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Cyclist who ‘slept with a grenade’ becomes village hero

He is a soft spoken and shy youthful bodaboda rider who did even what a trained soldier would not dare do.

The rider, Leonard Maina, 22, played with a grenade  and  – as if that was not enough – wrapped the explosive in a leso and slept with it in his house over night, much to the astonishment of his colleagues, villagers and everyone who heard about it.

When he later stormed the Kiandai Administration Police Post in Kirinyaga County to surrender the grenade tothe police, the officers in charge took off in different directions, leaving the Standard Seven dropout wondering why they were running away.

DECLARED A HERO

And during Mashujaa Day celebrations on Thursday at Kianyaga Stadium in Gichugu, political leaders declared Mr Maina a hero and showered him with cash gifts.

“He is really a hero and he should be awarded and honoured,” said the County Jubilee Party Chairman, Mureithi Kang’ara as he handed over Sh5,000 to Mr Maina.

The crowd cheered and clapped in approval.

“The police officers fled, but this young man bravely and firmly held the explosive and slept with it. He deserves a pat on the back. Surely he is a great man of valour,” said Mr Kang’ara who is also a director of Tana Water Services Board.

The County Women Representative Winnie Njuguna praised Mr Maina for his courage and gave him Sh2,000 to celebrate.

It was on April 8, 2014 when Mr Maina came across the grenade which police suspect was left behind by the colonial army during their fight with the Mau Mau fighters.

Mr Maina collected and displayed the explosive to his colleagues, who at one point fled in panic. His colleagues regrouped later after he had deceived them that the object was not harmful.

OBLIVIOUS OF DANGERS

He even entertained his fellow riders by tossing the object in the air and engaging in all manner of circus, oblivious of the dangers he was exposing himself to.

After he was through with his stunts, he explained to the shocked crowd how he had carried the explosive home and wrapped it in a leso.

That day no family member or villager went close to his house or visit him.

He kept the grenade on his bedside and slept soundly, but woke up with a determination to surrender it to the police the following day lest he be branded a terrorist.

But when the officers at the post saw Mr Maina holding the explosive with his bare hands, they panicked and fled.

“I was baffled when the security officers ran away as I tried to hand it over to them,” said Mr Maina as he narrated the experience to the crowd on Mashujaa Day.

Left with no one at the post, he proceeded to Kianyaga police station and displayed the explosive to the equally shocked officers.

However one of the officers, a Mr Martin, carefully took the device and asked the bold rider to record a statement before he could be released to go home.

Later, Mr Maina was summoned at the station and asked to take the police to the place where he collected the explosive.

BALLISTIC EXPERTS

Ballistic experts were summoned from Nairobi and successfully detonated the device.

Area criminal investigations officer Ms Susan Kirori admitted that the explosive was a grenade which had been dug out and exposed by a tractor that was repairing a road in the village.

“Although I had not been posted to the station by then, I would like to confirm that the object was a grenade which was later detonated,” she told the Nation.

Since the episode, Mr Maina has become a household name in his village.

Asked whether he knew that the object was an explosive, he responded to the affirmative.

“I had seen it in movies and I no doubt it was a bomb. I wanted to save my fellow villagers,” he remarked.