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The second death of Lazarus Katiba

Friday 3 April 2015

Humphrey Sipalla

2015-04-02, Issue 720

There is insidious fear across Kenya from rising costs of living, rampant spectacular crime, bizarre terrorist events and a sense that the future is clouded. The fear is making people angry and hateful, as depicted in this fictional account.

The Christian holy book tells many stories. Among these is the curious case of one Lazarus, a dear friend of the wonderworker protagonist of the holy book. We don’t know much about him, Lazarus that is, save for his story told by some then young chap called John.

Lazarus had been unwell, so John’s story goes. Naturally, his family turned their hope to his dear friend the wonderworker to save him, as he had been healing many others in surroundings towns and villages. But his friend the wonderworker was late in coming to the rescue, arriving four days later. He found Lazarus had passed on and been laid to rest, with friends and family gathered around for his wake. This shook the wonderworker to bits. He didn’t just cry. He wept.

Being the wonderworker he was, he wouldn’t take Death’s no for an answer. In fact, so dismissive of Death was he that he publicly declared that Lazarus was not dead, just sleeping. So he called out to his pal Lazarus, and to the amazement of all, Lazarus, on whom rigor mortis and decay had taken their toll, rose from the dead! The wonderworker pulled Death out of Lazarus by the scruff of his neck, kicking and screaming and all. Everyone was taken aback at the miracle and word went round that Lazarus walked the earth again! While some hearts were melted by this spectacular occurrence, a few hearts of stone, veritable Sith lords – to use George Lucas’ Star Wars terminology – didn’t like the idea at all! Basically, I think they didn’t like the wonderworker chap. So, they decided to take matters into their own hands. John, the storyteller, says they plotted to kill Lazarus, just to make sure the dead stayed dead. This occurred about 2000 years ago.

More recent in Kenya, is the case of this chap called Mwananchi (I have heard of a war-like tribe from a far away island called Anglia that can’t pronounce that name, so they call him in their tribal tongue “citizen”). Mwananchi can be a wonderworker of sorts, when he means to. When he decides to get something done, he seems to make it against all odds. He is a natural leader, endowed with the will and capacity to lead his neighbours justly and to a better future.

Mwananchi has a dear friend too, Lazarus Katiba (incidentally, these same Anglians also have a tribal name for Katiba, “constitution”). Their friendship is close, in fact symbiotic. Each animates the other. Mwananchi loves Lazarus Katiba, and in turn Katiba watches over Mwananchi. So symbiotic is the best friend relationship between Katiba and Mwananchi that when the former is sick, so affected is the latter. Mmm.. yes. I know this is puzzling. A chap called Albert Einstein called this kind of relationship, “spooky action at a distance” or “spukhafte Fernwirkung” in his mother tongue.

Now Lazarus Katiba too had been sick for a while. Many times he was operated on, but each time the surgeons seemed to have rather taken the Hippocratic Suggestion. He came out of surgery worse. It started early in his life, 1965. In 1975, he ended up in surgery again, and again, the suggestions Hippocrates had made could not sway these quacks. And again in 1983, 1986 and so on, surgery after the next left Lazarus Katiba in ever worsening state.

In 1989, by some accident of history, a wall fell down in a city called Berlin. Underneath it, so the legend goes, a new miracle drug was found that was said could cure the malaise that afflicted Katiba and by extension his dear friend Mwananchi. By 1991, Katiba received an IV dose of this miracle drug. But by 1992, and again in 1997, it seemed the side effects were worse than the disease. With Katiba reeling from the effects of this poorly administered drug – oh that darned Hippocratic Suggestion – Mwananchi, his wonderworker friend, still delayed in coming to his aid. He suffered greatly and amidst his suffering, he was late in coming to the aid of Katiba.

The effects of these quacks’ oeuvre wore off in 2002 and for a moment there, it seemed everything would be fine but in 2007 the quacks were at it again! Katiba was moribound by then, and all across the land, people huddled in tents, in churches, mosques and police stations while others, drunk with the intoxication that carrying machetes and acting in savagery that would frighten a lion in broad daylight brings, sang and chanted hate songs in the streets.

And so the wonderworker, almost five decades after his friend Katiba started ailing, came to his rescue. Just like 2000 years ago, by the scruff of his neck, Death - the things quacks who have sworn the Hippocratic Suggestion had inserted - was ripped out of Katiba. Alas! A miracle! Katiba now walks the earth in a brand new body!

But Sith Lords do not take things lying down. They fight back. George Lucas tells us these chaps come in twos, a master and an apprentice. They are insidious, tyrannous and maul through everything they encounter. Lucas, who, a long long time ago had travelled to a galaxy far far away, reports that the Sith deal only in absolutes: you are either with them or against them. They operate the dark side of the Force. And the Dark Side clouds everything, so much so that it is impossible to see the future.

It is not difficult to recognise the work of the Sith. A simple method is proposed by those who lived in that galaxy a long long time ago, so far away. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; hatred causes suffering, and this is the Dark Side.

But we don’t seem to learn well from history. 2000 years ago, the wonderworker, content at his victory over Death, walked away, congratulations and awe flowing from the crowds. In 2010, Mwananchi, the wonderworker, walked away too, sermoning from the mount, extolling the virtues of victory over death. Today, the wonderworker fitted his friend Katiba with four non-derogable organs in his new resurrected body: fair trial; absolute prohibition of servitude; absolute prohibition of torture; and habeas corpus. With these four, Mwananchi seems confident that no Greek suggestions will harm his friend again.

But maybe, just maybe, the Sith are at work again. There is insidious fear across the land from rising costs of living, rampant spectacular crime, bizarre terrorist events and a sense that the future is clouded. Our fear is making us angry and this makes us hateful. Are we suffering? OMG! Is this the Dark Side?

I don’t know Lazarus Katiba personally, that’s why I am writing to tell you this. If you know him, tell him to not wander off too far to herd his sheep or take afternoon naps at home when no one is around. The Sith may be onto him!

And Mwananchi, his wonderworker friend, may not avail him this time! He has his own death hanging over him. spukhafte Fernwirkung! Yours sincerely, John of Nairobi.

PS. There is no proof that the Sith succeeded, either in the galaxy far far away, or 2000 years ago.

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