The Panga

A story is told about a simple man in the village who came home and found his dear wife in the copulatory embrace of another man. He said nothing.

The next day, and the next he still said nothing. He would come home, have his dinner quietly, sleep peacefully, wake up, sharpen his panga, and leave for the shamba.

Every morning, his wife would watch him sharpen that panga, saying nothing, breathing calmly- in out in out… as he swished the blade back and forth against the rock.

To the watchful neighbors, it seemed as if that panga got sharper and sharper every day as his silence grew deeper and deeper.

-End of story-

I heard this story from a teller whose name I do not recall, sometime in the mid-90s, I believe at what was then Mizizi Arts Centre in Nairobi. It was a place smack dub in the center of the city’s business district, dedicated to artists who gathered to create, tell stories, expand thought.

When the story was told, we, the audience, were asked to imagine what could have been on the man’s mind. Oh, the dark thoughts! The cold chills that roamed the listener’s mind! The anxiety this little story caused!

That is the current situation in Kenya’s politics where the president and his deputy – two men who displayed an unapologetic bromance that included sartorial twinning – have fallen out publicly, spectacularly, unpretentiously.

The jilted lover – the deputy president – has gone dangerously silent. He goes about his business saying nothing, and anxieties seem to be building up to a crescendo.

It seems the home-breaking lover, aka Baba, is happily eating fish and ugali in the house he cunningly broke. The president is now publicly holding hands with Baba. It’s a house of dark secrets, festered betrayals, and unrivaled greed for wealth and power. Oh, the bitter bile that must come coursing through the deputy president’s mind every morning! He sharpens his panga and heads off to work, saying nothing.

These things are funny, until they’re not. They can become chillingly dangerous. Past is prophecy. If that panga is ever swung, sackcloth and ashes will not be enough to soak in the river blood.

NOTE: This blog was first created in 2021, leading to Kenya’s general election.

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