Friday, January 11, 2008
99 days 4 the Thief, 1 day 4 the Owner
In Cameroon around the 80s, the government implemented the income tax collection by erecting roadblocks. Police officers and Gendarmes stood by the roadside to check for taxes. Students, women and handicaps were exempted with a proof of their IDs. Public transportation buses carrying people were stopped and checked thoroughly. If a male without a tax paper was inside that bus, he was asked to step down. The driver would have to reimburse his money while the police or the gendarmes took him to the barracks to squeeze his buttocks with their belts peradventure he shits or vomits the money, whichever was possible. Human rights abuse, the Americans will say. Therefore, drivers resorted to not carrying tax-ripe males without tax papers.
Man-No-Rest (named after his bus) was the most popular driver. Everybody wanted to travel in his bus because he never made accidents, and it was superstitiously credited to the white towel he always wore on his neck. The people thought he was a member of a secret society that gave him the towel. At times too, he nurtured their fallacy because when his car got stuck in mud, he came out and hit it with his towel and went back into his car, then drove out of the craterlike muddy pothole.
Ewane, a peripatetic trader walked slowly to Man-No-Rest’s bus and told them he was going to Kumba. “It’s 2500 FCFA.” The loader told him. “Then you show your tax,” he added. “I don’t have tax,” Ewane snapped. “Man-No-Rest, this is a passenger, but he has no tax,” the loader called out. “Well leave him,” Replied Man-No-Rest. “I have been traveling on this road now for a long time. It is not today that I began traveling here. Even yesterday, I went to Kumba without tax.” Ewane, angrily replied. Man-No-Rest curiously asked him how. He said he always plays deaf and dumb. “You mean, you act as if you are deaf and dumb?” Man-No-Rest inquired. “Ah ah (shaking his head and smiling), those are ears and not flags you have on, I guess,” Ewane joked. Man-No-Rest turned, looked at him again and said “how will you do that”. Ewane, quickly uttered his usual mumbo-jumbo as a real deaf and dumb would do. Man-No-Rest nictitated with our approval that Ewane will pass the police test.
We had driven from Nguti until Mabanda-Three-Corners, which was the last Police checkpoint before entering into Kumba our final connecting point. The police there were mostly from the north and most of them were illiterates. They usually did not know how to read English. They judged everything by just looking at it. At times, they will hold your Id upside down. Unfortunately, Ewane did not have anything to show. We told them “he is a deaf and dumb”. The police asked if he had any papers proving he should not pay taxes because he was deaf and dumb. He then asked Man-No-Rest to put him down and reimburse his money.
Man-No-Rest told him to drop with his luggage. Ewane jumped down and began harassing the police officer, titubating some gibberish. Unfortunately, saliva from his mouth fell on the face of the police officer who misjudged that Ewane had spat on his face. He made two steps backwards and rushed forward. He trachled Ewane’s right tibia with his police boots, not once, not twice, but he did so many times. Ewane then screamed, “is it only for this tax that you want to kill me”. “Allah akbar” (God is great), the police officer, a Muslim yelled. “Didn’t you all say he does not speak? “Allah akbar” he too exclaimed, nid-nodding. “ah bon le sourd muet a parlé. Il va vomir cet argent avant de quitter d’ici ! (The deaf and dumb has spoken. He will vomit the money before leaving this place). Ewane quickly became our thingumbob that we waved goodbye to continue our journey.
My friends, the thief has 99 days, but one day would be for the owner. You know those things you have been doing that you have not been caught. Ah don’t worry; a day is coming. If you are not caught here on earth, you will in heaven because there is a Judgment Day for everyone when all of us will give account of our actions. Sometimes, Karma does not wait for you to die. What have you been doing that you will not want people to know? Those false reports you file yearly. Oh yeah! Drugs, gambling, prostitution, alcoholism, stealing, armed robbery or just what? This is the time to stop. Don’t wait for it to be too late. For your sins will find you out. Ewane had been playing deaf and dumb until that day. Yours is coming; I mean the day of reckoning. If you liked my article, you can make a donation.
Until then, abandon that evil before it embarrasses you!
St Arrey of Ntenako
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