Tuesday, April 21, 2009



April 20 2009

THE DEADLOCK THAT recently threatened to rip apart the one-year-old Grand Coalition Government has been blamed on the two principals — President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga. I am, however, persuaded that a big portion of the blame should be directed elsewhere.

The real obstacle to the smooth running of the coalition is, in fact, the toadyism rife in both PNU and ODM particularly among a handful of politicians very close to the heartbeat of power. A toady is a shameless flatterer; one ready to do absolutely anything to curry favour with a boss or superior.

In the 17th Century, assistants to charlatans were known to eat raw, life and freshly captured toads believed to be highly poisonous. This was all done to showcase their masters as a skilful doyens of poison expulsion, for the masters would use the occasion to exhibit their ability to neutralise killer toxins.

THE TOAD WAS EATEN AT THE BEHEST of the master; his image to behold! These sycophants were originally known as toad-eaters. In several ways, they remind me of the sycophants now hanging onto the pant-straps of the coalition principals.

Our own toadies seem to have forgotten that President Kibaki is on his way out. They seem to have forgotten that the most that he can do is to set up the scaffolding upon which his legacy may be propagated.

They also seem to have ignored the fact that Raila has never had a clearer field ahead of him with regard to making his bid for the presidency. Indeed, compared to the galaxy of non-starters and slow-punctured hopefuls currently flexing their muscles ahead of the 2012 presidential poll, Raila is Goliath where the majority are mere slingers.

Why then, one would wonder, would the PM want to waste so much brawn, adrenalin and time on a septuagenarian about to retreat to Othaya to farm tea in a matter of months? Why such potent tantrums following the failure of the Kilaguni talks?

Surely, something else must be the matter. But what is it, exactly?

In my view, the two principals are captive to the whims and tricks of a few henchmen within their respective parties who appear bewitched senseless by pre-2012 artifices and stratagems. These minions are hell-bent on securing vantage platforms for the purposes of zooming off ahead of the pack.

It is the obsession to appropriate personal advantage that is driving our politicians to arm-twist the coalition principals. The tragedy is that what is good and desirable for the ordinary Kenyan – even when it is desired by the principals – is soused in the filth of the selfishness characteristic of small men and women almost always suffering an overload of self-importance.

The conduct and posturing of the party butlers in both ODM and PNU remind one of Malcom X’s house and field Negroes dichotomy.

The house Negroes, in our case, are party leaders’ cup-bearers, while the farm Negroes are the déclassé politicians who are viewed by their more advantaged contemporaries as perpetually condemned to peripheral political existence. The latter group is small in both influence and reward.

According to Malcom X, there were two kind of slaves; the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negro dwelt in the house and enjoyed the master’s left-overs and was content to approximate the master in dress and mannerisms. This Negro was an extreme toad-eater who was ready to die for the master.

The house Negro suffered a fatal overload of self-importance, and as a result, got lost in his world of make-believe. Delusion made him believe that the master’s house was his. He used “we” where clearly only his master ought to have.

THE FIELD NEGRO, THE EXACT opposite of the house negro, belonged to the lot to which the common man naturally belongs. It is in the field Negro caucus that the lesser MPs and wananchi belong. To them, trappings that come from proximity to power are mere alien tales that hold neither reward nor charm.

When the not-so-prominent politicians yap to capture our attention, therefore, they should be wary of grafting their off-key tenor onto a melody in which their fury at things falling apart could be confused with the gusto with which the toadies manipulate their bosses.

The Namwambas, Mbuguas, and Kuttunys must embrace an agenda that will set them apart from the real enemies of the coalition – the political hawks currently encircling Kibaki and Raila.