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He looks like a wooly-headed idealist, but Wajackoyah has a point

Alexander Chagema
 Roots party presidential candidate Prof. George Wajackoyah greets supporters in Kisumu. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

George Wajackoyah’s visage gives him a revolutionary look in the mould of Fidel Castro and Karl Marx.

The durag, an inscrutable face and long grey beard tell their own stories. Prof Wajackoyah is a blend of rebellion, chutzpah, intellect, defiance, and confusion.

Here is why. He is a demonstration of wooly-headed idealism. On a television interview on Wednesday this week, he said his first order of business would be to ‘legalise’ marijuana if elected president on August 9.

He would then free all individuals jailed for being in possession of bhang. In the same breath, he avers marijuana will remain a banned substance.

Wajackoyah has no regard for the Kenya constitution, which he claims was imposed on Kenyans. Were he to win in August, he says he will issue a presidential decree to suspend what he calls 'stupid' laws.

But in doing so, wouldn't he be committing the same sin he is accusing others of? Wouldn’t ruling by decree exhibit the hallmarks of obnoxious dictators that Africa once had in Amin Dada of Uganda and Jean Bedel Bokasa of Central African Republic; men who looked at themselves as deities?

Wajackoyah doesn’t hide his disdain for the Chinese. He vows to expel all of them and ban the ‘Chinese police’ uniform. That said, he then articulates his plans to sell dog meat and snake venom to the Chinese. Really? Are they so gullible?

Moments after complaining about Chinese engineers being brought in to build roads that Kenyan engineers can competently do, and declaring that foreigners have no business doing work that locals can do, Wajackoyah cheerfully says he will bring in Canadians to advice him on issues related to women who he holds in high esteem. Well, he should make up his mind.

 Prof. George Wajackoyah. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

In retrospection, however, Wajackoyah’s plan to grow bhang for commercial and medicinal purposes is not warped. Internalised stereotypes on bhang made most of us recoil from his suggestion in a typical knee-jerk reaction. All our lives, we have heard only one side of the story on marijuana. Apparently, Wajackoyah has the other side.

The ban on marijuana in Kenya is more academic than practical. It has no positive impact to speak of when we see it turn many men into vegetables. It is ironical that in the same breath that authorities declare bhang a banned substance, they also decry the high incidence rates of bhang use. Bhang is readily available at any market centre in this country.

It is not lost on us that trade in bhang involves complex networks that include influential people and the police. Occasionally whenever large hauls of bhang are netted, it is not because the police were hawk-eyed, rather, it is because of betrayal after a deal gone wrong. A lot of this bhang comes in from Uganda as are most contraband goods.

In truth, we are inhibited by our own prejudices against bhang. Wajackoyah’s idea can be tried out first, by putting the dud that was Galana Kulalu to good use. Between 2013 and 2017, at least Sh15 billion was put into this sinkhole and there is nothing to show for it. Again, ADC farms across the country that have been appropriated should be reclaimed.

On them, the government can experiment with growing bhang for export and medicinal purposes. That way, the worry about widespread misuse of the substance can be laid to rest. All said and done, Wajackoyah's message is that we do not need complex solutions to our problems, we have the answers right before our eyes. 

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