So, as it were, I was deplumed. I could not fly and if at all I tried, I barely made it. Still, I had not given up easily the fight of losing my camera so, despite the sad incident having occurred two weeks or so ago, I had gone back again to Ubungo commuter bus terminus and tried to find the Masaki-bus I thought I had lost it on, obviously of course, with no success.
Hunters always take it for granted that the prey is more often than not found away from home and so, as a news hound, I presumed that I had left all journalistic curiosity behind me as I travelled back home, sweating like a frog in the hot, humid weather. I was damn wrong. As I cut a corner to my house, I stumbled upon an evacuation.
Whole furniture of a house hold and other belongings a family possesses were outside the house. As women stood by in silence, some men were busy either sealing or locking the door. I knew the owner of the house - one Alex Paschal Lyimo, but had not a flicker of knowledge who the other people who seemed to be in command of the situation were.
Alex himself was just standing outside the house, trying to reach somebody on his mobile. Seated on a stool outside was a young woman, heavy with child. I was to know later she was Alex’s wife. There were two girls with her; a house girl and her younger sister. Instantly my journalistic instincts woke up. My nose smelt news and my ears burned to hear it.
“What is happening, Alex?” I asked the young man. “I am being kicked out of the house by a court broker,” he answered. If it was boxing, the punch had caught Alex with his guards down and landed slap bang in the solar plexus. As far as I could remember, a year or so Alex lived in some other house in the neighbourhood. Then, he would come to fetch water from my house. Once he suggested to complete a house I was constructing.
“Let me do that and we can work out paying arrangements, I do need a house badly,” he had said. But I was not going to finish building my house that way and Alex let it rest at that. Shortly later, I saw him in the house he was now being evacuated from. The house was built by the path I walk along as I go to the bus stop.
I had known the owner of the house, one Mwaipyana, who worked with Bima or National Insurance Cooperation back in the 1990s. His wife was a teacher. Poor Mwaipyana and wife! Today they both belong to the yonder world. “I think now you are much more comfortable,” I told Alex when next I met him after he moved into the house. “Yes, Mzee, but there is a lot of repair to do there because the house appears to have been unoccupied for a long time and is in a big state of disrepair,” he told me.
Some time later Alex told me his landlord and he was at daggers drawn because of the money he had used to repair the house. I hoped they would end their differences peacefully and wished him well. Now I could see they were at each other’s throat, with Alex suffocating in his landlord’s stranglehold.
But surely these two parties must have had some binding and prevailing sort of agreement until now. My curiosity not satisfied, I asked Alex if there was any such document they both had signed. He handed me one written in long hand. It said Alex paid 1,500,000/- on 22 /03/ 2012 for a tenancy period of 15 months that would begin on 15/03/2012 and end on 15/06/2013.
The monthly rental fee was 100,000/-. Ironically, the person, who received the money (1.5m/-) and referred to in the document as the owner of the house, was Dorothy Mshumba, different from the person, one Martin O. Masanja, who met Alex before an arbitration tribunal of Tanzania Tenants Association on 2 February this year.
At the arbitration sitting Alex was resisting expulsion before he was refunded 7978, 000/- he had expended in repairing the house. But now, despite the legal apparatus Alex banked on to give him Justice, he seems to have lost. “A lot of bribe has been given; otherwise how could I be expelled by the court from the house without being served a notice?” he asks. “But I will fight them to the end.” Alex left to get a vehicle to take them to their new abode some two to three miles away.
He had given the court broker the key of the door of the house he was leaving in to keep until they settled the matter before a tribunal. But when the court broker and he left, his adversary, Mr Masanja returned with some two other men, entered the house through the back door and could be heard breaking some things therein.
Alex’s wife sounded to had given up the fight. “All I need now is a good rest,” she told Reporter at Large with a dismissive wave of her hands. “We have already secured a house at Makuburi. That’s where I’ll go to.” Obviously the truth lay somewhere and both the parties knew who was right. They only needed an honest third party to settle the matter amicably. Pics Cap: Alex with his belongings on a lorry, on his way out to a new residence Cap: Alex’s family sitting outside of their former residence.