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Kenyans on the cross, wading through muddy political demo waters

A police officer trying to calm down an irate crowd surging forward in Eastleigh during the Azimio la Umoja demonstrations. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

It's been pouring, even though folks at the Met department say the rains will not be adequate to grow food, so farmers have been advised to plant fast-maturing varieties. There is no further information about the seeds, or even where they are to be found. Farmers are expected to know these things since they have been at it through the years.

Still, the rains have been steady enough to block our drainage, forcing DP Riggy G to wade through the waters to get to his office. And his poor aides have to tug along at 5am, just for a photo-op. Enyewe, some jobs are not easy! I mean, who else in this great republic starts his day by taking pictures?

But that's not my problem; rather, I have been consumed by the issue of blocked drains, not just because the city of Nairobi sits on a swamp, but because half its population lives in so-called informal settlements without flowing water or electricity.

The idea of flowing water isn't just for the taps but for the cisterns as well. In those ghettoes without water flowing, folks there invented a contraption called "flying toilets."

The less said about the latter, the better, but you get the drift. The confluence of a city without proper sewer and blocked drains means we are deluged in water of a different kind. These days, if you happen about any water logging, smell the air first to confirm if it's ordinary water, or the extra-ordinary water containing other elements.

I'm trying to be respectful, for this is a respectable family paper, usually consumed at breakfast, so I cannot plainly state ours is a city full of that smelly stuff.

Even those who drive to evade wading in the mess have only temporary reprieve. After all, the entire length of the Expressway lasts just about 15 minutes, after which you wade through the traffic gridlock, where salesmen of all shades suddenly arrive at the window, tapping roughly like landlords, before proceeding to display their wares.

Some are now familiar faces, part of the decor that garlands Mombasa Road, come rain, come shine, their once youthful faces now leathery with age. This shabby thoroughfare is all their nation has availed them and they make the best of it without a grumble, even as they crumble inside.

But there is a particular salesman who never fails to impress. Now that the rains have come, he knows wipers will come in handy. He might gently suggest your wipers need a change, but before you can protest and move on, makes an unlikely offer: he installs one, just for the test.

Sure enough, the singular wiper wipes cleanest and the older wiper looks like a clumsy, old broom. You now know the difference between a well-swept windshield and a messy one.

In a certain sense, that's where we are at as a nation. After restive weeks, Kenyans have enjoyed a calm, quiet week, after anti-government protests were called off to allow for negotiations within a parliamentary framework.

And now that we know the difference between a quiet week and one fraught with maandamano, it appears the opposition doyen, Raila Odinga, aka Baba has had a change of heart. Now he's no longer keen on a parliamentary process; he wants one outside Parliament akin to the 2008 National Accord. Like the highway vendor, Baba has as an assemblage of wares to sell to Kenyans and he'll switch them according to season.

In this season of hunger, he'll push cost of living as his main grouse; soon, he'll push through the Building Bridges Initiative that was defeated in a referendum. Put another way, Kenyans will be on the cross this Easter and for the months ahead, pawns in a complex political chess whose outcome is pre-determined.

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