Unravelling Dr Mercy Mwangangi’s love metaphor

COMMENTARY |

Dr Mercy Mwangangi.

Standing in a political podium in Migori County, on 2nd December 2021, the CAS for Health Dr Mercy Mwangangi beseeched Migori residents for a husband. 

In her exact words, “Nikija hapa na Baba amenihahidi kuwa naweza pata bwana, Nipatieni bwana,” she said. 

The beautiful medical practitioner elicited mixed reactions from her spouse’s quest joke. However, and as I will argue, delving into her pronouncement reveals a multivocal discourse that characterizes her language.

 Dr Mwangangi’s speech qualifies to be a heteroglot since it connotes various languages competing with each other. 

Coined by the Russian philosopher and literary critic Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin, a heteroglot refers to an amalgam of multiple languages in a discourse. 

To openly proclaim her advances to the masculine world in search of a lover symbolises the reverie of seduction from her. 

In the height of campaign season, where political courtship is in top gear, she contextualizes her feminine appeal as a strategic prize that every political aspirant hopes to secure. 

Her femininity equates to the voter’s “apple eye” to the politicians. She places a charm offensive in the bid to woo potential suitors to her life, just as a political candidate would seduce the electorates with the hope of securing their votes.

In the African culture, courtship and the whole process of seeking marriage is perceived as the preserve of the male figure who initiates the move to his potential partner.  

It is a masculine affair to initiate the seduction process since the man eventually pays the dowry and ultimately compensates the brides’ family. 

Dr Mwangangi seemed to challenge this cultural idea and blew her own trumpet. She registers her bid to flip the dictates of patriarchy using the heteroglotic intention and speaks as the other bound by the dictates of uncoupled life.

 Her choice to reveal her lonely life resonates with the audience. The Luo-Nyanza peoples have been in the opposition fold in the most extended period of Kenyan history.

 In a coincidental reminder, Dr Mwangangi reaches to them in a double-voiced discourse that breaks the shackles of ethnicity by opting to seek a suitor in a foreign land while also reaching out to the Luo people to go for the presidency through a Raila Odinga candidature. 

 The dialogisation inherent in this short speech constructs a discourse that calls for the democratisation of the electioneering exercise through the image of the female body that seeks to break dominance from the gagged political machinery. 

Seeking the suitor from Luo land also signals the change of fortune from the western Kenya community who highly hope one of their own will be occupying the residence in Statehouse come next year. 

The lovely doctor’s suggestive message uses the power of language by connoting the voter as a female who hopefully wants a sound “bwana” for the sake of good governance. 

Additionally, her speech as a heteroglot mutually calls for cohesive existence and tolerance in the political courtship as we head to the 2022 General elections.

-The writer is a finalist Masters Student of Literature, Kenyatta University

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