(Continued from Poisoned Chalice)
Peninah works at a local microfinance institution, Karanga Sacco. She founded the Sacco as a self-help group, and has seen it grow to its current status of a reputable microfinance institution. She was the chairlady of the group when it was founded and is now the Chief Executive Officer. Beyond the normal Sacco services of taking savings of members and giving loans, Karanga Sacco now has other banking products such as current accounts, junior accounts, fixed accounts and corporate accounts.
The Sacco is popular with farmers and business people in Tharaka Nithi County and increasingly, in the Greater Meru region. It started as a self-help group of women poultry farmers in Karanga. Seeing the success of Peninah’s poultry farm, every other farmer in Karanga had wanted to try their hand in poultry farming. Some were poor women who had little capital. They came to Peninah for help and that is when she came up with the idea of the self-help group.
Peninah split her time between managing her farm and helping other women grow theirs. Some abandoned poultry farming and branched out to other businesses but still retained their membership in the group. Peninah eventually registered the group and set up a small office at Karanga market. The members elected her as the Chairperson and elected other officials. The officials opened an account at Cooperative Bank, Karanga.
The Sacco has since opened up its membership to any interested adult. Each member is expected to save Kshs. 100 every day with the group. One can save daily, weekly (Kshs. 700) or monthly (Kshs. 2800). For uniformity, the members who save daily are expected to save for only 28 days every month. The money is used to give loans to members at low-interest rates. Members have been earning dividends since 2015. Companies and registered businesses can hold accounts at the Sacco and access loans, but they cannot be members. Members have to be natural persons.
As the Sacco grew, Peninah did a Masters in Business Administration at the Mount Kenya University to help improve her management skills. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Entrepreneurship from the same University.
Karanga Sacco is now a fully-fledged microfinance institution with Peninah at the helm. It has five branches across Tharaka Nithi County: the headquarters in Karanga, Chuka branch, Chogoria branch, Kathwana branch and Marimanti branch. There are two new branches in Meru County, one at Nkubu town and the other in Meru town.
There is no doubt that Peninah is an accomplished woman. Last year she was elected the President of African Women Bankers Association. In 2014 she was feted by the Commonwealth Association of Women Bankers. She has also won awards from various groups for her farming efforts.
Her farm is a fully-fledged company with its own CEO. This means that she no longer -runs it on a day to day basis. She only receives briefings from the hired management. This has allowed her to focus on the Sacco and the affairs of the African Women Bankers Association.
She is proud of her achievements. But her greatest source of joy has been her family. She has tried to be a good mother, juggling her career and her parental responsibilities. She made sure she was home every evening by 6 pm, and took turns with their father dropping them to school in the morning. She has largely succeeded because her children have turned out to be responsible teenagers and she is very close to the three of them.
But Martin has been the real bedrock. He is a very supportive husband. Whenever things were going wrong at the farm, or at the Sacco, Martin always gave her a shoulder to lean on. He always gave her words of wisdom whenever she was in a crisis. And he always made her laugh. Oh, he could make her laugh even in the middle of a storm.
She has never had a reason to doubt his faithfulness. Ever since their days at Egerton University over twenty years ago, she has known Martin to be an honorable man. A man who would never do anything that would compromise his integrity.
Yet today, after 21 years of marriage, she found him in the arms of another woman. She still cannot believe it. Martin? If the incident had been reported to her, she would have vehemently defended him. But she saw him with her own two eyes. Is this midlife crisis? Or has he been discreetly cheating over the years and she has been too blind to see?
Martin tries to follow Peninah but Patricia grabs his coat and pulls him back.
“Where do you think you are going?” she asks.
“To my wife. Release my clothes. You have just ruined my family and I need to fix it.”
“There is nothing to fix. Peninah is done with you. You are now mine, so get used to it.”
Martin is now getting furious. He tries to leave again but she clings tightly to him. He furiously grabs her by the shoulders, shakes her violently then pushes her away. She falls on the floor and before she can react, he is already at the door.
“You will pay for this!” she screams as he leaves.
Martin can see Peninah’s car’s taillights even before he gets to his car. He knows she is headed home, so he jumps onto his car and follows her. He fears for her safety because she is speeding and he knows she is not thinking straight. When they arrive home, she drives towards her father’s compound and not theirs. The gateman opens the gate before Martin can alight and convince her not to enter.
He cannot just intrude into his father-in-law’s house just like that, especially given the circumstances. So he turns his vehicle and drives into his own compound.
Patricia is a proud woman. She prides herself as the conqueror of men. The irresistible woman. She doesn’t date small men, men without power, money or influence. Nope. Neither does she subscribe to the ideals of love.
To her, love is the creation of fickle minds. She enjoys sex, but even that is not a good enough reason for her to jump into bed with anyone. For her to remove her clothes, it must be because the carnal act will help her get ahead of the pack somehow, or give her a certain advantage in life. Not money, unless it comes as an extra benefit. Patricia uses sex to gain power and influence.
She does not believe anyone gets ahead purely by merit. Everyone cheats the system. Politicians rig elections. CEOs cook books and hire PR consultants in order to look efficient. Men bribe to get promotions. Students cheat in exams. So who is she to imagine she will be noticed purely on merit? No madam. She made a decision to use her most powerful tool to get ahead: her body.
She always has an eye for the boss. She slept with the Dean at the Medical school and several lecturers, which earned her a first-class degree in Medicine and Surgery. She slept with her supervisor during her internship, as well as the CEO of the hospital which enabled her to get a lighter workload; juggling those two while doing her internship was especially fun.
Sometimes she sleeps with men of influence in anticipation of future benefits. For instance, she met the CEO of National Patriot TV once and slept with him the same night. She did not have a need for him to fulfill then, but her instincts told her that he would be useful in the future. She sleeps with him every now and then, just to keep the contact alive. She also has an MP, a PS and several influential businessmen on speed dial.
When she came to Karanga and decided it was a nice enough town to live in long term, she quickly identified the town fathers who she needed to own. She came up with a list of six men: the County Governor, the OCS of Karanga police station, the Chief Magistrate at the Karanga Law Courts, the CEO of the hospital, the Assistant County Commissioner in charge of Karanga, and one influential businessman. So far she has slept with all of them except the hospital CEO and the Governor.
In her experience, men are generally fickle, and mild flirting is enough to send them chasing after her. Married men are easy targets because they are not territorial. They do not try to own her. And interestingly, they think they are using her, without appreciating the power she wields over them. So it was not difficult to go to bed with the four men. She has been unable to reach the Governor, but there is no hurry. In fact, she thinks she should wait until after next year’s elections so that she doesn’t waste her physical resources on a loser.
But Martin has been weirdly different. She has repeatedly failed to lead him to pursue her, so much so that she started suspecting he is a closeted gay man. She has been forced to do the chasing herself. And today she was so close…so, so close…before that filthy wife of his ruined everything.
She now knows he is a hot-blooded heterosexual, but it is unlikely she will ever have him after what happened today. Her best bet now is to bring him down because she is smart enough to know that after today only one of them can remain at the hospital. Besides, Martin needs to be taught a lesson for manhandling her. No man has ever humiliated her by using physical force on her the way he did today.
She drives to the police station and files a report alleging assault and attempted rape. Then she calls her friend the OCS and explains, while crying, that someone attempted to rape her and needs to be arrested. The cop drops everything and sets in motion a plan to have Martin arrested. She then calls the CEO of National Patriot TV.
She spends the night in the arms of the magistrate and leaves just before dawn. That one needed a whole night of passionate (physical) convincing so as to deny Martin bail.
Martin is on the couch wondering how he will approach his father in law in order to be granted access to his wife. Suddenly his phone rings.
“Boss, are you watching TV?” his friend Timothy asks.
“Just put it on,”
“National Patriot TV,”
He puts it on and is greeted with a red Breaking News headline on the TV screen. There are running subtitles under the headline reading:
A hospital administrator in Tharaka Nithi is on the run after being accused of assault and attempted rape. Karanga Hospital CEO Martin Ndeke is accused of assaulting and attempting to rape Dr. Patricia Gatiri in his office earlier today. The police are still looking for him. Mr. Ndeke is the husband to celebrated banker Peninah Ndeke.
What?! He left his office and came home, the two very obvious places where anybody looking for him would expect to find him. How then can he be said to be on the run? Who exactly is this woman Patricia and what kind of influence does she have?
He calls his lawyer who agrees to come to his house. The police arrive 30 minutes later, just 10 minutes after his lawyer’s arrival. Martin locks the house and walks to the gate, accompanied by his lawyer, Eric Nkanabo. Behind the police van there is another van labeled National Patriot TV. A female reporter is speaking into a microphone, facing a camera.
Martin expects his arrest to be civil because he has no intention of resisting it. But immediately he opens the gate, the cops grab him and manhandle him into the police Land Cruiser. When his lawyer Nkanabo protests and asks for their identification, he is slapped repeatedly by an overzealous sergeant. The cops are quite obviously drunk. Nkanabo calls the OCS, who is his friend, but he does not pick the calls.
As police van speeds away, Nkanabo jumps into his vehicle and attempts to follow. But a police officer opens fire, so he turns and drives home. He is not about to die in the hands of drunk police officers. Not even for an esteemed client like Martin.
But he is worried about his client and friend. It is not beyond the drunk policemen to drill bullet holes in his head and come up with a wild story about his attempted escape.
The inaugural Tuesday blog post is here. Let us see where this takes us, and whether it is sustainable. By the way, if you haven’t grabbed your copy of the latest novella Hunted by Predators yet, do not miss out on the fun! Run to the bookstore (https://www.maroncha.com/book-store) and grab your soft copy at only 100 bob. Payment is via MPESA, just follow the prompts given. If you are new, you will need to register first. If you have bought previous novellas, just log in.
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