It was just a month to go before citizens converged at polling stations to elect their new Member of Parliament. The storm of the general election, now at the highest peak, had beaten the Matanga Constituency violently, throwing dust into every home and causing high temperatures of the election fever. That fever was felt most at the Makongeni village which had the leading candidates out of the five contestants fighting for the seat. The campaign, which had kicked off with a high degree of integrity, had degenerated, deteriorated, falling from grace and started to stink!

According to the latest observation, the next MP for Matanga Constituency was going to be either Samson Masaku or Peter Ngumbi. That was why both campaigned with delirium. Samson Masaku was a self-made and dynamic man who was once a Primary School teacher before he resigned and went into business. Over the years he had developed public respect, which finally seduced him to become a leader and be called Honourable Masaku.

His campaign nicknamed was Cyclone. He had picked up the race too sure that he would be the winner. However, somewhere on the way he had started to realize the value of putting his respectable public image aside and go for the kill. At whatever cost he must become the Mheshimiwa in name and in the colossal money that accompanied being called Mheshimiwa. What gave him nightmares was that his archenemy was a well-learned and highly respected university lecturer with Doctorate Degree in economics. He was an Associate Professor.

“I have a dream,” he cried Masaku at rallies, “that Cyclone is going to be called Mheshimiwa Samson Masaku and send Ngumbi back to University class. I am going to teach Associate Professor Dr Ngumbi that I, Cyclone, is the emotional economist of this constituency. He should have waited to become full Professor and be satisfied with the little money they get because they are not Honorables.”

The Masaku and Ngumbi families, with their farms separated by the seasonal Kyesu River, had a long history of being adversaries of each other. Their boys had fought each other physically and some of the boys had raped girls of their adversaries instead of loving them. In school the Masaku and Ngumbi children had competed to prove which family was mightier, until Ngumbi went to university and killed Masaku’s sting.

But neither Masaku nor Ngumbi knew that one day they would meet again at a political boxing ring. Now they faced each other squarely. Even both sides of the Kyesu River stood at each other as competitors, with each side hoping to be the winner.

As the voting date got closer, the storm with which Cyclone beat the constituency horrified Professor Ngumbi with realization that his Doctorate Degree and professorship were failing to buy the bulky crowd to guarantee him success. He had sold his prime property and so far. He had spent nearly all his resources in the campaign. He had started off by being assured by many people that the Matanga Constituency needed a highly educated MP. But Samson Masaku’s youth, thrown into frantic campaign by alcohol and bhang bought to them by Masaku, had become a terror to Professor Ngumbi’s team.

He had wonderful ideas about development and wealth creation for the nation not to mention how to kill the economic cancer of corruption destroying the country. Besides, one of the other main reasons he wanted to become a Member of Parliament was in order to have a strong voice in fighting for the fate of University brains being paid peanuts while a half-baked brain of an MP was paid like a god. Criminal!

 Experience on the ground had taught Masaku that, integrity aside, the way to become Mheshimiwa must be played dirtily. You must buy your way with recklessness. You must destroy your opponent before he destroys you.

But of late the most shocking rumours reaching Associate Professor Ngumbi was that Samson Masaku had gone to consult the most dangerous woman he had once hated and described as the village devil. She was Dolly Kavene alias Mama Mboga. She was the earth mover of politics of Matanga Constituency. Hardly no man worth his salt had missed to cross paths with Mama Mboga at one time or another. “No man would make it in Matanga politics,” it was rumoured, “unless he has slept with Mama Mboga.” 

Mama Mboga had dropped off from school after six years of education after which she had gone into everything scaring; from prostitution to witchcraft practice and only God knew what else she did. She had made incredible fortunes. The more she lived the dirtier she became but, surprisingly, the more property she acquired at the Masese Market where she was now running a shop stock wholesale business. She had the most popular bar in that part of the world.

Associate Professor Dr Peter Ngumbi had interacted with Mama Mboga closely in the past. She had always admired him. At the beginning of the campaign she had sent an emissary to him hinting some financial support. She believed that Matanga Constituency would be better off with a well educated Member of Parliament. In other words, she preferred Ngumbi to Masaku who had called her names. But for fear of tainting his name, Dr Ngumbi had kept a safe distance from Mama Mboga and her financial support.

“Masaku must have slept with Mama Mboga,” Ngumbi’s campaign manager, Malonzi, reported. “Now she’s campaigning for him aggressively.” Then Malonzi warned, “Professor, , I’m afraid, if you don’t do something about Mama Mboga you could as well start preparing yourself for going back to the class. Masaku has slept with all of the loose and influential women. As you may be aware, these women say they should have a taste and bless the Mheshimiwa-to-be. Masaku’s political mob is singing ‘Mheshimiwa Masaku’ and, like wildfire, it is devouring our remaining strong holds.”

            “Malonzi, what is that something you think I should do about Mama Mboga?” asked Dr Ngumbi stupidly. He knew what Malonzi was saying and the answer to the question. The manager thought he should answer blankly, “Boss, you should shut your eyes and give unto Caesar what belongs to him. Surely, you know who Mama Mboga is and if you pay her the tax she’ll change course and throw her super weight behind you to crush Masaku.”

“At what cost?” asked Dr Ngumbi stupidly. He took time to think about the one-thousand implications of sleeping with that whale. Should he or should he not sleep with Mama Mboga to neutralize his opponent’s strength for the sake of becoming people’s MP? If he did so would the citizens gain more than if he did not?  When Malonzi thought the Boss could not make his mind quickly while time was running out, he stared at him, somewhat pitying him.

The right answer came when the votes were counted. Associate Professor Dr Ngumbi realized the cost or damage of having refused to give Caesar what was due to him at the expense of trying to protect his integrity. Samson Masaku beat him by three thousand twenty six votes and qualified to be officially called Mheshimiwa Samson Masaku.

It would take Dr Ngumbi years to find his feet and repay for the loans. His only hope was that by then he would have become full Professor in spite of the meager salary. Perhaps he could join the brain-drain exodus in search of better prospects and respect in the Whiteman’s world. He couldn’t forgive Kenya country for the intellectual abuse.

After winning the election Samson Masaku sent a greeting card to Ngumbi saying, “Brother, I told you that your Doctorate Degree is useless outside the University buildings. They should have a special graveyard assigned for your lot.”

Would Dr Ngumbi ever forgive himself for the omission? Was that the cost of that mysterious thing called integrity? Was integrity really worth the fight in Kenya? Perhaps the scholarly discourses at the university would help him understand the sense and nonsense of the new world order.