Some goings-on in our immediate neighbourhood are straight out of the mad-house!
In one corner, a seemingly sane man is seized in fits of sweaty up-and-down jumps in the name of prayer. Take a closer look, however, and that prayer rather appears to answer to the hypnotic rituals of witchcraft.
After which, before he can take a breath, he is equally clammily tussling it out on the football pitch as member of a religiously named team. But woe betide he who misses the ball and so much as scratches the foot of our pious player.
If that ‘offender’ is not lucky to end up in the cooler, he’ll be at the negotiation door for an early entry permit into Heaven.
Football match over, anon our pious man will be out in the field, icyibo (basket) of bean-seeds in hand, planting at a rate that would compete with a snail’s speed.
On top of which, he’ll be picking weeds out of an avocado-tree field till he tires and retires.
But “tires”, maybe not. Because he’ll jump onto his bike and furiously pedal away, hands off the handle-bar and in the air waving to his folk of the village.
It’s a village beyond which he cannot venture, except once in a blue moon. But for long that moon will not turn blue till a head of state shows, yet they hardly ever do.
Wise sorts, they have cottoned on that either they are unwanted or he is too shy to meet them in his capital city.
‘Mr Piety’ thus lives blissfully in his village. About other villagers of his country, that’s for the birds.
He’d be Mr Total-bliss, too, but for one prickly thorn in his side: a neighbouring country. Everybody is at a loss as to the reason it’s so for a neighbour so passionate about cooperation.
That is in one corner.
In another, a once-upon-a-time bright head is engaged in his own weird exploits.
Yet eons ago (mid-1980s), he galloped onto the scene as the exemplar of sanity.
Holding a liberation sword aloft, he swore to rid his country of all the bankruptcy in politics and greed in economics, sown by all the “swine” (his words, not mine) before him.
Those were the days. He preached economic frugality, organised resource-management and shunning obscurantism. To him, “quislings” were unprincipled sub-species or simply “biological substances”. The main malaise of Africa, he lamented, was the leaders who did not respect the expiry date of their relevance.
When he waxed revolutionary over the urgency of integration for regions for a truly united and prosperous continent, the intelligentsia and common populace of Africa were equally fired up. Indeed, this boded well for a “fundamental change”. It was a breath of fresh air for this battered continent.
Then, before the man could make the first step, he seemed to suffer a short circuit.
Today, alas, he has swallowed every single revolutionary word he ever uttered. He waxes revolutionary, alright, but his actions come in starts, stops and then reverse.
The frugal man of yore, today his palatial residence appears to be in stiff competition with Windsor Castle for a title worthy of the “castle” name!
Meanwhile, he is out in the countryside demonstrating how to “create wealth” (his words), by riding a bicycle laden with a jerry-can of water for irrigating villagers’ farming fields. When he tires, a bottleful of mineral water becomes the magic wand that fulfils the same.
Talk of his relevance’s expiry date is treasonous. The swine of yore have begotten curs (his words) of today and who would leave the business of nation-building in their hands?
And so, joyfully ‘Mr Mystery’ rides on, apparently till eternity.
Like for ‘Mr Piety’, the only prickly thorn in his neck is a brother and colleague at the helm of the aforementioned neighbouring country.
But for that, he’d be bull of the kraal that’s this region – or continent?
He still presents his eloquence and urge about integration of the whole region, if not continent, well – only overly ramblingly – but he immediately shoots them down in flames when their implementation looms.
Surely, it must be the loathed neighbouring country to blame. How can it reject having its destiny crafted for it? How can its leader entertain the audacity to be more credible in presenting the region’s case than Clan Elder of East Africa?
No, all East African Community projects must be held at ransom, if it comes to that. Something must done about it, even if it means entertaining the country’s disgraceful outlaws.
Personally, observing these comical goings-on, I think ‘Mr Mystery’ and ‘Mr Piety’ (if this later has the capacity) should pay keen attention to the pronouncements of a new voice around the block, President Félix Tshisekedi: “...as leaders, we are here temporarily but out countries will always be there. Conflict with each other is a waste of time…”
And veteran President Kagame: “…even with bullets flying [over their heads], African people…” will continue interacting.
‘Mr Mystery’ and ‘Mr Piety’, beware, the ides of age!
“The world’s a stage [where we all will end in] mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Shakespeare’s words, not mine.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.