High Tech Thugs

I went for supper with colleagues last night, and to watch Ali Mazuri’s TV documentary The Africans. During the evening we talked of the new metal grilles that the builders are fitting to the windows of buildings on the college compound. All buildings in Kenya have such grilles. They are to keep out “thugs”: robbers who break into houses in the night.

Brother Benedict, the archetect of the new college buildings, told me that the bars are there only so that the insurance companies will pay out. If you don’t have them they will say that you didn’t have sufficient security.

Here’s the story: these ‘high tech thugs’, as they were described, come with bolt croppers and other equipment with which they remove the glass and then, also, the bars from the window. They can do this so quietly that you won’t wake up until they knock on your door, by which time the window is a gaping hole. They then ask you to open the door saying they are coming in anyway, if through the window they’ll kill you, if throught the door they’ll onlyl beat you up a bit.

And there was the story of the man who boasted to his friends that thugs has robbed him the previous evening but left his television when he told them he wanted to watch the World Cup. They came back the next night for the TV, of couse, and told him not to be boastful.