AT last she got an employment, after searching for a while. It was not much but a dollar an hour was enough to feed, cloth and shelter her in one of Nairobi’s lower class estates. She remembered all her friends who had not landed a job two years after graduating from college and she was grateful. At least this was her second job. The pay might be small, but at least she will be working in one of Kenya’s first growing companies and experience gained will be enough to land her a job in a better paying company or so she thought.
Her expectations were crushed on her first day at work. The office was located at the city’s downtown. It was a dull dingy place, a great contrast to the well designed and animated website. There were no well dressed employees in huge boardrooms as depicted in the website. There were no white directors and glass offices as she had seen on the website. There were no Mac, no up to date office equipment. All there was was a dingy, poorly ventilated and dully lighted room with two old creaky desks. On the desks were two old desk top computers that produced generator like sounds. There was no fan to cool the room. There were no dozens of employees but one person.
“I am Henry, the MD,” he introduced himself. “You must be Janet.”
“Yes, I am,” she responded. “Pleasure to meet you Henry.”
After the pleasantries, she was taken through her job description. It ranged from cleaning the office, marketing the company, messenger, personal assistant, operations, book-keeping and so on. In short, she was in charge of all office operations and activities. She wanted to reject the job, but she thought of her single mother and her five siblings back at home. She couldn’t go back to the village and continue depending on her mother. She was a big girl now. She had learnt how to survive in Nairobi.
“I thought the company has several employees,” she asked. “I read that in the job advert and the website.”
“Oh, this is the Kenyan branch. It has just been opened.” the swift soft spoken Henry replied. “The rest of the team are in the UK and the US. We shall be visiting them four times a year for the quarterly meetings.”
The thought of not only working for an international company but also visiting the west four times a year appeased Janet. Her dreams of traveling the world was almost coming true. Little did she know all these were lies well told .
The first few weeks went well. She was punctual, she cleaned the office, applied for government tenders, wrote proposals, procured office equipment and did all stipulated in her job description. Henry was never in the office. He was always out the office meeting investors. He was a learned person, he had explained to her. He had a degree in BSc Engineering from University of Florida and an MBA from Cambridge. He was well-traveled too. He had been to several youth summit and business conferences in Africa and beyond. Though he didn’t act so which was a little bit odd.
Then one day Henry came back to the office after attending a “conference” in Mombasa. He brought Janet gifts. A beautiful printed leso, a bottle of henna and colourful Maasai sandals. He said they were a present because she has managed the office quite efficiently. She was happy to be appreciated. It feels good you know. As months went by, the gifts increased. He didn’t have to go out of town to get her a gift, he always had something small to give her, a bar of chocolate, a cup of coffee, an apple, a pair of earrings. She felt uncomfortable receiving the gifts, but Henry would not take a no. She feared being fired for not taking a gift… what a stupid reason to lose a job?
In so many occasions Henry asked her to stay in the office late. She didn’t mind because that meant a few more dollars for her. It didn’t seem off for her that day when Henry asked her to stay late and wait for him. She sat waiting like a faithful dog though it was getting late, past 8 to be precise. Those of you who are familiar with down town are aware that only few businesses remain open past 6pm. She was getting worried, she called Henry who assured her that he was on his way and that he will call an Uber to take her home or book her a hotel room.
At around 9 he arrived. He was drunk. She was relieved that now she would get to go home. Little did she know that his arrival marked the beginning of her trouble. As Janet picked up her bag to leave, Henry held her hand and pulled her to him.
“I have been waiting for this moment since you started working for me.”
“Which moment?” she asked, pulling herself away from him.
“When I can hold you in my arms,” he said. Pulling Janet close to him again. Forcing his mouth against hers.
“You must be mistaken,” she said. She turned her head away. Disgusted by the smell of stale alcohol and cigarette coming out of Henry’s mouth.
“You think I haven’t noticed how you look at me, how you dress in short skirts to attract my attention and how you behave strangely around me?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You know, why else would you be accepting my gifts?”
It then dawned to her. The gifts were a trap. Just like the way one throws pieces of ugali to a chicken to attract it and once close enough, they capture and slaughter it. She has been the chicken all along, and the gifts were pieces of ugali.