When the axe came into the forest, the trees said: ‘Do not be afraid, the handle is one of us! It will take care of our interests, it will not stand by and watch us get hurt or annihilated!’ The trees similarly remained passive and acquiescent when the match-stick, its head bulging with phosphorous, wandered by. Of course the trees were wrong – the axe did not spare them, despite its wooden handle; and neither did the match-stick, despite its wooden component!
The moment the wooden handle is joined to the iron head of an axe, it is no longer part of the Wood Kingdom – it is as much an enemy to the forest as the sharp iron head is. That wooden handle is indeed the anaesthesia that lulls the trees into a false sense of security – preventing them from taking quick and firm defensive action! The same goes for the little bit of wood that holds the phosphorous match-head!
Our political punditeratti are unanimously agreed that the coming Kenyan election shall only be won through ‘strategic’ coalitions – meaning conglomerations of tribes, slapped together for the benefit of their respective Eating Chiefs. The portion of the carcass of government that is due to each Eating Chief is determined by the value of the votes and counties that he brings to the gluttonfest, hence the quarrels over which counties who controls! And hence the desperation by the Eating Chiefs to obtain and maintain an absolute stranglehold of their respective tribal fiefdoms!
These pundits, the sum total of whose analytical power and prophetic ability is contained in the one word ‘tribe’, assure us that politics is a game of numbers – and that they that have the numbers shall win the contest; and that it does not matter how the contestants build up the numbers – even if it entails incorporating the most repulsive characters that ever walked the political landscape! Indeed, if it adds to the numbers, mortal enemies of the very recent past will negotiate a ‘like-minded’ intimate friendship – because all sins are forgiven in this headlong rush to the feeding trough that is public resources! And if perchance our mutual antipathy has now landed us both in legal trouble, the more reason for a shotgun marriage – we can always say it is part of the reconciliation process! And should the buy-and-sell negotiations collapse, we immediately resume combat with even greater vigour!
Meanwhile the voters that are being liberally traded by the Eating Chiefs, the trees in our political forest, are being lulled into a false sense of security. We are being told that a coalition with so-and-so will take care of ‘our community’s interests’; will ensure that ‘we’ are in the next government; will save ‘us’ from the agony of being in the opposition! And we the tress are not asking why ‘we’ need a proven thief, or suspected genocidaire, or obvious incompetent, or some lackadaisical political wind-vane to protect ‘our community’s interests’! Indeed, none of the trees is even asking why the community’s interests need protection – other than by the Constitution and the statutes of our laws!
The most exciting candidate of the moment – Hon Peter Kenneth is being urged by we that believe he could be ‘The Answer’ to seek a coalition to get him ‘the numbers’ to win the election. Indeed a coalition would be good for Hon PK – but only if it is a coalition of the clean. One of his greatest attractions at this point in time is that he is not sitting in the middle of mountains of political garbage that has been continuously recycled from party to party and government to government over the last 50 years! It is a great blessing that some of the filth that initially seemed to be clinging to his coat-tails voluntarily disembarked! He truly represents a sweet-smelling fresh start – not a semi-deodorised blast from the past to whom the smell of bygone corruptions of all kinds stubbornly clings despite all efforts to present themselves as a new creation! It would be a great tragedy indeed if in our desperation to get him elected we pushed him into sinful liaisons with the very characters we are rejecting by choosing him! Remember, they that lie down with dogs shall surely rise with fleas; and they that fly with vultures and congregate with hyenas must surely enjoy carrion!
Should Hon Peter Kenneth start to bring garbage on board for purposes of getting the numbers and winning the elections, then he will have lost what distinguishes him from the rest of the pack. His party will have become just another squabbling clan of grotesquely misshapen hyenas with a prominent vulture wing. We will then be back to where we have always been – a non-choice between a stinky selection of different dung heaps only distinguishable by the numbers of bluebottle flies hovering around each!
By all means, let like cling to like, and let vultures of a feather flock together – it is common practice that all garbage should be gathered together in one place before setting fire to it! But let us not pour into the new wine-skin that is our Constitution the same old wine that is our tired and tattered politicians! And should we chose to do that, let us forever hold our peace – for we will have lost the right to complain about state-sponsored corruption, lack of security, a poor education system, the dens of death that are our public hospitals, collapsing infrastructure, politically instigated inter-tribal warfare, an incompetent public service, and entrenched marginalisation and disparities of opportunity !