Spirits of Nairobi: Bonoko – The Afternoon That Changed My Life Forever

May 4, 2016

“I lived in the streets for more than eight years after my father chased me and my six siblings away from home. I used to sleep around Globe Cinema area together with other street boys. As a street boy I used to do all manner of things from helping people park their vehicles to snatching and stealing side mirrors.
One afternoon while lazing around Globe Cinema with ten of my fellow street boys we had gunshots. We rushed to the scene to find a butcher from Ngara area shot dead. I was so high on all manner of things from glue, bang and kichuri (crack cocaine) that I never noticed the television camera rolling before me.
I just heard the question that was shot at me: what happened. It’s my explanation in street parlance that captivated many. I said uyo sio mwizi, anauzaga nyama pare ngara. Sasa amekutiriwa akikojoa. Akaona atawagojea. Akatoka bio. Akauriwa na akaekerewa bonoko. The phrase became so popular that a certain DJ made it into music. It also became a popular phone ringtone.
Kenyans fell in love with the word bonoko (fake gun) which eventually became my nick name. That is how I ended up being called in Ghetto Radio for an interview. A lot of people called in during and after the interview asking about me. Later on I was called in as a co-presenter in the popular afternoon show called Goteana.
I now have my own house and I no longer sleep in the streets. I also have a car and I am building my mother a house in Banana. As a way of giving back to the community, I visit a children’s home every week. To accomplish this, I usually set aside sh20,000 from my salary every month.
Last Christmas I shared a meal with more than 2000 street children in Uhuru Park, where we cooked and ate together. I have also opened several car washes for some of my former colleagues in the streets besides renting others houses.
My vision is to build a street children rehabilitation centre where these homeless people will get at least a meal everyday and a place to spend the night. The facility will also have a rehabilitation section since most of these street people are addicted to glue, bang and other drugs”
Source – Spirits of Nairobi

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