“You only live once”, or Yolo as it is known in its swankier short form, is a popular phrase among the younger generation. But if what three young boys from Wajir County did last week is anything to go by, then the youth should probably get another catchphrase to justify their adventurous and at times, reckless ways.
Were it not for a police raid at the Riverside Hotel, a popular lodging on 11th Street, Eastleigh in Nairobi, the three youngsters, two aged 10 and the other 11, could probably be on the streets by now after spending their entire loot.
They had Sh30,000 on them when officers from the Pangani Police Station pounced. Mohamed Ismail, a community leader in Eastleigh, who together with journalist Yassin Juma, facilitated their release from the police cells, says the youngsters even tried to bribe the officers who arrested them.
“I have not seen children who are as daring and devious as those three boys,” says Ismail.
“One of their parents told me to let the son remain in police cells or even be taken to an approved school because she could not take any more of his mischief,” he says.
Together with the prostitutes arrested during the crackdown, the boys ended up at the Pangani Police Station where a frantic search for their parents was launched in conjunction with community leaders.
The three boys had told the police that a week before their arrest, they had picked Sh200,000 that had fallen off the pockets of a drunk man at the famous Ngamia Bar in Wajir Town. The three hail from Wagberi, Township and South C, all located in the town.
How the three boys managed to get access to a bar is still a mystery but with their new found riches, they decided to make a trip of a lifetime to the capital. Apparently, one of them has an aunt who lives in Pangani and had been in Nairobi before, so he had an idea of what they would find in the big city.
It is this aunt who would later link the three boys to their parents in Wajir after they spent two days at a cell in Pangani Police Station. Arrangements were already being made for the State to send them to a borstal institution or a children’s home after the police heard their bizarre tale.
Interestingly, by the time they made it to Nairobi on Sunday last week, they had already spent Sh150,000 between Wajir and the capital. They were, however, briefly arrested on 10th Street in Eastleigh but managed to get away.
They then booked room 313 at the Riverside Hotel. According to instructions at the hotel’s booking area, you need to present the national Identity Card for Kenyan nationals or a passport for foreigners before you get a room. The hotel’s management told the Nation that the boys were brought in by an adult.
“It is not our policy to give rooms to children. That is common sense,” said one of the managers.
“They were brought in by a person known as Ousman and we have given the details to the police,” said the manager. Armed with Sh50,000 and in a big city; the three boys embarked on a touring and spending spree, mostly buying clothes and sweets. During the day, they hired a taxi driver who took them around the capital mostly to Uhuru Park to take photos as recounted by Mr Juma on his Facebook page. They even bought two bicycles which they would ride in the evening in Eastleigh.
“One of the boys said they were approached by some twilight girls at the lodging that has some five floors mostly fully booked by prostitutes,” recalled Mr Juma.
Their adventure came to an abrupt end after one of them, during their bike-riding escapades, hit a woman and flashed money in an attempt to bribe her.
“The woman noticed that the boys are not from Eastleigh and informed the Nyumba Kumi chairman,” said Mr Ismail. “The chairman then told the area chief who in turn informed the police,” he said.
It took the efforts of the local leadership in Eastleigh to send the boys back to Wajir and connect them with their parents. The two bicycles are still with the area chief and the Sh30,000, which was in their possession is at the Pangani Police Station, waiting for the owner to claim it.