An important theme in William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies is social power relations, which are everywhere on the island in which the story is set.
These power relations are illustrated by symbols in the novel, which centre on two different power systems: A democratic system, and a dictatorial one. Sometimes these symbols are tied so closely together to both power systems, they mean different things to each of them.
At an allegorical
level, a literary critic tells us, the central theme in this novel is the conflicting human impulses toward civilisation
and social organisation—living by rules, peacefully and in harmony —a nd toward the will to power, meaning deferring to the main driving force in humans, which drives achievement, ambition, and striving to reach the highest possible position in life, according to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
In perfect or imperfect societies, you have one or the other but in reality, circumstances are such that you must have both power systems, namely, democracy and dictatorship or in the case of impulses, a mix between that which tends or is inclined to civilisation and social organisation and ambition to get to the top first or among the first to do so.
Deputy President William Ruto and those behind him are caught in the interplay of all these dynamics as foretold by his namesake William Golding in this novel: Ruto is the beneficiary of a questionable democratic process to be where he is politically, yet his desire to rise to the top of it all, meaning, becoming our next president is voidable by yet another ambition and that’s one held by those who say, heck No.
Ambition therefore must check ambition the question being, whose ambition will over- power the other if not altogether quash it? Is it Ruto who will prevail over those opposed to him or would it be the other way around?
As we learn in this novel by Golding, sometimes the symbols of power he uses in the novel to depict democracy and dictatorship are tied so closely together to both power systems such that they mean different things to each of them.
We may yet see the extent of it, but it’s clear if ambition must check ambition, and for one to prevail, each must bring out their best game, but one has the home field advantage to push them to victory.
To be sure, if this was Jomo Kenyatta’s time, we wouldn’t be talking about this, let alone writing about it; the tools the late president had at his disposal were many, and some deadly though not at his feet. Same was true during his successor Moi’s time but less so during Kibaki’s time.
Uhuru came to power when many of those tools we yanked out of the box with promulgation of the new constitution curtailing the president’s powers but many, including this writer, argued that some form of dictatorial powers in the presidency were necessary to allow the president to more effectively govern provided he did not abuse the power.
That argument did not prevail and thus the situation we have in some cases young boys calling the president names and grown politicians doing no less worse in showing the president disrespect or utado attitude.
While much if not all that noise making and madharau would find protection in the freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution, it is time the president became creative in having these noise makers realize the presidency deserves and must have certain respect and fear such that going against that is at one’s peril.
A good example would be the use of law in legally going after these culprits to show them if the president has decided for the good of the country joining hands with Raila is the way to go, then that’s the way it shall go so stop making all these noises and let the two come up with the prescription to heal that which has been making most of us seriously sick and find a cure for a healthy 2022.
Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator in the United States