Maina is a violent robber whose disgust for blood and craving to be loved forces him to quit for a better career. But when Maina lands the job of a matatu driver, he realizes that he has slipped into the underworld bedeviled by corrupt traffic police, city council askaris, and cartels.
In contemporary Nairobi, a young man named Moses Odidi Oganda bleeds to death in the streets, murdered by police. As his lifeblood – full of memories, colors, and songs – pours into the dust, the stories that tumble forth reveal the violent upheaval of Kenya’s own life, reaching from the Mau Mau uprisings of the 1950s to the murky intricacies of modern-day corruption.
The policeman’s grin broadens. He pounces. Long fingers. A girl would shave her head for fingers like his. He spits on my finger, and draws out the ring with his teeth; the ring I have worn for 18 years – from the day I was recognized by the priests as a man and a prince. It was supposed to have been passed on to the son I do not have. The policeman twists my hand this way and that, his tongue caught between his teeth; a study in concentrated avarice.