A shout here, a wail there: a mhesh's ultimate calling

National Assembly during a Parliamentary session on October 6, 2022 [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Bunge on Thursday afternoon would have passed off for a marketplace, save for the fact that markets are more organised.

“Mbao!” some merchant usually shouts in the market. “Twenty!” another responds rhythmically.

This is how Bunge sounded after National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, Papa wa Roma, made his contested ruling on the majority coalition.

“Wooo!” a female mheshimiwa, blonde of hair, shouted herself hoarse. “We are the majority!” another exclaimed. “Tumeshinda!” went another. A shout here, a wail there, as mhesh after another made their contribution to the cacophony.

They would then break into the “Si uchawi, ni maombi” chant. Who? Members of Kenya Kwanza that had huddled at the lawn, elated that Papa wa Roma had ruled in their favour in a long, long decision that named them the majority.

Most faces were new, and it was encouraging to see how fast they had caught the oldest trait of any mhesh - unruliness. Among them there were old faces, too - MPs serving their second terms, too eager to ensure that their culture of rowdiness is passed on to the next generation who will answer to their true calling.

Metres away from Kenya Kwanza’s exorcism session, Azimio MPs were pouring their hearts out to the press. “It hurts,” their faces said. There lips moved but no journalist heard a word of what the MPs said. Kenya Kwanza MPs wouldn’t let that happen, shouting their lungs out.

Earlier, it was the Azimio brigade that had been unruly, protesting Papa wa Roma’s ruling that declared them the minority side with a vigour that had their colleagues scampering. Fair game, Kenya Kwanza must have thought of their move to shout down Azimio’s press briefing. Soon after Azimio was done, Kenya Kwanza would take their place before the scribes. Some Kenya Kwanza MPs had seemed eager to talk until they came face to face with the microphones.

There was some awkwardness a few minutes after the journos stretched their arms, and those present, the same ones who had been shouting moments ago, fell silent.

(Some of the wahesh will have nothing to say during debates for the next five years and you will probably never get to know their talking voices, just their shouting ones.)

You could tell from their faces that their hearts were racing, each hoping that no one would pick them out to ask them for a comment, much in the way an absent-minded student hopes the teacher will spare them from having to answer a question in class.

The sight of familiar faces such as Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa and his deputy Owen Baya calmed their nerves and the mum MPs would cheer them on, relieved they would not have to speak.