Comrades, times have changed

By Pascal Sala On Thu, 13 Jun, 2019 14:09 | 2 mins read
Graduands at a past commencement ceremony. Photo/File

After much thought, consideration, self-deliberation and a bit of soul searching, I have come to a conclusion that the hallowed mantra ‘Comrades Power’ should be abolished.

Comrades should be barred from shouting this phrase and instead, encouraged to use a more accurate one ‘Comrades weakness’ to which comrades should respond in unison, ‘weakness’.

This is because, ‘Comrades Power’ is no longer a sacred utterance whose verbalisation would send shivers down the spines of state officials and varsity administrators as it was back in the days.

Once upon a time, Comrades were the watchdogs of this nation. Any mistake by the regime was met with the wrath of comrades. Intellects were wild radicals who would not be tamed by GSU, teargas, threats or detentions.

When Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was barred from speaking at the University of Nairobi in 1969, comrades resorted to endless demonstrations and boycott of classes forcing the government to close the institution indefinitely.

It was so bad that students were asked to reapply for campus afresh and sign apology letters for “disobeying the government”

When Nyandarua North MP JM Kariuki was assassinated, students decided to commemorate his murder by protesting every March 2 in subsequent years, in epic marches that always gave anti-riot cops a hard time.

In those days, comrades were a generation of unapologetic revolutionists who, in November 1987, forced the State to expel thousands of students and order them to report to chiefs in their respective villages twice a week.

Perhaps the hallmark of ‘Comrades Power’ was in 1985 when the fearless Sonu chair Mwandawiro Mghanga played with fire and inspected a guard of honor during the ruthless Moi regime. He earned himself a hard time behind bars for that stint.

But that was then. What we have now is a bunch of kids who can be best described as ‘political socialites’. So-called students leaders will never be seen attempting daring feats.

All they do is speak to the press with their well-pressed suits, fake accents and invented English words. They are silent most of the time waiting for something to happen, say HELB is delayed or a student murdered.

They will call for a press conference, gather around one small table, speak non-existent English with one finger raised and threaten everyone.

The address (which has to feature the word Cantankerous) will end with a poorly performed ‘Comrades Power’ chant. After that, they will then share stirring monologues on Facebook and disappear until the next opportunity to call for a press conference arises.

Dear ‘student leaders’. You are an insult to our forefathers. Sitting in front of cameras with borrowed suits and made-up English words is not Comrades Power; it’s Comrades Weakness!

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