The Reunion

That moment Bonte had sneaked into a cargo truck that transported farm animals, mainly goats and sheep en route to Morocco, with the help of a kind Algerian man whom he had diligently voluntarily worked for in his big plantation for four and a half years, he had successfully convinced his heart that he had left his past behind him. He was a new person and he couldn’t allow his past self to drag all the pain and sadness into this new journey he had embarked on. He had move on, forgiven and forgotten his past.

Forgiven; forgotten, Yes Forgotten! In the truest sense of the word. He wouldn’t confess the atrocities he had committed in his forgotten past to a new true friend or a safely kept diary or try to commercialize his story on a famous podcast channel or a highly committed writer on the topic who would be availed to him with astounding immediacy and who would promise to get his story out and hopefully get the right ears to hear it and consequently effectively act upon it and save hundreds of thousands of innocent lives which have gone and still continue to go through what he had gone through. And who would have promised, not by words, at least not directly, but through the carefully chosen vocabulary and grammar about the eventual stardom that would arise from sharing with the world a real, rare and very touching story and the byproduct of a good fortune that would come accompanied as a result of this courageous act. No he wouldn’t try to do any of that. Because that wasn’t anywhere in the lowest degree of Bonte’s mental activity.

Few people had found the kind of peace Bonte found in solitary refuge. He had learned as a child and perfected the art of keeping the heart and its activities inside his chest. More strictly speaking, he did not develop this ability by himself but this ability imperceptibly developed itself within him. And Bonte was a truthful man in his relations with himself and always lived in close accordance to his strict manner of life. He remembered all this so vividly, as he sat on a stool in a local pub in Kinshasa across his younger brother to whom he had been the most hated person in the whole world three hours and forty seven minutes ago.

He remembered also, firstly, the memories of war that had suddenly resurrected in full swing like a vicious tsunami on a usually calm and peaceful coastal town wrecking havoc on the quiet living inhabitants; uprooting trees, bringing down buildings, tearing apart roads and washing away valuables and many years of hard work in an unjustly shortest period of time. These memories of a dark period of time for him particularly arose in full force during his habitual two rakat prayers after Isha, the final prayer of the day. He could see the flashing sparks seen at night from the firing of an Ak47 rifle or a Machine gun. He could smell the sweet scent of red volcanic soil when it came into contact with the initial drops of rain that was immediately interrupted with that of soldiers’ boots marching through bush thickets chanting traditional anthems about courage, cowardice, fear and bravery, masculinity and femininity in alternating sentences. He could see as the skin of his victims dissected into two halves and hear the bones crush as he devoured their torso or slit their throats with surgical precision.

Bonte, who was born Ibrahim Chembe to his two loving parents in a small town in the eastern part of the Congo, but later on was given the nickname Bonte by his colleagues in the army due to his ferociousness in the battlefield and his remarkable skill with the knife, had fought alongside his small brother Kamissoko as child soldiers in the Congo war after being abducted at the age of 15 while coming from a nearby swamp which they frequently visited to swing on the tree branches and imitate the croaking of frogs in a futile attempt to get the frogs to join in on the musical. This was their favorite playing area and safe haven between himself, his younger brother who was 6 at the time and Lefe, a mutual female friend.

As the eldest and favorite child of his father, he had spent most of his time with him at his local slaughter house and that’s where he had acquired the skill to handle a blade and the ability to read the mindset of a soon to be killed animal. Although ammunition was in abundance and in steady supply, Bonte was fond of his blade and always preferred the sweet spot between the idea of remorse, scientific calculations of distance, motion and positioning and the psychological assessment of your victim necessary for the agreeable conduct of business.

He hated his nickname with all his gut but he could not deny that that name was the closest fit to the persona he wished to be recognized by in the army and he thoroughly enjoyed the way the name took all the attention enabling him to conceal his true identity and sensibility as a mortal. He was not so much annoyed at the name itself as at the disgust he felt being around his colleagues by whom he was given the name. In training they were taught that a soldier is to obey orders and that a soldier is judged by God differently. He and his peers, and subsequently anyone that followed behind, grew up on this type of mindset. Every morning or night before an ambush, their commander would gather them around together and after an intense preparation talk, he would conclude with his signature statement, “Go and do something foolish today.” This combination of many different levels of absurdity and utter disregard of any purposefully God given sense, when carefully planted and cultivated in a fertile empty head, was what, like he always thought, a far much inferior status than that of the first founder of the human family, the monkey. Yes he killed people but his killing was different. He killed for love. Although he hated the idea of war in and of itself, he loved his land. He loved the trees and the birds and the frogs they played with at the swamp. And so for his country he fought; to protect his land and its beauty from invaders. He fought for his little brother for whom he had secured a place in administrative at headquarters away from the horrors that he had to face in the field. He was granted this request out of acknowledgement of his unmatched skill in the field. He loved his brother. Kamissoko was different. He was not like him. Although he had always accused him of lacking the ability to distinguish between dream and reality and needs and wants, and although he had never clearly thought out the fundamental concept of family, the status of being the big brother and the responsibility that comes along with it had somehow strangely since very earlier on been synthesized in a high place inside his heart despite the absence of both parents, who died as soon as they were just old enough to bath in the river, and a functioning society.

Kamissoko read books and talked about imaginary characters such as Chinua Achebe and an artist in Nairobi named Ndaka who curved his feelings into wood and ended up crafting deep expressions in the form of sculptures –not imaginary in the sense that they didn’t exist but imaginary to Bonte because he was born and saw around him fruits on trees for him to eat, and a field for him to run on, and while in the army, boots for him to wear and missions to be accomplished –to him this was his truth and he chose to live in the here and now.

Despite this contrast in believes, the fact that Kamissoko had a great interest in “dreams” and the great importance he attached to “wants”, he saw, beneath that veil of lack of focus and a plight of childishness -to him, he saw the existence of greatness and he felt honored to have a brother in such a noble person. For this Kamissoko here, out of this immense love he felt for him, he killed. To protect him -specifically to secure his place at headquarters that entirely depended on him and to teach him, in the event of his death, about bravery and more importantly, to show him, in clear and practical terms, how not to live a life.

Of all the reasons and love he felt and fought for, nothing compared to the love he felt for Lefe; her only girl. And in this particular love, beyond inspiring him through the long and harsh army days and keeping him warm during the cold nights in the bush, and for the hope of seeing her beautiful dark face with dark eyebrows once again, was what had led to his being in Kinshasa today, sharing a beer with his brother on this warm Sunday evening after a proper 28 years of zero contact and a successful forcefully self instigated artificial amnesia for a large portion of that time until 6 months ago. Exactly 6 months ago, when the first memory of sensations from home had been received by him as though he had miraculously instantly developed a special sensory organ for the transmission of those feelings, he recalls thinking that that was some kind of bad joke his mind was playing on him. That night in the second raka’a of his Isha prayer in which he experienced the first seismic reading of what was to be, in the months that followed, a resurgence of memories and flashbacks in an earthquake fashion, he quickly immediately dismissed it as a fly floating in air that was warning the elephant about its mighty landing on his back, and he swiftly carried on reciting the last ayat of Suratul Maidah. That night when he went to sleep, his bed felt like a time travel machine that took him back to the heart of Zaire land and then it malfunctioned leaving him to wonder about eternally in every familiar territory. The following morning he woke up early and unusually quickly offered his Al Fajr prayer and left for work. At work, he plunged into the duties of the day and tried to drown the memories and feelings in them but in vain. This cycle went on the next day, the next week, and the next month, and the next. Most of these feelings were torturous in nature, for instance his last memory of his crying brother. On the night they escaped, they had been caught in a carefully thought through ambush of a joint forces between the government army and two local rebel groups earlier on that day which had killed at least a few dozen men and left scores injured. Bonte and Kamissoko had both passed out and, mistakenly thought dead, were immediately buried in a shallow mass grave as was the culture in such instances after the intense cross fire had come to a halt. Upon regaining consciousness and crawling out of the piles of dead bodies, Bonte further crawled over to where his brother lay down, his head facing the sky. As he approached him, amidst all the pain he felt on every inch of his body and the strong concentrated smell of blood mixed with soil that filled the air, he felt, for the first time, the need to free his brother; to free him from himself, to set him free from the ill luck that seemed to have permanent residence in the very essence of his existence. But first he had to save him one more time, one last time.

His brother, not sure whether the blood stained on him was that from his bleeding or someone else’s, was laying flat on his back, his eyes staring into the sky almost not blinking, whispering what Bonte immediately recognized as a line from one of his many ‘favorite book’ which he completely had never understood “..The highest friend… the highest friend…oh the highest friend…” From his placidness, Bonte knew that he had been laying there for a while, and perhaps had tried to get up and look for his brother or a way home –whether home meant the army or the swamp they played at as children with Lefe, but his emotions had rendered him immobile.

He saw a feeling on his face which he recognized very well; that of a man who was willing to leave this earth and was giving his soul to the angel of death, but just before this session had gone any further and degenerated into something more practical, he quickly interrupted the idea by jacking him off the ground, and without a say of a word, his shoulder supporting him from beneath his armpits, they ran across into the forest. He doesn’t remember for how long they had been running for but Bonte recalls -and if Bonte remembers, Kamissoko sees it every second of his living, when their tired legs couldn’t carry them anymore and they fell to the ground passed out.

Early the next morning, Bonte woke Kamissoko up and after showing him the border and his path to freedom, gave him the worst beating of his life and he passed out again. When he woke up again after a few hours in pain, Bonte had gone. That was the last time he was to see him and that was the last time he wanted to see him.

He hated him. But his hate for him didn’t come from a place of resentment though, as he later on in his ‘adult’ form came to realize, rather it stemmed from a place of love. Hadn’t Bonte left him and left him in the cruelest of ways a brother could leave, he wouldn’t have hated him well enough to become the most respected writer in Nairobi and the continent at large whose work was described as “songs of the heart”, and so for his leaving he would always be grateful. But he still hated him because he wasn’t there to see how he had made someone out of himself and to see the long dreadlocks he passionately wore on his head which were a kind of a crown, a symbol of his triumph over his fears and dependence on his brother.

Of all reasons he didn’t want to meet his brother, and despite his successful career as a writer and his remarkable growth as a person, he was not sure if, upon meeting him, he would gather the sufficient breathe of mind to explain how he was now married to Lefe, yes Lefe, Bonte’s only girl. In fact, all those memories of home that had reemerged on Bonte’s mind hadn’t had the effect and weight as that singular memory of Lefe; and for those specific memories and feelings, and for Lefe, Bonte had returned home. As kids, at the swamp, although he had never clearly thought out the idea, Bonte had long suspected of a more than friendly love between Kamissoko and Lefe, and even though all childhood family games had always put him and Lefe as the father and mother, he always felt that this was only out of the habit of regarding him as the eldest in the group and therefore he was the most suitable person for the post.

Lefe, on the other hand, who was a beautiful girl in many ways, always felt immense respect for him. And perhaps that was about the closest to a romantic place she could get. Even though she was the one with whom she had planned this meeting with and for, and although she was the one whose memory and feelings had led him to abruptly cut short his peaceful suddenly turned turbulent 28 years stay in Morocco; when she had set a venue for them to meet at Kinshasa, after Bonte had reached out to her through a contact, although the contact and Lefe had neither mentioned about her relationship with Kamissoko nor even gestured anything about the presence of his brother, Bonte had somehow, with that special sensory organ, felt the essence of everything. So as they sat here at this bar in Kinshasa, they all from time to time glanced at each other, that type of glance that sort of asked “…so are we okay?” and they all, in response, smiled; with teeth but more deeply with their eyes and they all clearly knew what that meant.


A collaborative work by DRESS and PEKAT.

~Words by Hajji Mutonye , Dress Creative Agency

~Photography By PEKAT.

The Tsavo Express


I do not much like to take up the tone of a moralist or an advisor or I’m I in the habit of tagging alongside my work my own personal challenges but a principle of mine also is living one’s truth. The Tsavo Express, as the previous collaborations we’ve partnered together in with the good bros Pekat — or any other creative work thereof, started out as a tiny seed idea nothing more than a few images on a train and some text to back up the story but slowly and surely evolved into a fully fledged project. We are not like the most funded start ups (we’re far from that) or anything like that, and we are limited in most cases in terms of how far we can go with our ideas due to the amount of resources we have access to but we try to make the most of what we have, and honestly we are doing a lot with what we have and therefore we feel a certain way every time, such as in a project like this one, where we may want to take it a step further in terms of our idea and the execution of it and packaging but we can only do as much.

At the same time we are very much aware of our work and our artistic sensibilities and we would never compromise on the quality of our work for any given reason and so as we may wish for a certain type of production and packaging and what not, we are committed to, and contented with sharing with you guys what we have in our now. Perhaps in the future when God bestows us abundance of life and blessings, we shall be able and happy to gift you our ideas just like the way they are at the altitude they fly on, meanwhile we will live a day at a time. We are incredibly thankful to our team, and anyone who helped in the production of our visual The Tsavo Express from the technical personnel to anyone who offered a kind word. Many thanks!


Anyone who has followed our collaborative work knows our fixation on history and how it relates to the time we live in. The Man Eaters story was one that we immediately fell in love with when we began the conversation; partly because of its cultural significance as seen through its contribution to history but mostly because we felt there was almost a singular narrative that had been forced down on us since and before the two lions roamed in the Tsavo and brutally killed a hundred plus railway personnel in 1898 before they were gunned downed by colonel Patterson.

Whilst the original setting of the Tsavo lion man eaters story as contained in col. Patterson’s book “The Man-Eaters of Tsavo”, and subsequent stories that have emerged from Patterson’s account may be the most accurate formal documentation of that historical event, one raises a few questions upon reading the book; “Was killing the lions, in the manner Patterson did, the best approach, given his interest as a hunter in “wild Africa”? “What was the cultural state of indigenous African communities who had been living with the lions long before any civilization had started to trickle in? As there is virtually no elaborate record of any African story”, “As being Kenyan and living in this internet age, what does the whole story mean to us? Why should we care?” These questions and many more led us to make The Tsavo Express.

The Tsavo Express is, more than any other reason, our curiosity packaged into 4 images that try to introduce a different outlook on the whole story in its entirety. We tell the story of an old African man named Suri, who grew up during the construction of the Kenya — Uganda railway of 1896–1901, and who had previously worked as an art collector; who gets an only chance to travel back in time to his young self and change what he deems needing of change. What will he do? Will he save the lions from the deadly hands of col. Patterson? Will he be able to rescue his father from being killed by the lions? Will he change a history? Will he change his future?

“A new perspective” can feel like a throwaway buzzword when most creatives or artists are busy trying to tick every box and cater to a “woke” public but when the essence of the term comes at you in a genuine heartfelt way, you think about the real impact on just a story that could take place further down the line when this generation or any other becomes “agents of change” and as a result make a valuable contribution to not only just stories, but culture and history.

More often than not, whether it’s in history class or a communal conversation, stories from our past are given to us in a particular format that could sometimes only address surface level interests or even could dangerously have been weaved to place people in a certain mental space; thankfully, in the age of information that we live in, its new perspectives such as The Tsavo Express that spark actual conversations. Suri is an ordinary man with goals and misgivings like any other ordinary man, who is gifted a onetime chance to travel back to his childhood and use his time the best way he sees fit. There is wishing for a chance to turn back the clock, there is hoping for a chance to rectify your past. Suri gets that chance!

I think the primary goal for The Tsavo Express is to show that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary/ heroic acts and that knowledge always more than often forms the basis of actual change.

11.35 p.m.

He wakes up at 11.35 p.m., much earlier than his body would like, but he hasn’t yet adapted to the change in weather that has characterized his small quiet town of Vanga for the past few weeks. Normally the weather on these parts of the Kenyan coast is hot but there is something about this heat that he has experienced in the past two or so weeks that doesn’t feel right. He wants to desperately convince himself to go back to sleep but the grudges from his past that he has been tending to like little pets lately won’t allow that to happen.

Firstly there is this white man who had arrived and tried to fight God and a culture when he — for a reason Suri has never come to understand — chose to leave his perfect world and brave the horrors of the sea and come to a world where he was unwanted by the sky, plants, the insects, humans, animals, and all of God’s soldiers; and for all Suri knows and believes, is that he would have lived to see his father grow old and share with him this wisdom of old age that had come at him at a painful frequency, had the white man stayed at his God-given home.

How can a man be so foolish? He thought. This mind is not taught in school or by pen, in fact, the more he thinks about it, this is a matter of looking, seeing with your eyes! Just eyes; how God gave him signs in the sea by sending storms at his boat that wrecked his vessel and threw his compass off the course, and if that wasn’t enough, he sent on him mosquitoes upon his lucky arrival and tormented him with a host who wished death upon him in his heart while wearing a fake smile on his face when he forced his welcome, and certainly of all torments none is painful and permanent as someone showing you false teeth.

As if all that wasn’t enough, God, in specific and bold terms, sent on him two lions that, in the most vivid and practical of ways, reminded him of his unwelcomed stay and publicly asked him to pack his bags and go back to his earth. Suri was fully aware, as all these memories rapidly came at him, that it was a build up to his second feeling, which was the unfair, and truly unfair by any acceptable standards at the time, death of his father or more specifically speaking, the killing of his father by one of the, what has now come to be known in history as, Man Eaters of Tsavo.

On the night of, his father was coming back home from a quick errand, in his capacity as a member of the department of the village’s elder’s council that handled marriage and dowry affairs — him and his mother joked about this and asked how a man with one wife and an only son would be able to speak about marriage and dowry in front of real men with multiple wives and tens of children, and he laughed silently. This was a joke he had been laughing at for eighty five years and was fond of it. That was an African joke for those days, he thought, Africans have the most peculiar sense of humor. He remembered the context in which the joke had presented itself and suddenly felt silly and unkind for having laughed at the thought of his father’s death, but having committed the crime, he squared his conscious thinking how good a woman his mother was and continued laughing.

On that particular day, the meeting had unusually gone on for longer than expected; anyhow, what was not unusual was the route he had taken heading back home and the timing of it. This was a path, he and his ancestors had walked lifetimes before him and certainly that wasn’t an unusual timing for a man of his status and experience to walk around. And so when he met his death at the hands of one of the Man Eaters, this was not only strange among his people, but further cemented the idea that white man’s presence and existence in itself was a curse from God, and now this cursed man had inflicted his curse on their land by default- merely by his walking their paths and laying foot on their soil.

A curse? Yes, a curse, that’s the most accurate word, Suri, as though he was trying to secure a perimeter for his hateful thoughts and exercise the usage of the most appropriate hateful grammar, paused. Up to this point, he hadn’t moved an inch from his initial position neither had he blinked like an archer wouldn’t when he has his eyes on his target, dreading moving or blinking will steal all his hard work. He only blinked to have a brief muted laugh and catch a breath at the recollection of his favorite joke between him and his mother because everything deserves a rest, even thoughts. Now, as he clearly saw his next thought, he felt the need to move because this was an important stage of his thoughts and it needed to be assigned its importance as a matter of principle, and a slight change in position would do just the trick; and so he rolled over to his right side of his body with his hand carefully placed under his head to provide just the right amount of comfort to cool down the intensity of this next thought.

Africans, he thought, had lived peacefully with lions for many years. Occasionally, there would be a few bad seeds, just like in any other species of living organism, that would kill a human and accordingly, in return, the community would assemble and find a solution for this misbehavior because that’s the only proper way to treat a neighbor who has lost his ways. Also from time to time, they would hunt down lions in their ritual ceremonies and that would keep their population in check but it was a question of disciple more than any other reason; because the mind meant man superior and lions needed to be reminded of that fact periodically lest they forget. Outside those special circumstances, man and lion lived harmoniously. Lions were respected and admired for their courage, intelligence, bravery and beauty but -and only -disliked when they preyed on livestock and lions were reasonable and principled and only killed for food; the elephants and hyenas fell into the despicable category.

As a matter of fact, a story was told of a mama who had left her husband’s boma for her father’s home. She had been walking for three days. She was tired and hungry and stopped to pray. She prayed to God that she arrive safely. The woman was carrying a young child and had become so weak that she could barely walk. She saw a lion in the distance, was startled, and sat down and cried. The lion just sat and watched the mama. Then the lion killed a young gazelle, walked towards the mama, dropped the gazelle in front of her and walked away. The lion did not go far but sat at a distance and watched as she ate the gazelle. Another lion came to take the gazelle and the original lion pushed the intruder out of the way so that the mama could continue eating. The woman kept walking and came across the footprints of a group of men. She followed the footprints and a man came out of the woods and saw her. She asked for water, which he brought her and she bathed her child. The man told the woman that she should wait and he would bring her some meat. The lion was watching all of this and came to sit with the mama. When the man saw the lion he wanted to kill it but she said, “No, do not kill it, it was sent by God!” So the man left the lion alone and helped the mama find her way to her father’s boma and the lion went home. And so the news of the killing of his father by a lion, and particularly one of the man eaters could only be interpreted in one way; that the curse of the white man had stolen his father from him. This thought ramped up his resentment for the white man a few notches higher.

Suri and the rest of the villagers had received the death of his father with great sadness, and the story was kept that he met his death as he was passing nearby a sleeping camp that belonged to the Indian coolies whose tents had been erected in close proximity to railway construction sites for convenience purposes and whose fragility made it easier for the man eaters to sneak in and grab a coolie or two with the least effort. It was said that on this day, after the railway company had put in some security measures to keep away the lions, one of the lions had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain his favorite meal and that’s when, in a moment of desperation, an unsuspecting Suri’s father fell in the sight of a hungry lion. At first, Suri, and any reasonable person, thought the death of his father an accident and attributed it to the lion but Suri was smarter than that, learned — by disposition, not by education -and he wouldn’t buy into a lie; this was the doing of the white man’s curse. In another show of respect and according important thoughts their importance, Suri got up from his bed rather quickly for someone his age, and sat on his favorite chair and only chair which always laid awaiting for him just a few steps from where his bed was.

11.42 p.m.

As he got to his seat, he felt himself a different man, utterly unlike what he had been before while laying on the bed. He suddenly felt free and gleefully youthful. It seems as though he had left all the hateful sadness on the bed because, although he was still sad, it didn’t feel like quick sand wherein he was slowly drowning, like before; now the sadness stemmed from a place of positivity. He wanted to go back. To go back and change things, do things differently. Indeed, perhaps after all, the bed is a dangerous place from where to view the world. And so he wished to the heavens, above all other wishes, to grant him a chance to see his father one last time. Perhaps to warn him not to attend the meeting, or to simply hug him or, more radically — having learned his ways –to join the soldiers of God and get rid of the white man and his curse from their land; or, in the event all his aforementioned options are rendered futile, to politely remind and warn the lions of the human mind and its capability to reign havoc, and thus save everyone.

He looked at a broken piece of wood hanging on his door that appeared to remind him of his weakness as human and he prayed, silently — without uttering a word or moving his lips, but surely, asked God Almighty from his strength, which holds the seven heavens above without a pillar and from his knowledge, which sees the black ant on a dark hill in the darkest of nights and from his love, which surpasses all love, to grant him his wish…

March, 1898

The Train Station: Suri Mwanza meets little Suri

“What, for you, is the meaning of life?” a young boy’s voice asks. Suri, who has been standing rooted on the same spot for a long while and whose mind is busy trying to figure out where he is, has heard the words but hasn’t heard the question. He is not exactly sure whether it’s because he has found himself in a place he doesn’t recognize or it’s the suit he has found himself inside of or that he knows his prayer has been answered and wish granted by the warmth and newness he feels in his heart or it’s because of the fear that seizes one’s soul when you answer that question… “Sir!” the young voice interrupts. This time around Suri has clearly heard the young boy but his mind and eyes are still busy looking around for clues. “I suppose you can’t expect much spirit from a man with diabetes and a dead wife.”

This statement strikes him as thunder would strike a tree in an open field. His conscious crawls back to his skin and his heart appears to start pumping again just now. He looks down at the boy and doesn’t understand where all the affection for this little stranger he had just met was coming from, and in an act of politeness, bends down to him like a nurse speaking to a child and with a false smile says, “I’m sorry young man, I’m sure I do not know to what you are referring to.” The boy, looking straight into his eyes as if he could read his secret thoughts, smiles and slowly looks away. There is a brief awkward pause. “You know, you deserve the truth. But sadly, unfortunately the way you adults function, if a truth is presented to you by someone in a child’s costume, nobody would believe him.”

At this moment, an awful feeling of danger sweeps over Suri and he suddenly feels silly and undignified. Since his wife died, he hasn’t shed a tear nor has he ever wanted to think about the topic any more than it hurts and consequently, the weight of his wife’s death has been hanging over his head as a dark storm cloud waiting to unleash its wrath. “I am the only one in the world with enough wisdom and gentleness to understand you.” The boy tells Suri, in a soft polite voice which Suri very much, frightfully, recognizes.

A strange feeling of safety takes over him and suddenly his whole soul is filled with memories. There is another long awkward silence and then Suri grudgingly begins to open up. “I fell in love, I’m an ordinary man; I didn’t think such violent things could happen to ordinary people…” he is rudely interrupted by the loud chugging of the train. It appears that they had arrived at the station at exactly five and half a minute to spare. Suri, with a feeling of new found purpose takes the young boy’s hand and they make their way to the train.

Aboard the train: private dreams and early childhood passions

They were in great luck to find an empty seat in one of the rear cabins because the train is generally packed on most given days at this hour of the day. Adults are too sane and uncomplicated! See grownups normally want to save their true moments of joy and laughter for later when they are in front of children and they have a few theories to explain themselves: one cannot live without principles, self control etcetera, while children, for their part, argue that the young can do nothing more useful than renounce everything and as this may be strictly correct for both cases -or not, Suri, as he sat next to his companion, did not want to put it an appearance. Because he knew he would be bound to look back at this moment and wish it had lingered on longer. “This now is life, this is happiness,” he thought.

The little boy had serious reason to believe that the planet from which this old man lived was lonely and cold. He thus learned a second fact of great importance; that they needed to finish that earlier conversation and so he inquired from Suri one more time, this time he did not look him in the eyes so as not to scare him, “What, for you, is the meaning of life?”

To be continued…

Words by Haji Mutonye, DRESS CREATIVE AGENCY

Production Credits;

Photography- PEKAT

Casting,Props and style -DRESS CREATIVE AGENCY



Video Assistant- Soyenna Milanoi

Video editing -KENNEDY






A collaborative work by DRESS and PEKAT. Originally Published on

~Words by Hajji Mutonye , Dress Creative Agency

~Photography By PEKAT.


(Chapter One)

Most people usually want to be rebellious on the sensitive subject of slavery. In this series we explore, visually, this topic and more, both objectively and subjectively in a liberal way.

Trans Atlantic had been a shelf idea for a little over two years and when we brought it out and breathed some life into it a few weeks ago, there could not have been a more valid time. Initially, our original idea was to visually discuss topics such as race, slavery and class both subjectively and objectively from an academic reference point while drawing inspiration from the Trans Atlantic Triangular trade of 16th -18th Century. And by the time we were almost done putting the project together, Libya had successfully single handedly revived the memories of this turbulent part of history all over again in the most vivid, practical way. So as a result, and as our duty as being conscious global citizens, we decided to add our own independent voice into this global conversation that is currently taking place. Not necessarily as a social commentary like how generally most creative artists would want to, but more simply as a visual illustration of some of the interchangeable themes and mixed feelings that come to mind on the subject.

It is fascinating and particularly dreadful, as is in this case, to see how history has some kind of incurable endemic effect and just when you think we have made some considerable progress as a human race; suddenly we are back to where we started. For the vast majority where most of us find ourselves, it is absolutely frustrating every time! That after all is said and done; we quickly realize how powerless we are. Incapable of affecting any meaningful tangible change and that at the end of the day all we have is a mouth to speak for or against certain issues on social media and a heart to hate or love. Initially, when we were thinking about the best fashion to narrate the Trans Atlantic as a story in the modern time we live in, we were inspired by a hypothetical scenario of an old man who had lived through the days of slave trade and now many years later, he was sitting with his great granddaughter telling her this history of mankind.

A story of horror and triumph, hope and fear, a story of pain and joy living side by side, of how the mighty and strong gang up against the weaklings, with the weaklings, for the weaklings on a carefully crafted fallacy. We were particularly interested in discussing the profound similarities between history and the modern time we live in on a lifestyle level and how technology and other socio-economical factors have changed and continue to change but mentalities seem to possess some kind of durable irresistibility to change.

Our initial concept was ballooned by the current state of affair of some kind of organized turmoil on our planet. When you look at what’s happening around the world at the moment in some places in the Middle East and Africa specifically, it’s completely heart breaking to say the least. On the other hand, it is impossible and almost dangerous to buy into a single story. Every story has a right to be told and heard in its entirety. You cannot, for example, talk about Libya or the Middle East or Europe or slavery etc in isolation without recognizing a bunch of other socio- economic factors. But fundamentally the political climate and its power to change the composition of these landscapes. (As a case study)Who is Libya? Who inflicted the pain on Libya? What do we know and what do we really not know? These are some of the questions that come to mind, especially when you rely on digital media as the primary source of information like most of us.

It’s daunting to realize how quickly and easily a gift can become a curse. How and why havoc only seems to wreck places that are rich in natural resources and places where leaders have an independent way of thinking for their country. Further than that, the toughest homework of our generation is the internet. That everything happens so quickly so fast and we have to consume all this information at the same time, it gets numbing. You are not done with one hashtag then another one comes up and another and another…an endless cycle of sad news. With time you begin to see these great injustices as regular occurrences and a part of life. That’s really the dilemma of our generation.

Anyhow, however things play out, and from whichever sides of a story you stand on, ultimately we are one huge family of the human race. And we should, despite of such painful realities, continue to nurse the hope for a better planet.


A collaborative work by DRESS and PEKAT. Originally Published on

~Words by Hajji Mutonye , Dress Creative Agency

~Photography By PEKAT.


England 1896, Amelia Dyer ,

Amelia preyed on mothers who could not afford to keep their babies and offered to give them a “better life”. Instead, she pocketed the pay and strangled babies to death with a dressmaking tape then afterwards dumped their remains in river Thames

Hong Kong 1982, the Jar Killer ,

He lived in an apartment with his parents and younger brother so when he returned home with the dead bodies of his victims, he hid their corpses under the sofa in the living room until the family left for the day” — South china morning post

Columbia 1999, Luis Alfredo Gavarito ,

139 confirmed murders.

He used to either cut his victims throats or stab them with screwdrivers or knives and then dismember their bodies. Investigation of several corpses showed signs of prolonged torture

Kenya 2010, Philip Onyancha ,

My target was to kill 100 women. I managed 17 and there were 83 to go” — The Daily Nation

She looked very delicious. My intention was not to kill her, but eat her. As I looked at her corpse I was sad because I realized I had lost a good friend. I remember thinking, if only she would have let me eat her, just a little bit” — Issei Sagawa


At the beginning of time, in a small quiet village named Casco, lived ordinary people — all of whom were capable of ordinary crimes under the right circumstances but were incapable of conceiving the idea at this very early stage of human existence — with no greater goal than to provide for their families and sing and dance during the summer communal festival. Up until a few weeks ago, the inhabitants of Casco did not have the slightest idea what evil was nor was fear a component in the normal range of their emotions. It would seem that before now, the residents of Casco had been living in a dream and only just now had they emerged from the world of dream and had been brutally thrust into the real world with real people confronting real and very dark problems. They had been so busy being innocent, loving and caring for their families and minding their own business that they had been completely unaware of the evil living in their midst. The idea that these three monsters, all whom they were now actively tirelessly hunting down, had been celebrities who were widely admired and celebrated as pioneers of a “new art form”, was laughable, and specifically deadly.



Raya had been a nurse working at a small clinic in a neighboring village. She might not have been the smartest or the most interesting girl around, but nevertheless, she was the kind of medical officer you want keeping your health in check. The kind of girl you might even have wished your son would end up with some day. But behind that pretty face and quiet demeanor lurked a monster the like of which no one had seen.

Raya had lost her only male companion and lover, with whom she had been engaged to be married, to an unknown illness. When her husband-to-be died, she refused to accept his death. She cried until she didn’t want to cry anymore. She made a conscious decision to keep her husband-to-be warm in their bed, as he was “sleeping”, with the hope that he will wake up from his momentary rest and they’d get married. She washed him at night before going to bed and found a way to preserve his lifeless body from rotting away. As days went by and weeks turned into months and her once good looking dead husband-to-be had transformed into something that only reminded her of the idea of her fiancée but had nothing of the slightest resemblance to him, she saw it unfair and undeserving for anyone else to have a happy marriage if she could not have her fiancée back. This very thought was what was to become the beginning of what was to be called murder. At first, her victims were unsuspecting couples walking home from a date or family gathering. She walked around with a tiny unnoticeable needle which she hid beneath her coat or glove, with some kind of paralysis effect as her victims were rendered instantly immobile upon the administration of the injection. Then she would carry their dead bodies back to her home, since by now nobody had known about burying the dead, where they lived together as a big unhappy family. To prevent their corpses from smelling, she took the same good care of them as she did for her sleeping husband.


Miserere had sat on this stiff wooden chair for more than a decade and had listened to hundreds various stories from couples who had come to him as a last resort to salvage their union. Throughout his long successful career as a marriage counselor, he had formulated a winning strategy; he kept his relationship with his work as one would keep his relationship with his tie — he wore it only for a formal occasion and thereafter take it off and only remembered its existence in the next formal event. So when he got back home to his cat he didn’t even recall the names of his clients. But this one couple who had visited him was different. The story they had walked into his office with was the oldest in the book; a cheating husband, and the pain he had seen on the woman’s face was not a new phenomenon to him, rather it was particularly a regular occurrence, and yet he could not stop thinking about this case.

He could not get his mind out of the sorrow and pain he had felt in the woman’s voice. In all the three sessions they had come in for their session, the lady never cried nor had she shown the slightest sign to shed a tear, but Miserere — and anyone who had lived long enough to know a thing or two about human behavior — had clearly seen the tears of her heart and all the pain she hid beneath her chest. The unfaithful husband had on the other hand owned up to his mistake and had begged her forgiveness and promised to be a better man.

For days he hadn’t known why he was so emotionally invested in the case. Was it because of all the pain the good woman was going through or was it the sheer emptiness of the man’s apologies or was it all the years’ pain and suffering of his clients coming to him all at once or more practically was it because he was just getting old and felt the urge to impact the world in some way? He had no clue. But what he was sure about was that he wanted relieve the woman of her pain. More specifically speaking, the unfaithful husband had to leave. He had committed a sin and he had to be punished for this. So he tracked him one evening as he was leaving work and killed him in the cruelest of ways. He later on wrote a letter to the suffering woman addressed in his dead husband’s name asking her for one last apology and asking her to free herself from all the pain and misery he had brought her. After that, Miserere couldn’t bring himself to stop. He tracked down society ‘misfits’ and brutally hacked them to death, starting with his former clients, and in the same fashion as his first victim, wrote letters to their families addressed in their names similarly asking for forgiveness and saying goodbye.


Mokwena was a huge lazy man whose life goals involved things such as food, sleep, alcohol, an occasional female company and more food. He had such a profound lack of self awareness so much so that he didn’t even realize how evil he was. Of the three, Mokwena seemed destined to be a killer from a very early stage more than anyone else. He worked at a slaughter house and always preferred working the night shift. It is in one of these night shifts that he accidentally killed his colleague after they got into a small argument. Confused, he put his dead body in the mincer and went on to dump the minced flesh in the woods early in the morning. Later, after he finally came into terms with who he truly was, a cold blooded murderer, he would think back and conclude that this initial killing was anything but an accident.

Mokwena went on to become the most reckless serial killer indiscriminately abducting anyone that crossed paths with him and taking them back to the slaughter where he dismembered their bodies, chopped them into small pieces and put them in the mincer. He would later sell the meat to unsuspecting customers and dump the rest in a nearby forest for the hyenas. It was Mokwena’s actions from among the three that initially drew the people’s attention.


When news leaked about the mysterious disappearance of persons, and people began to receive drawings of very familiar faces — that of Mokwena, Miserere and Raya — on their door steps, as soon as these rumors began to catch fire, the three of them became the topic of conversation everywhere and anywhere. Probably the person behind the drawings meant it as an expose and must have been shocked at the turn of events.

It was “normal” at this stage for the people to whisper the names Mokwena, Miserere and Raya in awe as at this point everything was still so much a rumor. In deed there were certain people who had disappeared without a trace for some time but the concept of killing was unheard and unthought-of, and more strictly speaking, there was no substantial proof to back up the hearsay — no dead body, nothing. Further than that, curiosity was a natural human habit and that fanned the rumor more as well as the most fundamental and powerful instinct as a species; survival. In essence, the people, for the first time, questioned their safety and security. The realization that man can take another man’s life was unimaginable and shocked their sense of humanity in its entirety. Shortly after, the drawings came accompanied with that of slain victims and now Mokwena, Miserere and Raya properly became “celebrity monsters”. Perhaps it’s the way this news was delivered to them, or their genuine innocence or perhaps these images of these crimes appealed to a hidden part of them and the knowledge that these ordinary people were capable of murder offered a safe and secure outlet for their darkest thoughts and urges.


One man was responsible for the drawings. This was a victim who had narrowly escaped the deadly hands of Mokwena with brutal injuries and had soon after developed a keen interest in the whole aspect of human life, the existence (and the non existence thereof) of it. After exploring the topic deeply and in length, he had concluded that human life by all means certainly did not deserve to be suddenly cut short by fellow man in such a fashion as Raya and her friends in murder had invented. He had decided to keep his identity a secret as he tried to bring the villagers into terms with the reality of these crimes. After his initial attempts were thwarted and instead the same beasts he was trying to bring down got ushered into stardom, he realized he had to change tactics.


The drawings increased in number and were now, in addition, accompanied by pieces of the victims’ dismembered body parts as well as more drawings of their families. This went on for some time and while Mokwena, Raya and Miserere had stopped their killings after they recognized that their fame was slowly turning the wrong way and were receiving the wrong kind of attention due to their close proximity to the scenes of these crimes, they panicked and began to make mistakes. Raya knew that she had to get rid of all the corpses from her house while Miserere and Mokwena planned to do their “final” assignments before taking a break.


As fate would have it, every time Miserere, Mokwena and Raya killed, they also died a little. Mokwena was caught in his slaughter performing his “final” job while Raya and Miserere were separately caught in their heinous acts. With all the anger and resentment that had been slowly brewing for months, they were all immediately executed. Raya was tied to a log and drowned in the village’s lake, Mokwena was thrown off a high standing rocky cliff while Miserere was tied to a tree in the forest and left for the hyenas and wolves.


A collaborative work by DRESS and PEKAT. Originally Published on

~Words by Hajji Mutonye , Dress Creative Agency

~Photography By PEKAT.