THE RECRUIT: TALES FROM DADAAB

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic


the aftermath of somalia's break up, life at the refugee camps

Submitted: December 20, 2017

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Submitted: December 20, 2017

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TALES FROM DADAAB
Working in an environment like the one in Dadaab was always both a challenge and exciting at the same time. When the curtain falls we cart away treasure troves of memories. One of the things that I remember is the shared stories under the moonlight at DMO. One of them was about a famous bandit called Chongo. It was said Chongo was an elite paratrooper in Siad Barre's army. As Barre's forces were overrun, most of his troops melted into the various camps set up in the then North Eastern Province. Chongo opted to maintain a ragtag team of shifta operatives basically robbing motorists along the major roads in NE. Over time, he suffered eye damage in the many exchanges with the Kenyan police.

What made Chongo legend was the fact that he was a skilled marksman (a debate raged on whether being mono eyed made him 'naturally focused'), In most engagements with the police, there were casualties with the fatal shot being a head shot. His modus operandi was most times, aware that the forces were on his trail, he would get to a vantage point and unleash a barrage, naturally the police would dive for cover in formation, usually semi circular to try and envelop the bandits. The police were equipped with the heavier calibre G-3, better suited for longer distance firing and sustained combat. Downside was it was bulkier, had a very loud report and not as effective for close quarter combat. Most bandits carried the lighter, less loud AK-47, which suited Chongo perfectly. Chongo would embark on a counter circling manouvre, eventually making a wider semi circular arc behind the police. Once he was positioned behind a policeman, he would time his shot to perfection. As the policeman pulled his trigger, mostly firing out of fright than sighting, Chongo would also pull his, killing the policeman instantly. Chongo's gunshot report muffled by the louder report of the fallen policeman's G-3. At the end of it all he would let the last one go armed with a bottle of water, to go spread the legend. Most were found after a few days in near delirium. The legend grew so much that most policemen would rather let him rob people and visit the scene afterwards.

Over the years, the police force used the NEP to blood recruits (Kurutu). These were sent to face the hardships of NEP for a few years before slowly finding their way to friendlier regions. Chongo had a field day with these. One time, on the road to Isiolo - Mandera, a bunch of officers were escorting buses, about six policemen and in their company, a newly recruited police officer. As they rode along in the lead bus, the policemen told stories of Chongo, basically to instill terror in the new recruit for fun, they guffawed as the recruit pleaded for them to stop but nothing. After a while they grew tired of terrorizing the recruit and nodded off, the trip generally having been uneventful and they having passed the notorious hot spots. Kilometers later and suddenly, there was an unexpected loud gunshot report, the buses screeched to a halt and before the policemen could react the lead bus had been boarded. The only alert policeman was the recruit who was so troubled by the earlier tales, had not slept the whole time. At the sound of the first report, the recruit jumped out of the window, into the thickets. Inside the bus, the policemen had awoken to come face to face with their worst nightmare, Chongo himself (the embodiment of terror), his pirate face blotting out the sunlight, gun pointed. With his semi grin and pirate look, he shot the coppers, a single bullet between the eyes. As Chongo and company robbed the buses, the recruit was in the thicket losing his mind, now deeply religious, a prayer warrior. After Chongo and team disembarked, they seemed headed straight for the recruit, in panic, the recruit made peace with his maker, set his rifle on auto and charged screaming, eyes closed, towards Chongo, with his gun chattering continuously. His 20 bullets were gone in seconds, he continued running until he bumped into the bus and fell. He sat there shaking in silence (in his mind he was dead, wondering why he was always afraid of death yet it was, painless!). His bottom ached from sitting (how so and yet he was dead?). He heard voices he felt a hand on his shoulder, so he slowly opened his eyes, there were dead bandits all around him, even Chongo lay dead, his mono eye still open. Passengers milled around him chatting excitedly. The recruit staggered to his feet still partially delirious, he wandered off leaving the passengers on their own, into the thickets. he was found hours later, still muttering to himself. He had to be institutionalised for a while and transferred to another part of the country on medical grounds. Still, within police circles he was a nameless hero. For Chongo, he suffered the ignominy of having been killed by a recruit.


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