Everyone in Crossroads knew that condoms were free. Why then
was he coming to them all excited and offering them the very same condoms
for money? They had to scrutinise him, long and hard, before agreeing that he
appeared quite sane. Some could not help but wonder what kind of fool he had
turned out to be.
     “Don’t you know it, man?” they said to him. “Kodoms are free.”
     “Correction,” Broker told them. “Condoms were free. Condoms are not free
anymore. Condoms will not be free again and condoms will never be free
again, understand?  Not ever again!  Do you understand?”
             They could not understand. Just yesterday, Janet was there, down on
her knees, begging them to take the condoms away from her, to do with them
whatever they wanted to do with them. How come now they could not have
condoms but for money?  They laughed in his face and told Broker to go try
his tricks somewhere else.
     “Tricks?” he laughed at them too. “You just don’t get it, do you?  There’s
nothing for free anymore; this is the new world order.”
     They did not believe him. No matter how hard he told them, he could not
convince anyone he was serious, that they had used their last free condom,
ever, and they would not be getting another free condom for as long as they
     “Never again,” he said harshly. “From now on, you will have to pay up, and
pay up well, if you want to go on using condoms.”
     “We don’t use kodoms, man,” they said to him. “We are total men. That’s
why she gives them for free.”
     He had news for them, he told them patiently. He would turn off their supply
of free condoms forever.
     “Si you turn it off,” they said defiantly. “
Kwani what are you waiting for?”
     “Turn it off?” Broker laughed. “I just did; turned it off and threw away the
     “But you can’t do that,” they reasoned. “Only Janet can do that. You are
not Janet.”
     “That’s right,” he told them angrily. “And you have no idea who I am.”
     Most of them were toddlers when he was the Spanner Boy. They had not
experienced Broker in those old days; when women would count their
daughters and men their goats after Broker had been to visit. But he had no
intention of wasting a whole day arguing with young fools and went in search of
real men; men who, like himself, understood well the uncompromising
principles of supply and demand.
     The men heard him out, mostly out of politeness, but could not understand
a word he said. He gave them all the deal of their lives, an offer he said would
never be repeated. But they, too, refused it all the same. Like everyone else in
Crossroads, they knew that kodoms were free. They dared him to turn off their
     Broker was defeated, but not discouraged. He called them unflattering
names, told them they were as foolish as their  sons, and went to try the girls at
Highlife Lodge. They were new faces, most of them barely past their teens, and
had enough education to understand half the instructions on the condom
wrappers. They asked him to tell them what the rest meant.
     He told them everything he knew about condoms and what he did not know
he made up on the spot, but the girls were only half listening.
     “Is that your car?” she asked him.
     He assured her that it was, all of it.
     “Then why are you selling condoms?” she asked him.
     “I believe in condoms,” he told her.
     She had never met a man who believed in condoms before; none of them
had and they were all very amused.
     “You may laugh all you like,” he said to them. “But I’ll break the neck of the
first cow to call me the condom man, you hear?”

...  READ ON
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copyright 2008 by HM Entertainment Inc.
hm books 2008
The Last Plague

"In his 449-page novel, The Last
Plague, Kenyan writer, Meja
Mwangi, achieved two things: he
wrote a restrained AIDS novel
that was true to the apocalyptic
character of the pandemic, and
he wrote a classic of delirious
humour. It is this combination of
tragedy (that never quite loses
its grasp on hope), deft satire,
and unexpected humour that
bushwhacks the reader at the
most sombre moments, that
makes this book compelling
rereading, even seven years after
its first publication."

Books Worth Reading.
Jomo Kenyatta Award
for Literature
National Book Week