Politics of numbers and magical mirage of seven consorts

Chairs and tables toppled after chaos erupted at Bomas of Kenya on August 15, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Let’s talk about numbers. No, no, I’m not about the numbers bandied about by Jeremiah Kioni, the Azimio politico who says his party will “revisit” the outcome of the last General Election. I’m interested in the magical figure of seven.

But let’s not dismiss Kioni offhand; his party claims an insider at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission allegedly revealed that Raila Odinga aka Baba had his victory denied.

Where I come from, we admonish folks who insist on “kurudia rudia maneno.” We also have a saying about a fool’s case being perennially litigated. Neither Kioni nor Azimio are fools, but the attempt to “revisit” their purported electoral victory is foolish.

Or maybe not. With the economy in the doldrums and mass desperation palpable, maybe they know something we don’t. For if Azimio were to order “mass action,” the Kenyan brand of protest that includes robbing and looting, that would make the country “ungovernable.” Outcome? A handshake of sorts for politicos and another chance at the feeding trough.

And the timing is just about right; a family member had her car vandalised as she drove on Nairobi’s swanky Riverside Drive this week. It was 9am. And when I took the car to the garage, I was told a nearby spares store is burgled every other week.

But that’s not my problem. Politicians will extract deals, by hook or crook, and goons will terrorise the citizens. As the Jamaican reggae maestro Peter Tosh sings, everyone is talking about crime, but who are the criminals?

I guess we know them, so let’s talk about something we don’t know and which also relates to numbers, also released this week. There are interesting figures from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.

Now, the folks at Herufi House are not some Mickey Mouse operation who emerge before elections to cook and serve figures to suit the taste of the highest bidder. These are serious chaps who eat serious books and can crunch numbers like nobody’s business.

So, the Demographic and Health Survey reveals that a Kenyan man will have seven women in his lifetime, while a woman is likely to have two men. But since Kenyans interpret “lifetime” to mean their day-to-day living, which cumulatively constitute a lifetime, men have been particularly sore, envious that some of their peers have enough money to support seven women, all at once.

They have a point, but Kenya being what it is, it’s possible to pool resources. Someone pays the rent and another furnishes it. Yet another man takes the kids to school. Another pays for the holiday. Mambo ni kusaidiana.

Unsurprisingly, the same survey found 35 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women had bedded someone who wasn’t their spouse or a live-in partner, within the last 12 months.

It is this symphony of brotherhood, to use the lofty lexicon from Martin Luther King Jnr, whose birthday was marked this week, that makes the world go round. And if that sounds like trivialising the life and legacy of the great man, he was a ladies’ man to boot, as his private history attests.

But that’s none of our business - our business is to link the findings of the survey to our economic inequities. Wealthier and more educated men and women are having disproportionately higher number of affairs than those in the lower income and education brackets.

It is not clear if they confine their affairs to their own social status, or if they defy those economic strictures and try “trickle-down” strategies. Now that we’re in the age of “bottom-up” economic dispensation, let’s see if those at the top of the ladder will get to the bottom, and vice versa.

After facing Mount Kenya, Riggy G seeks stolen lands

Deputy Prezzo Rigathi Gachagua aka Riggy G is seeking “idle” lands in private hands for the settlement of landless freedom fighters. This is an urgent task that should be supported by all Kenyans.

I am particularly moved by Riggy G’s clarity of vision: it is the freedom fighters who sacrificed their all, and who suffered the most: many lived in grinding poverty “and skwela,” to use Riggy G’s colourful lingo for squalor.

And when they die, they cannot afford a final resting place. Their remains are buried in public cemeteries.

But Riggy G should go beyond this lamentation; Kenyans need action. Just as the Kenya Kwanza administration is fast-tracking changes at the electoral body and instituting a legislative framework, land reforms are needed.

I have been waiting for that predictable exhortation: hii ni serikali yenu… semeni tuchukue mashamba kwa nguvu. (This is your government. Tell us to forcibly acquire those lands).

This happened in the past, when actual money was offered by our former foreign masters to buy out white farmers and settle landless Kenyans. The outcome? The same tumbocrats who were busy in class, while others were in the forest fighting stole both money and the land.

Those records are still kept somewhere and it shouldn’t be difficult to trace who stole what. By the same token, those who routinely steal from the government, whether at county or national level, should return their loot. They, too, are well known.

Love in the time of crime: The art of fusing fact with a healthy dose of fiction

It appears my career as a fiction writer is under severe strain, what with the number of rookies receiving frontpage attention in the national press, like the one headlined by a leading daily, this week. The crux of the story is that a feuding couple had the man despatch killers to pick his wife from the airport, with the strict instruction to send her to an early grave. Their pay of Sh1.5m was to be delivered upon confirmation of their completion of the assignment.

But the woman claims she talked the assassins out of the plot and offered them Sh2 million instead. One wonders why the cooperative goons couldn’t fake her killing and receive payment from the man as well.

Perhaps they didn’t have to think too hard about money; the woman drew enough cash using her ATM card and she and the goons ended up in the same lodgings for the night. With trust building overnight, she hired two of the alleged killers as her bodyguards.

One more miracle: one of the suspects ended up in Canada, as an asylum seeker, with the support of the woman. Well, from the craft of fiction, there are too many questions that the script raises, so let’s focus on a “real-life” crime thriller, also reported in the Press this week, as it offers useful insights about crime and passion.

An armed gang in Nakuru descended on a businessman’s home five years ago. One of the gang members was besotted with the female domestic servant at the home.

He protected her during the eight-hour ordeal and called her the following day to apologise for a sexual assault on the woman by another gang member. He also revealed where the stolen items were stashed. A rendezvous with the woman led to the arrest of the gangster.

Unless the Canada-based woman’s heist is fiction, it should lead to the arrest and prosecution of the actual criminals.

By Brian Ngugi 13 mins ago
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