Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Anti-Cousin Continuation

Timothy Wahome Thuita
Towards the end of The previous novel, now labeled the Anti-Couisin....................                                                                                                                                

 It was not a mistake in any way! Finally, they had come for us. Their timely and sudden appearance at the curtain of the movie was surely computer-timed.
The Cousin stepped in at the head of the short and tiny computeligents and told us to give ourselves in together with a copy of the movie we had just made. Things began to go awry. The director turned very red and told them off. They had no right to ask for a copy of a film whose copyright was his alone.
‘’Go to the producers and ask them the same questions. I have no right to do what they can’t do. The day to day business of the professional world stipulates that and I guess you know it too.’’
M disappeared behind the set. M was in the act of searching for a knife, either to use for self-felony or otherwise, you never know. The Cousin stepped up to the back of the studio and lifted the cyclorama. He stood while hoisting the cumbersome backdrop in his hand and addressed M alone.
“You have a right to access a lawyer. Mark you whatever you say here the police will use it as evidence in court. We are going to record it in this device.” He shoved it irritatingly under his nose. “You have a right to refuse to answer our questions.” The hawk eyed policeman beside the Cousin said the same words to both of us and stepped fully to our heights and shackled us. His repeated words seemed particularly vain to me at that moment just like the stacks of cash in my pocket. He waited his superiors to give a directive. He did not mishandle us in any way since modern police rely more on machines to do the work for them than on personal violence. The rest of the adorable movie crew waived us unrequited adieus. I saw none at that moment in time; they might as well have been all impersonating Mwamwenza of whom I had fleeting thoughts. She stalked on my heels all that time. She almost worshiped me with her tears to see how important I was to be even a bittersweet friend of the computeligents.
The computeligents never chirruped anything even when they went side by side with the rest of the men to the Simba Yetu police jeep waiting outside the studios. However, once inside the vehicle, the human-machines came and leaned against the wireless metal studs that the Cousin had already inserted on our heads. This was my first and closest brush with the computeligents who had a radioactive odor. Strangely, I could not help but feel proud when their steely fingers explored my skull. We might be the only humans to have experienced their caresses. They reacted gently to every twitch or slight movement I made as if they were intelligent creatures with bone marrow, enzymes, proteins, hormones and other vital visceral tissue in them. They nodded their heads to every inference and command, while one of the forensic officers read the data on display in the LCD screens behind one of the computeligent's heads. I guess they were transmitting our thoughts from close range to reveal whether we were the real culprits or not. We shuddered at the thought that they would pick up the wrong information or even force us to think what they wanted us to think about.
If God helped us and they found nothing to instigate us with the crimes, then we would have the luck to access the human trial at the courts of law. Though that meant that we would make a rendezvous with the infamous selfchastice, it was better because it gave us a voluntary right to defend ourselves. On the other hand if these robots managed to poison our brains and force us to confess what we did not do in the first place, then we were as good as dead. Our only hope lay in the assumption that machines also fail when their systems experience errors. That small inkling was our barest hope.
However, I had faith in the humane Cousin who would have liked to hear our sides despite government pressure to give us away to mechanical forces. Furthermore, the recent public outcry against the robots would come to our aid now that our unprecedented case was coming to a close with maximum press coverage.
We began the long journey to our trial. They put us in separate jails and presented each one of us (or at least me) with an electronic present for the time being.
It was while on remand that I managed to watch the General Elections campaign in its entirety on the electronic present: television. The watching itself was sheer force in a way for I could neither turn on nor turn off the monitor, which they remotely powered from the central control room of the jail. Though they never told us, they did not want to have our trial held prior to the elections. I had some irritating notion that by leaving us the comfort and luxury to savor the whole election campaign and even the outcome itself, they wanted to subtly prove to us that the system we had tried to criticize-if it were us, that is-could be relied upon on the question of purity without our criticism. I almost banged the steel bars at the crazy and despicable thought. In a way I also turned my back on the television set. But after a little while I understood that loneliness would overcome me if I did not watch the channels that they had fixed for me: one a comedy channel and the other two, a state owned broadcaster that aired nothing all day but election news, and an independent station, that aired news all day but at least had some splattering of international content. But within days it revealed its true colors: it was a Politicians Group channel in disguise that from then on campaigned in front of my eyes for its chosen candidates.
At least I showed some interest in relevant clips that showed familiar figures. For example, there was that hullabaloo about my current senator. It was Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. Professor Kizito rose to the platform, contemplated the works on the University dais and then approached the men. He exchanged a few words with them supplementing the words with gestures of an old hand in the game. His brawny statuesque physique combined with his local persuasiveness hinted to his having been a typical night shift worker in his early years. Now he taught Natural Science at the University.
He then delivered a wayside speech to the grocery women in their roadside stalls and patiently heard their pleas before delivering a keynote speech on consumerism versus economies of scale. He used as his model the upshot middle class economy of the EA Nation against the protracted growth of small scale enterprises. He demonstrated on the way forward for business enterprises as well as the rehabilitation of some cosmopolitan hawkers in a small area of Kariorkor. The keynote speech appeared in the headlines of a few low-key papers whose reviews appeared on the state owned channel before my eyes. I noted with some resigned interest, which revealed how they had managed to braindrain me into worshiping materialism, how Prof. Kizito departed from the venue, a newly assured man, in his new Simba Yetu manufactured by Thika Motors. It was almost a hint to me of how I could be a millionaire by now like him, if I had started early on life on a productive line like politics, rather than writing useless stuff. Another super hit by my tormentors! I pounded my fist over the TV bracket that tilted the device from just above my head.
His opponent and incumbent, Hon. Kazungu Wasibuchire, the EA Minister for Local Government and Community Development was answering questions on his new directive in parliament that afternoon. He was saying that the demolition of kiosks back in 2009 was then under the Council and did not fall under his portfolio, which implied that he could not tell who were those building high-rise structures along streets and highways where the shackles used to be. Hon. Wachira King’ori, the nominated Stima party MP, claimed that the Politicians Group was doing this dirty work of ‘encroaching on our streets with skyscrapers.’
Bildad Simasi, the veteran opposition MP from Western, said at a point of order, “We know that, we know that too well. There is no need Honorable Member to fill our heads with your manifestos, which as I see in good faith, is full of holes large enough to drive a bulldozer through. Thanks to the chair.”
The Members then rushed through an order paper of early 2039 on the state of impunity in which they slyly investigated themselves under the guise of doing approbation to a Minister whom they would soon promote by rejecting a vote of no confidence against him. This was per the court nullifying the case against the Minister for IT Development, Juma Mghaila for disclosing the secret data on the optic electric sensors that they had imported from Russia to upgrade the computeligents. The television footage showed the jubilant House forage for the day after that infamous win against the human mind. They would leave the easily influenced senate to decide our fate.
No sooner did they leave than many MPs from diverse ethnic backgrounds deliberated in a closed door meeting. They wanted to settle on a single presidential candidate irrespective of the region he hailed from. Tribal politics was a thing of the past and though wananchi were still tribal it was only in their hearts and not minds. At that nameless hotel retreat the sixty sat with their heads bent and pressed close together. What they did not know was that the Politicians Group's cameras were there with them in the same room.

I remember that on this day to have been flipping from channel to channel.  Gradually I had become greatly interested in following the news events behind the dark walls of my jail. I was hoping that they would at least keep their promise as was the case so far not to show any footage of the computeligent's recent exploits since this would only make me suffer a mental breakdown. Thus I was not afraid to flip through all the three TV stations. Well, today I laughed for the first time. The Politicians had secretly filmed this meeting in real time and without knowing the personal consequences for it. Here are the details:
People inverted commas in their heads when they read the headlines in the dailies, especially the privately owned, Evening MOB. Nobody had hope nor had a clue about such a strange choice. It was too saintly to be believed! Many rejoiced but there were those staunch conservatives whose hearts still throbbed for the old order of things. Killscrew Polls Group published its results showing that right wingers, those who supported popular politics of competition like those witnessed in the bloody 2007 elections, were disappointed and earned themselves two percent. They had always expected the thrill of politics every four years. The left-wingers, those whose hearts echoed with a belief that only a politician and none other should have the highest job in the land, were disappointed and were a mere nine percent.
At this point the state-owned television began showing footages of jubilation across the country. The force and colorful nature of the people in the State of Kenya for finally making a breakthrough in the EA parliament in Arusha with the first proletarian leader-candidate (different from what Rwanda had offered us earlier) outside the political class was too much for me to bear. I reveled with joy despite my bondage. But darkness all at once overwhelmed me when the suspicion that they were using the television to show me how wrong and confounded I had been to criticize such a clean system as ours. This made me really angry.
But I had just to change the station only to meet with overwhelming disbelief. Powers that be surely must have a hand in this discouraging show that I was seeing. The Politicians Group channel was now featuring news on the computeligents maybe as a refuge against the group’s shameful loss. They were taking what appeared like an objective stance at what they referred to as the mechanically incorrect robotic technology that they had helped to fund themselves. It might be political agenda for their diminishing future, or camouflage that they had nothing to do with the computeligents in case the day of reckoning came. The thing is, they could get away easily with this for they were not registered and worked like a legal cartel which was not nominally what one can call politicians namely, senators, governors, MPs and councilors. They were senators, MPs and councilors only in parliament but assumed the Politicians Group veil once outside Arusha.
I used my remote and changed the station fast to election content. Killscrew showed that the majority of the masses went for the mildly unknown lawyer and human rights campaigner, Elius Kombole. He was just thirty-seven and many predicted that he would surely win the ballot.
When I saw Prof. Kizito again on the state television, the tempers of elections had already flared up. Whenever I saw my favorite Prof. Kizito a cloud of doubt befell me for I associated him with the Cousin who, when on that train ride to Ruiru, had invited me to discuss, 'our senator from our University Constituency.' In his campaign I noted that for some strange reason, real politicians no longer cried after journalists to represent their views to the masses as in former years. The tag line was, “we don’t talk to journalists.”
Killscrew attributed this behavior to be a populist rebuff and more precisely as a counter attack for the media support for other people other than politicians to rule the country.
I switched the channels again to the comedy channel that had also been hijacked with federal content.
No difference. The comedy station had already followed the lead set by the state television. Once again I saw Prof. Kizito receive a correspondent of this comedy local channel very happily at his posh home. Afterward he enumerated his election manifesto word for word. He was standing as an independent candidate with no party affiliation. His family was as homely as him too. His wife invited one of the hordes of journalists for a cup of tea in the winning future. Other newsmen, whom I envied while behind bars, left the scene with ‘kill’ stories for their papers. I had my own reasons to be happy when I noticed with a gloomy smile that most of the news media in the house was prejudicial and supported those aspirants who rallied behind Mr. Kombole.
I turned on the Politicians Group TV channel for a change at least. I was dumbfounded at their reports. There was this issue of computeligents pinpointing the wrong people for murder. One of those had pointed two innocent men whom the robot thing took for terrorists and they faced terminal selfchastice. However, to redress the wrong two other computeligents had accurately traced and aided in the arrest of two runaway criminals known simply as M & Patrick whom they caught redhanded after being monitored throughout while in the backwoods of Wundanyi shooting a movie. Computeligents only featured in action when there was a national emergency and there was no emergency now, which showed that policemen were too idle and lazy not to try a new means of entertainment: theirs was just to sit back in their lofty chairs and watch the progress of the computeligents just like a movie. They would madly fall in love with each other congratulating themselves, when the movie came to a favorable climax, meaning that they had ‘caught’ a criminal. The government set up a committee to investigate the claims of computeligents shooting innocent men. Its recommendations, the news read, had gone up like a puff of smoke.  Nobody implemented them. “Me I personally hold the outcome of this commission with some suspicion.’’ That was the say at the time, the report read. The amount of money the committee used to ‘implement’ the report alone totaled 21.23 million EA. This was tongue in cheek news surely; the TV channel could not blaspheme robots of their own creation.
With such disillusionment at hand attended by fall of the political content in the news, the beginning of the end for politico-investigative journalists was drawing to a close while dawning that of social-political ones.
 People were very eager to vote for a new man on the day of the polls. Most of them stayed at home to vote on the Internet. In the prelude hours angry party affiliate supporters lynched an independent candidate. This was just an instance since the elections were generally quiet.
I kept alternating the stations at this juncture. There was nothing else in the news. Even the Politicians Group channel had managed to save face by covering the news that was working against its owners. There was one television family that had become mine too in my sojourn inside the cell. They had continuously featured in a documentary that showed how they had successfully integrated tribal elements and green technology to nurture a healthy family and develop their community. The last time I had visited them via the agency of the screen in their home village in Western Kenya, the Luo-Kikuyu family had seemed to grow from strength to strength. They had built a few kiosks on their roadside and employed several workers. Jane Wanjiru was now just like a lady. She operated a salon in one of the kiosks to shun idleness. Oliech was still darkly handsome and brawny at forty. His farming tenure was mechanized and the natural foods he had grown were really green. I also found that the weather in the west was becoming alternately as cold and very hot as the one in Nairobi. Global warming was affecting all regions.
“Tom, join the line behind us and don’t look stupid with your village ways!” She joked as her husband joined the short queue of voters in front of the LO’s office.
The voting had ended by five in the evening. The results were announced on all radio and TV stations simultaneously detailing how Elius Kombole won an overwhelming ninety percent of the vote. The turnout was not the highest in our history, which was recorded back in 2022. 2007, that violent year, was in ratio better in turnout compared to this.


And at the VERY TAIL OF THE TALE....
Thirma kissed me again and again for the last time that night, as a light appeared in the east.
…a familiar light, only that this was redder, the light of the militia computeligents…

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