Kenya has become a urine-spewing nation

By - Jan 1st 1970

There is a popular game that boys of my generation enjoyed playing. It was simply called the game of throwing urine. I am told it is still very popular among male children in different Kenyan communities. It involved lining up in a straight line while facing one direction and each one of us would hold his ‘gun’ in his hands to throw urine. The one who threw his urine the furthest won the contest.

Like any other male game, it defined our masculinity. The winner was obviously the boy who threw his urine furthest. If say your performance was abysmal, then you were looked at as effeminate and you immediately lost your identity among “we men”. To play this game successfully we would first take lots of water in preparation.

 All manner of dirt

But medical doctors will tell you that children are able to throw urine very far because their prostate glands have not started yielding to transformations that come with age. But we have found other ways of playing the game as adults. My humble observation of our social and political culture suggests that adults in this country have perfected the art of playing the same game of throwing urine, albeit in a highly metaphorical sense.

It appears that most of the battles we fight in this country have everything to do with throwing varieties of urine at one another. Symbolically, we lavish the game of throwing all manner of dirt emitted from our large intestines, mouth, or pertinacious brains and hearts. In essence, we have perfected the art of competing to outdo others in majorly the wrong things. In so doing, we continuously rain urine on the Republic and wananchi have to persevere through the torrents and storms that come with it.

In the early years of independence, we talked about magendo and kitu kidogo (something small) as some form of prevalent corruption. We condemned the culture of kitu kidogo and wrote about it in the literature of the time.  It is this form of corruption that dramatist Francis Imbuga satirizes in Betrayal in the City, his classic cannon of 1976 when Mulili, the ex-soldier turned farmer, uttered the most memorable lines: “When the madness of the entire nation disturbs a solitary mind, it is not enough to say the man is mad.”

Notably, that was a form of throwing dirt around that has been transformed to mega proportions. We are now engaged in mammoth forms of throwing urine. We moved from Goldenberg to Anglo Leasing financial scandals and graduated to other bizarre forms of raping the nation such as the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal. Farmers received their share of rains of urine on their bare heads through the maize scandal as sugarcane farmers already had their share of the downpour. Let me not say much about the deluge of dirt from those stealing national examinations.

But other forms of throwing dirt are as disturbing as theft. Arguably, assassinations and killings have been part of this nation since its birth. These are also undergoing a revolution. We have pushed the frontiers to new and daring, but bizarre levels. We now have made killings ghoulish rituals. Think about this; a man plans to have sex with some beauty then strangles and dumps her in a bathtub. What Kenyans were left to contend with is the stench of the dirt that the man had thrown around.  

 Raped and killed

One other nasty example of throwing dirt at Kenyans came out a few years ago. A young pregnant university student is kidnapped, undressed raped, and killed in a more gruesome manner. The killers also make sure that they kill the fetus in her womb by tearing it apart with the use of knives! Let us not forget the story of an electoral official who was tortured and killed then to create a better narrative, a young lady is killed and the two are laid out as carcasses fit for the gods.  The Kenyans are left to experience the stench of the urinal created.

But the political climate has also undergone a metamorphosis. There are new styles of throwing urine. True, we have witnessed battles in parliament since independence. The era of the Seven Beaded Sisters in parliament in the 70 and 80s is gone. The Seven Sisters- Koigi wa Wamwere, James Orengo, Onyango Midika, Chibule wa Tsuma, Mwashegu wa Mwachofi, and Abuya Abuya and Lawrence Sifuna - fought against the forces that were raining urine on Kenyans, but we are now seeing the reversal.

Parliaments both at County and the national level are now hot spots and rings for the display of mundane masculinities. Our members of parliament and MCAs are setting new standards in throwing dirt at Kenyans. The abuses are also immense and thrown at us in the most dramatic way. The attitude one gets from them is “mta do?”

It would have been bearable only if the religious class would not join the game. There is a general proliferation of miracle merchants throwing all manner of dirt at Kenyans. The struggle is to capture as many desperate souls as possible through all manner of antics. Once they are terrified enough, a sense of urgency in the congregation is created with the aim of making them bring everything they own to the altar. Like accident chasers in the insurance industry, the evangelical classes chase miracles to gain a competitive advantage.

 Who will save us?

But social media is now a prime space for throwing urine. It is a platform for the display of the colours of the dirt thrown around. Social media mediates the obscene discourses of our enterprise of throwing urine at one another. Seemingly, the nation has been captured and has been made to appreciate hailstorms of urine that come from those who control our national psyche as normal. Who will save this nation from this juvenile obsession?


Egara Kabaji is a Professor of Literary Communication and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.

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