Thursday, March 3, 2011


Last month, we pondered the possibility of a konkodi in parliament. This month, we toy with the possibility of the same character as President. Your host: Alexander Nderitu.

December, 2007. A seething mass of Kenyans throng the historic Uhuru Park, jubilation written on their faces. The youth are especially ecstatic, singing and dancing in a fashion not seen since NARC took power in a landslide victory. International TV journalist Jeff Koinange stands in front CNN cameras, microphone in hand.

Jeff: I am standing in Uhuru Park in Narobi, Kinya, and we are still awaiting the
triumphant entry of the new president. The turnout is amazing - about two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people have turned up to witness the new head of state being sworn in. Foreign dignitaries have already started trickling in: The presidents and First Ladies of neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania are already here …What makes this swearing-in one of a kind is that the incoming president is a former public transport vehicle conductor and he has absolutely no political background. We’ll keep you posted as events unfold…

Meanwhile, the konkodi-turned-president is escorted to his new limo by a contingent of Presidential Escort Unit and paramilitary GSU personnel. The Mercedes-Benz limo is a marvel of German engineering. Long and slender and lovingly polished, it looks like an aeroplane without wings. The outside is shiny and black but the interior is white and spotless. It has leather seats, a suede ceiling and automatic everything. It is so long that if a person at the back calls a person at the front on his cellphone, he’ll probably incur roaming charges!

Instead of striding nonchalantly into the super-car, the konkodi runs up and down the side, touching it and kicking the tires to test for pressure.
Konkodi: Manze, hii ni ndai moja ya power!
His Presidential Advisor, a studious-looking fellow in a crisp Armani suit and Calvin Klein tie, catches up with him.
Advisor: Mr. President, we really must get going. We are already behind
schedule…and I really wish you would re-consider wearing a tie.
Konkodi: Mimi sitaki kujinyonga, bwana. (Still outside, he slaps the side of the
vehicle and lets out a long whistle.) Dere, inua, oya!
Advisor: Er…Sir, the chauffer will not take off until you are inside the vehicle.
Konkodi: Ah, iza, iza! Ni vile nimezoea.

He enters the vehicle, followed in by the Advisor. His bodyguard shuts the door, races to the front passenger door and also enters. Motorcycle outriders lead the way, followed by a small Escort vehicle with a wailing siren and then the limo. Chase cars bring up the rear. The streets are lined with cops, ordinary vehicles have been pulled to the side. The limo goes like a dream.
Konkodi: Dere, kaa mbele! Ruka mbele ya hiyo personal!
Advisor: Sir, that is a Presidential Escort vehicle. He’s not supposed to overtake it.
As the limo powers through the tree-lined avenue, the Advisor turns to the political debutante.
Advisor: I think we should go over the protocols. Now, when we arrive at the venue,
there will be a maelstrom of activity - surging crowds, clicking cameramen, TV people, security forces restraining crowds – that kind of thing. As you step out of the limo and stride towards the podium, it is traditional to effect a casual air – as if you are above it all. Acknowledge the ovation with subtle nods, brief smiles and the occasional wave of hand. There will be a tight ring of security around you…Mr. President? Are you asleep, Mr. President?’
The konkodi wakes up from his sudden sleep.
Konkodi: Manze, hizi viti ni poa mpaka zinafanya mtu alale. Ati ulikuwa unawika
Advisor: I was just saying….
Konkodi: Hebu ngoja, naona kama wale ni mabeste wangu…Dere, hebu teremsha hii
odiro yangu niweze kusorora poa. (The window is lowered and the konkodi sticks his bust out) Eh, ni wao! Wale wasee wanatembea pale ni ma-konkodi na ma-dere wa squad huko kwetu. We, dere, beba hao wathii!
The limo slows down and the konkodi whistles. His buddies turn around and see him. They rush towards the limo and jump in, one after another, while it’s still moving.
Konkodi: Dere, beba wengi…Vipi, wasee? Ngota! Ngota!
Beste #1: Hata tulikua tunaishia Uhuru Park kukushangilia.
Konkodi: Poa, poa! Ingieni nyote...Lakini mkumbuke kushuka ni stage.
The motley crew of passengers look at the dapper Presidential Advisor as if he
is a cobra about to strike.
Beste #2: Mbona huyu muthii amedunga suti na tai?
Konkodi: Huyu ni Advisor wangu. Yeye huni-show niaje kwa zile vitu simesei.
The mabeste now scan the interior of the car as if it’s a house they’re considering buying. They emit various sounds of amazement. One beste runs his hands over the seats’ contours as if they are a woman’s curves.
Beste #3: Deadly, jo!
Beste #1: Wazimu!
Beste #2: Matatu poa!
Konkodi: Sasa nani anaweza sema haujafika?
Beste #1: Hatucheki na watu!
Beste #2: Lakini mbona hii ndai imetuliz hivi? We, dere, weka mahewa!
Konkodi: Dere, uko na ile dab ya Richie Spice ama CD yoyote ya genge?
The uniformed chauffer touches a button on the ten-CD changer and a classical music CD is smoothly ejected.
Dere: Mtukufu rais, hapa kuna CD moja tuu na ni ya mjeramani mashuhuri, Wolfgang Mozart.
Konkodi: Hiyo tutaweka akina Tony Blair wakija kunitembelea…Ikiwa hakuna doba, weka Metro FM ama ile show ya Kajairo.
Beste #2: Ama twende River Road tukanunue CD za maana.
Konkodi: Poa. Ata nilikuwa nataka kununua ma-bling bling. Nataka ku-floss kama
Advisor: Mr. President, the nation is waiting…
Konkodi: U’stie shaka. Hatuweka wananchi parking sana – tutapitia njia ya mlengo.
Dere, tupeleke River Road, oya! Na uisijifunge na jam.
The limo turns towards the City. As it powers towards downtown, the roads become rougher and rougher but the limo is engineered to absorb potholes and it continues to zoom – despite the road’s condition, it’s poetry in motion.
Beste #1: Dere, chunga! Kuna makarao kwa horizon!
Konkodi: Usijali, wako updande wetu sasa.
Beste #1: Nilikua nimesahau – nilikua nishajifunga mshipi!
Beste #3: Lakini sasa, juu wewe ndio orezo, si utatupiga njeki? Kumbuka sisi ndio
tulikupigia ndebe wakati wa campaign.
Konkodi: U’stie shaka, bro. Tumefika. Nyinyi nyote mko ndani ya gava mbaya sana.
Na si nyinyi tuu – mtu yeyote ambaye nina-like ameangukia. Talia Oyando atakua waziri wa Information and Broadcasting juu huyo manzi anajua kuroga ma-fans - show yake inabamba kinyama. Na huyu dame mwingine, Nikki, pia nitamtaf’tia wizara juu huyu manzi ni mtamu kama beats za Clemo!

The limo reaches a string of electronics shops that are open even though it’s public holiday.

Konkodi: Dere, shukisha na jam!
The limo cruises to a stop but some passengers alighted while it was still moving. The konkodi and his ‘ma-boyz’ go into the shops and re-emerge carrying dozens of ‘genge’ CDs, car stickers and jewellery. The konkodi/president is wearing so much bling, he looks like an Armenian businessman. The shoppers enter the limo and the konkodi yells, ‘Dere, tuishie, oya! Na uweke hii CD ya Nonini’. As the luxury vehicle pulls away, Nonini’s ‘Tumetoka Mbali’ rents the air.
Further on, the limo comes across a group of girls hot enough to appear in an R.Kelly video.
Beste #2: Maze, cheki hizo manyake!
Beste #3: Si tubebe hawa mambiata sare?
Konkodi: Sawa.
Advisor: Mr. President, I must object. As a public figure, you should associate
yourself with clean businessmen, virgins, honest politicians and other imaginary creatures.
Konkodi: Wacha wasiwasi, bro. Laz’ma uishi maisha kikamilifu, ukae bamboocha.
Mimi nimewai ingia Carni na ashu mfukoni!
He sticks his head out of the window and whistle’s at the girls.
Konkodi: M’naishia Uhuru Park? Sawa, ingieni… Faster, faster!... Kaeni teke. Tunaweza bebea popote lakini kushuka ni stage.

The girls enter the limo. As it heads for the swearing-in ceremony, the mabeste plaster stickers all over the interior: ‘DAWA YA DENI NI KULIPA’, ‘UTAMU WA NJUGU NI KULA MOJA MOJA’, ‘KUMBE CHIPS NI VIAZI’, ‘MO SEATS UPSTAIRS’ etc. As the presidential motorcade enters Uhuru Park, the crowds become ecstatic; policemen on horses gallop to and fro cracking whips to keep order. The konkodi sticks his body out of the window once more and starts yelling: ‘Po! Po! Po!’
Advisor: Mr. President, we talked about this: Effect a casual air.
Konkodi: Si ninangota ma-fans?

A horde of local and international journalists crowd the limo.
Advisor: About the Press, Your Excellency – they’re as inevitable as death and taxes.
The trick is to never answer a question directly – that way, you can always
claim that you were misquoted.

The limo makes a stop just metres away from the podium. The presidential bodyguard opens the door for the konkodi and salutes. The konkodi ascends the steps to the dais where the political elite and foreign dignitaries are seated. Everyone stands up. As the konkodi is escorted to his chair, the political heavyweights are introduced to him. Instead of business-like handshakes, the konkodi insists on hugging and touching closed fists.

Konkodi: Niaje, orezo wa Uganda? Ngota, ngota! Tukirudi keja, yaani State House,
tutakupikia matoke…Orezo, wa Bongo, ngota! Umeniletea ile CD ya Mr.Nice?
After introductions, the National Anthem is sung by Nazizi and Wyre who are both in reggae colours. Knowing that he was elected mainly by youth who wanted to shake things up a bit, the konkodi decides to acknowledge them before even sitting down.
Konkodi: Vi-janaa mko wapi?

Rowdy youths raise Cain. Teenage girls go crazy, as if he is a visiting hip-hop star. Some of them throw their bras onto the stage.
Konkodi: Ma-youth, wekeni mikono juu ya hewa! Haya, sasa nionesheni hizo wiper. (The youths wave their arms left and right.) Sawa – nimeona mnapatikana, nyinyi si wateja… Sasa, kwasabubu mimi sibagui, wacha ningote wale wathii wengine pia. Wa-kale, mko?
Kalenjins: Tuko!
Konkodi: Hebu semeni ‘Mo fire!’
Kalenjins: Mo fire!
Konkodi: Poa – tuko pamoja kama Pokot na bunduki. Wasapere, mko?
Kikuyus: Mo fire! Turkwo oru mono! Mike Rua for Prime Minister! Atrr…
Konkodi: Wa-Kao, mnapatikana ama nyinyi ni wateja?
Wakamba: Mo fire! Tw aseo! Ngilu for Vice President! etc
Konkodi: Wajaka, mnani-feel?
Luos: Mo fire! Ningetaka kutuma salamu kwa baba na mama wakiwa Nyanza…
Konkodi: Mijikenda mko wapi?
Mijikenda: Tuku hapa, bwana, lakini tuko na shida mingi kuliko miti ya mnazi huko
pwani. Siasa zimekua ngumu kama kaimati ya jana. Huyu Balala ni mzee wa Kaya au la?
One Kaya elder: Wapende wasipende, Balala ni mzee halali!
Another Kaya elder: La hasha! Balala ameleta balaa tupu!

The two half-dressed elders tussle like sumo wrestlers and rain blows on each other.

Konkodi: Sina upendo kwa walami lakini wahindi ni watu wa maana. Nilipokuwa
konkodi, tulikua tunanunua spare parts, CD player na speaker za Pioneer kwa duka zao. Wahindi, mko wapi?
Indian spokesman: Your Excellency, vi are also saying ‘Mo fire!’ but could you pliz
remove the Electronic Tax Register? E.T.R stands for ‘Enormous Tax Racket.’
Other Indians: Pinky Ghelani for First Lady! Merali for Finance Minister! etc

At this point, the Presidential Advisor reminds the konkodi that he hasn’t even been sworn in yet. The konkodi takes his seat and the ceremony commences. The konkodi is formally sworn in. The Chief of General Staff, decked in full military regalia, moves from the back of the outgoing president to the back of the new Commander-in-Chief to signify the power shift. The leaving president picks a general’s sword and approaches the incomer. The konkodi and his mabeste go into attack mode, shadow-boxing the air and singing war songs. The Presidential Advisor informs the konkodi that the curved sword is ceremonial and is used to symbolize a transfer of power.

Konkodi: Nilikua nimeshika nare! Karibu nipatie mtu jab! Sisi ma-konkodi hujam
kama Warabu juu ya kuzozana na wathii.
He takes the sword and shakes his predecessor’s hand.
Advisor: You will now be publicly declared the President of the Republic. Give an
inspirational acceptance speech, full of hope. Think of Martin Luther…
Konkodi: Luther Van Ross? Si huyo msee alidedi?
Advisor: No, Martin Luther King. The point is: Make a memorable speech. The eyes of the world are upon you.
Konkodi: Ama nifanye kama Jua Cali – nikisema kitu, nao ma-fans wanajibu, ‘Kiasi!’
Advisor: Most amusing, Sir. But no.

The konkodi steps up to the microphones.

Konkodi: Nikiangalia kopo langu la saa, naona muda umuyoyoma, kwa hivo speech
yangu itakua fupi kama miniskirt. Kwanza, ma-youth sijawasahau. Wale vi-janaa ambao wamekosa kazi, wanakula vako siku nzima, sasa watapata ma-jobs. Ma-dere na ma-konkodi waongezewe ching ching, yaani pesa. Ma-hawker warudi town lakini wakae kwa vichochoro ndio magondi waspitape mahali pa kupigia watu ngeta. Makarao wawache kupatia watu mbegu ovyo ovyo – watumie bullets za rubber sio za chuma. Wale wabunge ambao wamezoea kulala mbungeni kama wakidi wa nursery wajue kuanzia sasa, hakuna kulala, hata kama hujala! La mwisho linaenda kwa Mayor. Ako wapi huyu mbuyu? (The mayor stands up) Sasa, wewe ni mayor ama nightmare? Mbona askari wako hubomoa kiosk za wasee usiku kama magondi? Kama Conje alivyosema, “Watu wakuje mapema, ndiyo kazi iishe mapema.”…Na kwa hayo machache, speech yangu imelandi…Ma-fans, nawapenda wo!’

As the newly installed president leaves the fabled Park in style, TV journalist Jeff Koinange talks to the world via CNN cameras.

Jeff: …And there you have it. Kinya’s most controversial president has just been
sworn in. And although the United States is not opposed to this Head of State, it has expressed concern about the State of his Head. Jeff Koinangi reporting for CNN from Narobi, Kinya.

 (c) Alex N Nderitu

Buy Alexander Nderitu's prose and poetry books at:

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