Nyeri View, Dedan Kimathi.
A dark Subaru pulls up at the side of the road. It leaves just enough space for another vehicle on the road. Two young, smartly dressed men get out. They attract the attention of passersby. They look young enough to be students. But how could students be driving a Subaru? One of them reaches into the car and pulls out a briefcase. He then shuts the door. The other guy pushes a button on his car keys and locks the Subaru.
The two men survey their surroundings for a bit. They seem like they don’t know exactly where they are going. One of them stops a girl who is passing by. In a smooth, deep voice, he says, “Excuse me. Ni wapi kuna hostels hapa karibu?” The girl appears dumbfounded for a bit. Then she points to a gate and says, “Angalieni huku.” She then points to a big house with a red roof about ten meters away and says, “Pia pale nyuma ya ile nyumba kuna hostels.” Quickly, she continues with her journey and the young man is a bit surprised because he wasn’t even given a chance to say thank you.
Behind the big house with a red roof, inside one of the hostel rooms, there are three young men. A Gengetone mix by DJ Lyta is blaring from the sound system in the room. The three occupants can barely hear each other over the loud music. However, they are very busy in a conversation. One of them, Calvo, is narrating what happened to him in the morning, “Huskii hio bafu haifungikangi vizuri. Sasa mimi niko hapo nimejaa sabuni mwili mzima. Niko busy tu nimejisugua alafu kidogo kidogo naskia mlango imeknockiwa. Ata kabla nipate chance ya kusema kitu ilikuwa ishafunguliwa. Mimi juu nilikuwa na sabuni hadi kwa macho sikuweza kuona poa. But niliskia nduru ya dem alafu akabang mlango akiwa amepotea.” By that time, his two friends are busy laughing their asses off. One of them slides onto the floor and lies down, shaking with laughter.
The other one, who is in the kitchen section, is busy chopping tomatoes into a sufuria that contains frying onions. He is laughing and crying at the same time – laughing because of the funniest story he has heard in a long time and crying because of the onions in the sufuria. Calvo continues, “Hadi saa hii bado sijajua ni dem mgani huyo aliniona. Na sijui aliona nini akaacha nini. Kwanza sijui kama aliniona uso na akanijua. But nilikuwa na sabuni so most probably hakunirecognize.”
The one on the floor, who by now is shedding tears and slapping the carpet in laughter, says, “Unafaa kufanya follow up ndio ujue alipiga nduru kwa nini. Inaweza kuwa ilikuwa nduru ya furaha ukuwe umeangukia tu ivo. Hio ni opportunity yenye hufai kupoteza. Lakini bana ulichoma.” The three of them laugh on.
The two young smartly dressed men approach a door and knock. There are three pairs of shoes outside and a pair of crocks. They can hear loud music playing inside the room. After waiting for some seconds, one of them knocks again, this time louder.
Inside the room, one of the guys reduces the volume on the sound system and asks, “Mlango imeknockiwa ama ni zangu zimeshika?” His companions are not sure. “Si uende uangalie juu ni wewe umeskia,” one of them says. Before anyone can move, they hear a clear knock on the door and the one closest to the door, Calvo, moves and opens it. He finds two young men and invites them in, supposing them to be neighbors or something of the sort. They remove their shoes and get in.
As they enter, one of the other guys, Mwas, whispers to his roommate, “Kwani mbogi ya AIM global inafanyanga door to door Nyeri View?”
One of the visitors hears him and says, “Ai. Sisi si wa AIM global bana.” Laughing a bit, he says, “Mbona unatutusi? We are from a company called Junta. We offer professional transcription services. My friend here will tell you all about why we are here. His name is Peter and you can call me Steve.”
The guy who has been referred to as Peter says, “Tunaona tumefika time poa. Kunanukia.” All the occupants of the room laugh briefly. The two visitors are offered space on a bed. Peter continues, “Anyway ata hatukai sana. We won’t take much of your time. Just about five minutes and then we are gone. As my friend here has said, at Junta, we do transcription. Does any one of you have any idea what transcription is?”
Calvo says, “Si ni stuff na kutranslate audio into text ama kitu ka hiyo.”
Peter seems overjoyed and stretches out his hand in a fist bump to Calvo. “Aaa. Shikilia. That’s exactly what we do.” Peter continues, “Wewe mi mjanja sana. Unaitwaje bro?”
Calvo says his name and Peter continues, “It’s such a pleasure to meet you Calvo. Basically, we convert audio to text. We also append text to videos. So sisi ndio hutengeneza subtitles za movie. If people take recordings at meetings or interviews, it’s our job to translate that audio into text and have it in documents. We are involved in a wide range of services but they all revolve around translating audio to text. I’ve been working with Junta for two years now. Actually, nilikuwa hapa Kimathi nafanya Food Science. Alafu nikahustle kiasi miezi kadhaa bila kupata job then I met this guy called Steve. Ni msee wa nguvu sana. He introduced me to this job and I have never found reason to go anywhere else. Sasa some opportunities opened for beginners at Junta and I told him, why don’t we give these opportunities to some of the comrades from Kimathi? I still love this place a lot.”
By now, Calvo and his friends seem interested. “Sa si mnajua sisi ni mastudents. Hatuwezi kuwa full time.”
Stevo answers, “We understand but let me assure you that we have very flexible work schedules at Junta. Actually, most of our employees work from home. All you need is internet connection and a laptop.
Mwas asks, “Na hizi job hulipa how much?”
Stevo says, “It depends on how long you are expected to take to finish a job. But on average, jobs pay three dollars an hour. That’s about three hundred shillings. And most of the jobs take about four hours. So depending on the free time you have, you can even do two or three jobs a day and get about sh. 4000 a day. But since you are students, you can be comfortable with one job a day and get about sh. 1000 a day. But the jobs aren’t always available.”
The three friends seem very interested by now. Peter says, “It’s a very good deal by the way. Muondokee hii maisha ya kusota once and for all. Alafu unajua ukisave kidogo na uinvest hapa na pale utajipata by the time unamaliza campo ushaomoka ukona tubiashara kadhaa na huhitaji kutafuta job.” As the friends digest all that they’ve heard, Peter continues, “Alafu nacheki hii place imechange. I’ve not been here in about two years ata karibu nipotee. Sikuacha kumejengwa hostels mingi hivi.
Brayo, who had been cooking, starts serving the food. Mwas says, “Wasee mnaonaje na vile tumesota?” Brayo says, “Mimi naona tuingie. Actually tunaeza anza lini? Juu if possible tunafaa ata tuanze leo ndio by weekend tukuwe tumepata pesa za form.”
Steve says, “We were to give you some time alafu you report at the beginning of next week but if you are that eager, we can start as soon as possible. You just have to get that software then watch a few tutorials alafu in a few days you’ll be good to go.”
Calvo says, “Mimi nikona shida moja tu. I can’t type fast. Vidole zangu zinakaanga sausage so nashuku sitaweza kufanya hii kazi poa.”
Steve starts to reply but when he is handed a plate of food, he stops. “Aiyaiya. Tulikuwa tunajoke ile time tulisema tunajua kutime chakula. We’re actually just from lunch. Let us not inconvenience you. Please. But thanks sana for the offer. It’s very kind.”
Brayo says, “Apana. Hamtakuwa mnatuinconvenience in any way. Tunakuwanga tumepika chakula mob and every day kunakuwanga na watu kama sita wanakula lunch huku. Ata leo nilikuwa nashangaa hii food yote itaisha aje. Tafadhali, kuleni.” He then puts the plate in Steve’s hands as if they’ve already agreed. Steve begrudgingly says, “Sawa.” Before he starts eating, he remembers that he was answering Calvo’s question and says, “Ooo. Nilikuwa nakuambia that you don’t need to know how to type fast. Since Junta has been doing this for quite some time, we already have software that does the transcription automatically. The only problem is that haikuwangi 100% accurate and we take pride in giving our clients accurate work. Your job is to go through the output of the transcription software and correct the mistakes. It may sound easy but it can be tedious, especially because you don’t want to miss even a single error. But you don’t need to be able to type fast. Actually, hao watu wakona vidole zinakaa sausage do very well at Junta.”
The whole room laughs and Calvo says, “Baas. Kama ni hivo niko ndani kabisa. Tuanze as soon as possible.”
By this time, everyone has a plate of food and is eating.
“Si mkona laptops?” Peter asks and everyone says yes. He nods and says, “Mambo ya net si unaeza kuwa ukishika ya 50 bob airtel ukipata job. It should be more than enough. But before you can start, you’ll need wi-fi so that you get the software we use. Kuna place tunaitoanga online. It cannot be duplicated kwa flash disk kwanza juu ya size na pili juu ya mambo na licenses. Ndio ucrack ni lazima tena ukuwe online kwa site fulani. Mkona place mnaweza pata wi-fi?”
Brayo scratches his head and says, “Hiyo inaweza kuwa ngori. Juu wi-fi ya shule inakuwanga slow na kulingana na vile nimeskia umedescribe hiyo software, hatuwezi saidikia shule. Saa labda tununue bundles kubwa, which will be expensive.”
Steve looks at Peter and says, “Si tufanye hivi, kule ofisi si kuna space?”
Peter shakes his head and says, “Kulikuwa kumejaa morning. Sidhani wanaweza toshea.”
Steve, addressing Brayo and company, says, “Tungewapeleka ofisi za Junta mtumie wi-fi ya huko but hatuwezi wapeleka leo.” Turning to Peter, he says, “But ngoja, si akina Stacy walikuwa wanatoka noon? Si hawa wasee wanaweza tumia hio space. Ata kama hawatapata viti I’m sure hawamind kusimama.”
Brayo, with a mouthful of food, says, “Ata tukisimama sisi wote hatuna shida. Mtakuwa mmetusave sana.”
Peter says, “By the way ata wanahitaji tu space ya kuwekelea lapi zao. Wasee, mtachukua tu lapi zenu tufike hapa Nyeri. We have an office there. Then it will take a maximum of three hours mkuwe na kila kitu. Hadi hizo tutorials then by the beginning of next week you’ll come in for a small test ndio tuone kama mko tayari. If you are ready, tuanze kazi na muanze kupata pesa.”
Peter and Steve get out of the room, followed by Mwas, Brayo and Calvo, who each have a bag with their laptops inside. Brayo stays behind to lock the door as the rest head towards the car. On getting to the car, Mwas, Calvo and Brayo have a hard time hiding their amazement. Peter says, “Hii ni ya huyu boss wangu Steve. He has been doing this for about three years. Pia mimi niko karibu kufika hapo ninunue yangu.”
“Uliishika na mangapi?” Mwas asks.
“Hii ni ya 1.5 M pekee,” Steve responds.
“Ati pekee? Enyewe hii kazi basi inalipa.” Once Steve opens the doors, the interior design wows them even more. Steve, seeing Brayo’s excitement, says, “By the way kama unajua kuendesha unaweza drive hadi tufike kwa main road.”
“Uko serious?” Brayo asks. In reply to the question, Steve hands him the keys. Brayo goes to the driver’s seat. Steve seats at the front and the rest go in the back. The vehicle is automatic and Brayo has no trouble starting it. Slowly at first, the vehicle starts moving but then picks up the pace. Brayo’s friends are impressed. Steve asks, “Unaonekana umezoea kuendesha gari?” Brayo replies, “Uncle yangu ananiachanga niendeshe gari yake holiday. Ni yeye alinifunza actually.” Mwas asks, “Uko sure si sugar mummy anakuwachanga uendeshe yake? Juu kulingana na zile picha za uncle yako nimeona hawezi kuwa na gari.” Everyone in the vehicle laughs and Brayo, shooting Mwas a glare on the rearview mirror, says, “Unataka niambie mkubwa kenye ilikufanyikia leo morning?” Mwas says, “Cheza chini. Wacha nikanyagie hio story.” Brayo has been driving for about a minute, and the vehicle is a few hundred meters from the main road when it suddenly stalls.
“Nini imefanyika?” Brayo asks, a look of alarm on his face. Steve says, “Ebu jaribu kuiasha tena.” Brayo seems a bit shaky and fumbles with the ignition. “Kuja hii side. Wacha nijaribu.” As Brayo unfastens his seat belt to get out, he says, “Aki pole. I don’t know what has happened.” They switch sides and Steve tries starting the vehicle and fails. “Imekuwa na hii shida time ingine. I had meant to take it to the garage but nimeishi kupostpone. It’s not your fault. Itabidi tuskume ndio ianze.”
Brayo, Calvo and Mwas get out. When Peter makes as if to get out, Brayo says, “Wewe tulia mkubwa. Juu ni mimi nimeleta hii shida wacha tusukume.” Peter raises his hands in surrender. Brayo and his friends move to the back of the car and start pushing it. It starts moving slowly and after a sputter or two, it starts. They look on, waiting for it to stop so that they can catch up and get in. However, it keeps going. They start running after it but within moments, it gets to the main road and disappears.
Based on a true story that happened in Dekut. Beware of conmen. Stay tuned to our blog section. We’ll be collecting similar incidents and publishing them on the website over the next few weeks.
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