The Star (Nairobi)

1 December 2012

Kenya: The Political Monster Eating Up My Friends

I am yet to come to terms with the behaviour of our people in politics. I still do not understand why it is such a common practice for people to change so much once they get into the political scenes, and why it happens only in Kenya.

Someone should explain to me in simple terms and using Wanjiku's English, why very learned and socially acceptable people in the society, suddenly change when the political bug bites.

Sure they say politics is a dirty game. But is it only that dirty in Kenya? Sample the following scenery and you will understand the source of my anger and frustrations. I am losing friends as fast as the eye can blink, and all through the monster called politics.

My old friend of long time, since college, called me for a drink when he heard that I had moved from the city to a place close to him. I was excited to meet this guy as we had not made contact for a long time.

Naturally, I was looking for friends to hang around with when I am not busy, otherwise driving to Nairobi every weekend was becoming too costly and tiring.

I knew my old friend would be able to introduce me to some of his friends and also show me around Kiserian and Ongata Rongai, which are now my closest hangouts.

When I met my friend, he was with several other people as I had anticipated. They were all well dressed, with the latest suits and silk ties.

My friend was also impeccably attired, with a choice of Italian casual fashion wear. I was in my usual sweat shirt and jeans. They looked like they were coming from a business meeting, or going to one. If they dressed like this to meet me, then the meeting was going to be the shortest they have done so far. I was already feeling uneasy in this group.

First came the introductions. "Gentlemen, this is Steve, my friend of long standing. He is the famous Bushman, who runs a tour company specialising in nature and wildlife photography.

Trained as zoologist, Steve is ......." My friend was reading my resume like he was preparing me for a performance. His friends listened attentively, nodding their heads and stealing glances at me. My patience was running out. I was not prepared for this.

As he closed the introduction, he dropped the bombshell. "Most important, my friends, is that Steve here, is a regular columnist in the Star newspaper and you all understand the significance of this.

The Star has risen in position of authority, to rival the two big players in the industry". By now I was getting the picture. This were not your ordinary pals coming out for a drink. They had more than that for the meeting. I was so right.

"Steve, these are friends of mine. Very special friends. With others not around, we call the shots around here, as far as the choice of political leaders is concerned," he said that with such finality.

I was rattled. I could only nod my head. I needed a very cold whitecap. I was not interested in his introductions any more. But he kept going.

"Steve, these people are the sons of Mumbi, (meaning Kikuyus) and we are going to work together. All the other tribes are speaking in one voice while we claim to be democratic and go individual. You are going to use your articles for the sake of our people who live in this parts of the country, and we shall take care of the rest."

That jolted me from my silence. So far I had not said anything. This was a learned friend in the true sense of the word. He is a lawyer by profession.

We have done great things together as friends. We have gone for holidays together with other friends who come from different tribes. At no time have we ever had a drink as the sons of Mumbi!

What happened to my dear friend? It is barely two years since he moved into this town. What is so wrong with our politics? My friend was waiting for an answer from me.

I had none. Instead, I stood up and walked to the bar counter and ordered a very cold beer and said to myself, "there goes another of my friends, to politics."

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