The deputy president’s heart beats faster as his mind races back through time to the night, the night his plan came crushing down.
February 3rd 2023, Muthaiga, Nairobi.
The 11 men huddle closely together. Discussing an issue that would get them hanged if it ever came to light. They are strange bedfellows the 11 men. Normally they hate absolutely each others guts. They would never be seen together in public. A simple handshake outside of a state function would result in a massive reorganization of government. At the head of the table seats the army chief. Without his normal army issued uniform he seems a little smaller in stature. He is unused to not having men at his beck and call. Ready to comply with a swift salute and an even more astute willingness to do his will. On his right, the deputy president who’s plan they are here to implement. To his left, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief trying desperately to stay unseen. For a man used to moving in the shadows. This meeting is a betrayal of everything he believes. He looks like a man you would pass easily on the streets. There is nothing that would make you want to remember him. He is a spy after all. His eyes however are constantly on the move behind his spectacles. Seeing everything but they betray nothing. The General Service Unit (GSU) commander is present, his face similar to that of every GSU officer. Reminding you of a bulldog that had sex with a German shepherd and made an ugly baby. He looks like he is constantly ready for a fight. He is. This is what you get when you are the chosen one, the one man allowed to mete out violence on the citizenry without question. The others at the table are the most powerful politicians in the country. Of note, is the majority leader of Kenya’s parliament. A slimy fellow capable of betraying his own mother for a political win. He is an extremely capable politician. Capable of playing public emotions as you would a teenage girl.
Their agenda is simple….treason!
They have just attempted an assassination of the current president. Unheard of in this part of Africa. Attempted…because they tried and failed. The assassin’s bullet missing the president’s head by a whisker. They had chosen the day specifically because they knew the president would be away from Nairobi without his usual security. Who would expect someone to try and kill the president in his own rural backyard. He had been giving one of his boring speeches that he was known and loved for. They made excellent background noise allowing one to catch a quick nap. His wife was seated some inches away behind him. The deputy president was also on hand, to deflect attention of course that he was behind the assassination.
Then, the bullet rang out!
For a few seconds, everyone had stood there transfixed. Not understanding what was happening. The president’s military aide grabbing his neck, and finding blood oozing out. Instead of saving himself, he reaches out to his president and pulls at him. In those seconds, the assassin fired again. He missed, the president being saved by his aide’s quick thinking. Instead the bullet landed squarely in the first lady’s head. The result was a bloody one. Brains and blood splattered all over the deputy president. He stood there for a micro-second attempting to understand what had happened. His aide de camp falling slowly to his feet. The sound of the second gunshot finally catching up with the bullet. He would have stood there longer, if his other guards had allowed it. Only, they had body slammed him to the ground and formed a human shield around him. Moments later, his limousine had pulled up and the president was spirited of to God knows where by his guards.
The 11 men had misread the public appetite for change massively. They had expected the people to rise up and perhaps instigate a revolution. Instead, they had faced an outpouring of sympathy to the president.
Every lawman with access to a gun was now on the streets looking for the killer. The Heads of Security in this room are quite naturally coordinating the hunt. They need a scapegoat. Some poor Kenyan will take a bullet to the head and the blame pinned on them. Dead men tell no tales.
The NIS chief was tasked with finding a suitable scapegoat. He began by whipping the public appetite for blood into a frenzy. Images of the first lady’s dead body had been splashed all over TV screens and newspapers nationally. The people wanted blood, and they were gladly obliged.
The man who had pulled the trigger was quickly found and executed. He was not given the opportunity to explain himself, lest he give an untoward narrative. Two quick ones to the head, and he joined a long list of Kenyans who died for the rich and powerful. Before his death, he had an unusual man visit him with a generous proposal. The NIS Chief has access to the lowliest of places. The man, Kariuki, would write a short letter detailing his “decision to attempt to kill” the president. His family, which was very poor would be taken care of. His life, for theirs. The NIS chief, was not one to be trifled with. And was quick to point out that should Kariuki refuse, he would still receive a bullet. It was not a difficult decision. He would take their secret to the grave. His family would be rewarded for his silence. A few million shillings appeared in his wife’s accounts in the following weeks. She was prudent enough not to ask questions.
February 14, Uhuru Park, Nairobi
The crowds have turned out in huge numbers to witness the burial of their beloved first lady, the mother of the nation. She sleeps there in the middle of the gathering. Her casket draped in the Nation’s flag. Every politician of note there to show their respect. You can smell the hypocrisy in the air. The very politicians who privately plotted his death. Now cry publicly to show their grief. Every one of them swears by the virtues of the woman before them. Even the people are surprised to hear of her goodness. It was alien to them. Which is why the majority leader has been asked to eulogize her. If he can do anything, he can rile up a crowd. He begins his eulogy slowly, speaking as a poor man to his child. Telling him of his loss. His voice trembling ever so slightly as he speaks. He makes everyone feel the pain in his voice. He speaks of her honor, her grace and her love for this nation. He speaks of the projects she started, the children she mothered and the many more she mentored. He does not speak of her silence as the country was plundered. Or her complicity in convincing the nation that her husband was a good man. It is Africa after all, and all dead men are saints.
The speeches are finally over, it is time to leave. But before anyone can leave, the family asks for everyone to remain seated as the play her favorite song one last time. The band hearing their cue take their places. Our 6 artists from Lumbumbashi ready to belt out a tune to honor their master’s love. Undeserving though she is of such an honor but their pockets have been beautifully lined. Money can do that, make your dignity a commodity.
The guitarist begins, slowly at first. Strumming a few lines that get everyone silent. He is the best in the country and everyone can see why. He strums it again. This time without letting go. The way a hungry lover devours his woman. As if every croon of her body was a hidden treasure willing him to find it. The guitar gives way to him. Churning out the most melancholic of tunes. The music carrying in its potency the sum total of the grief of a people. Then just before the singer comes on, he slows the guitar even further. Every string charged with sending goodbyes to a dead woman. Transmitting through the universe the goodbyes of a nation. Surely, an arduous task for just a guitar. But this is not a guitar, in his hands at least. It is an object of the gods. He pulls at the strings one final times and the singer comes in…..
Nazuanganga wapi eh
Nazuanganga wapi asombelanga Liwa ya Kabasele
No one understands anything but they know that the singer is asking his God, “where do I find a magician to reverse the death of Kabasele.”
He gives way to the music and for the next three minutes as the cortege leaves for the burial. The people remain transfixed. Held in their place by his voice. The deputy president now understands why his boss insisted that they listen to the original.
The last car in the convoy just clears in the horizon when the singer ends his tune. This time in Swahili, asking
nitampata wapi eeeeh,
nitampata wapi eh.
Nitampata wapi mganga wa kusimamisha kifo.
As the beats stop and the singer places the microphone back in his cradle. His spell on the crowd is lifted and for the next 7 minutes a nation collectively weeps. The know the flower of the nation is gone.
And the nation is grateful.
So part 2 has taken a long time. This piece is outside of the normal remit of pieces I write. Thus, please forgive the bits and pieces that might not make absolute sense. I am pushing the boundaries of my writing. Remember to SUBSCRIBE 😎😎🤓🤓