If you have an hour to spare today, take a stroll in Nairobi’s Central Business District and claim a spot on one of our “Do not sit here” benches. Take your time to stare and watch as the masons of this nation go about their construction. You will certainly notice that they have recently acquired a light step. Be attentive, focus, you might miss it if you decide to take periodical glances at your phone, so I advise you switch your phone off for that one hour. You will see how tenderly the steps are taken, how eyes glow; you will think the city turned into a garden. The air is sweet, you want to drink it, the heart feels light like a teenage lover’s, the people are happy and seemingly ubiquitously contented. This is where you will realize it’s been 5 weeks since we decided to give politics and politicking a black out in this nation. They’ve been glorious days.
The Media Owners Association known as MOA, just like the Matatu Owners Association; decided to give Kenyans a break from political news and happenings. When at first the news was announced, we all had to check our calendars just to be sure it was not the day of pranks, we confirmed it was still August. So we thought they were pulling our legs, or SK Macharia must have read the wrong speech or his speechwriter was a cheeky chap. There was a hashtag created by none other than Cyprian Nyakundi to parody this news #WhatTheMediaWillBanNext and #KOT tweeted their thumbs off as usual. 2 days after MOA had made their announcement, it dawned on Kenyans that truly the practitioners of politics did not have a space to share their sewer sense any more. Only one TV station owned by a mega political apparatchik propagated political news. They were quickly dumped by digital signal carriers and their free newspaper was used to wrap chapatis. On the Saturday of that week #KOT was lying idly in their bed with nothing to do and so they decided to create another hashtag to kill time before their raid on 1824 and other watering holes. This time they coined #WordsWeBan. In essence, words that they did not want reminding them of their dreary past. Some of the words banned were: “Politics“ “Politician“ “MP“ “Mwanasiasa” “Exchanging Words” “Across the divide” etc These are some of the sample tweets:
@MkenyaMmmoja The only cord we want to see in the news should belong to @KenyaPower and the only jubilee we know belongs to our grandparents’ weddings #WordsWeBan
@NationFm We agree! @ThinYoghurt Rally zinafaa zikuwe za safari rally, campaign ni za advertisements na uhuru ni ya Wakenya. #WordsWeBan
After one week of a promising endless black-out, politicians trekked into social media with sweet words and promises. They tried to woo followers and bashed each other with tweets hoping Kenyans would cheer on. One politician from Central Kenya was the highlight of this desperation when he joined Instagram and posted a nude pic. It seems nobody had warned him of the privacy rules as he was quickly banned from Instagram. Rumours, which we won’t care to confirm tell us he was later impeached by the marauding representatives of his county who hoped they would get covered by the media, they were covered in disappointment.
During the Safari Sevens that weekend, Kasarani stadium was thronged to its breaches. The last time Kasarani had witnessed such a large turn-out of spectators was in 1987 when Kenya hosted the All-Africa Games. Kenyans wore the Kenyan flag in pride not witnessed since 1963 when we gained our independence. Kenyans felt free once more. They called this the 3rd liberation. Of course it was another #KOT pet phrase
On Monday of this week, the trending topic across all media was “Matotomoko.” A respected member of the senate was surreptitiously recorded by the Managing Director of the largest media house in Kenya when they met in the Kempinski. The senator was trying to coax the Managing Director to mention his name somewhere in the newspaper:
“Just put my name somewhere, even if it’s in the obituaries. When people think I’m dead they’ll remember me…”
“Bwana you know I haven’t been to a harambee in 3 weeks, bwana kaharambee ni katamu, people remember you and they say you are generous…”
“I’m sorry Mheshimiwa, but I cannot take your envelope…”
“Bwana this kabahasha has good things. You cannot say no to its fatness. Just touch it, even with your fingertip…”
“Pole Mheshimiwa, but I can’t. I have to leave…”
“You think you’re hurting us! You will regret! Mtalilia mama zenu nyinyi kumb** za mtaro! We run this country, you cannot scare us! Matotomoko nyinyi!”
The leader of the nation instructed his office to open a blog to disperse information forcefully to the public. The blog: www.statenyumba.wordpress.com had their first story castigating Boniface Mwangi for using terrorist methods to mislead the public. The writer, who we assume was not the president described Mwangi as
“a pest that finds joy in purveying falsehoods and delusions.” He went on to say, “The state will not be manipulated by half dimwits who have nothing better to do than run amok with their yapping mouths crusading against democracy in the guise of human rights advocacy.”
The blog did not run for more than 2 days due to government inefficiency. The blog creator did not follow due process in acquiring the blog’s theme and ergo the blog had to be shut down.
Reports from across the border say that Museveni had choice words for the Kenyan media for trying to run the country. He said that the media was called the fourth estate for good reason, there were three estates above them who wielded more power and influence than they did.
“Let me tell you something, what the media is doing there is guerilla warfare. That is why in Uganda the media cannot do something like that because I am a guerilla general who will quickly crush any such disobedience. I am tired of their president calling me to ask if the Daily Monitor will cover his travels and publish his speeches, this cannot happen! The Daily Monitor does not have enough space for 2 presidents!”
After a month of this political blackout, CNN finally got wind of what was happening in Kenya. Their prime time headline was “Politics take Sabbatical in Kenya.” It goes without saying that CNN was well thwarted for trying to suggest that what was happening to Kenyan politics was a sabbatical, Kenyans had tasted life without politics and had effectively decided there were better things in life. This was not a sabbatical; this was a break-up with the political class.
As I write this, politicians have been whoring themselves to Kenyans trying to get a petition signed to lift the curtain of silence off them. It’s not uncommon to see them wandering about in the streets with sheaves of documents detailing how unjust the media is treating them and why Kenyans should sign the petition. However, whenever they get close to their potential rescuers, Kenyans are reminded that those humongous pot bellies belie the problems they have been facing. It is said the speaker of the National Assembly has moved a motion to have Parliament open their own TV station to air their views, opinions and nonsensical shows. A tentative programme line-up that we were able to acquire has shows such as “Keeping up with the Khalwales” “Duale Trouble” “Usinaswe-Corruption Survival Kit” and “The Game of Groans.” Debate is on-going on which theme colours the TV should adopt, that should keep them busy till the next election.