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Bonoko: The irony of comic relief off the poor

 It was shared on Facebook, then reshared, and shared, spreading so fast. It was hilarious, very funny. It soon made it to radio shows, where it was replayed as guys laughed it off. It was so funny that it made it to TV scripts, and to DJ mixes in the club.

Bonoko is the the name given to what started as a radio clip of a young man narrating the killing of his pal. According to the clip, the victim was relieving himself (urinating) against a wall, when he spotted City Council of Nairobi askaris  moving in to arrest him for the same purpose.

It is against Nairobi Council laws to relive yourself in non designated areas. Offenders are rounded up by askaris  and should later be arraigned before a court to be fined for the act. However, most of the time, the askaris offer to accept a lower bribe instead, usually from Kes 500.


The chap preferred to take to his feet rather than face the City Council and their fines, His pal continues to inform the radio reporter that the pal was no lucky enough, as in the process of running away, he got fatally shot. The narration is all along in some crude form of sheng, street sheng.  The narrator then says that his pal, after having been shot, had a bonoko  placed on him. The reporter intervenes, one of the few such interventions,  and asks what a bonoko is.

The narrator is shocked that the reporter does not know what the bonoko is, and he then explains it is a fake gun. The narrator says that his departed colleague was a well known trader selling mutura (stuffed and grilled intestines). Like him, he had been born in a chochoro (the streets) .

He could not afford getting arrested by the City Council askaris - with no family and poor friends, no one would have bailed him out and he would have ended up serving a jail stint.

As the middle class have laughed at the funny lag in the narrator's speaking, probably a drug induced one, and at the out-of place bonoko,  the tragedy has gone unnoticed. Bonoko  is used to refer to Arsenal's lacklustre performance, as the fake gunners. The middle class has endless uses to poke humour at the word.

It has escaped Kenya that the story highlights the plight of a generation. With millions living in poverty and slums, they face problems daily.

The few who try to come up with a means of living are punished for it. The City Council is out to prove the law is an arse, by being the straw that breaks the camel's back. The council is supposed to help the poor who cannot afford its steep annual levies, by maybe allowing them to pay in instalments. Instead, City Council employees who care less see an opportunity to work bribes off them, bribes that will help them live in prosperity.

Those in charge at City Hall, rather than built premises which can be leased to those who cannot afford, they built such premises and lease them off at a high fee to the middle class who have the money. Those born into street families are condemned to live in them and die in them, poor.

We raise a hostile society, where the "clever" ones who can pocket the largest bribes  are well values. Surprising , the poor seem ignorant enough to continue supporting this sick cycle, by voting in leaders who offer no value, but can offer a bribe now and then.

Politicians have no interest in helping their electorate out of poverty. To the middle class who are blessed enough not to suffer from the diseases of the poor, the poor are a good source of comic relief.

Just like the two year old Chinese girl who was run over by a hit and run motorist , we are the 18 other motorists who  run over her again and are too bothered to mind her plight.

Another of Bonoko's Dark humour http://youtu.be/u47Wr1xlsQA

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