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2012, a perfect stage for the theatre of the absurd

Published Nov. 18, 2011

“The universe seems to me infinitely strange and foreign. At such a moment I gaze upon it with a mixture of anguish and euphoria; separate from the universe, as though placed at a certain distance outside it; I look and see pictures, creatures that move in a kind of timeless time and spaceless space emitting sounds that are kind of language I no longer understand or even understand.” Eugene Ionesco.

Lonesco and his better known compatriot, Samuel Beckett, might well have spoken about the times we are living in. The two are accredited as being the proponents of the theatre of the absurd. Their style of writing, albeit controversial and little understood, took the basis of existential philosophy and combined it with dramatic elements to create a style of theatre, which presented a world that cannot be explained logically. Lonesco and Beckett explained the world based on the theme of uselessness of human action, especially the failure of the human race to communicate. Life, to them, seems to move in cycles, ending where it began.

I do not intend to act as your high school literature teacher, but I had to give that short introduction to express my opinion on the goings in the world today. Even though communication technology is at its zenith, never has it been so far removed for humans to communicate and understand one another.

As I pen this, I am watching on Kenya Television Network, thanks to the internet, a bulldozer mercilessly bringing down a Maasai manyatta near the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Talk of responding to a mosquito bite with a hammer. Despite the fact that it is a security hazard to have informal settlements near an international airport, I believe that there is a better way of handling the issue.

And it will not be any easier in the year Nostradamus saw as the one that will signal the beginning of the end. In Kenya, just as in the United States of America, my current temporary abode, the year 2012 will be an electioneering year. Luckily, the Americans are well aware of the day and time their elections will be held, but as for my countrymen, the date of their next elections is so hot that even the Supreme Court, sitting in Nairobi, will not touch it with a 12- feet pole, lest they be seen to stoke political fires.

The year 2012 as of now seem to be so confusing to everyone, ask the republicans in the US, who are still unsure of who will be their torchbearer to face off with the ‘anointed one,’ the son of my cousin from the lakeside. Will it be Mitt the Mormon, or Newt the serial monogamist? Or maybe it will be Perry of the ‘oops’ moment, or Cain the pizza seller cum fondler of the fairer sex? I did not mention Huntsman, Ryan, Bachmann, and other presidential hopefuls, who might be in the queue, for lack of better adjectives to describe them.

In Kenya, the field is not without its Davids and Goliaths, and I hope my preferred candidate, the Rev. Mutava Musyimi, garners a few votes outside of his Gachoka Constituency. But I might be jumping the gun, as it were. Kenyans are faced with not only the mother of all elections, but also uncertainty as to when to elect our president, senators, governors, MPs, kanjoras, and a whole caboodle of elective posts. I have reason to believe that ours will be an overgoverned country, leaving me wondering whether Wanjiku is making enough to feed what will be a bloated government.

In the meantime, unemployment in Kenya stands at more than 65 percent, and our slums are now UNESCO’s world heritage sites, attracting tourists from all over the world, who come to gaze at “a state of hopelessness, moneylessness and a perfect example of hell on earth,” as my Urban Geography professor once described life in a slum. Despite constructing the first ‘super highway’ in East and Central Africa, the price of gas hit the all time high of Ksh.124 per liter this week, and a two-kilogram pack of sugar is now retailing at Ksh. 460. At this rate, one wonders why the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest has not found its followers along Nairobi’s Kimathi Street.

And so we are back where we were half a century ago. At that time, hopeful Kenyans were told warudi mashambani [go back to the village] by Jomo Kenyatta, the country’s founding father. They went back to the village where, finding no social amenities in the evenings to keep themselves busy, they went to bed early and the results were evident for all to see – an unprecedented surge in population growth in the 60s to 70s decades.

When the land was so subdivided to make any economic sense, it made no sense to remain in the village. Hordes of young men and women went back to the city to make a life for themselves. But woe unto them, after working so hard and acquiring that coveted piece of land in Syokimau and building a roof over their heads, the bulldozers came calling, crushing their dreams.

Get ready to be promised heaven on earth next year by our shameless politicians, who are yet to deliver aflatoxin-free lunch to the hungry child in Turkana. Be worried, be very worried.

Reach Peter Gaitho at pgaitho@eafricainfocus.com

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