What it really must be like to be the big hustler man Ruto

By - Jul 10th 2023

So the Finance thing eventually went through. The Hustler man signed it into law and Bwana Omutatah of Busia took a beeline to court, kupinga. And our man, Orende of Emanyulia, is now born again. The Wajackoya man called Orende, did not know left or right on the puzzle called the Finance Bill. Yet, he is now the local expert on the matter, in this land where wisdom flows like a river. They say here that all you need to do, is to take a chilly morning bath in the river called Olubaale, and presto! 

The people of this Emanyulia say that they are more learned than all university professors rolled into one because of this stream. They say that they are Namukunda, the learned ones. And Orende is our captain of learning and knowledge. Someday, I will tell you about the origins of these names Namukunda and Olubaale. Of course they come from Bananaland, huko Uganda. But if you know a thing or two about the famous Lubaale Cult and the Kabaka, then you are on the way. 

And so Orende goes to the River Olubaale, which is just a small stream, the baby of a river, in fact. He comes back glowing and flowing with wisdom, courtesy of spiritual inspiration that extends beyond his regular big books, and beyond the Wajackoya cigarettes that he takes for breakfast. We are assembled in the big Liyembekho of Emanyulia, which is right in Orende’s great grandfather’s shamba. There are all manner of scary traditional paraphernalia in this place. 

‘Do not be afraid, because of this place, and these hustler things that the big hustler in Nairobi is doing,’ the Wajackoya man opens, ‘They are passing things, but they are also necessary.

‘You, see,’ he carries on, dragging hard on the stump in his hand, his eyes now huge and red, ‘Our commonwealth is truly in a bad place. Worse than ever. We are hungry most of the time, like the animals Mister George Orwell was telling us about, long ago. Our lives are laborious, with little to show for all our labour. We feel all the time, like another man called Mosese wa Francis Imbuga. Remember him who said that it was better while we waited for this hustler thing, because we lived on hope? Now, it appears, there is nothing to hope for, except more tax, maandamano and maneno.

‘But what did we expect? Our commonwealth has been raided and harassed for 60 years plus. Each time the new sheriffs arrive, they have sharpened their teeth like rodents. They try biting anything and everything in sight. That was why the sheriffs who arrived in the Big House on the Hill with Mzee Mwai son of Kibaki were saying, “It is our turn to eat.”’

‘If we don’t move away from this “turn to eat” thing, it will finish us. 

We were looking at the thin man, perplexed, wondering what got into his head this time. ‘Can’t you see we are hungry, Prof. Orende?’ Alubiri son of Umurumba said, ‘Can’t you see the people are suffering, everywhere? Instead of providing something to eat, the hustler man just smiles and says things like, ‘Watu walipe tax. Oh, housing. Oh, jobs, jobs. Oh, sijui, oh.’

The Olubaale spirits have told Orende that there is a price to everything. ‘The governors are asking for money, au wafunge county government. The teachers are saying schools hazina pesa. 

Even Agwambo’s MPs are going out to do more maandamano against the hustler. When they are satisfied with a good maandamano job –  well done – they will rush to the bank, to see if their salary has come in. If it is not there, they say, they will do another maandamano.

Newspapers also want malipo ya matangazo ya serikali. After saying things like, ‘overburdened taxpayer,’ they say, ‘Eh, Owalo, wapi pesa ya matangazo ya serikali?’  They look Owalo in the eye and say, ‘You are really delaying with our cash. Our people are dying, Bwana Waziri. We are now rubbing our employees. We are going to rub more people, if you don’t pay us.’ 

Orende has been wondering about these things that he calls ‘contradictions.’ He is even saying that here in Emanyulia when a woman gets married, she is allowed time to conceive.  ‘Do you go to listen at the door, to hear if there is a brand new baby crying behind that door, because a new wife was married yesterday? 

And I, Joseph the dreamer of dreams, I am just wondering what it must be like to be the hustler man. Yaani the man who is told, ‘We want money. But he is also told, please stop borrowing! Stop taxing us! I don’t want to be the hustler in the Big Hustler House on the Hill. Let me just continue being raia wa kawaida, waiting for Agwambo’s maandamano to end so that I can go out to forage. Let Bwana Ruto continue being the man, to crack the formula for bringing money to make everyone happy without borrowing or taxation. Eh, Bwana President! Eh! Sasa Omutatah of Busia has taken you to court? Eh? Sasa itakuwa aje?

Dr Barrack Muluka is a strategic communications adviser.

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