Njuguna Mutonya: What happened to my country?

My friend George left the country a week before the 2007 general elections. He came back this week to be faced with the current political crisis.

To say he is shocked is an understatement. I do not blame him; I am also involved in the chess games being played daily by our politicians as if they are an end in themselves.

After going through the shenanigans of President Kibaki’s first term, Kenyans came face to face with machetes, poisoned arrows and refugee camps in churches and other places.

The bottom line: 1,200 dead and 400,000 uprooted from their homes. We thought this situation was enough to hammer some sense into our politicians, but did it?

Like remote-controlled robots, we smile and frown in despair, depending on the whims of our principals, totally unable to do something about the political duel.

Desperation that denies one the possibility of redress can be an extremely gagging experience.

Apparently, the same heightened political activity leading up to the controversy-ridden presidential election has also emasculated the people, leaving them mere pawns on the high-stakes chess board.

The final proof of our political castration was when the principals announced a 40-member Cabinet which, they claimed, was agreeable to both sides.

This is strange because I thought the two sides were competing to gain moral ground in the eye of Kenyans.

It seems clear now that the issue was not about economic recovery and delivery of service, but about who gets what in the scheme of things.

This is why there was an agreement.

It is interesting to daily listen to self-imposed political analysts engage in heated debates, when theirs is but a partisan and probably ethnic prance.

When he arrived George kept asking me: “What happened to my country?” My answer was fuzzy and, in light of the fast-changing political scenario, maybe unconvincing.

“What you left on December 19 was a beautiful maiden preparing for marriage — skimpy of step and rearing to go,” I said.

“Then the vandals struck the night before the wedding, raped her and cut up her face and chased the suitor away.”

Today, to shroud her shame and thumb it up to the people who let her down, she is the village whore sleeping with miscreants and other good-for-nothing people with gay abandon. “And we look on in shame, not knowing what to do, but knowing that we failed to protect her in her hour of need,” I added.

Today we defend the looters of the economy and the perpetrators of violence to mark our territory like big cats in the jungle. In our shameless lust for power, we forget the hundreds of thousands of women and children being washed by the rains in makeshift tents strewn all over the country.

Our new members of Parliament have acquired a new swagger to imagine that the six-figure salaries and the pornographic perks that await them.

The threat to call fresh elections, most improbable though it may be, faintly suggests sweet revenge by voters to send some of the leaders back to sanity.

However, after the crisis of the last four months and the discrediting of the Electoral Commission, it is not clear who would join the fray. The politicians would be the last to accede, of course.

In 1993 when I interviewed the Internal Security minister of Siad Barre’s Somalia at the Mombasa showground where he was a refugee, he had this to say: “We are willing to sit down and discuss a power-sharing agreement with the rebels.”

I can assure you he is still waiting.

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