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Barrack Muluka: Crying of slavery but loving our tribal slave owners

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on October 18, 2009

By Barrack Muluka (E.A. Standard, 17th Oct 2009)

As a self-styled dreamer of dreams, I am also a self-appointed public spokesman. Since I cannot do what extra-ordinarily gifted people like Dr Alfred Mutua of the Office of the President can do, I have elected the soft way out – to make myself a public spokesman.

I don’t know how to do what Englishman George Orwell used to call doublespeak. Those who will become Government spokespersons must first get thoroughly schooled in doublespeak. They must know how to say things that don’t make sense and yet attract you to clap for them. Unlike public spokesmen, Government spokespeople are the kings of what some Greek dreamer, who lived many centuries before Jesus Christ was born, called antinomies.

This wise man said that it was possible for two perfectly contradictory propositions to be in perfect harmony with each other. That is why it is possible, for example, for gifted people in Government to keep saying things that sound contradictory and go on to accuse those who report such things of misquoting them. They speak like the mouth that ate itself. Today they say: “People must vacate the Mau Forest at once, there is nothing like compensation. How can you be compensated for what is not yours?” But the next day the same mouth says: “Nobody is going to be evicted from the Mau Forest without being compensated.” Or it can say: “We are going to arrest all the sponsors of the post election violence and hand them to The Hague.” But two days later, the same mouth says: “Why should we let Mr Ocampo of The Hague rule Kenya? Don’t we have our own laws? Nobody is going to The Hague.”

Such is the natural world of the mouth that ate itself. Ordinary heads cannot understand it beyond the present moment. When you have become the mouth that ate itself, you can speak for the Government. But if you do not have such competence you are safer off as a self-styled dreamer of dreams. This way, you can freely choose when to be proud to be Kenyan and when not to. You are the captain of your soul and the master of your fate. Yours is an unconquerable soul. Your head may be bloody, yet it shall never be bowed. You are proud to be you. Your slogans variously read: “I am proud to be me. I am the captain of my soul.”

As a self-professed public spokesman, I am quite often in antinomies of my own. I sympathise with the public, and yet quite often I refuse to cry with them. Sometimes the tears simply refuse to come and I am not about to force them to come. But I am not such a dry-eyed dreamer of dreams. Tell me, why do you want me, for example, to cry with hungry people who have created hunger? Only a few months ago they set whole granaries of food on fire. But today you want me to join the Kenyan choir that is mourning because of our man made hunger. I refuse. And so you call me a hard man.

But as a public spokesman, I know that we have created the hunger that now torments us. I know that apart from burning food stores in the Rift Valley Province last year, we also stood in the way of farmers and locked them away from their lawful property. Some are still afraid of going back home. I also know that we maliciously destroyed crops on farms, either in protest against, or in defence of, an allegedly stolen election. But I also know more than this. I know that we have wantonly destroyed our forest cover and reduced it from 17 per cent of our land surface cover to just under two per cent in just four decades. I also know that we have not stopped the destruction… I know that the northern parts of the country used to experience acute drought cycles every eleven years and that this dropped down to every seven years and now it is a permanent feature. But I also know that all this is man made. The men who have made it all are the gentlemen sharing and quarrelling over power.

If I should cry about our condition therefore, I cry only for the folly of man and for future generations. I refuse to cry for this generation. I cry especially for the wasteland that we are fashioning for our grandchildren. I complain about the public that I speak for. For in spite of the fact that the country has been placed into an apocalyptic state by our tribal political gods, we are yet the defenders of these gods. This is another antinomy – that although we do not like slavery, we still love our tribal slave owners. In a few weeks time, world notables will be in Copenhagen, Denmark. Government spokespersons will pay lip service to the environment and to feeding their nations. Among them will be Kenya’s angels of mischief, condemning everybody, except themselves. Who can cry for us?

—The writer ( is a publishing editor and media consultant.


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