By Mwai Wachira via FB
Weird Kikuyu- Luo Rivalry
The media described him as a bespectacled, dark plump man with a sweet tongue that could sell ice to an Eskimo. His name was Omondi, the man who defied all the odds and collected cashboxes with cash worth 54 million Kenya shillings from the standard chartered bank strong room at the JKIA. Omondi is said to have walked casually to the strong room, presented the relevant document for the boxes and then walked out with the loot. Omondi ran a clearing and forwarding firm and he indeed did work for standard chartered bank, but on this mission, he had no mandate to collect the money. After leaving the airport, Omondi disappeared into thin air and that’s when police were called in to investigate.
This happened in the late 90s and the news spread like bush fire making Omondi a hero to many Kenyans who admired his guts in pulling a heist worth 54M without firing a single bullet. There was however a group that was not amused with Omondi’s antic, the Nairobi underworld. The Nairobi underworld at the time was dominated by the Kikuyus and they prided themselves as the best gangsters who robbed banks with ease. The entry of Omondi, a Luo into the scene disturbed the Kikuyu bank robbers, you see, Omondi had walked away with 54M in one robbery yet the best the Kikuyu gangsters had attained in one robbery was 42M. Meetings were held in smoky bars, something had to give, there was no way Luos were going to run away with the bragging rights of the best bank robbers. In one meeting, a Kikuyu businessman who supported Kikuyu supremacy in bank robberies was heard saying, ‘The Kalenjins have edged us out of political power, Indians have taken over our business, now the Luos want to take from us the only talent remaining, Luos should stick to football with their Gor Mahia’, his sentiments were met with wild cheers.
A month or so after Omondi’s heist, there was a robbery in a bank that was located on Kenyatta Avenue, some Middle East bank or something of a sort. It happened one Monday morning when the robbers entered the bank posing as normal customers, they were actually the first customers in the bank. They then pulled out their guns out and declared the situation in the bank as a hold up. Some robbers rounded the managers to the inner offices where the safes were, others remain in the banking hall and one was strategically placed at the bank entrance. Customers coming in met pointed guns and they were forced to give their belongings. One creative robber is said to have made the customers sing the song ‘toa ndugu, toa dada, kile ulicho nacho,bwana anakuona mpaka moyoni mwako’ as he went around collecting the loot. The robbery lasted one hour after which the robbers left as casually through the main door, just as they had gotten in, but this time with a cool 96M, the Kikuyus robbers had regained their bragging rights. A visibly shaken eye witness, a customer who was in the bank during robbery and who was incidentally a Luo narrated to TV crew how the robbers threatened them with words ‘Ria Mbembe, ria mbembe’ which literally translates to eat the bullet.
A few days back we were treated to a rivalry on hospital beds between Otieno and Mungai, the 1982 coup is said to have been a Luo initiative that preempted a Kikuyu coup that was meant to happen a few days later. Maybe this rivalry should be up scaled to something more beneficial, say like manufacturing of cars where the 2 communities can compete on who can make the best car, or even planes.