"Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, then know that something is after its life,” says renowned Nigerian novelist the Late Chinua Achebe in his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart.
Achebe was describing the tribulations of the people of Umuofia, who after being driven out of their villages by the colonialists, were homeless and moving from one place to another.
The analogy of a toad was used to appraise the reading world that the Umuofians were under some siege and needed help to protect them from the atrocities visited upon them by the intruding white colonialists. The lives of Umuofians were in real and imminent danger.
On Monday, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala broke down on the floor of the house crying that his life was in danger and made an emotional appeal to Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, who were both present to bolster his personal security so that his life is not taken away for he is “a young father and husband”.
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The first term senator claimed that there is a special squad from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) formed to kill him, adding that members of the squad had held several meetings in hotels to plan the mission. He even had the code name of the squad and the dates of the said meetings and the specific types of arms they intended to use against him.
These are serious allegations coming from a leader who, by the mere fact that he is an elected Member of Parliament, is bound to have influential enemies and they need to be treated with the seriousness they deserve.
But there are other schools of thought.
Some leaders, including Mr Kinoti who leads the directorate that supposedly formed the killer squad think that the award-winning playwright is being creative in imagination and may be courting sympathy.
According to their account, Malala – part of senators opposed the proposed Third Basis for equitable sharing of revenue among county governments – could be ceding support in the senate and seeking to divert attention.
Others argue that the Kakamega senator has played similar games before. One such mover is former Prime Minister Raila Odinga who alluded to a time the senator was arrested at his house on the day the Senate was scheduled to vote on the crucial sharing formula. Raila imputed that some leaders could have arranged their own dramatic arrest so as to please their benefactors.
Those dismissing the threats against Malala accuse him employing tactics of The Boy Who Cried Wolf in one of Greek Aesop's fables. This is a tale of a shepherd boy who repeatedly tricks nearby villagers into thinking a wolf is attacking his town's flock. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy again calls for help, the villagers believe that it is another false alarm and the sheep are eaten by the wolf.
It is crucial that all is done to establish the veracity of the threats against Mr Malala and eliminate them. I hope that the senator is indeed a toad jumping in broad daylight rather than the boy who cried wolf.
-Mr Leo is a public policy analyst. [email protected]