Harold's antics for a blessing hit brick wall


I knocked on every door in the village, scoured the village records and even prayed for divine help but still failed to find an old man or woman willing to bless Harold.

Most of the elders were clear they would rather sit their grandchildren round fires and lie about their roles in World War 1 than lay hands on a head that thinks lies and opportunism.

I hatched a plan. During Mashujaa Day celebrations, which we learnt about late and so held on October 21, Harold would fete all the old men and women who, honoured, would not hesitate to endorse and bless him.

And so I went around the village with a couple of friends announcing that Harold would honour the heroes and heroines of our village the next day. I even mentioned the names of those that would be feted.  

The next day, the church compound was packed; full of men and women who wanted to see exactly what Harold had in store for them. My friends and I mounted a guard of dishonour, most of us truly disgraceful elements in the village.

Under the scorching sun, we lined up, necks stiff and hands stuck to our sides, waiting for the guest of honour, whom I had left eating anything available in the house.

When he finally floated in, he was dressed in his Sunday best; an ugly cassock, which was somewhere between maroon and black, and a cap. He inspected the guard of dishonour before addressing the villagers.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he started, his eyes darting from head to head as he tried to establish how many old people were in the gathering. “Today we come here to celebrate our heroes.”

In sessions we have in the evenings the few times we are not fighting, I teach Harold history. Some he retains, but problems come when he tries to feed that information to someone else. It always ends up getting distorted.

“Some of you remember The Old Stone Age, where it was proven that a single stone can save a community,” he said. Harold thinks that the stone age is the year when David felled Goliath with a pebble in the valleys of Gitegi, which the Bible calls Sokoh. That place is now the village marketplace.

“I now want to celebrate all of you for supporting this village through turbulent times. I appreciate it.”

When Harold talks about supporting the village, he means supporting him. He has won successive elections courtesy of voters’ blindness, often because the majority of the villagers are old people who have lost sight of their youthful days. They also cannot, literally, see themselves living long enough to suffer the consequences of their bad decisions.

We awaited the awarding ceremony. As the event organiser, I had begged my uncle, who is also the village boss, to make sure that the awards were visible throughout the event, even if they were just certificates. As usual, he ignored my advice.  

Heads were craned as people tried to see if he would pull a rabbit out of a hat, but all they got were daggers in their hearts. Harold spoke about his development record, expressing his satisfaction with everything he thinks he has achieved. He even mentioned feeding me as one of the reasons he is proud of himself.

In the end, Harold read the names of those who were supposed to be feted and asked them to stand. Old and already energy-drained by the unforgiving midday sun, most of them simply waved disinterestedly and remained seated on the grass.

“Because of your heroic acts, and by the power vested on me by the constitution that I made, I now announce that you shall have the permission to watch TV every Sunday afternoon without having to pay anything,” he said. The ululation we expected did not come.

Instead, a little groan could be heard from close to the dais. A closer inspection showed that the groan came from me after I realised that I will no longer enjoy the money I am supposed to be collecting every Sunday from TV watchers. ?


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