Celebrating East African Writing!

Future Memories by Simon Mbuthia.

The average Kenyan is a wise creature. 

One year and a few months ago, he dutifully unearthed his voter’s card from whatever cranny he had hidden it in and trouped to the voting stations. When his turn had come and he put the ticks on his preferred candidates, – the candidates he believed would bring change, would bring democracy and a good life for him – he dipped his finger into a purple liquid and went home, a hopeful smile in his face.

A few days later, his hope arrived. Yes, it did, or didn’t it?

The results of the elections were announced and guess what, his candidate had won! But wait a minute, they swore in the wrong person! They had stolen the elections, the goons!

He went ranting mad. He had to fight for justice!

The Kenyan is a very wise creature. He really knows how to fight for justice. 

He took to the streets. He burnt his brother’s car. He set on fire supermarkets, shops and even the kinyozi he went to have a hair cut at a bargained fee.

For that he got raced about in the streets by the police. He threw stones and they threw tear gas and bullets. Sometimes he got shot.

If he escaped, he went to uproot the railway line that had been built with his own money and, therefore, belonged to him. 

He discovered his neighbour belonged to the wrong tribe. He killed him, raped his wife and burnt his house. Funny, he did not remember the many days he had knocked on his neighbour’s door, pleading with him to spare him a pinch of salt, or a little flour ya kukausha ugali.

He did not remember that night his wife was heavily expectant and the first soul to respond to the desperate call in the dead of night was his neighbour’s wife. He did not remember that when the child finally came, the same neighbour’s wife gathered her friends and they visited his home to greet the baby and drink uji.

His memory was shrouded by her screams as he tore into her.

He did not tire of fighting for justice. 

After he filled homes with graves, he invaded the granaries and food stores. He dragged out bags of maize, potatoes and all kinds of food. And in all his wisdom, burnt them.

You should have seen the cruel scowl in his face as he chased hardworking farmers into camps for the internally displaced. When they left the untilled lands to flee his blood-thirsty atrocity, he did not till them. Very wise indeed.

Instead, he pursued them to churches and burnt their wives and children alive. It was not enough. He blocked roads and hacked to death innocent passengers. Why was he doing this? Fighting for justice!

Blood flowed in his country. There was fear everywhere. There was death everywhere. The Kenyan was killing.

Tourists were warned against visiting the country. Tourism was collapsing. Inflation shot up. But the creature would not relent fighting for justice.

It was only when a diplomat was sent to his country that Kenyan took a rest and watched the negotiations from distance. 

And then the power-sharing deal was signed. And Kenya, Kenya leapt up to the sky with jubilation. Here was real justice. He didn’t care whatever it was that was signed against in those papers. All he knew was that he had won the battle. So he went home.

And here he is at home, in the year 2009.

You can not recognize him now. His lusty spirit is gone. He is that creature crouched in the corner of the street, watching with a watery eye as high-life vehicles crawl past him, heading to KICC where the occupants will plead for him to get half a plate of hard grains from unwilling foreign donors. His is only to imagine the fill he would have had if he hadn’t burned all the food. If he allowed the farmers to till their land and produce enough food to feed his lot.

Sometimes he picks his starved self and goes to knock at the broken door of his neighbour’s house. Only to be scared back by sneering ghosts of his neighbour’s family and the cries of orphaned children.

So he goes back to his fallen house to lie on the creaky bed, listen to his stomach rumble with a week old-old hunger because he can not afford the Sh 100 hundred to buy maize flour, and swear never to vote again.

The transistor radio at the dark corner weakly croaks about strange things. It talks about scandals. Maize-scandal, oil scandal, mega scandals. The lazy thing drags on in irrelevancies: Special Rappoteurs – what’s that word! – Police killings, resignations, sackings, Mungiki demonstrations, paralyzed public transport … He can’t understand a thing. 

So he walks out to look at the star, wishing he could unwind time, raise the dead and take time to think twice before he raises a weapon to strike someone. Impossible! The ghosts roar at him. So he scratches his bald head, screws on a haggard expression and dreams about 2030.


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