By Peter Kimani
After 50 years on the national stage, Prezzo gave his last performance to Parliament this week and celebrated a personal milestone that has escaped our attention: for the first time, he will not be on any ballot in the forthcoming General Election.
The national politics will be left poor without Prezzo, for he flavoured the discourse with his mix of hard-truths and half-mirth that cheered the nation at all times.
Prezzo was the personification of comedy. Let’s start at the top. His short stub of white hair, which could possibly not survive hair dye, had a bare patch in the middle, the scant hair curved like horns. This seemed especially made for comic relief.
And there was nothing as majestic as the sluggish walk of the heavy set, grand old man leading a pack of lean, ramrod-straight men in inspecting a guard of honour.
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His lieutenants would bump into each other, unable to make full strides because so little space had been opened before them. At best, the matching soldiers resembled robots whose batteries were running low.
Prezzo appeared oblivious to all that, and when he was done with the inspection or some other state function, he seldom located his written speech in good time.
With cameras spinning and lights shining, Prezzo would mumble to himself as he rummaged through his pockets for the second or third time: na ile ka kitu imeenda wapi..., implying the speech had developed feet and taken off.
Men of Prezzo’s age, the sort that have not wasted away through, in Prezzo’s parlance – kula pombe ovyo ovyo – would be making similar searches at their local market, perhaps searching for an elusive coin to buy a pinch of tobacco.
But it wouldn’t really matter if Prezzo retrieved his written speech or not; he always had his off-the-cuff remarks ready, and that made better news.
There are those whom he dismissed as bure kabisa (very useless) and equate their diminished value to mavi ya kuku (chicken droppings).
Alternately, they were labelled pumbavu or plain stupid and presidential insult would be followed by the predictable guffaw from the octogenarian.
And in describing national stagnation as remaining pale pale, salacious minded commentators turned the presidential insult into euphemism for sex.
So, from social delinquents who imbibe pombe ovyo ovyo and turn into sloshed idiots, who are deemed to be of little use as mavi ya kuku, so bound to remain pale pale, became potent political metaphors for the nation.
Such gibberish concoction would be made kusindikiza a keynote speech to launch a mega project like Vision 2030, highlighting the lofty ideals that Prezzo had for his country, counter-balanced against his growing impatience with compatriots who did not share his vision, or who appeared lost in their humdrum pursuits.
It was Prezzo’s way of distancing from his own peasant past. His father sold tobacco for a living, but that did not stop Prezzo from dreaming and achieving big.
Now, what will Prezzo do in retirement, given his aversion to idleness and kula pombe? He can re-learn to walk and play golf. But if he really wanted to emulate other villagers, he could dye his hair and take a second wife. Only that might sound as a pumbavu suggestion since his aversion to polygamy is legendary.
But with his generous pension, Prezzo could retreat to Othaya and spend his days regaling men his age with tales of his life in politics.
The devil is in the detail: what
UK-Double M debacle tell us
There is refreshing honesty in the tit-for-tat revelations by Uhuru Kenyatta, or simply UK, and Musalia Mudavadi also known as Double M.
The two serve as Deputy PMs, and both are inheritors of the political kingdoms established by their fathers. As beneficiaries of Kanu political patronage, Double M was UK’s running mate in 2002 presidential polls in the Jogoo party.
In a certain sense, their joining hands a few weeks ago was a re-enactment of their history. This week, both addressed the public, separately, to reveal what they had agreed in private.
UK, in his now trademark red shirt had shiny eyes – perhaps a film of tears – which may have prevented him from reading the fine print in the dossier that he signed, in his own words, coerced by some mysterious dark forces.
UK should have added the time of the day when he put pen to paper for us to appreciate if his brain was fully functional at the appointed hour.
Then it was Double M’s turn to speak and his cheeks puffed and his mouth pouted. He pledged to support me, Double M said, his cheeks puffing even further to demonstrate his level of hurt.
He did not say why he was entitled to UK’s support, although he could have referred to his 2002 campaigns for UK as the basis of their current engagement.
It isn’t right for one to infer their revelations as infantile ranting from a political wimp and another who is full of entitlement; they reveal their pure nature, incorruptible like children.
Register a vote of confidence in police intelligence gathering
Now that voter registration is over, let me speculate the various unintended purposes that the register may serve.
First, it will be a reference point for those brokering political deals. If some localities had poor showing in the exercise, that will work against some politicians.
But the greatest beneficiaries will be the police. Some folks say the voter register is the most comprehensive record of Kenyans – the best since 1979 – as it matches pictures with handprints, and many underworld operatives that cops have been trailing for years will be picked with the ease of boys catching grasshoppers.
Some wise criminals, it is rumoured, stayed away from voter registration as they feared they would be smoked out once their names are on the voters’ roll.
But the availability of the data does not mean the cops will crack the cases in hand. Since their bosses ate money meant for the establishment of a forensic lab, it is damn difficult to secure convictions because their evidence gathering mechanism remains jua kali.
Yet, that’s not to say the voter’s roll will serve no purpose; apprehending criminals on the run will go a long way in proving there are many ways of skinning a cat.