Seek not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you

 Seek not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you

We are living in a dark moment in Kenya. Our terrifying past is raising up its ugly head from the ashes of misrule, like some sinister phoenix. The darkest of our historical landmarks are fledging.

I have previously decried the capture of the Legislature by the Executive. Last Saturday I worried over railroading of Parliament by State House. Three days later, Jubilee legislators were back at State House. They received edicts on how to behave in Parliament.

We are the dead. Not even once, in its 40 years in power, did the much maligned Kanu regime whip Parliament from State House. We have gone beyond the pale. In what looks like a private Jubilee Party affair, Majority Whip, Benjamin Washiali, has been stripped off the role, without debate. So, too, has been his deputy, Cecily Mbarire.

Such are the kinds of happenings that the poet John Donne had in mind when he wrote, in 1624:

No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent . . .
. . . any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

The wisdom of the Swahili nation says, “When you see them shaving your neighbor, get your head wet, in readiness.” This insight is incarnated in the experience of the German Baptist priest, Martin Niemoller, during the Nazi massacres of (1933 – 1945). Niemoller welcomed Adolf Hitler’s rule with glee. He thought, as others were gassed and vaporized, that it was a good thing. He only discovered later, at a meeting with Hitler, that he was not beyond limits, himself. It was a little too late. He was left to lament in February 1946:

First they came for the socialists

– and I did not speak out,

because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

– and I did not speak out,

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews

– and I did not speak out,

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me

– and there was no one left,

to speak for me.

Things such as are happening in the Jubilee Party concern you. It does not matter that you are the type that does not follow news, or shall we say – ironically – read newspapers. What is happening in this party is the suffocation of conscience; silence of dissent and killing of free will. We are witnessing the birth of a sinister monster. It is coming to eat you up. It does not matter that you consider yourself uninvolved. You’ll still be eaten up.

The Jubilee machine is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born again. Its widening purges are taking on the shape of the horrific figure that the poet W. B. Yeats wrote of in 1919, in his famous poem, “The Second Coming”:

. . . a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again. . .
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Social order is under threat when the centre attempts to hold too much authority. It just can’t work. The centre will not hold. Yet that is what the national Executive is trying. The first step is to silence its own parliamentary group. Next is to silence the opposition in Parliament. In this, Jubilee is abetted by ODM, in the spirit of the handshake. The third step is to scuttle all other independent institutions, beginning with State institutions.

Already the President is testing this, through the overreach of Executive Order No. 1 of 2020. Chief Justice, David Maraga, has been quick to…

Barrack Muluka

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