Kenyans maintain an intriguing custom. Ordinary citizens routinely dance to pump up an event up for any big shot. In the 90s, when retired President Moi attended a public rally he was welcomed with choreographed pomp and ceremony. The Voice of Kenya routinely played scenes of traditional dance troupes, sashaying, around the head of state singing lavish praise. On special occasions, the task would be left to a mass choir. Today, a packed stadium, filled with the chorus of praise songs directed at one man can only be witnessed during a prayer rally.
The new boys on the block have upped it up a notch, keeping up with the times. Road show caravans have become a frequent campaign feature. Traditional dancers, have been replaced by DJ’s spinning off a deck on mobile trailers. Picture- Incessant hooting, music beyond NEMA decibel exemptions, charged youth jogging alongside and an MC going hoarse on the mike. A very effective way of causing a ruckus in small towns and wooing the youth vote. These hip 2012 presidential aspirants have learnt the power of ‘swag’ in elevating one’s stature among young voters. A power entrance is often heralded by a bombarding cacophony. The highlight is when the talking heads get to trash talk their opponents.
Anthropologically, the shenanigans have their place in a contest. Men need displays of dominance to establish hierarchy. A scenario that plays out in every high school sports field and in sports bars. Men will take sides in a contest and back the side that displays their preferred version of machismo. Our groovy presidential posse is reminiscent of a high school dance outing. Each of the personalities of our ruling class displays a character trait that continues to exist in present high school raves. George Saitoti reminds me of the enthusiastic uncoordinated geek with flaying hands that everyone keeps a safe distance from. Uhuru Kenyatta has a two-step move and may appear safe until they play Lingala. Then the ndombolo aficionado in him bursts out like a genie uncorked and the only part of his body that moves is his waist. William Ruto is a slow jammer with a fixed grin, nodding away waiting for his song to play. Calculatively, he leaves everyone impressed with a sudden surge of energy before reverting back to slow head bobbing. Kalonzo Musyoka is the chap one spots dancing to the mirror in between numerous trips to the bathroom to mop his face and pat a hair out of place on his fro. Peter Kenneth dances like a head-boy, frequently glancing at his watch. “The bus has to leave at 4pm or we will be late for supper at 6 in school!
Eugene Wamalwa maintains a broad grin, like he ate all the happy cookies. His dentist must love him. He typifies the kind of guy who would crack everyone up whenever he tried to convince his mates he was serious. Raphael Tuju is the debonair guy who poses on the sidelines. He would probably be heard muttering, “I do not dance to Lingala” but before the chicks can say boring! the salsa number comes on and he leaves the girls swooning. Moses Mudavadi bears the two left feet persona of the sports jock who would say, “I don’t dance”, with such finality that the ladies let him watch over their drinks. Raila Odinga would be famed for his plotted late entrance, charging onto the floor with jovial enthusiasm that makes everyone feel like the party just begun. As for Dr.Kibaki, he would slink in unnoticed with his hands clasped behind his back, gauge the scene for moment before saying, “Haya, Mjienjoy, Hakuna shida”.
There is a reluctant dancer in most of us. One can tell a lot about a man just from the way he moves to music. Watch the dance not the talk.