Of Njugu Mawe and his inevitable battle with defaulters


By Pascal Mwandambo

One of the privileges of being a journalist is having the opportunity to meet and interview people from all walks of life.

It’s an experience that enables you to walk in people’s shoes and feel what challenges they encounter in their day to day lives.

Last time I told you about the clash between Njugu Mawe, a shylock and Ole Gunia, my friend and new business partner.

For those who did not read my last piece, Njugu Mawe had sought out Gunia over a loan the latter had taken but failed to pay by the agreed time.

In a fit of rage, Mawe had visited Gunia at their upcoming manyatta in the outskirts of Mavumbi town and threatened to attach his goat and sell it.

What resulted was a scuffle between lender and borrower with yours truly as the arbitrator.

Actually had I not stood Gunia in good stead, I am sure Mawe could have taken drastic action with unpleasant results for Gunia.

So when Mawe found me reading newspapers at a newsstand in town, he approached me cordially and thanked me for brokering peace between them.

“Your friend has finally paid me the money I lent him but has refused to pay the thirty per cent interest. Anyway it’s good that I am done with him, but he should never come back for another loan because I will definitely send him away,” Mawe vowed.

Actually Njugu Mawe is not the shylock’s real name. He was given this nickname because he can be as difficult and hard to arm twist as stones can be.

To date, few people know his real name, not even yours truly.

On his request I agreed to accompany him to his home so that I could get “the other side of the story”.

As we neared his compound he said hoarsely, “You know people hate us but they keep coming to us to borrow money when the chips are down. Trouble starts when one is required to pay but fails. They say ‘kukopa harusi, kulipa matanga’”.

Mawe was trying to sound remorseful over the many unpleasant ways shylocks use to get back what they believe is their rightful dues.

He took me to a store behind his house and what I saw made me forgive him for the many ‘sins’ he had committed in the line of duty.

The store was full of all sorts of confiscated goods, from furniture to electronic gadgets, some which looked in dire need of repair.

Two broken chairs lay at one corner, gathering dust and cobwebs.

“All these are items given as collateral by borrowers and the others were confiscated after they failed to pay back. Some have been here for more than two years and chances of their owners coming to claim them are almost zero,” said Mawe, a resigned look on his face.

“Sometimes I am forced to use some of the items myself but as you can see these are quite a lot to put to use,” he added as if to rest his case.

As we took tea served by his morose house girl, Mawe told me how a woman had undressed and began screaming to repulse them when they had gone to attach her TV.

“We were forced to go away after the lady embarrassed us, seeing her in her birthday suit,” he said.

He looked at me remorsefully wondering if I would write his side of the story. I couldn’t commit myself to that but sincerely speaking, I had walked in his shoes and now I can feel what many lenders go through.

Indeed, being a shylock is not a walk in the park.

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