“Unknown African Man”

African Man




African man


Time flies so they say but stuff happen. Stuff that is both good and bad, expected and unexpected. Nobody knows when nor how but stuff will happen whenever they want to. They are that stamping “freaking” bossy. So the other day Georges got an accident. I bet you don’t know Georges, or do you? Georges is that my boy. The born hustler one, yes the one I said can sell you entirely anything. You got some clue now? Not yet. No problem read on. It happened fast (and furious hehe) as am told. As it was, a saloon vehicle rammed into Georges aboard a moty, or was it Georges aboard a moty who rammed into a saloon vehicle? But that’s a matter of the police to decide in due cause.

Next he is delivered to Kenyatta Hospital in condition we will call critical. The police clear the scene taking custody of both the vehicle and the motorbike. It is the next day I manage to find my way in there between a myriad of phone calls, most calling for calling’s sake. “Hallo? Uliskia Georges alipata accident?” Eee niliskia. Some giving instructions of where exactly he is inside that hosy. Directions I can not comprehend bloody well since there is no difference between ‘B’ and ‘D’ in there speech. Some people understand this. Georges was admitted on the 5th floor ward D room four to be specific. Handicapped by language barrier, I end up in ward B get lost in between and as final option decided to do a bed to bed check to find him since the moody nurses I spoke to dint respond, wait did they even here what I said? Was I audible as per there definition? The one who responded back said “kijana hii Kenyatta inaeza kuwa na Georges one thousands. Sasa sijui nitakusaidiia aje?” It’s a scary delicate tour of the place but eventually I reach him.


Am not an often guest of the hospitals and thank God Sickness has kept off. God is great! The las time I was at the wards was at the neighbouring Nairobi hospital children wing. Was visiting a friends two-year old who was “admitted” with flu. The bubbly kid played all day but the doctors insisted he needed more days of bed rest at the hospital. He noticed me walk in and rushed my way yelling “Uncle?” okay It was awkward funny but let kids be kids. The environment to say the least was utmost welcoming, very clean, serene and well tendered. The young ever smiling nurse attending the boy passed for something like a model or those pretty TV dolls. Beside the boys bed was an adjustable chair that would switch into bed position where the kids mum spent. Through the window view to the left was an outdoor playing section for the kids. The place bubbled with healthy “sick” kids surrounded by a swam of young parents interested in PDAs more than the playing kids. I loved the place. Would I be a kid his age, I would love to get sick often

Talking of Kenyatta hospital, that place is a swam of activities. Thousands of hard-working citizens walk in and out endeavored to comfort their ailing loved ones. The place however is sorry, not welcome especially from inside the wards. I guess they handle more than they are supposed to going by the congested wards. The facilities look like they have been made to stand the test of time. True there’s the deviant public private definition but I still believe we can do more either way. Striding in, I came past hordes of people walking in on a mission perhaps as mine. Mothers checking in to deliver, mothers walking out with bundles of joy. Patients reporting in; Worst cases than Georges but with hopes of living again written all over their faces and more still people who came in bedridden and now getting out with shades of smiles on their faces. I heard cries, cries of mothers in labour, sharp and piercing. Faint cries of kids being jabbed and worst of all loud hoarse wails of people who had lost their loved ones, they announced sorry defeat of sustained battles. Here is when you appreciate life is precious. It is brethren.

By the time I found Georges I had spent the entire morning ‘lost’ in the hospital’s wilderness. It was time for midday patient visitation. That room four of ward five is been replanned to host 8 beds instead the designed six doing away with the curtain partitioning. Standing at the middle of the room you have a view of all the patients from bed one to bed eight. The yelling one, the sleeping one, the one to the far corner; the one who stares back zero hopes of life traceable in his eyes that hang on a face that expresses hopelessness. Then my main interest; Georges on bed six the side facing the window. Face all dented and swollen, eyes closed. He struggles to talk in a low amid pangs of pain he suppresses as the face shows. It brings tears in my eyes but I hold back . Crying is weak of men. No weak of me because him he is not crying. “All will be well Georges. We will come out stronger!” He goes a head to say he is well compared to the fateful day. He is happy he’s a live but finds hospital life boring already on day two. He is a restless guy by nature. Once again I assure him all will be will and mix some glucose in drinking water for him. He can’t ingest anything in solid form. His response to medication is however positive so far. We chat on a little bit, he recounts how he met his fate then I retreat back to say hi to the rest of the visitors around him.

The ward is congested with beds, then patients then throngs of visiting relatives surrounding each bed with hopes; to comfort the sick. Bed number 8 arrests my attention. Aboard bed 8 is a middle-aged dark-skinned man deep in sleep. He is covered midway to the chest area. His face is bruised and he dons this agitating unkempt hair that appears like its being rolled into dread locks but whoever is ding that is no hair expert like Tony Airo! Bed eight looks lonely, empty, void and avoided like plague unlike the surrounding beds where concerned relatives have ganged up to support one of their own. Georges notes the way I stare deep at that man and quips “Tony, that man came in just around the same time like me and after treatment he slept ever since.” He says this in concentrated ghetto slang. He is a bona-fide master at it evident at how he intertwines his words with speed killing any spoken word grammar. “Try shake him, is he even alive?” Georges jokes, he is bubbly whenever you spend time around him. He is a man of wits, very positive in life. Can tell he will even joke on his death-bed! One thing though he has an attitude, especially when you cross his path. He even raised the middle finger to the nurse when he refused to tend to him on request!

At this point my mind tour journey of the hospital stopped with this man on bed eight. He looked destitute, ignored and alone in that part of life. I moved closer to check his details at the walled side bed drawer and there under name it was labeled in unapologetic capital “UNKNOWN AFRICAN MAN” Oops! Like it was just confirming my thoughts of him, It raced back and forth in my mind. So here is a man; alone, suffering and bed ridden. No one around him visiting but vacuum. I wondered does he have relatives, some friends. Anyone who knows him “kwani how isolated is his life?! Who hit him? Why did they hit him and speed off, Just why? Wait, is he alive even? It got me mad, dead mad. “Why mad?” you ask. “Mad at the guy who hit him on the road and sped off leaving him for the dead” you think. “Mad at the countless throngs of people who passed him on the road until a Good Samaritan perhaps dropped him at the hospital. Mad! Mad! Mad!” No that’s you perhaps. Myself am mad in particular at the Nurses of this noble hospital! The ones who tendered to him, mad that they denied this man an identity. “UNKNOWN AFRICAN MAN!” astonishingly boring. What of if he wakes up from sleep and reads that, what will he even think of himself? Wait can he even read to start with? Am mad because they had options as open as day to find him some dignified name, something that would maintain his humane. What of “Jemoh” in quotes to mean borrowed? Or Freedom Uhuru, or better still LostandFound.A.Ochieng?



Get well Quick Georges and our man too; at least I know you.



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