I’m embarrassed to admit that I only discovered Ngugi wa Thiongo as late as last year. However, let my saving grace be that I picked ‘The Wizard of the Crow’ as my first book.
When I first sat down to read Wizard of the crow it was a little challenging to read I’m not going to lie. It’s one of those books where you struggle for days to get through only the first three chapters, and then one day you just read 400 pages, not lifting your eyes even once. Perhaps at first, I was not familiar with Ngugi’s descriptive style, but when I got into it, the book absorbed me. And it provoked me, politically.
The book to me is the most befitting satirical analogy for Kenyan politics, which i have come across, and today I decided to share some quotes that demonstrate this;
“There is nobody quicker to anger than a thief who has been robbed”
“The dictator’s reputation for making minister plot against minister, region rise against region, and community fight against community was now a matter of legend. He would side with one warring faction, which would rejoice at its alliance with power only to wake up one morning to find that the dictator had sided with its adversary, for a time, at least before changing sides again or even goading altogether another faction into the fray”
“.. The self- appointed leaders of communities, members of parliament, and especially cabinet ministers never ceased competing to sit on the right hand of the father. Yet the winner always lived in terror of being displaced by a rival wilier in the ways of sycophancy”
“When it came to forests indeed to any natural resource, the Aburirian State and big American, European, and Japanese companies in alliance with the local African, Indian and European rich, were all united by one slogan: A loot-a continua“
“The government also had to mindful not to upset tourism by sweeping too many beggars off the streets. Pictures of beggars or wild animals were what many tourists sent back home as proof of having been in Africa.”
“Why did Africa let Europe cart away millions of Africa’s souls from the continent to the four corners of the wind? How could Europe lord it over a continent ten times its size? Why does needy Africa continue to let its wealth meet the needs of those outside its borders and then follow behind with hands outstretched for a loan of the very wealth it let go? How did we arrive at this, that the best leader is the one that knows how to beg for a share of what he has already given away at the price of a broken tool? Where is the future of Africa?”
“…In any case, in Aburiria justice ends up in the pockets of the highest bidder.”
Something worth noting is that Ngugi wrote The Wizard of the Crow in 2006, over a decade ago (12 years). The fact that these quotes fit todays political context, three general elections after, is an indication of how little has changed in the Kenyan political scene. An indication that for the past three general elections, Kenyans have essentially been exchanging one set of crooks for another.