CANDID TALK: Cooling my heels at Uswaz police ‘guesthouse’

Sunday September 1 2019


By Peter Muthamia

Even a real kitimoto (pig) would frown or even puke at its squalid condition much less a human being like me – a scribe with a reputable newspaper like the one you are now reading. But then, once one becomes accustomed to it, things cease to matter – all senses deaden and you become a zombie. It is suffocating, stuffy and stinks to the high heavens – men there live worse than dogs.

What with bucketfuls of human dung and urine placed some few meters away from you? Worse still, inmates can sometimes be very mean to ensure that space where you lay your head is such that as some guy pees in those damn buckets, droplets of urine spray your face to your chagrin especially if you are a newcomer in that blessed abode. Since inmates don’t bathe or even brush their teeth, the smell from their sweaty armpits is repelling. That is a police cell for your information.

Squalor notwithstanding, inmates usually enjoy eating morsels brought to them by their relatives oblivious of the surrounding. They share buns, tea and an occasional valuable smoke that has been smuggled into the cell. A police ‘guesthouse’, is one place any one could easily find themselves in just as one could find themselves with their limbs hanging in one of the Muhimbili Hospital beds or the freezers in the morgue, cold dead.

One redeeming feature in the said ‘guesthouse’ is that there is a sense of equality in that all the ‘guests’ are equal irrespective of their lives outside.

Sometimes back, while living in the mother of all shanties called Mabibo, I was thrown inside the freezer for allegedly ‘threatening to murder’. Not that I have ever killed anyone but law being what it is I was left with no choice but to obey.

You see, nothing irks tenants more than a landlord who makes stupid passes to someone’s wife - like touching her parts of the body only reserved for their hubbies, even if he happens to crippled. That is what happened to my one-and-only. When I arrived one evening, I found her drenched in tears.


My ego was hurt not because he was dying to play dirty games with Bisho Ntongo, but because he even hinted at undressing me, something that really sent me to a fit of fury.

Calmly, I assured her that I would deal with it the man way. Only a few men can live without a serious sword and truncheon with which, if circumstances allow can be used for what it was made for – to gore out offenders intestines or clobbering them to their demise.

The next morning, I pretended to have left for work but stole into my room and hid somewhere. Bisho Ntongo was mopping the corridor when Mzee Kombo passed by and rubbed himself against her backside and even dared to touch her breasts.

I gave him the mother of beatings him as other tenants gawped. They were inwardly happy that I had laid the dragon of a man who could not keep his hands off other men’s wives. That is how I found myself thrown inside a police ‘guesthouse’ cooling my heels.