Why the village is alive once again and the absurd season

COLUMNISTS |

Christmas is coming. The air is pregnant with festivity. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

It is that season when villagers grope to their nativity, like St. Joseph the Worker, with the expectant holy virgin lady in tow. I have come here, to Emanyulia, my own “Bright Glade.”

It glows after the fashion of Leo Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana, in a gone age. It is my own little “inaccessible literary stronghold.”

Maybe, someday, a tome in the shadows of Anna Karenina and War and Peace, will come from these countryside forays. But if not, we still dream of lesser accomplishments, like The Cossacks. 

Jamhuri, the progeny of independence, is around the corner. Christmas too is coming, in hot pursuit. The air is pregnant with festivity.

Time to bury our heads in the sand. To love life, and live in a happy-go-lucky style into 2022. Then we can wake up once again, to the harsh realities of life. The man in the Epistle says, “Let’s drink and make merry, for tomorrow we die.

And the absurdist says, “To rot under clay, and to rot under marble, it is all the same to me.” And so it is time to enjoy a few weeks of glory. 

The children are almost missing in the action. Thanks to the vagaries of Covid-19, the young ones have had to stretch time in school, to the extremes of its elasticity. They say school holidays will begin two days before Christmas. Around here, however, our teachers have beaten their seniors in Jogoo House B to the game. Everywhere in this village and beyond, kids mill about like safari ants.

They loiter aimlessly on the roads, and on village paths, clad in school uniform. There is not a single school inspector to wonder why. I suspect Jogoo House is unaware, or on holiday too. 

From Emanyulia Primary School to Emutsasa, across the ridge, back to Namasoli where I went decades ago, all the way to Ikomero, Eshikhungula, Mundeku, Emwaniro and God knows where, youth swagger buoyantly on the roads throughout the day.

God only knows what youthful mischief they engage in, even as President Uhuru Kenyatta leads us in decrying teenage pregnancies. We have contributed quite significantly to these pregnancies, in these parts of the country. 

The young people are sent away virtually every day, to bring money. If it is not examination fees, it is activity fees. When it is not that, it is something new the genius teaching force has invented. In any event, our teachers here specialise in keeping kids out of school. Meanwhile, the pedagogues relax under tree awnings. They stretch out their legs, eyes closed blissfully, waiting for pay day. You wonder, why don’t they just close for holidays? 

But you also wonder, didn’t someone say primary education was free? Or, maybe, that does not apply to schools around here? What happened to Prof George Magoha and the dreaded Dr Fred Matiang’i? Did I not hear Magoha say no child would be sent away from school?

Around here, they are even sent away to bring firewood. Perhaps it’s about time Magoha paid us a visit. Meanwhile, you understand why we lag behind the rest of the country. More than half of learning time is lost in miscellaneous mischief out of school.

Away from school manenos, the big politicos from big towns are also descending upon the village. This season, we don’t expect them to return to town that soon after Christmas. The festive season should roll straight into the home lap of the political campaign season.

The Mercedes funeral season that Ngugi Wa Thiong’o talks about in Secret Lives is here. Politicos competing for great things are already outdoing each other at funerals, mourning with their wallets.

If you want a Mercedes for a coffin for your loving departed one, they will provide one. They are set to stay on all the way to August 9, being nice to us, hoping for our votes. They are welcome to stay. I am also staying. Watch this page.  

-Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor

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