When An Ogre Walks Down the Street

Dated Sep 4, 2022; last modified on Mon, 05 Sep 2022

Plot Points

Her mind swells: mine, mine, mine. She pounds the pavement with her feet, pointing, shouting, but no one tries to stop the thief; no one wants to have a knife in the gut… And then the other things that anger her in a distracting and grinding way, things she can do nothing about because she is a coward, and she will not get tear-gassed, clobbered, and arrested over an uncertain revolution: the barely-out-of-teenagehood Kianjokoma brothers dead at the hands of the police and no one arrested; the billions the President says are vanishing from the national Treasury every day; DJ Evolve shot and maimed in a club by a sitting MP who is still sitting quite comfortably; the countries far away hoarding vaccines while their citizens brandish guns over masks and personal freedoms. No! She will not lose one more fucking thing to the world.

I like how Onjerika captures what life as a common Kenyan urbanite felt like in late 2021, against the backdrop of a street thief.

We can abide anything, any sin, but not monsters, they say… The blind crowd does not see her wickedness stirs. They think of her as a girl they can push around, scold, spit on, and discipline. Oh, she will be bad. She will be horrible. When she lets out a giggle, the crowd stills, and confusion appears on their faces. Haiya, this girl is mad! they say. But she laughs because she is beyond needing anyone’s forgiveness… In one sweep, the wicked girl-monster snatches the thief from the arms that brace him. They watch as she tosses him head-first into her gigantic mouth. Their understanding dissolves as she chews down his screams, cracking every objection with powerful teeth.

The crowd forgives the thief’s act, but not her act of violence against the thief. It’s sad that her only option is one that’s not available in real life.

On one hand, the robbery was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The violence meted out on the handbag thief was not commensurate. No one should lose their life for that. On the other hand, her turning into an ogre is fictional. In real life, what could she have done to appease or hold off the crowd?


Her thoughts are butterflies, alighting momentarily to extend their tubes and investigate the core meaning of life, then lifting off and giving themselves over to the wind.


  1. When An Ogre Walks Down the Street. Makena Onjerika. iselemagazine.com . Dec 20, 2021. Accessed Sep 4, 2022.