have you left your duty post?”
“Yes. I am in the house with my cousin Maureen. By the way, can you host…”
“Do your colleagues know she is your cousin?”
“No, they think I am cheating on you.”
“Perfect. Do you still have my spare key?”
“Yes. What’s up with all these questions?”
“I have an idea. Sneak into my house. Do not let anyone see you. It is unlikely anyway because most of us are still at work. I will convince Kennedy to come with me to the house, then you can tell him everything. People will think I am sleeping with him the same way they will assume you are sleeping with Maureen. You will leave my house after dark and sneak back to yours. Nobody will suspect a thing.”
That plan worked wonderfully, at least on that night. William explained everything to Kennedy, and Kennedy called his girlfriend Angela to assist the man. Angela is a lawyer. Kennedy also promised to look into the operations of the guard service and push for positive changes.
“I promise I will do it in such a way that nobody will know that you told me anything,” he promised them.
Yesterday, however, things started to go south. It started with the news that the man, whose name was Job, had died as a result of the beating. Frida is the one who texted William the news, having been told by her boss. That dampened his mood. Then in the afternoon, he noticed that Mark and Bruce had become cold towards him. At the end of the shift, Mark told him sinister.
“You know Willie, sometimes it is good to keep your mouth shut, even to your woman.”
He did not elaborate, even after William asked. That is why William found it difficult to sleep last night.
William finds Frida still in her pajamas. When she sees him, she starts sobbing again. He pulls her close to him and hugs her tightly.
“I am so sorry babe. I shouldn’t have involved you in this. I am sure Mark and Bruce are behind this. They must have somehow found out that I told Kennedy about Job and that you were involved. I will never forgive myself for this.”
Frida pulls herself away from him, pulls out a handkerchief from her pocket, wipes her tears, and then blows her nose.
“Listen to me, Babe. This is not your fault. You did the right thing. Job may have died, but at least you tried to save his life. It is unfortunate that my parents have died, and it hurts so much, but I hope their death will not be in vain. I hope it will trigger a change in this place. I have told Kennedy as much. I have called to tell him that I won’t be able to go to the office today.”
William nods. Frida always surprises him with her emotional, intellectual, and moral strength. On an ordinary day she is usually a pleasant, soft, and feminine baby girl, but beneath that is a very strong-willed woman. William loves her even more for it.
“Are you headed home?”
“No. Kennedy has told me it is a bad idea, and I agree with him. We all know that it is the guards who did this, but they cannot hurt us inside the Estate. If we leave, however, we will be vulnerable.”
“That is true. But I am wondering whether anything will change. I am sure you know that it is the Chairman himself who protects the guards through his connections. Unless Kennedy can go head to head with his father, I am not very optimistic.”
“I told him that, and he told me that he is doing exactly that. He confronted his father yesterday about Job’s death and the meeting didn’t go well. The Chairman has called a board meeting today, and Kennedy fears that he might be sacked.”
“Then we will be worse off than we are now. His sister is worse than the father, and if she takes over from Kennedy we are doomed.”
“I have an idea. Maureen is a journalist, isn’t she?”
“I see where you are going with this, and I like it. But talk to Kennedy first. Maureen interrogated me a lot about Job after she heard me talking to you on the phone, but I stonewalled her. I thought you should give your boss a heads-up first, but yesterday I forgot to ask you. I am sure she will be more than happy to investigate the rot in this place. That girl has guts that scare me. She is afraid of nothing.”
“That is good. When word gets out there, there will be an outcry and maybe that will be all Kennedy will need to push for change in this place.”
“True. Talk to your boss and let’s do this.”
“Let me call you him right away so that we can get this rolling.”
“Are you okay?” Frida asks Kennedy when he picks up her call. She was happy that he picked up the call because she feared that he had gone to his father’s meeting. But he sounds subdued, and she fears that he has been fired. “Has the meeting happened?”
“No, I was headed there when I got some bad news. What’s up?”
Frida explains what she and William had in mind.
“You apparently do not need my permission because the girl has already written about Job’s death.”
“Yes, that is the name on the by-line. I am looking at today’s newspaper as we speak.”
“That was fast. I don’t know what to say. I am sorry. William did not intend…”
“No, I like it. And we need her more than ever. Your approach is the best way for us to rattle the cartels in this place and smoke them out. Your parents’ death and the death of Angela will not be in vain.”
“Angela is dead?” Frida asks, shocked.
Angela is a lawyer and Kennedy’s girlfriend. She is the one who represented Job when he was taken to court on theft charges yesterday, just before he died.
“Yes. I have just been informed that she had an accident while leaving my house this morning. But I don’t believe it. I think the crooks who killed your parents are the same ones who killed her. Tell William that I am making arrangements to have his family protected.”
“But I am glad to know I can count on the both of you. We shall bring the cartels in this place down, whatever it takes. You can begin by calling Maureen and telling her about Angela’s death. She seems to have guts, so I am sure she will sniff around for a story. But tell her to watch her back. These people are more dangerous than I thought.”
“Sure, I will. But take care as well.”
After hanging up, Frida fills in William on what Kennedy has said.
“For the first time, I am encouraged. Kennedy seems to appreciate the challenge ahead of us, and that is good. I will fight with him to the end.”
“You realize we might die and leave the cartels intact, right?”
“That is the story of every struggle, babe,” William says passionately. “But it hasn’t stopped the freedom fighters of the past. Many freedom struggles, from those against slavery, colonialism, apartheid in South Africa, and racial segregation in the US were won long after most pioneer fighters were killed. But they wouldn’t have been won if those pioneer fighters didn’t start the struggle. This is our struggle, and we have to fight it to the end, or until we die.”
“I hear you soldier,” Frida says with a sad smile. “Angela and my parents’ death will not be in vain. We will fight until we dismantle the cartels or until they kill us. Let me call Maureen so that the war can officially begin.”
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