Saturday, January 12, 2013

So you can blow the trumpet?

Guest post by Samuel G. Njenga

One of my many adventurous drives looking for land landed me somewhere in a place called Landless along Thika Garissa road. I can bet that some guys who were landless were settled there. I met Kamau, a land broker who never stops talking and chewing khat, his mouth is always green like that of a goat. The life that these fellows lead is sometimes amazing. And you would be quick to ignore them but you’d be surprised at how resourceful they can be. Think of a diamond in the rough. You see, this Kamau guy sometimes gets me some nice pieces of land and if I buy any of the land, I give him some good commission. The problem is that this fellow drinks himself silly, in fact, if you attempt to call him an hour or so after you pay him any commission, you’ll find him already drunk and talking incoherently; it will be akin to talking to oneself. I think brokers have that mentality that the cash they get from land deals is almost painless or effortless.

Kamau and his problems aside, he showed me some few pieces off Thika Garissa road all the way up to some place called Magogoni, at the foot of Kilimambogo and bordering Ukambani. On our way back he remembered some nice land on sale near Thika Town and we headed there. I liked the land and I therefore, requested to meet the owner, one Momanyi. The broker called him and he said he was too busy to meet me on short notice. He however agreed to meet me a week later.

I called my partner Paul and he agreed to accompany me to go meet Momanyi on that Saturday we were to meet. On our way to Town, I called Momanyi and requested him to meet us at Ambassador Hotel. His response was rather unexpected, “My friend, I don’t go to River Road. If you want to meet me, find your way to Serena”. I relayed the message to Paul and he laughed mischievously. I told him that I smelled a big rat coz I don’t like dealing with fellows who are all over themselves. Paul was insistent that we meet the fellow coz we might learn a few things from him.

When we packed at Serena, I called Momanyi and we linked up. Big bodied middle aged man with an average pot belly, dressed sharply and with designer shades to boot. We shook hands introduced ourselves and ordered some drinks. His first question was whether we were serious we really wanted the land. We nodded to affirm so. He then asked us whether we have viewed the land and we replied in the affirmative. Then he cheekily made a comment to the effect that he hoped we could afford the land.

As we sipped our drinks the guy talked and talked big. Within twenty minutes or so he had mentioned of a very large development project he was undertaking in Karen for some 30 units each costing 30M and how he does it without any financing from a bank. He had mentioned how he finances politicians. “You see from here am dashing to chair a meeting, am financing my brother for the some parliamentary contest somewhere in Kisii. The other day I gave him 7 million for his campaigns. In fact am also supposed to clear some Land Cruisers in Mombasa for the campaigns so you guys better be serious”, he said. It became a monologue and I was really struggling to listen to him.

After his self-adoration session, we asked for the paperwork to the land we were interested in. To our utter shock, the land was not even in his name. When we asked him why he is selling the land which does not bear his name, he said that he bought the land but decided to register it in his brother’s name now that during those days of the former regime big shots like him were being targeted by the powers that be. “Do you have the power of attorney or on what basis are you to sell the land?” we asked him. He did not have but said his brother is only a call away.

When we enquired for the price of the land, he told us it was worth 3M and non-negotiable. When we gave an offer of 2M, the guy was so irritated that he shot up from his seat and retorted; “Young boys, if you don’t have money, please take a walk, Mnafikiria shamba ni mkate? I don’t deal with people with no money “. He then yelled at one of the waiters and demanded for the bill. I realized that our talk was heading and I excused myself to go the gents.

By the time I came back I found Momanyi had already left but Paul had his smile back. “I hope when you become rich, you’ll not be as arrogant as this Momanyi guy”, Paul cautioned me. I however told Paul that my gut feeling was that the guy was a fake. You see, the majority of the filthy rich are generally humble people. You see the rich fellows in big cars are usually on the road very early and they have very good driving habits. After all they have no point to prove and their wealth speaks for itself. I am usually very skeptical of fellows who are always praising themselves. Even the good old book advises us in James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”

I suspect that most people are only humble simply because they are poor. Give them the money and overnight, they’d transform into very arrogant fellows. Next post we shall deal with a rather interesting concept. “In business, do you act like a rabbit or a wise turtle?

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