It was the night of June 29, 2007. The scene was
At some minutes to 2100hrs which is 9 pm Kenyan time, 7 pm Nigerian time, an official of the airline who called himself Anthony Makombe came and informed us, the anxious passengers, that our flight would leave at 2230hrs,10:30 pm Kenyan time, 8: 30 pm Nigerian time. The reality of Shakespeare’s ‘hell has no fury..’ came tumbling in its stark reality. Inconceivable and unprintable comments followed the unpalatable news.
‘I do not even know who asked these uncultured people to start this business in the first place when they know they are not prepared for it.’ a Reverend Gentleman scoffed.
‘Honestly, we are being cheated.’ I shouted from my position at the back of the departure lounge. Presently, a rotund lady wearing a pair of glasses sat down beside me and opened up. “We need to meet management of this airline” she breathed. I concurred by nodding and asked how to go about sorting management out. She stood up rested a palm on my shoulder and promised to be back. She went to another group and presented her case or so I presumed.
‘Let us stage a protest.’ One Nigerian shouted from the centre of the hall.
‘We need to make noise, these Kenyans will continue to ridicule us,’ another Nigerian said. Reluctantly, I unfastened my eyes from admiring the beauty of the landing and taking off of airliners of South Africa Airways, Swiss Airways, Quarta Airways, and Ethiopian Airways. Several Kenyan aircrafts joined the beautiful cacophony in the air.
Before I could position the last speaker, a very senior official of Kenyan Airways walked into the lounge and drew our attention. There was an absolute silence as eager Nigerian ears waited for the all- important information. The time was 2229 a minute from the time we were scheduled to take off. “Ladies and gentlemen. Our highly esteemed customers,” the official whose name I can’t readily recollect began, “KQ, Kenyan Airways is on her knees apologizing for the delay that must have culminated into anxiety, depression and despondency. The truth of the case is that the aircraft scheduled to take you to
‘Yes, admirable aerobatics’ I nodded. We both turned our heads in the direction of the tarmac as a massive Concorde of the Swiss Airline taxied towards us. When it appeared the huge contraption was about to hit the building we were in, it halted, the tickling of its engine was soothing.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” our heads jerked back; the Kenyan Airline official was on his feet again, glancing at his wrist watch. “Our engineers have finished repairing the engine. Your flight, KQ 436, will leave for
The picture became clearer; and as to be expected several Nigerians vowed not to travel with the repaired plane. By then many officials of Kenyan Airline had come into the scene. Consultations were held, opinions were sought. Finally a decision was reached. Those who desire to travel with the aircraft should proceed with their boarding process, those who do not want would be housed for the night and an alternative plane provided the following day.
“You people are killers.”
“You do not have any respect for human lives.”
“You want to use us as guinea pigs.”
Another one hissed. He wanted to spit (an act that would have completed the disdain signified by the hiss) but restrained himself when he became conscious of his environment.
Those who chose to leave were already at the check in counter. It was the most crucial decision of my life. For more than three minutes I stood there unable to make up my mind. If the problem of the engine resurfaced at thirty-five thousand feet above sea level. A fleeting picture of my kids, my books, my siblings, my friends especially my unpublished manuscripts slowly crept before my subconscious. “Are you still standing there?” It was my female friend. She was moving past me to the counter. Finally, slowly like a zombie, I gave my boarding pass to the official and walked side by side with my friend towards the aircraft.
As we alighted Flight KQ 436 in
“I do remember” she said and continued. “Do not forget that they kept their promise to get us to