Panache. That is all it takes to get past any security guard at any gate or building in this country. Simple, refined panache. Why you ask? This was me a few hours ago at an office located in a residential suburb of this traffic demented city this afternoon. I drive up to the gate, and a bulbous, pockmarked extrusion of a nose surfaces for air at the peep hole. It is quickly withdrawn and replaced by one baleful eye, casting its wary glance this way and that as opposed to straight ahead at the intruder. Aha, finally said eye rests its weary glance on my car, a piercing glare that is supposed to thrust a supposedly cold sword of fear through my unrelenting flesh. I strum my fingers on the steering wheel, waiting for this perpetual dance of intimidation that plays out at every security guard's domain of power to end. Having determined that there is no clear and present danger from the imaginary Russian U-Boats, the one eyed bulbous nosed owner emerges from behind the 8 foot high mabati excuse of a gate. His defence artillery consists of a tattered black ledger book and a chewed up biro pen, tied to the book with a fraying string that is about to disintegrate any time now. He shuffles across to my open window and asks with the most serious face he can muster "Unataka kuingia?" I bite my lip and with it the sarcastic response to the idiotic question of whether I want to get in.
Instead I look him dead in the eye and raise my eyebrow, making sure that he sees the steely glaze in my eye and semi-incredulous disposition that he does not recognize who I am. This always, I must admit, work remarkably well in throwing these wannabe ninja turtles off balance. "ehhhh, we ni nani?" is his next muted question, his voice shaky with doubt as to whether this was a career limiting question. "Ni Mimi, ala!" I thunder back, struggling hard to maintain an inscrutable expression, my innards churning with laughter. Ninja Turtle scurries back to the gate, swiftly opening both gates with a sleight of the hand , while the other hand is plastered back on his forehead in what he thinks is the ultimate salute! I drive into the compound, watching him in my rearview mirror and marvelling at how his back is ramrod straight at ninety degrees but his mind must be revolving at 360 degrees of confusion, fear, worry...."is this the mdosi's relative?"