Rotimi Babatunde is a Nigerian writer and playwright. In 2012, he won the Caine Prize for his short story “Bombay’s Republic.” Basit Jamiu spoke to him about his story on Enkare Review this week, his writing process, and things in between.
My sister and I disagree over the 2007 post-election scenario. She says we slept in the garage’s trench but I say we slept under a huge truck at the police station. I blame this on memory. It has been almost ten years since we ‘hurriedly’ left our home in Iten to look for shelter at the police station as the crisis of what we thought would be a few days escalated. But that’s just a blip in my memory, or hers.
Memory is a thing we love to play around with. The 2017 elections and the results that have followed have unveiled aspects of this country that we tend to forget, aspects that we tend to sweep under the carpet and hope tomorrow will be better or fit our perceptions of better.
The 2017 polls were Kenya’s second elections since the promulgation of the country’s new constitution in August 2010. They attracted a total of 11,330 candidates (among them eight presidential candidates), most sponsored by various political parties, but also 3,752 independent candidates; all of whom were battling for 1,882 available elective positions.
It was survival for the richest as politicians criss-crossed various towns across Kenya in attempt to woo voters; some were calling for a six piece voting, popularly referred to as “Suti”, while others threw in slogans such as “Tano Tena”, “Tano Fresh,” and “Mambo Yabadilika” as they went on a charm offensive.
There is a running joke on Kenyan social media platforms this week, variations of “Politicians sasa watoe posters, waganga wanataka kurudisha zao.” I laugh, I retweet, especially because the variation I come across features the woman-beating former governor Evans Kidero. It is that time in the political cycle when our lives are wallpapered with brightly-coloured but quickly-fading promises, some of which will survive, just barely, until the next election.