I knew it would be a rough ride being the chairman of Mashambani Cooperative Society. I knew the challenges of reviving the cooperative from the deep pit it had sunk into would not be an easy task.
At the back of my mind, Mzee Jeremiah’s last words at the cooperative offices still linger in mind. “I will keep fighting. I will watch over the illegal chairman. I will never allow him to take us for a ride,” Mzee Jeremiah told his supporters.
I did not know that my fights with Mzee Jeremiah would come so soon and in the style it did last Tuesday. The story started with a young bull that I gave Ken, a recovering alcoholic, to rear.
To take you a little back, at Mkulima Mixed Farm, I always give out any young bulls born from our dairy stock as it is unprofitable to keep male calves and feed them with milk for three months, milk which I would rather sell and make more profit.
So I use any male calf to express as a philanthropic gesture and demonstrate my farm’s corporate social responsibility by giving them out after feeding them with colostrum.
Ken happened to be one of the beneficiaries of such gestures two years ago. Ken is one of my village mates who used to earn a tidy sum when he was the conductor of Maendeleo Bus Service.
I recall with great veneration how he would offer us a lift while we were day scholars with Makanya, my old friend, at Mashambani Secondary school that was 10km away.
However, with his penchant for second generation alcohol, he lost his job and almost became destitute.
“Mkulima, what can I do with a minimum budget of Sh25,000,” he once asked me after he stopped thinking too much about his grandeur and considered the options he had in farming.
“You can start by buying young bulls from the dairy farmers and fattening them,” I advised him. Its unfortunate that many people take farming as the last resort when all the other options fail.
Due to my old relationship with him, I gave him one of the best young bulls without any payment. We agreed we would share the revenue when he finally sold it. It was a deal.
This stallion bull grew to be a fatty and meaty structure with an insatiable appetite to break fences. So last week, it broke Ken’s chain fence and strayed in Wagithomo’s maize farm. Wagithomo is my neighbour and a dairy farmer who was a key ally of Mzee Jeremiah in the last elections.
The vitriol he has spewed against me has been testimony that he loathes me more than Mzee Jeremiah does. He kept telling my opponents that being my neighbour he had exclusive and classified information about what happens in my family. That is why Mzee Jeremiah put him at the centre of his campaign.
So Ken’s bull strayed into Wagithomo’s farm and when it overwhelmed him, he shouted for help. I rushed to the farm and found him and the heavily breathing bull staring at each other. Ken’s physical appearance only indicated the night’s struggle — old boots, dirty and tattered blue overall and a cane.
After a few minutes, we calmed down the bull. “Ken, prepare for Wagithomo’s wrath,” I told him as we tethered the bull to one of the grivellia trees in his compound.
“But it has already served one of his cows which was on heat,” Ken said smiling. “So compensation and natural insemination will cancel each other,” he added.
I hurriedly went home to meet Mr Kabeca, our cooperative treasurer, who was briefing me on cooperative management since I was preparing for an executive meeting. I sympathised with Ken on how he would handle Wagithomo. I also suspected that this war could draw in Mzee Jeremiah.
I was right. At around 10am, Wagithomo and Mzee Jeremiah violently knocked on my door and made their way into the house. They found me busy sharing boiled green maize with Kabeca.
“You even stole my green maize!” Wagithomo roared. “So you stole elections so that your sick bulls can eat our maize crops !” shouted Mzee Jeremiah. The army of two staged a shouting war all over the house, attracting a few neighbours.
Wagithomo interjected: “I am not arguing with you! I have been patient for a long time!”
“Starting from your campaigns, to your chicken and now the bull destroying my supporters’ crop,” Mzee Jeremiah added.
He turned to Mr Kabeca, “So now you are with this mole,” he shouted as Kabeca walked out.
“How do you allow your bull to destroy my crop and rape my cow?” Wagithomo yelled.
Mzee Jeremiah shouted louder: “We want Sh 50,000 for this mess or else we end up in court. Stupid farmer!”
He continued to say that my farm was becoming a menace in the village. “His visitors block my gate. The smell of the sludge from his cows is polluting the air. I am nowadays very sick,” Wagithomo said.
“Your bees have been trespassing into my fruits and even robbing nectar from my flowers!” he added. “They are even a roaming danger to my family and livestock,” he said referring to the hives I recently acquired from Nzuki, the well-known beekeeper from Ukambani.
But a few minutes later, he gave me a straight stare into my eyes. “Meet my lawyers in court.” he roared and banged the door behind him.
I am still waiting to be served with a notice from his lawyer as threatened. With all the accusations, including destruction of crops, bees ‘trespassing and robbing’ his nectar! The danger of bees flying over neighbouring farms. Bee stings while trespassing into my farm. Obstruction, noise and air pollution from my visitors and sludge!
I am planning to argue that Wagithomo is on record for admiring the healthy bull which he wanted to serve his cow but could not approach me. The bees have pollinated his crops despite me getting the honey – again they cancel each other out.
I am even thinking of taking him to court before he does! He has caused death to my worker bees that stung him.
I am not a judge. Do we have any good lawyer out there who deals with agriculture law and difficult neighbours? I need some counsel.