Friday, December 11, 2009

PATRIOTISM THEN AND NOW

The joy of writing about our national holidays is that you can always turn in the same column every year, except of course for the election year where the national holidays are converted into political rallies. So during the non-election year, the president drones on and on about the achievements of 'my government' and then realizes in the election year that his government has achieved zero and he starts to promise us pie in the sky come the following year.

During the Nyayo Era,we kids attended the National Holidays with zest especially if one belonged to the 'exclusive club' of the school choir. To join this club, all one needed was a pair of black Bata leather shoes. We pleaded with our parents for this privilege and if they could afford it, or if they did not subscribe to an imaginary 'rebel' group, one was in. The only problem is that when the shoes were new, they were five sizes larger because they were meant to last the whole upper primary duration. When it was time to exit the 'club', we would pray for fire and brimstone to fall from heaven because the shoes had turned into feet mincers and so the senior members were always chosen to sing the really emotional patriotic parts because tears came easily. Our parents on the other hand were dragged from their houses and work places to the stadium in the same way the government deals with terrorist groups.

The mark of the Nyayo Era holidays is that the entertainment was superb. It didn't matter whether it was in the village where the Sub-Chief represented the president. We sang our hearts out. But then came the presidential speech and people behaved as if the president was hiding a beehive in his mouth and they were afraid of a serious bees attack when the president opened his mouth. So immediately the Vice president took the podium to welcome the president, all the adults would start scampering for the gates and clambering on the walls of the stadium to launch themselves out. The Administration Police would follow in hot pursuit with clubs aiming at the skulls of the fleeing adults probably to ascertain whether they possessed a working brain or in its place was a sac of air. In less than a few seconds calm would return and the president would go on to read a three hour long speech.

Today, the MC is notified on the eve of the holiday and he has to make arrangements for choirs at midnight. Small wonder we end up with the calamity that we call entertainment. Then we are treated to the protocol circus where in the Vice President and the Prime Minister do not know who is senior to the other. I am warning that if this is not corrected very soon, we will have a major limo crash as those two dash to seat on the seat that is deemed to 'be just below' the president's power-wise.

At least the president's speech is bearable, doesn't take forever except that with this president, however keen I am the only thing I hear is 'my government'. This is then followed by a treatise of 'Hakunaaa, hapanaaa, no, no, hiyo haitawezekanaaaa'.

From there we move on to the MPs' take on the presidential speech irrespective of the fact that they have emerged straight from slumberland! Depending on which side of the coalition they are on, we hear such big words as 'right on, divine, novel, splendid' or it was 'empty, a pail of hogwash ,balderdash e.t.c'. Then they all by mutual agreement, hop onto their limos and head to State House to gormandize our tax money. Wish you all an enjoyable Jamhuri day!

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