Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Dance with The Devil

The sun mercilessly struck the sparkling ocean and reflected rays on white sand. The heat and humidity stood in windless beach like a wall. Abdul Razak, a photographer at Kenyatta public beach in Mombasa shifted his camera.

The business had been slow, Razak thought ruefully as group of local tourists nearby splattered happily in Indian Ocean. Although he started as a beach boy before owning his own photo studio he hated the salty water which tested like unwashed armpits to him.
He shifted the SONY digital camera in his hand again and moved to his studio. Razak Studios and two French waiting for him while chatting animatedly like dating weaver birds gave him a smile.
Blaine and Roxanne smiled as he approached.
“Jambo” chorused Roxanne and her husband Blaine.
“Jambo, bonjour mademoiselle” quipped Razak as he wondered for a hundred-and-one time why they always insist on his services as they had a more complicated camera.
Other photographers eyed him enviously as their eyes shifted to the black Range Rover SUV parked under coconut trees sashaying with ocean breeze.
 It was just another hustle and bustle day at ‘Pirates beach’ which could have faded in Razak’s memory like an odorless fart in a gale where it not for the deal.

First, as he later recalled in Shimo la Tewa prisons they insisted on having the conversation at the back of the studio.
“Nataka picha private, pesa mzuri iko.”  (We want private photos, there is good money) Roxanne explained as they settled in the studio.
Razak never made the expression on her face from the dark designer sunglasses, her husband’s blue eyes on the other hand darted nervously as if he was sitting on a time bomb.
Later as the conversation was hushed in low tones, Razak felt his shirt stick to his sweaty body like a second skin.
He was to film the two of them in their spacious villa overlooking Mvita Island having sex. Razak’s inquiring on security was quelled by a promise that it was not porn but a private venture.
“it will be easy, we’ve watched you closely and know you are reliable” coaxed Roxanne pleasantly “the party will be Thursday with an outright down payment of Ksh. 20,000” She placed crisp bank notes next to a camera stand.
Tempest emotions raged within Razak as he eyed the money ravenously. His mind wondered to his house at Bokole, a low class settlement in Changamwe.

The pretty face of his wife Amina Akinyi and their daughter’s torn uniforms danced before him. They had suffered a lot in poverty.
He could feel the money in his pocket.
“Tell him we don’t have the whole day” hissed Blaine jolting the cameraman from his reverie.
He would later testify they left him at the studio and heard the fuel guzzler start outside and leave.
Long after they left Roxanne’s perfumed clung in the studio. Outside the charade hit Hakuna Matata joined the tourists chatter to blend in a cacophony on Razak’s ears.
“Are you alright sir” asked his Studio assistant when he found him in trance.
He felt the bundle of crisp notes press in his trouser pocket.
“We will close early on Thursday, I have an appointment” he replied moving out.
During trial the court heard the day was Monday, 8th June 2008.
* ****
The Thursday job became an initiation. Among the five photographers at the job, Razak graduated rapidly to handling technical camera and editing. Skills and few questions he asked endeared him to the French.
He became a fixture at the Villa; his voice was heard in the din of wild parties. His heart and hand helped scheme the business.
Like a duck to water, Razak took to the underworld of pornographic business.
He sold his ram shackled studio, bought a flashy ex-Japan automobile and adorned trendy fashion. He dined in affluence and moved his family to the cozy Nyali suburbs.
In mornings the figure of his immaculate daughter going to school evoked the guilt of young girls and boys he recruited in the trade. The grimace and zombie eyes looking lost at the lens haunted him.
The nightmare of the sick world bearing on their young shoulders with sado-masochist adults haunted him deep in the night. But money numbed his conscience and made the bridge of poverty he had cross dissolve.
The waltz with devil stopped in a clip for a top dollar European gay client.
“Starring Black Jack, who met his German tourists in Mombasa and taught a few African tricks” drawled Roxanne in accented English.

Razak dutifully zoomed in the face of the 15 years drugged boy on the couch. Blaine smiled sardonically approaching the boy……………
“YOU ARE UNDER ARREST!” shouted police officers as they stormed the villa. Through the confusion that ensued, a bullet narrowly missed Razak’s head and shattered the camera. He hit the floor sobbing like a lost baby.
As he was being led away journalists had a scoop. Abdul Razak, ring leader of a porn syndicate had acres of print and reel of time in media.
The SUPKEM, NCCK and NGOs called press conferences. Marches cursing sex pests across Kenya were organized. In verbal diarrhea politicians threatened and charged while non-offered a solution.
After a ‘thorough’ investigation, state counsel told the court Abdul Razak and six other drugged urchins had a case to answer. They were later sentenced.
Roxanne and Blaine were questioned by the police and later released.
Later the noise ceased, Hakuna Matata, Mombasa raha songs still play at pirates.
As Razak curses the deal and longs for his humble photograph work, two French tourists eyed a camera man in Malindi.
It was four months as Roxanne and Blaine charted with the gullible camera man under a coconut groove.

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