• The nation is facing an unprecedented existential threat in the war against the coronavirus pandemic.
• However, some politicos appear too blinded to see this reality and support the effort, because they are more pre-occupied in fighting for power in their master’s political house.
“What’s the matter boss, we sick?”
On November 10, 1963, Malcolm X, the American human rights activist, gave a speech titled ‘message to the grassroots’ at the Northern Negro Grass Roots Leadership Conference, which was held at the King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan.
In his speech, he described what life was like during slavery. He said there were two kinds of slaves; the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negro lived in the house with the master. He wore the master’s hand-me-down clothes, and ate the food the master left at the table. He lived in the attic or the basement, but he still lived in the master’s house.
He would give his life to save the master’s house, quicker than the master would. If the master said, “we got a good house here”, the house Negro would say, “yeah, we got a good house here”. If the master’s house caught fire, he would fight harder than the master to put the blaze out. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, “what’s the matter boss, we sick?”
If you told the house Negro, “let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?”
On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. There were always more Negroes in the field, than there were Negroes in the house.
The field Negro’s life was hell, yet with the sweat of his brow, he sustained his master’s lifestyle. He slaved from morning to night, was beaten at the slightest provocation, lived in a shack, wore old patched-up clothes, and ate leftovers.
He hated the housemaster. When his master’s house caught fire, he didn’t try to put it out. Instead, he prayed for a stronger wind. When the master got sick, he prayed for his death. If someone told him “let’s escape, let’s separate,” he didn’t ask, “where are we going?” He quickly said, “Let’s go. Any place is better than here.”
The nation is facing an unprecedented existential threat in the war against the coronavirus pandemic. However, some politicos appear too blinded to see this reality and support the effort, because they are more pre-occupied in fighting for power in their master’s political house.
It is an open secret that there is no love lost in the Jubilee Party between supporters of Deputy President William Ruto, and those opposed to his 2022 presidential ambitions.
This week, these hostilities were rekindled by the change of National Management Committee party officials through the office of the Registrar of Political Parties, a move Ruto’s supporters say is unconstitutional and only meant to edge him out of the party. DP’s camp deems the new office bearers to be unsympathetic to his 2022 bid.
David Murathe, the self-proclaimed Jubilee vice chairman, responded that nothing stops them from forming new alliances and even constituting a government of national unity with other political parties.
I say self-proclaimed because it appears that Murathe suffers from metanoia. If you recall, a year ago he resigned as Jubilee vice chairman. He has since told us that his resignation was not acknowledged by his party leader, and, therefore, he still holds the position. Twenty-two years ago, he also resigned from his position as Gatanga MP, only for him to rescind his resignation. He left National Assembly Speaker Francis ole Kaparo totally confused.
Not to be outsmarted, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and a self-confessed supporter of Ruto threw down the gauntlet and called Murathe’s bluff. He dared him to exit the party and form the suggested coalition government, all the while reiterating that DP's camp was the bona fide owners of the Jubilee Party.
Most of us, up until now, did not know the NMC office bearers. So begs the question, why should we now be alerted of the proposed change of guard? How does a government of national unity comprising of Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Mudavadi Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka, as Murathe has postulated, or one without Ruto, as Francis Atwoli has insinuated, improve our livelihoods? Or help us flatten the coronavirus curve? Why are we now being recruited into this fight?
Malcolm X explained that the house Negro received better treatment from his master and enjoyed many privileges that the field Negro did not. You witnessed Murathe and company defy the cessation of movement order into and out of the Nairobi metropolis area for 21 days, as they sauntered into Atwoli’s abode. Meanwhile, many Kenyans were clobbered mercilessly and labelled indisciplined when they inadvertently contravened similar laws.
The house Negro’s greatest fear was the possibility that if he did not serve his master well, he could be removed from the house and sent to work in the field. Falling from the house master’s grace was a peril too unthinkable for the house Negro, and he would do anything to maintain his master’s favour. We have all witnessed the zeal with which each camp has defended their housemaster, because they all desire to continue being in close proximity to their masters, to dress and eat well, drive big luxury cars and live in posh suburbs.
It was recently reported that about 17 MPs had tested positive with the Covid-19 disease. And many Kenyans, similar to the field Negro who when his master’s house was burning, prayed for a stronger wind, and when the master was sick, prayed for his death, celebrated this as though it was the best news since sliced bread.
It is not, however, surprising that a good number of us, not having the ability and opportunity to become house Negroes, and not wanting to remain field Negros, have arrogated ourselves the role of the yard Negro. In this role, support for our respective house Negro has become our opium and our religion; and the social media has become the pulpit, where we tear each other apart, to the delight of the housemaster and the house Negro.
The house Negroes in the nation do not only reside in Jubilee. They are in every political formation. They perennially jostle to remain in the master’s house. And to do so, they use us as pawns in a sport whose end game, we do not comprehend. And they switch masters at will. At the drop of a hat, they will shift allegiances. Their loyalty is always to their masters, never to the vote and tax plantation workers. And the house Negroes have successfully turned the field Negroes into marionettes, despite the disparity in numbers between the two.
My unsolicited advice is to Wanjiku is that when the house Negro says “we,” he means himself and his political master. Likewise, when Murathe and Kuria say “we” in reference to Jubilee, be advised you have no dog in this fight.
This is a fight between house Negroes. It is about time you drew the line in the sand, because the limits of tyrants are expressed by the endurance of those they oppress.
Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains – Jean-Jacques Rousseau