Tony Mochama’s Political Parties after Political Parties in Kenya is an Epoch Making Book in Writing about African Politics
Goethe Institute in Nairobi has been hosting the AMKA literary forum to mentor and build writing skills among the budding writers. It has been doing this for a dozen of past years. The forum has been also inviting seasoned writers like Ben Okri, James Murua, and the likes of Dr Joyce Nyairo to do guest speaking to the aspiring and even practicing writers. The forum is usually organized by Madam Momanyi to be held on every last Saturday of the Month.
The Launch of Political Parties after Political Parties in Kenya
On 26th June 2021, the last Saturday of the same month. AMKA literary observed the Covid-19 regulations to hold the forum online that was supposed read and suggest areas of improvement on the submitted works by budding writers and also listen to Dr. Muthoni Wanjira read her poems to the audience. The forum was also to give Tony Mochama, a poet, journalist, novelist and cultural critic from Kenya, an opportunity to launch his latest book Political Parties after Political Parties in Kenya to the online audience present which included seasoned literary and textuality scholars like Austin Bukenya, Makena Kirimi, Sidang Odipo,Lucas Wafula, Muthoni Wanjira and Muthoni wa Gichuru. Mochama read to the audience some excerpts from the book, it was explosive, revealing, captivating, arresting, iconoclastic, deconstructivist and wild as well as boundlessly polyphonic in its literary and artistic spirit expressed as political multi-genre.
The book displays novelty of language use, power of liberal thought in neology and the value of intellectual audacity in writing and performing poetry, the poetry that enjoys freedom from snobbish tethers often extended by bourgeoisie trappings in institutions that suffer from big-man syndrome, the Kenya’s big-man syndrome that often feed itself on sentimentality of identity and sentimentality of self-congratulation in social places from political parties to university departments.
The book, Political Parties after Political Parties in Kenya was funded by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation in Nairobi. The guiding philosophy of the funding was to have an able scholar to chronicle history of political parties in Kenya with a primary focus on KANU. However, Tony Mochama encouraged the foundation to have an open minded approach to chronicle history of all political parties in Kenya since independence. And indeed, this was logical given the experiences that Kenya’s politics is a hub of shillyshallying political partisanship. There are always cases of new political parties each and every month, the parties that are as strong as the size of their clan. Fortunate enough, Tony Mochama has strongly excelled above the failures of academic writings that would have presented such kind of work in obscurantism of outdated jargon, unnecessary citation of American writers and thransonical as well as self-congratulatory or axiomatic presentation of personal academic success, a weakness that has made academic writings from the university to be miserably dull and unfit for intellectual consumption.
In the book, Mochama presents the facts with touch of art. Like in the words of John Ruganda about Francis Imbuga, Mochama presented hard and bitter truth laughingly in a precise and simple style of English that can be understood by each and every average read. Mochama uses simple English and sharp humour to deal with complex and socially revolutionary concepts like; Fanon and Canon, consequences of the attempted coup,Kanu ni Mama na baba, paranoia of Kenya’s party politics,neo-patromonialism and election rigging, detention of politicians like George Anyona,Soft-power politics of FORD as a political party in Kenya, who counts the votes? Political party adverts in Kenya’s media, diary of death, self-swearing in, nine lives that can keep a politician at the center of power,KANU as a Mugumo tree and other hard facts of Kenya’s party politics presented in very humorous poetic language like ‘’we shall shake Moi without a condom,’ ‘we shall shake Uhuru without a condom.’’
The multi-potent quality of style, mind and language in Mochama’s book made Adipo Sidang, the poet and author of a Parliament of Owls, to salute Tony Mochama for displaying un-matched eclecticism in cultural communication, Adipo equated Mochama to a gadfly that Okot P’ Bitek appreciated in the Artist the Ruler for biting the buffalo in the ruler back to its sense of political responsibility.
Who is Tony Mochama
Tony Mochama is not a political scientist nor a literature don. He is a lawyer who fell in love with literature. At most he fell in love with fatalism in Russian literature. He is a self-cultured man of prose, verses and dialogue. He loves reading Tolstoy, Fydor Doestoyvsky, Svetlana Alleuyeva, Aleksander Sholnetsyn, Mayakovsky, Anton Chenkov, Nicholai Gogol, Lenin and Trotsky.
He has also attended the Miles-Morland literary residency. This is a very brief formal background in literature education that makes some of us that think about literature to ask; why was Mochama selected for such an intellectually engaging work but not professors of literature and political science at the University of Nairobi? The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation in Nairobi has its own answer just like any other person has an answer to this question. But my answer to this question would have come out with attributes of a gadfly-effect. I would have argued out that universities in Kenya have declined from intellectual culture. Any observer will not miss to spot mediocrity that bedevils Kenya’s university. Mediocrity which renews its sinews by feeding on the rich heritage of ethnicity, opportunism in political correctness, man-eat-man culture, cult of betrayal, pull-him-down (Phd) culture, irrational jealousy, cosmetic strive, sham and cheap competition, sex for marks, snobbery, pedantry, sex for promotion, hustle-bustling to buy ka-plot and own a saloon in town at the cost of anything as easily observed in Kenya’s public life. This is why self-cultured and self-educated literary scholars in the likes of Tony Mochama, Binyavanga Wainaina, Makena Onjerika, David Maillu, Okwir Oduor and others will ever offer the best options. Not only in Kenya but in any other place where the fabric of public life is perforated by gnats and imps of illogical selfishness.
Tony Mochama has also written other books that are mind-boggling, socially challenging and page-turning volumes like Run to Eldoret, Princes Adhis, and What If I was Literary Gangster. All these books are physically and virtually available. Personally I would use the words that Karl Marx used to describe Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species to appreciate Mochama’s Political Parties after Political parties as an epoch making book in writing about Kenya’s party politics and history of politics. It is among the worthy of worthies, it enjoys stature with Politics of Betrayal, Forty Years of Looting, the Wretched Africans, and the Fall of Dynasties, the four books by Joe Khamis also investigating into the phenomenon of Kenya’s politics of exclusion. The book, Political Parties after Political parties can be ordered directly from the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation and the Prestige Book shop in Nairobi. It is currently retailing at Kenya shillings two thousand five hundred.
From, Lodwar, Kenya