By Barrack Muluka
The headquarters of Uasin Gishu District is the most ratty and filthy place.
Instead of the Kenya police yawning hopelessly on the roadside and asking motorists illogical questions, someone should get them to supervise the mayor of Eldoret and the residents as they read a little book called The Plague.
They should get each one of them to read a copy of this little story by French-Algerian Nobel laureate, Albert Camus.
Then the mayor and his people should perhaps begin appreciating that they live on the fringes of a disaster of global proportions. For, Eldoret is the headquarters of rats north of the Equator. The headquarters of Uasin Gishu District is the most ratty and filthy place it has ever been my misfortune to find myself in.
It all started with a search for a former three-star hotel in this wall-to-wall rat city. It had just gone past nine in the evening and I was not so sure of my directions.
As will often happen to an intermittent visitor on a drizzly night, I missed the correct turn-off. I discovered myself negotiating one lake of dirty water after the other in what was once a road. There are lakes of filthy water everywhere in Eldoret town.
I come across a railway line and decide that I know a viaduct to the former three-star place. But I instead discover myself on Rat Island, next to giant maize stores.
It is the muddiest and most mucky place misfortune could ever lead you in the night. My headlights bring into view the hugest and most horrendous colony of rats that you ever saw.
It is pejoratively stupendous. Suppose I got stuck in this mad, I am wondering? The wretched things would munch me alive! Jokes aside, there are hundreds upon hundreds of rats on this little dirty-water Rat Island. Indeed, they could easily be thousands upon thousands.
I get into the reverse mode and quit Rat Island. I am now more awake to my environment and I am shocked at the number of rodents that keep cutting across the road.
There is a fat rat here and a thin rat there. There are rats, rats and rats everywhere! After I have checked in the former three-star hotel for the night, I decide to explore the town centre, for I cannot get over the shock of Rat Island.
Clearly, someone should sack somebody in Eldoret. Perhaps everybody in the Municipal Council should go.
Dozens of assorted rat families
Albert Camus of The Plague fame would be ashamed to behold the rodents in free flow in one of Kenya’s leading metropolis.
As I maneuver around on this self-appointed inspection mission, I cannot help wondering what would happen the day the plague should hit this God forsaken town.
I discover that Eldoret town is not just Rat headquarters. It is also the headquarters of filth. There are mounds of garbage allover the streets and in the alleys.
Odoriferous heaps of all tribes of filth knock you breathless. Some have been dug up from the ground. Others have just been dumped allover. Their lowest common factor (lcf) is competition for rat patronage.
Every street boasts of its own rat population. There is a rat that has been run over by a motorcycle or a bicycle. Some seem to have just been trodden underfoot.
At the place where they were selling fish the other day, I come across a proper outing of dozens upon dozens of assorted rat families. They are in their element, racing to and fro, nibbling. Ugly grown-up fat rats and their slimy adolescent relatives are scrambling this way and that way. They nibble at just about anything. Two fat ones cut across in front of my car, sending a cold feeling down my systems. I follow them to a place, which must be the town market. God! If I thought Rat Island was hell, I had not seen anything!
This is the ultimate rat centre. They are climbing, they are jumping, they are nibbling – name it. They are running allover the heaps sukuma wiki on the side of the road and assorted full sacks of I don’t know what.
In another street – a busy street – flesh mongers and vendors of love engage their customers, oblivious of the rodents and filth in the street.
A fat rodent cuts across the street and literally goes between the legs of a stocky short man who is negotiating for a salacious night with a spindle legged lass.
Beer, rowdy music, sex, filth, rats and the cold rule the night. This one is a truly randy and ratty street.
The following morning the rats have gone to bed. People have taken over. Apart from Randy Ratty Street, shared by man and rat at night, there would appear to be a silent agreement between man and rodent over who rules the streets at what time. As I career my way southwards towards the Equator on one of the worst roads anywhere on the globe, I read these words on one of the many giant boards on the roadside: “Goodbye and come again.” Yes, come again to Eldoret, the home of a bullet factory, an international airport and the wildest rat race in the world. Welcome to disaster in waiting.