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When things are where you want them, let them be

By | March 23rd 2012 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Peter Kimani

What a delightful week this has been! We have reaffirmed our contrarian spirit, which means we harangue on just about anything and everything.

For a while, I feared the new Constitution would emasculate this spirit, and our politicians would have to work harder to find things to fight about, but wapi!

Even before the ink on the new katiba could dry, some folks were contemplating which aspects could be revised to accommodate their whims.

That¡¯s why we have to argue not just about the sort of people who qualify to run for public office but crucially those who should not be allowed in the race.

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Now, the election date has been identified as a key sticking point, and I¡¯m surprised a commission of inquiry has not been named to propose the way forward.

There is merit in such scrutiny. After all, our brand of politics, as many will attest, is unique to Kenya ¨C that¡¯s why it¡¯s called siasa ya kumalizana.

Frustrate prospects

This brand of politics defies easy definition; it could relate to the kind of intrigues Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto claim Tinga is orchestrating against them, to finish them politically using, in Tinga¡¯s parlance, mahamaka ya bandia (kangaroo court) that the duo believes sits at The Hague.

But siasa ya kumalizana can also unfurl at local level, as did when Prezzo retreated to his backyard late last year to frustrate the prospects of Mwangi Kiunjuri-fronted GNU party from supplanting a kanjora in the Karima ward that Prezzo calls home.

But some crucial lessons are often lost in translation. Siasa ya kumalizana is not just about prevailing over your opponents, it¡¯s about annihilating them so that shoots of hope do not sprout tomorrow to challenge your authority.

Beer bottle

Let me tell you a story. In 2007, an engineer who reluctantly agreed to vie for a parliamentary seat somewhere in Western Kenya, was pleasantly surprised that, against all expectations, he had emerged number two.

The engineer related that almost all votes were in, and his opponent was leading by a handful of votes.

Then the returning officer received a call from a clerk at a nearby school. A few ballot boxes had not been picked from the centre due to lack of transport.

The engineer said he wouldn¡¯t bother; he even offered to sign he accepted the results in. He had performed beyond his own expectations and all he cared for, as men like to say when heading to the pub, was to give thanks to his body for keeping going all day ¨C with a cold drink.

The engineer¡¯s opponent would hear none of it. He wanted to extend his lead, so he offered transportation to fetch the remaining ballots.

The engineer says his second drink had just been opened, and the sound of "pssst!" was still in the air, when he got the phone call. Even the beer bottle appeared to perspire from the intensity of the news, as it melted around its neck. The caller said the boxes delivered by the engineer¡¯s opponent had not just produced enough votes for him to catch up, but actually trounce his rival! But because a politician must do what a politician must do, the opponent went round talking about how the election had been rigged!

The engineer served his full term as MP, which was adequate time for his opponent to ponder the wisdom in the expression: When things are where you want them, let them be.

Taking us for a ride? Not Chinese driving Tiggo

It is heartening to hear that a Chinese manufacturer has been awarded the contract to supply police vehicles, and they have, as we say, "returned a hand" by offering 40 vehicles gratis.

These are the kind of things giving some chaps in Europe sleepless nights; watching fat contracts head East before their very own eyes.

This should not be misconstrued to mean we do not care about our colonial masters; it is only that they never give anything for free.

And when they give something, it¡¯s a kickback to those that have enough already, offering little room for accountability.

The criticism against police vehicles procurement from China has been swift; some chaps who have internalised imperialistic lingo think Kenya Police should look no further than our "traditional" sources, namely Britain or Germany.

If I were a politician, I would ask them, kwani ni ya mama yako (is it your mother¡¯s), but since I¡¯m not a politician, I cannot use such insults.

I can only relate why I prefer doing business with the Chinese: they work longer than anyone else ¨C which often remind us how long we have to rest.

They dare not look up from their toils even when some schoolgirl, with a baby strapped to the back, walks down Thika Road seeking to know who among the workmen has fathered the baby.

Such commitment to work means they are not taking us for a ride when they say their Sports Utility Vehicles Chery Tiggo will ride fine on the roads they have built for us.

Spiritual ¡®surveillance¡¯ works best with obsolete technology

Here¡¯s some good news: The German government has donated an assortment of surveillance equipment and vehicles to boost Kenya¡¯s monitoring of the terrorist elements hiding in the city.

The better news: Those gadgets are reported to be obsolete and banned in most of Europe. This means the people about be laid off in Europe can head South ¨C where their expertise would be valid for another decade or longer, and where Government officials can be motivated to make such devices mandatory for all our forces. Here¡¯s the best news: Crime strategies in Europe must be radically different from Africa¡¯s. Why, many of the criminals in our midst are stuck in the occult, which means they would be very afraid if those defective gadgets shine in their faces, never mind their usefulness is at same level as rungu. I¡¯m not implying Europeans are not superstitious; it¡¯s just that we deal with the occult at a very basic level.

So, bring them on, those obsolete gadgets and we shall work a little miracle. After all, if we can pay billions for chaps like those at Anglo Leasing for supplying mahewa (air), your rungus will seem godsend. After all, they are visible, and that¡¯s what matters.


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