You will recall the saying in Emanyulia that elders are next to the ancestors and the ancestors sit with the gods. Our people say therefore that you don’t mess about with the elders. If you do, you are rattling the ancestors and the gods. You surely will pay the price. The gods know how to sort out their grievances against you.
We don’t bother too much with those who challenge the gods to a duel, except by way of putting in a gentle word of caution and fearing for them. For we are duty bound to fear for those whom the gods are about to destroy. And when the gods are about to smash your forehead with the moon, they first fill it up with the hubris. The hubris itself makes you ventilate like a burst sewer under intense pressure. Words leave your mouth out of their own effort.
The odoriferous discharge from your oral cavity travels with unknown power and speed. It neither knows nor cares whom it will encounter. The sewage messes up everyone and everything in the environment, including the sewer itself. Everyone who comes this way knows, “We have a burst sewer here.” Others say, “Behold, another burst sewer.” These thoughts increasingly come to me each time I see our political leaders on TV, ventilating. And Lee Iacocca would say once again, “Where have all the leaders gone?”
I am relieved though that Kiswahili and English challenge us from time to time. I did not therefore hear this one about circumcision in some meeting last week. That a man said another one had not taken the traditional cut. Those who understand the language say that the man did not stop at insulting the other man’s genitals. He roped in the other man’s father too, just to drive home his wrath. This man’s son is not cut,” he said, “The boy should therefore not bring his stupidity to us.”
Disdain for age. Our people say that when two youth fight, they do well to leave out the elders. For, they will need the elders to settle the matter. But there are those who arrived readymade with disdain. They have taught those who are younger to be glib with insolence against the elders. You would imagine that they were going to be frozen in youth. And yes, every so often one is frozen in youth – in the lateral manner. This is indeed the only way to remain young forever. Get them to freeze you in the horizontal position. Your life philosophy is to live dangerously, die young and look handsome in the casket.
In Emanyulia, a circumcising community, it is scandalous to keep on running your mouth in public about other people’s genitals. Even in private, a man has no business with another man’s genitals. Moreover, you don’t put these things in the same sentence with someone’s parents. You are rankling the gods. As Thomas Hardy would say, “Thy damnation slumbreth not.” It is just a matter of time before the gods smash the moon on your head.
It is unfortunate when some of these things happen high up in public office. The elders in Emanyulia are saying that this is what is happening in the House of Jubilee. Jubilee arrived readymade with spite for age. It is now paying the price. Not only do they despise the counsel of age, they actually insult age. The ancestors have been saying to me, “Dreamer of dreams, talk to the people in the House of Jubilee. Tell them to beware the hubris. Oracle from Emanyulia, tell them to beware the curse of Rehoboam, he who claimed that his little finger was fatter than his father’s waist. Tell them to seek the wisdom of age.”
What is happening to the House of Jubilee is no laughing matter. Not even their vilest adversary should laugh at this. We need to worry instead, for the destiny of a whole nation is in their hands. This week there has been supersonic spillage of sewage. People have thrown raw manure at one another in horrid style. Perhaps the gods intended that it should come out in this style. When they took office, they locked out everyone else. Ours has only been to guess what was going on in that house. Now we hear of hundreds of millions of stolen wealth and of billions of more stolen wealth. Everyone shouts that it was everyone else who stole. So why did you previously deny when we said someone was stealing? No matter, one thing is not in doubt. Someone has stolen. Soon we will know whom.
What is happening in Jubilee is worse than a house in trouble, however. We are witnessing a government at various stages of atrophy, disintegration and collapse. The government is in free fall. If any elders are still left in that camp, they need to talk to the youth in charge. When the youth reign, a regency of elders guides them behind the scenes. For, wisdom and power are not known to reside in the same chamber. Let wisdom therefore reach out to power and talk truth to power.
Power itself must find time to listen to wisdom. As the poet said, “For the sword outwears the sheath, and the soul wears out the breast. And the heart must pause to breathe. And love itself have a rest.” Power must find time to rest and the tail time to listen to the head. The dog must wag the tail, and not the tail the dog. And Kenya must look in the reservoir for her sons and daughters of milder passions and tame appetites, to dislodge her from the sewage.