Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb 2010 (post 1 of 12)

This is the first of twelve posts on the December 2010 Mt. Kilimanjaro climb.

Monday 29 November 2010 Before last year’s climb, I discovered Mwanza’s second-hand goods market at Lango Moja offers a good selection of hiking boots. The boots I bought last year only barely survived the rigors of last year’s climb. This year I had to choose my boots wisely. I believe I did, after I bought a pair of thinly insulated boots called Red Wings. They proved tough, resilient, and ready to take on Kilimanjaro next year.
On my way back from Mwanza, I received a call from Jaffar Amin saying he had been involved in a car accident in Uganda in which his driver had died and he was seriously injured. Over a series of telephone conversation he told me he was being transferred to Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi for further treatment. I was scheduled to climb Kilimanjaro with Jaffar and the news of the accident was unfortunate as I was looking forward to his participation in the charity fund raising drive.

In a subsequent phone call, he asked me to send him some money to help with his treatment, and the alarm bells went off. Jaffar had not told me he was in Uganda. The next day I eventually summoned the will to call a number on which I had previously communicated with him. The real Jaffar answered the phone; he was fine, had not been involved in any accident, and was eagerly looking forward to joining me at Moshi for the 3rd annual Mwalimu Nyerere/Mt. Kilimanjaro Charity Climb.

The fake Jaffar kept calling, asking me to find a way to transfer the money he had requested. I played on, saying I had asked a friend in Nairobi to deliver the money to him while I attempted to involve police authorities to lay a trap and nab him. He provided a ward number of the hospital, but when I told him my friend was on his way to the hospital with the money, the impostor changed his mind and suggested the money should be sent by Western Union to Entebbe.

After I decided I had wasted enough time I sent him the following text message:

“I give you credit for being a crook who takes precautions. I know you are not Jaffar, and I have only played along because I wanted to nab you, which I could have done if I had more time to waste. I suggest you immediately stop using the number you have because I have friends in both Uganda and Kenya who will surely catch up with you and your continued use of that number will make their work much easier.”

An hour later he sent me the following text message:

“Kindly employ me then.”

Very funny, I thought. I was not only dealing with a conman, but also an aspiring comedian.

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