Thursday, February 2, 2012

A play: Bitter Sweat by Mwangi Wilson Murimi


Synopsis
A convergence of animals in Kikulacho County is called by the Development Committee, under the watchful eyes of the county governor Mr. Lion.
The Baraza is called to discuss possible implementation of a new produce deductions policy. The policy recommends a 25% seasonal deduction of members’ produce for five consecutive seasons.
 The convergence, however, turns out to be a forum for members to demand answers on earlier cases of resource misappropriation. This culminates into the quest for the formulation of a new Development Committee.

CHARACTERS

LION - King of the Kikulacho County.
CHAMELEON – Member of the Kikulacho development Committee.
HARE – Member of the Kikulacho development Committee.
HYENA – Member of the Kikulacho Development Committee
TORTOISE – Citizen of the Kikulacho County.
CHICKEN – Citizen of Kikulacho County.
ZEBRA – Citizen of Kikulacho County
FOX – A law expert at Kikulacho County.
GIRAFFE – A technician at Kikulacho County.

(As lights fade in, the Lion, Hare, Hyena, Monkey and Chameleon sit on the front bench as other animals assemble at the Mikutano Square for a public Baraza. The Hare, who is the head of the ceremony stands at the podium. The other animals take their seats at the auditorium. He takes in a deep breath before picking the microphone from the giraffe who is the technician for the meeting)

HARE (Moving his gaze sideways): Ladies and gentlemen today’s meeting will be short as we all know the agenda. (The animals nod in agreement, as the hare picks a file from the table, and proceeds to read from it). Kikulacho Country has recently faced a severe drought that has claimed the lives of a good number of us. With me is a proposal of the austerity measures to contain the situation, and avert such a catastrophe in future.

HYENA (leaning to the Chameleon): Learn to stay put today and leave your colour changes to the trees.

HARE: Honourable members, the Development Committee of which I am a member sat and drafted a proposal of a Kikulacho County Granary. All members will contribute to the granary. (Low toned murmurs follow) Pursuant to the Kikulacho County constitution, members of the Development Committee will be excluded from the suggested produce deduction due to their inflated budgets occasioned by their service to Kikulacho County.

CHICKEN: Don’t committee members eat and empty their bowels like the rest of us!

HARE (Ignoring Chicken’s outburst): Honourable law abiding citizens, we at the Kikulacho Development Committee have never frustrated Kikulacho County before. This new austerity measure is the best solution for famine in Kikulacho County. 

TORTOISE:  (In a high-pitched tone):  What developments have you initiated beyond your homes. The hyena and his family are ever growing fat as our children cry out their rumbling tummies.

HYENA: My family only eats to their proportion just like the rest of you. (Satirically) Maybe you are on a weight loss prescription!

HARE:  Honourable members let’s not demean the acclaim we have recently received at the recent conference at Ufisadi County. All other counties are longing to emulate our cooperation in Harambees.

TORTOISE: Why did your wife accompany you to the conference? Was she a delegate? And by the way were you harvesting cotton at the conference? You have since bought your family new cloths!

CHAMELEON: The new produce deduction policy is as important as the lives of our loved ones whom the drought snatched from us. Let’s not contradict ourselves with baseless allegations.

TORTOISE: There comes the white sepulcher that waivers with his every colour change!
(A loud laughter follows Tortoise outburst)


HARE: Order! Order! Order honourable law abiding citizens…

CHICKEN: Too much silence makes the mouth stink!

HARE:  Etiquette is a virtue. Kikulacho Development Committee exists as your mouthpiece we cannot all talk at the same time.

TORTOISE: Is that so called Development Committee a mouthpiece of Kikulacho County or the mouth to feed the committee members?

ZEBRA: Have the findings of Monkey’s maize saga ever been tabled?

HARE: Honourable members please lend me your ears awhile.

CHICKEN: Go ahead and pluck mine out. Do I even have any?
(Earsplitting laughter follows)

CHAMELEON: Honourable members, investigations on the case are ongoing. Let’s not get ahead of the times

CHICKEN: Debate with yourself. You seem to have two different personalities.
(Air tearing laughter ensues)

TORTOISE:  We demand a statement from Monkey right now. Since the maize scandal was uncovered his wife has been making more trips to the posho meal. The hare has since been increasing suits on his closet, as our children wear tatters!

MONKEY: The fact that I am becoming healthier is no reason to be called a thief. The peanuts I get from the Development Committee are barely enough to meet expenses of my administrative duties.

CHICKEN: Endorse me chairlady in your place!

HARE (The irritated hare walks back to the podium. Anger almost chokes his voice): Before the meeting took a twist, were setting logistics for the establishment of a Kikulacho Granary. Prior to my interruption, I was about to mention that all members of Kikulacho County are to pay 25% of their produce to the national granary for a period of 5 seasons to contain the famine occasioned by the two dry spell. (Murmurs ensue but the hare opts to proceed).  Of the 25% proceeds paid to the granary, five percent will go to the Development Committee’s kitty…

TORTOISE: Who authorized that committee to make resource deduction decisions on our behalf? That’s a breach of the Kikulacho Animal rights! We are the most supreme authority on taxation matters! And by the way how important are the tummies of the Development Committee members?

CHICKEN:  Some of the committee members are too old. They should go home to look after their wives!

HARE (Irritated by the satirical outburst of the chicken): We never converged for an election. We were here to endorse the new austerity measures. The election can wait.

LION:  You have bickered enough, can you now listen (Murmurs continue, before Lion angrily clenches his canines).  Shut up. You’ve had enough time wag your tongue. Listen here!

CHICKEN (In a whisper): We use the ears to listen not the mouth.

LION: The mud you have smeared on my Development Committee is founded on incoherent and false allegations. Move forward if you have any evidence validating your allegations or learn to shut your rowdy bickers and listen! (Silence ensues, as the fox strolls into the Baraza venue. Nobody seems to notice his entry.) We never rendezvoused here for a political witch hunt concert.

CHICKEN: Where are the witches?
(Prolonged laughter follows, before it is sternly stopped by the lion’s loud roar. By this time, the fox has moved up close to the podium awaiting a turn to speak)

LION: First things first. This granary policy has to be endorsed, no compromise about that!

FOX (Other animals are surprised by his unprecedented entry): Kikulacho constitution has deeply ingrained principles of resource accountability that resource misappropriation whatsoever. (The rest of the animals nod in agreement). On the provisions of leadership, the committee members are bequeathed the power to lead and no to rule!

CHICKEN: We’ve now started talking!

LION (angrily): This is not a convergence of constitutional experts. It is a crisis Baraza to save Kikulacho County.

TORTOISE: Yes the salvation of the chosen few, by devouring every bit of our bitter sweat!

FOX:  The constitution calls for elections if 65% of Kikulacho’s citizens pass a vote of no confidence following gross corruption by the incumbent government. I believe we have a quorum to demand for polls!
(The auditorium claps, as Chameleon confusedly rises to speak.)

CHAMELEON: Let’s not heckle each other…, Law abiding citizens; dialogue is the mother of concurrence. Let’s agree to talk and disagree to disagree.

CHICKEN:  Stop confusing us.

FOX: Polls, polls, polls, polls…

AUDITORIUM: Polls, polls, polls…

HARE: You won’t like it. That’s tantamount to incitement.

FOX: Mass action is democratic. We will protest anything short of a new committee and resource accountability!

LION: So be it, early tomorrow we will be back here. You will appoint a new Development Committee.

FOX: Let it happen right now!
(The lights fade out as the entire auditorium surges towards the podium)

(The playwright is a third year media student at Maseno University and a sub-editor of Equator weekly.)

1 comment:

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