I saw you with the devil. In the Post Reason Age that we live in, this mantra has become a magic wand. It is a latter-day goddess out of a machine. Mental laziness has taken hostage of our intellect in Kenya. That you have been meddling with the devil is, therefore, our quick Greek Deus ex Machina. This “goddess out of a machine” rescues us from “complex situations,” where our intellect has packed up. We are, therefore, living in the Post Reason Age; the Age of Intolerance. Since you cannot think, just declare that the other person is the devil’s agent.
The worrying phenomenon is, unfortunately, a global trend, judging from the emotional ultra nationalism that is taking over the Western world. Everywhere, the central nervous system has surrendered to a defective endocrine system. We are operating on a broken-down hormonal rush. The system is coded with the words, “I saw you with the devil.” They gush out of us almost as if they operated on their own fuel and ignition. And we have become a slothful and insolent “I saw you with the devil” generation of hostage takers.
I have previously recalled how American playwright Arthur Miller paints societies such as ours in the play The Crucible. This is a feverish society of witch hunters, who explain every challenge around them with the thought that the next person is the devil’s agent. In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, there emerges a sudden wave of childish paranoia. Little girls mischievously accuse people of virtue of casting devilish spells upon them. Their playful melodrama is unfortunately interpreted as the truth. Hence, everywhere, you hear chants to the effect, “I saw Goody Osborne with the devil.” When it is not this it may be, “I saw Goody Good with the devil,” or “I saw Goody Proctor with the devil.” The devil is here, the devil is there; the devil is everywhere.”
We have surrendered
The devil is remarkable in Kenya, now disguised as Jubilee and then as NASA. He is doing his fire dance with everyone. The slightest departure of your thoughts from ours leads us to conclude, “This one has eaten with the devil.” We watch you closely for pointers. Even the way you smile – which side of your mouth is prominent in the smile – could indicate that you have been cavorting with Wicked Old Nick. Big Brother is watching you, complete with Thought Police to scrutinise your face for your thoughts. A facial twitch might just be the indicator that you are the devil’s friend.
More obvious giveaways are things like having a cup of tea with a person from the devil’s tribe. “I am not supposed to be seen with you,” someone might tell you, “You are a dangerous person.” The reason is that you are from the devil’s tribe. How do I deal with my tribesmen after being seen with you? And so we are hostages. We have been taken hostage by our tribes. They have defined tribal codes for us – what we say, how we say it, whom we meet, where we go, even the colours of our dress. You may be told, “Eh, so you are wearing orange! Have you become the devil?” Or, you may be told, “How come you are wearing red? Are you now with the devil?” This is not innocent banter. You are being cautioned to leave those colours to the devil.
The most afflicted hostages are easily those regularly in the public eye. A journalist may not focus on a certain unfolding story for fear that s/he will be accused of eating with the devil. Public intellectuals on TV, Radio and in the Print Media are closely scrutinised. Whose view are they expressing? Are they with us, or are they with the devil? A false binary division of society and ideas rules the nations. You are either with us, or with the devil. A third option is not possible. Things are either black or white; there are no gray areas.
Big Brother has banned Jubilee MPs from speaking on Radio and TV. They may not even give a comment to a journalist looking for a sound byte. Those with eager pens may not publish before showing their work to the censor. For, it might carry satanic verses. Big Brother has seen around him people he suspects to be eating with the Orange devil. And an Orange Miguna Miguna has seen Norman Magaya with the devil, receiving 30 million pieces of silver from him. He has seen David Ndii with the devil, salivating at Magaya’s 30 million.
But it does not end there. Even Baba Raila has been overheard on the phone talking to Big Brother, the Red Devil. The Orange Devil and the Red Devil have been dancing together, secretly. Others, who cannot reach Big Brother, have been seen with Junior Big Brother; also know us Deputy Red Devil (DRD). My friends, we are a nation of hostages – we African people called Kenyans. We have been taken hostage by our tribes and by the desire for political power and the trappings that come with it. We have surrendered both the desire and the capacity to think. The quick fix is simply, “Oh, that one has eaten with the devil.”
A country such as ours needs to be ransomed, urgently. Only those who can look Baba and Big Brother in the face and tell them the truth can deliver the country from hostage. To achieve this, they need not worry so much about being told, “I have seen you with the devil.” They must recognize the bubonic plague driving the tongues uttering this Post Toleration and Post Truth abracadabra. They need to sympathise with the victims of this plague. For, unto them has been given the task of saving the nation.
- The writer is a Strategic Public Communications Adviser. [email protected]