Corruption subverts political integrity, and hope on stage


Chupa breaking up a fight between Madam Mapesa and Claudette in Kipande 2 at Kenya Cultural Centre, August 7, 2022. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG

Liquid Arts Entertainment kept the promise they made in early June, unlike the dirty politicians they exposed as being so similar to many of those who currently occupy political seats in our local and national governments.

They all make grandiose promises and hand out cash and other goodies on the spot, but they rarely if ever fulfill those promises which they quickly forget.

It was playwright and member of Liquid’s cast, Kelvin Manda who made the promise that he’d be writing Kipande 2 in time to have Liquid Arts perform it just before our national elections. That’s exactly what happened last weekend or just two days before August 9 Election Day.

The play unintentionally brought us a rather mixed message, however, since we were frankly being told to vote on Tuesday as it was important to exercise our democratic right.

Yet what we saw in Kipande 2 was corrupt politicians swinging back into power, subverting the one honest candidate who sincerely tried to clean up her mayorial constituency.

It was money that sabotaged Mayor Sophia’s (Shally Mumia) efforts to do the right thing. If we recall from the first round of Kipande, Sophia was an unlikely winner in the mayoral race.

She had only been an assistant to the real candidate Chupa (Steve Otieno) who apparently had been bumped off in a mob violence scene. Supposedly an angry mob of anti-Chupa activists had attacked him and left him to die, which we find out much later that they did not.

Sophia had secretly nurtured dreams of power while she had been a faithful worker for Chupa. So, we were led to believe that she stood in his place as his representative.

As it turned out, Chupa’s “death” had been a setup from the start. He had only made a deal with the real wheeler-dealer Claudette (Wambui Faith) who had also paid off the mobsters and so-called activists to make the scene look convincing.

Recall that Claudette is the one who stuffed the ballot box (by thousands of votes) to ensure Sophia would win. She hadn’t expected Sophia to become a canny and credible politician who was ready to serve the people and uplift their lives.

In Kipande 2, we discover that Mayor Sophia is true to her word. But her word isn’t strong enough to defy Claudette’s cash which serves to sabotage every effort that Sophia makes to keep her own promise to fulfill in her first 100 days all the hopes she had laid out for the people of her constituency.

Sophia might have gotten a few of her bills passed if she hadn’t gone out so early to kill Claudette’s cartel and the corruption inherent in it. Sophia also refused to give Mama Mapesa (Veronica Mwangi) all the government tenders that she had sought. So, nobody was pleased with Sophia and the price she was to pay was a surprise.

Claudette was so good at working wheely deals behind the scenes that she’d decided to come out and first sue Mama Mapesa by exposing all her dirty linen in public and letting a corrupt court do its work to get Mapesa convicted and tossed into prison.

After that, Claudette who turns out to be more determined, vengeful, far-sighted, and focused than any of the others, cleverly became the ‘voice of the voiceless’ by suing the Mayor for not fulfilling her 100-day promise to Mama Wanjiku (aka wananchi). That was how cleverly Sophia got sent to jail, same as Mapesa.

So now, the political roadway was cleared for Claudette to keep on quietly bribing the necessary ones which enabled her to become the next Mayor.

Unlimited power

What’s peculiar in the ending is how the playwright can explain how and why Claudette becomes Mayor when there was no election.

I guess one can expect her appointment would be in keeping with the reality of that town where corruption is rife. But we don’t have a clue what Claudette will do now that she has a shot exercising unlimited power.

In this regard, Kelvin the playwright is sending out more than just the message to think seriously and vote like your life depended on it since it might very well do.

The fact that Kipande 1 and 2 both have interesting corollaries or references to our own electoral situation is sad but true. We too have a system that is rife with corruption, but we can still hope and pray that peace and truth will prevail.

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