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Hustler Number One becomes King, Riggy G cannot remain calm

Peter Kimani
 Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. [DPCS]

Love is in the air, they said about Wednesday, although I did not see a single person in red, save for serving staff at Java, and they were busy at work. Neither did I see anyone carrying a bouquet of roses, as is the norm on such days.

Instead, I saw on TV men and women bearing twigs in the streets of Kiambu, demanding freedom for their land. They chanted in unison: no land rates. Apparently, there is a plan to tax landowners in that county.

The chant cascaded through the valleys that dot Kiambu County, building into a crescendo when it reached Lari, where a larger crowd was building. The specific spot is called Soko Mjinga - the fools’ market - mainly because of the tomfoolery employed by traders there.

Motorists hurrying back into town would be lured by the sight of freshly harvested greens, onions and other food items and stop by. They were met by elderly folks whose calloused hands affirmed their years of battling with soil to produce food. And these heroes and heroines of the toil were still fighting on, staking out in their heavy coats hewn out of sheep’s skins to ward off the numbing chill.

But as many travellers later discovered, this façade of meekness camouflaged a rabid greed; a debe of potatoes contained nothing but mahewa, as the container had been skillfully knocked on the sides to ensure it could hold only a fraction of its capacity. The debe’s midriff was nothing but air. And the seemingly elderly chaps could run just fine, as they say in those hamlets, by placing heels on their shoulders.

It was at this venue that Prezzo Bill Ruto, his able deputy Rigathi Gachagua aka Riggy G and a retinue of their lieutenants pitched tent and discovered, to their horror, the ground had shifted to reveal a groundswell of animus, after Prezzo was heckled.

“Hiyo ni tabia ya ODM,” Riggy G scoffed, one would think ODM is an errant teen who goes around inciting her peers into rebellion. “Tabia ya kupiga kelele mbele ya mfalme, hiyo si tabia ya Mlima Kenya.”

Let’s unpack this, starting with Riggy G’s rare sense of animation, a flicker of anger in his eyes, words bubbling out of his mouth in a variety of languages and cadences, scoffing at the masses while still trying to appeal to them.

Mfalme is king, so the man they had helped install to the throne only eighteen months ago, riding in a barrow, had crossed ranks to sit with the dynasts.

I don’t think people, even fools at the Soko Mjinga, have forgotten the recent politics of class, so the conversion of hustlers into kings must have come to them as a surprise.

I don’t know if traders at Soko Mjinga still squash the sides of their debes to shortchange the unsuspecting customers now that the travellers are wiser and possibly opt to buy foodstuffs elsewhere.

But what I know for sure is that this public rally at Lari was a political litmus test with larger ramifications. And if we were to apply the metaphor of the seismic shifts of the earth that created the Rift Valley, the rising din that eclipsed speakers at the presidential rally on Valentine’s Day imply the ground has since shifted.

As for Riggy G, his exhortation that the people should wait for elections to express their opinion on the performance of their leaders is too urgent to be bottled up for the next three and a half years. If that’s what he calls the “ODM” way, then that’s the oxygen that gives life to democracy.

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