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Predicting the political parties of 2012

The New Year is a time for predictions, but not everyone likes them. England’s favourite man-child footballer, Paul Gascoigne, said: “I never make predictions, and I never will.” This paradoxical sentence must have deranged him: he was eventually sectioned by the authorities for drink-related mental problems.

So predictions are never to be taken too seriously. The New Year is also a time to laze around before the year kicks off in earnest, and I thought I would do something futile rather than useful, and take a look at our famously amorphous and nebulous political parties. As ever, they are in a state of flux. Many of them squeaked home to beat the 31 December registration deadline, but we are left wondering why.

What’s the point of holding elections, writing constitutions, appointing office-holders etc, when you know your party is the most temporary of apparitions, to be scattered into the ether whenever expediency demands it? Witness the recent ‘elections’, where a pre-cooked list of grey-beards was presented to ‘delegates’ for ‘acclamation’. Who can take that seriously?

In fact, these things are called ‘parties’ for a very good reason: they involve a few people having a good time at the expense of others; they are temporary; they involve much pointless noise and dancing; they disturb the peace; and they result in much unnecessary intoxication and unfortunate copulation. Hangovers, acrimony and recriminations invariably ensue.

Anyway, my exercise in futility this relaxed week is to predict the landscape of political parties in Kenya in 2012. It’s only the beginning of 2009, but already the signs of change and realignment are apparent. As I gaze into my Kitengela-glass crystal ball, I can already see which new parties are going to emerge. Forget about your ODMs and PNUs and Narcs. Here’s what I see…

First, I see a new BAHASHA PARTY. This will contain all those named in the infamous Waki ‘envelope’. I don’t know their names any more than you do, but I can see that they will find common cause on the flight to the Hague. Feeling besieged and scapegoated, they will unite and form a new party whose symbol will be an A4 envelope. Their manifesto will consist of dark mutterings about historical injustices, and how the country might burn again if they are not elected.

I can also see a new ANTI-BAHASHA PARTY. Those who want to blame all the country’s woes on the ‘envelope people’ and cleanse themselves of any wrongdoing will find it very easy to unite and paint themselves in saintly colours. We have never caused any problem in this country, their manifesto will proclaim piously: we stand for love, peace and unity; we want the country to be one. The party’s symbol will be the halo.

It also easy to see a new movement in the country: the YOUNG-AT-HEART PARTY. If you looked at the photos and TV clips of some of our leading political lights prior to 2003, you would see that they had a generous sprinkling of grey and in their hair and beards. No more. These days, grey is a sign of diminished political libido, to be avoided at all costs. Elders are passe. Jet-black is the new black, as our oldsters rush to discreet salons to procure chemically aided revitalisations. The old and the weary will rush to this party to gain a new lease of life. Their manifesto will emphasise the economic theories popular at Makerere in the 1960s, and the party symbol with be a bottle of black hair dye.

Pitted against them will the YOUNG-IN-BODY PARTY. It is quite clear that the youths of this land are quite fed up with being left out of all the power-sharing and dividing of spoils. The young are going to realise that they hold most of the votes, and are going to go for it in 2012. Sadly, recent experience suggests that the young can be as foolish as the old, and the party of youth may be too busy trying to outdo the oldies with self-conscious posturing. It may end up rousing the angry young men from the ghettos to agitate rather than cogitate. Its manifesto will be written in Sheng, and its symbol will be a pair of headphones.

One thing you can bet your shirt on is that there will be a whole swarm of noisy of REGIONAL PARTIES. These will be small and inconsequential, their only raison d’etre being the possibility of horse-trading in a coalition. Their various manifestos will contain the same drum-beat: the need to protect local economies from cunning outsiders. They will symbolise long-dead prophets, and sacred forests and mountains; they will appeal to those who believe in witchcraft, ghosts and sitting under trees for most of the day. Sadly, that is a sizable constituency.

So there you are. The names and shapes may be different, but my future-gazing says those are the parties of 2012. You read it here first…

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