I’m distressed, man with half a million of Sh1,000 old notes says

Old Notes of 100 shilling.

Mr Julius Odinga Mboga is a seriously distressed man.

The 60-year-old resident of Sirondha village in Siaya County is yet to come to terms with his bad luck.

Tucked under a mattress in his house are the old, and now worthless Sh1,000 notes, all totalling half a million Kenya shillings.

For unclear reasons, the retired mechanic at Brook Bond Kenya Limited in Limuru failed to beat the September 30 deadline given by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to exchange the old notes with the new ones.

Mr Mboga is has now earned himself a new title – the rich pauper.

It took two days to meet him. On our first visit we found a huge padlock hanging on the door of his little house.

His younger brother, Mr Joseph Ouko, and his mother Jennifer Aoko received us and informed us Mr Mboga, who does not own a cell phone, had left in the morning and his whereabouts were unknown.

After waiting for several hours without any signs of Mr Mboga is, we decided to leave and return the following day.

By 8.30am the next morning, we arrived just at the right time to catch the retired mechanic just as he was about to step out.

This would be his second visit to the CBK in Kisumu, a journey of approximately 60 kilometres.

On Monday, his attempt to have the bank exchange his old notes with the new currency hit a brick wall.

The money was part of his retirement package.

According to bank slips seen by the Nation, Mr Mboga withdrew Sh200,000 from his account at Equity Bank in Siaya on June 14 this year before returning to collect a further Sh300,000 on July 16.

He had the money for a month and when he went to a hotel to use it, the attendants refused.

“I went to a hotel and when I tried paying for the meal with a thousand shillings note, they refused and told me the currency is no longer being used,” said Mr Mboga.

When asked why he did not surrender the old notes before the September 30 deadline, he claimed that he was misled by the reminder by CBK.

“When you look at the newspaper, the reminder stated that ‘Take the thousands shillings to the bank ‘no’. (He misread the last word ‘now’). Up to now, these people have refused to exchange my notes,” said Mr Mboga.

But his younger brother, Mr Ouko, and his sister-in-law Jackline Otieno, seem to have a different explanation and blame neighbours and boda boda riders whom they accuse of misleading Mr Mboga in to not surrendering the cash in time.

“We asked him whether he had one thousand shillings notes in his house before the CBK deadline but he did not want to listen to us. The people who he interacts with outside the home always told him that his brothers will take all his money, so he kept it to himself,” said Mrs Otieno.

It is not clear whether he had withdrawn more than he has at the moment because the notes and his house have remained heavily guarded.

Helpless and distraught, the rich-pauper of Sirondha village now hopes that his cries will be heard by the government and his dream of venturing into the transport business realised.

While announcing the demonetisation deadline, CBK insisted that it would not be extended.

Mr Mboga is definitely not the only one holding onto the now useless currency notes.

Early this month, more than 2,000 pastoralists who had migrated to remote areas of Tana River and Lamu counties returned home with the old Sh1,000 notes.

The herders are now appealing to the CBK to open a short window for them to swap their old notes.

The pastoralists, who had been grazing in Witu and Boni in Lamu, said that owing to long journeys in the wilderness, they could not get back home in time to beat the September 30 deadline.