Disabled man driven to despair by askaris
The demeanour of James Ochieng is that of a defeated man. Slumped shoulders and a pained expression paint grim picture of his life.
“I do not want to be a beggar, but I am a finished man. All I can do is go back to the village because I have been pushed into a corner,” he said with tears welling up in his eyes.
The disabled acrobat, who earns from entertaining crowds around OTC bus terminus, blamed the county askaris for running him out of business.
Mr Ochieng who has been disabled since childhood has over the years been staging acrobatic shows to the amusement of crowds who in turn give him handouts.
After a stint at the Tom Mboya monument, he said harassment by county askaris drove him out of the city centre. “I went to Railways (Station) hoping things would be different, but the askaris kept demanding bribes,” he said.
After constant arrests harassment and extortion, Mr Ochieng decided to camp at OTC which offered more clients and hopefully less harassment.
Even with the institution of the county government, Mr Ochieng claimed things had not got any better.
At OTC, Mr Ochieng had diversified his business and started selling sweets. He even employed a friend to run the business as a vendor while he attracted crowds with his antics.
However, last week his little venture was confiscated and he was bundled onto a city county vehicle.
He was later released but efforts to get back his merchandise have hit a wall at the city stores. “I do not have capital to restart my business and I cannot get a job. I cannot beg either,” he said.
Mr Ochieng said his upbringing would not let him be cowed because his parents brought him up the same as his able bodied siblings. However the frustrations from the county officers threaten to drive him over the edge.
He used to play football with Mathare Youth Sports Association and he said he had also once worked as a cobbler.