Ngugi Wa Thiong'o Prophesied A Ruto Presidency & The Fall Of The Kenyattas And Political Dynasties.
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
Renowned author Ngugi Wa Thiong'o long foresaw the struggle for power between the rich and the poor, as is embedded in many of his literary works. As a committed Marxist, the gem has always warned in most of his works that one day the ruling class who own most of society's wealth and means of production, will be in trouble for accumulating their wealth through exploiting the masses of their workers.
In his book Petals of Blood, a terrifying prophesy is told where he prophesied that, one day the workers will rise against the ruling class. It seemed very far-fetched then, but not anymore if the hustlers versus dynasties narrative, in Kenya, is anything to go by.
Political rulers, in many African states, and across the world, hoodwinked the peasant class into a position where only the rulers enjoyed all socio-economic privilege while the peasants remained in poverty. The lower class who are the majority of people, have no property and their significant economic value is their labour.
This has been the tune played over and over again in Dr. William Ruto’s, now the president-elect of Kenya, campaign story. The political maestro, managed to convince the masses that he is the only one who has the interests of the downtrodden and economically marginalized at heart.
His campaign symbol of the wheelbarrow, which many took as a mere joke, seemed to be a very well calculated strategy to create a brand visibility of his manifesto. Dr. Ruto, who many underestimated his campaign strategy, where he insisted on empowering “mama mboga” (vegetable vendor), representing the struggling low class, has suddenly changed the political spectrum.
It is now evident that he managed to start a huge fight against the Kenyatta’s and other ruling political families, who have been in power since independence. Branding himself as a “son of a nobody”, the president-elect has been very vocal about liberating Kenyans from purported state-capture by the political capitalists.
As is in Ngugi’s book, in Kenya, for instance, farmers are forced to mortgage their lands with loans linked to the success of their harvest; as the quality of the harvests waver, many are forced to sell their land, unable to match their loan repayments.
Peasant characters such as Nyakinyua and Muturi in the novel, are praised as the guardians of the people’s history but who are oppressed by the ruling class and who should, therefore, act together to change their situation.
Karega, the son of a peasant Mariamu, is shown as the force behind the resistance of the Ilmorog people and workers against an oppressive regime and exorbitant capitalist class.
Capitalism is conspicuously decried in Petals of Blood, with the new Kenyan elite portrayed as controlled by the 'faceless system of capitalism'.
This leaves no doubt that Ngugi seeks to provoke the haves-not in Kenya to see themselves in the characters and their struggles and realize their power to rise against the tyranny of the haves.
Many are now claiming that for the first time, the hustler narrative used by politicians in Kenya, is not mobilizing politics along the usual tribal lines. However, detractors of the hustler narrative counter that it is fomenting a dangerous class war between the haves and haves-not and that once that war is in motion, it will be riotous and unstoppable.
It is evident that the war is on and only history will judge which side is right.