I remember how several years ago, I found myself boarding a plane heading miles and miles away from our beloved country. I had decided to take a few days off and visit my old pals. Part of my mission was to attempt luring some of my die-hard friends in the Diaspora to return to the land of a thousand hills.
My flight was not so eventful. My hopes of sharing a seat with a beautiful daughter of my lovely Rwanda were dashed when, instead, this heavy looking man slumped himself in the seat next to me. He looked up at me and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. His name was Zamani and he was an employee at one of the government ministries. Trying to ignore him was next to impossible. He kicked off with a barrage of current affairs ranging from soccer to world politics. Occasionally I chipped in with a comment or two, but no chance for me to complete my points.
All I had to do was just nod my head in all directions. Vertical nodding implied affirmation. Sideways meant that I appreciated his criticisms. I nodded my head so much that I started to dose off. But thanks to his sharp elbow, which kept me jerking out from my slumber. I had started reading the copy of The New Times but Zamani just unceremoniously snatched it out of my hands to show me a photograph in which he happened to appear standing behind a cabinet minister. He then opened up about his “mission” that will last three weeks. Wow! That per diem! And all that shopping, dining and wining! Zamani had “fallen in things”
After about four hours of non-stop talking, Zamani finally gave in. He simply dropped his hairy head on my shoulders and snored away. I could not find that much needed sleep as Zamani’s head kept sinking with substantial amounts of saliva rolling down my shirt. I prayed for time to flash by so we could finally part ways at our next stop. I had another flight to my final destination. Unfortunately, I later discovered that Zamani had to connect on the same flight! He had become so friendly that he persuaded me to find a seat next to him so that we could continue with our intellectual talk – more like a monologue!
At the transit area where we were supposed to connect for the next flight, there were hundreds of other passengers. About six queues were forming and the process was very slow. All passengers were supposed to remove their belts as well as shoes for the security check. This was part of the security measures at the airports worldwide. When our turn arrived, we majestically approached the tough looking security people. Zamani was the most elegant VIP and, in his own understanding, he was not supposed to undergo such a vigilant body search. Being the VIP that he thought he was, he felt that he should have been treated with great respect and dignity!
However, the security men were not in for any nonsense. I succumbed and had my shoes off and eventually passed the test. Then it was time for bwana Zamani. He reluctantly removed his belt and cell phone. And what about the shoes? No way! He protested so much that a melee became imminent. The scuffle involved more security personnel who grabbed Zamani and forced him against the wall. At this stage all passengers scattered to all directions in a frantic panic. They thought that a bomb had been discovered and that Zamani was a notorious terrorist on the move.
My interventions yielded absolutely no results. Zamani was already lying on his back, trying to survive under the martial arts experts. Eventually, the shoes were forced off the big man’s feet. All of a sudden there was total silence. The security men moved backwards astonished. I could not believe my eyes too! My VIP friend had been exposed. The sole reason he had refused to remove his shoes was because all his 10 toes were caught peeping out like trapped mice. Our VIP’s socks were torn beyond any repair. Thanks to the whiff from his sweating feet, this forced us to leave the area in real amusement!