, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – Mukhtar Ahmed is not a big man. At over 50 years of age, his grey hair is slicked back, his glasses pushed back on the bridge of his nose and he’s dressed in a simple shirt and slacks, arms rolled up. Nothing extra-ordinary.
Except for the smile that plays on his lips. Striking not because of his brilliant white teeth but because we were expecting an angry man.
Angry because it’s not every day that a man feels that such a grave injustice has been dealt to him that he takes out not one but two full-page newspaper adverts valued at over Sh1 million to catch the President’s attention; to get his grievances heard.
Now, his cell phone, whose number he included in the advert, seems to ring off the hook. “I think I’ve received over 2,000 phone calls today.”
And now with people finally listening, maybe, he can afford the makings of a smile.
He may have taken out a full-page newspaper advertiser’s announcement, but Ahmed is a man of few words as I soon discover when we eventually sit down for an interview on Wednesday evening, the strains of the Muezzin calling for evening prayers catching up with us.
Ahmed having spent the better part of the day bearing testament to the police of the events he described as the worst to befall him in his 50 years and so, unavailable. Events that led him to make public his grievances in what he says he felt was his patriotic duty.
On Monday morning, he narrates, he was alerted to the presence of “hostile,” Administration Police officers on his business premises.
Hostile because they were on a mission to evict him on the strength of court orders he described as “defective.”
And so they went about “hurling sensitive electronic equipment,” his stock, “on the back of an auctioneer’s truck.”
Goods worth over Sh20 million. “And they wouldn’t listen to reason,” he caps.
And while recovering his losses would be welcome, the newspaper advert, he says, wasn’t about the money.
“It’s about making sure that no one else has to go through what I went through. I’m sure the officers I named won’t be carrying out such an eviction exercise any time soon without first guaranteeing the authenticity of the court orders.”
In his letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ahmed names two AP commandants whom he sought assistance from and who turned him down.
But the “attack” on his electronics businesses didn’t come out of thin air. It was the culmination of a three year court battle with his landlords of 35 years.
His four landlords, partners, Ahmed accused, badly wanted him ejected from the third and sixth floors of the Luthuli Avenue-situated Parker Radio House.
Luthuli Avenue is popularly known as ‘Electronics Avenue’ and therefore a highly sought after ‘corner’ for those who deal in the merchandise and it’s understandable therefore why Ahmed wasn’t so keen to part with the premises.
“Shops on Luthuli attract a lot of money in goodwill from new tenants and my landlords were driven by greed in demanding that I vacate the premises.”
But even with such bad blood, Mukhtar who on the same day as his eviction obtained court orders barring any further, “harassment,” is adamant that he will re-open shop on the very same, disputed space.
And not because he’s not cognizant that it would be less of a hassle to simply re-locate. “Even if it takes five years in court, I won’t budge. I love my country and this impunity cannot continue to win the day. This is where I draw my line in the sand.”