A light touch: Why our stadium was empty during Madaraka Day fete

Monday, June 5th, 2023 02:30 | By
Ruto in Embu during Madaraka Day fete on June 1, 2023.
Ruto in Embu during Madaraka Day fete on June 1, 2023. Photo/Courtesy

The invitation did not come as a surprise. All along, I had expected the governor to invite us MCAs for Madaraka Day celebrations.

It was, however, the rider in the invitation letter that caught my attention. It read, ‘Do not leave your spouse behind. Appropriate seating arrangements will be made’.

This was unusual. Never before had the county boss insisted on us being accompanied to an official function by our spouses.

Definitely, he had something up his sleeves. I made a phone call to MCA Chonjo, my colleague who insists that, to him, the governor’s mind is an open book.

Bwana Chonjo, why is boss insisting we must go with our wives?” I asked.

Kwani hujui? He wants to prove that he is still popular with us MCAs,” came the answer. I got the drift. Of late, the governor’s popularity has taken a nosedive and the man will do anything to save face. As we chatted with my colleague, a sudden bout of genius invaded my mind making me say, “Bwana Chonjo, let us not waste this opportunity.”

“Which one?”

“If the governor wants our support on Madaraka Day, let him pay for it. With our meagre salary, we cannot afford to travel to the stadium. Let him provide fuel and a little holiday allowance,” I said.

“Perfect!” enthused Chonjo. We agreed to share the idea on our social media platform.

As expected, the idea was well received, with some members suggesting that we also ask for inconvenience allowance. “That is a day we should be relaxing at home with our families,” said MCA Violata. Many exchanges later, we settled on a travel and a holiday allowance. MCA Pinto, Leader of the Majority, was tasked with presenting our request to the county chief.

Later, I told Mama Hiro, daughter of my mum-in-law, about the invite and the allowances we had demanded. She stopped whatever she was doing and looked at me as if seeing me for the first time.

“Holiday allowance? And what about us spouses? What is in it for us?” she asked, arms akimbo. The tone of her voice provoked the genius in me, and my tongue did not disappoint. “We can ask for a dressing allowance. You should appear at the celebrations looking like the spouse of an MCA!” The frown on Mama Hiro’s face gave way to a pleasant smile. “Yes, that is better. In fact, we should get that allowance regularly.”

When I shared my piece of genius with my colleagues, it generated some heat. “What of those without spouses?” posed one MCA.

“Or those with more than one?” inquired another. After much debate, we agreed that each of us get a dressing allowance for one partner only. This time, I was the one to talk to the governor about the matter.

I immediately made a phone call to the county supremo. “Sir, I wanted to see you over an urgent matter,” I said.

“What is it, Bwana Gwinso?”

“Er…now that you have invited us with our spouses, we wanted them to look presentable...a dressing allowance…” The governor did not let me finish.

“I saw it coming!” he declared. “Mara holiday allowance, mara dressing allowance. You MCAs will soon ask for allowance allowance! You will want to be paid an allowance for getting allowances!” He then paused for a while, raising my anxiety levels. “Anyway, since I need you in the stadium on Madaraka Day, I guess I have to do something. Send me the account details of your spouses.”

True to his word, the governor did not disappoint.  Mama Hiro’s account was credited. My colleagues also confirmed that their spouses had been dressed by the governor. We MCAs too were assured of a small holiday allowance and ‘something’ for fuel.

Come Madaraka Day, we trooped to the stadium looking resplendent. Each MCA was allocated two seats at the main dais. The programme indicated that the event was to kick off at 11am, but at noon, the stadium was still empty. There were more people on the dais than on the grounds.  The governor was a bundle of anxiety.

When by 1pm the stadium was still empty, the county boss stood and turned to us. “Waheshimiwa, did you invite people for this event?” Silence. “I asked a question. Did you invite wananchi for the celebrations?” MCA Pinto stood and said, “Your excellency, you only asked us to come with our spouses,” earning himself a nasty glare from the governor.

Now looking overly irate, the county CEO fumed, “We are wasting our time here. This event stands cancelled, but we shall revisit,” and left the stadium in a huff. Mbele sio sawa.

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