A young couple, probably in their early 20s, step into a jewellery shop smack in the middle of Nairobi. They are fashionably dressed in ragged denim with bag packs parched on each of their backs – picture a typical Nairobi youth and no further description is needed. They seem like normal people browsing for some jewellery, but outward appearances have never been anything to go by. The guy tries on a ring and examines it in all angles like a diamond retailer. He seems impressed enough to buy it.
He signals his girlfriend who leaves a bangle she is admiring and stands next to him, and without scrutinizing it intently, approves of it. You would think he is the perfect boyfriend who always cares about his girlfriend’s opinion, until when he removes the ring and slides it into her jean’s pocket. No one notices. They then leave the shop like they have just come out of watching show.
This real life scenario seems like ‘petty’ theft, but there is a growing number of duos who make love a crime, literally.
Some youngsters think being gangster is their golden ticket to riches, and more couples are buying into it, perfectly masking their ulterior agendas. I mean, they don’t seem suspect, thug-like; just two people who are in love, what could possibly go wrong?
People are ready to do anything for ‘love’. Love has replaced other drugs in impairing judgement and giving its users bravado to do things they wouldn’t usually do, like point a gun at a civilian or just steal. I wonder how many times the ‘denim couple’ had stolen or how many more shops they intended to visit that day. I bet in a month, they’d be set to open a jewellery shop, but only God knows what they intend to do with their stash.
Gone are the days when love meant peace, and everything white. The view of love to most youths is ever misaligned and misled. Love seems thrilling and deep when the participants engage in something illegal, something deviant. Barely a month ago, there has been talk in town of ‘pretty’ ladies being involved in crime and shot dead.
It all started when 18-year old Claire Njoki Kiboi, dubbed by the media as the ‘prettiest gangster’ was gunned down. Her boyfriend was said to be a suspected gangster, but little is said of him. Again, it appears that the media, and Kenyans in general had priorities all wrong. We paid more emphasis on her outward appearance as if all gangsters are excused for being ugly, or men for that matter.
I’m no crime pundit, but there seems to be a rise in couple gangs. Ask some, if not most young people in Kayole and Eastlands, and they will tell you that most of the thugs gunned down pledged allegiance to Gaza. Gaza, a criminal cult-like gang that draws inspiration from Jamaica’s convicted musician, Vybz Kartel, seems to be recruiting more youths like IEBC is registering voters. In a twist of events, the musician recently disowned having links to the gang, saying he is not a supporter of violence, neither is he a god.
From a Marxism perspective, there has been a discrepancy between the rich and poor, and so guns fired are simply the sound of the gap being bridged. Like a scene from a soap opera, politicians’ offspring spend and fling over a million shillings in a club, and then the show cuts to Eastlands where joblessness, drugs and desperation drive some to kill for money.
So, when comrades come to the city to get even, and the illusion of love having their back, do we blame love or the lack thereof?