In Nairobi it is almost criminal to wear a smile in the streets. How when thousands are homeless, hundreds have been killed and peace nowhere to be found? So when I heard that the city mayor is to be picked by lots, I chuckled very quietly, for it reminded me of my village.
Every Sunday, there was a man dressed in strange colours who would shuffle cards. You put in a little money and he would shuffle them vigorously as your eyes tried to follow the card you wanted. If you predicted correctly which card was where, you won your money back. He was called Potiapata, which is a corruption of 'potea/pata', Kiswahili for win/lose. If Nairobi gets a mayor using this method, forgive me if I call him Mr Potiapata for the sake of my village memories.
Not so far away from City Hall, another game is going on. This time they are shuffling cards holding the whole country. Dr Kofi Annan has been trying for the last two months to get it right. Just when our eyes were about to settle on the ace, one of the ministers on the government side upset the table. Unconfirmed reports say the minister (name and gender withheld), told him he had no business in Kenya since his son had been found selling crude oil from Iraq. As if that was not enough, the unnamed minister told off another top negotiator that a company he was involved with was mining diamonds in DRC "where the violence is worse than ours". The minister then walked out, swagging the rest of the body for all to see the display on the catwalk of arrogance.
It was on that note that the Annan team suspended the talks. Kenya, it would appear, is held hostage by the whims of this minister. Click here for a more sanitised version of that story. I wish we were talking about a loaf of bread. Unfortunately, it is about a whole country of about 37 million people.
Other unconfirmed reports say a relative of the minister's was recently deported back to Kenya. I have no idea if that is true.