What Will They Say

On a flight to Johannesburg, I’m reading this book about Africa. The State of Africa by Martin Meredith . It’s quite an intriguing read of the history of the continent from colonial times to modern day Africa. It’s packed with stories of despair, hope and disappointments. I thought to myself (as if I could think to anyone else), what kind of legacy did all these leaders intend to leave and why has it gotten to this point? But this is not a political blog and my mind is not built for politics, so that was the end of my question.

Now, whenever I fly I prefer aisle seats and empty planes. Not crowds. I like crowds as much as I like mukimo. I don’t like mukimo.

The problem with aisle seats though, is the lack of privacy. This particular trip I’m watching a movie, earphones plugged in, drink in hand when lo and behold a sex scene comes up. At that very moment the captain of the plane decides to make an announcement about weather or altitude. I forget which. So, my screen freezes and displayed on it is this lady with petite breasts riding the protagonist of the movie. To my left, one row behind, this child starts wailing and i turn around, forgetting I have my earphones on i almost strangle myself, yelp, pour beer on my lap and everyone around me looks at me and there’s my screen displaying porn like scenes. The mother of the child frowned at me unapprovingly.

Thankfully, the young chap from South Africa seated next to me was not as judgemental. Maybe because we were having the same brand of brew. Nothing like a beer to bring together strangers. So we get to talking. (Alas I just had to get the talkative neighbour. Just my luck.) It was a good distraction from judgemental mom behind me though. He spots my book and the conversation moves from beer to politics. African politics. So we trade sob stories of the disappointing political state of our countries.

But you guys are alright. I mean what is Zuma’s folly? Having multiple wive’s?

He laughs. I laugh back.

Well, there’s also the matter of him using public funds to ‘renovate’ his home. He said this drawing inverted commas in the air with his fingers as he said ‘renovate’

Aaah. But that’s normal in Africa. Worse things have happened.

Of course, I didn’t want to go into details of the mind numbing corruption scandals we get faced with in Kenya everyday.

I just wonder what kind of legacy these leaders of ours want to leave us. We have so much potential and just waste it. Eish. 

He could actually mentioned legacy and leadership in the same sentence as African leaders.

But don’t we vote in these people? I felt the need to play devil’s advocate

Yes. Because we’re not empowered as a people. We think that if our person is in power that our live’s will change. It only changes for the person elected and his cronies. Not for the common man.

Ahaaa. I see.

I had nothing to add. Partly because political arguments numb my mind, but mostly because I had to pee and this chap seemed so deep into this argument.

I excuse myself and head to the lavatory. Not before judgemental mom gives me the side eye.

As I get down to handling my business (See what I did there?), I think about judgemental mom. Frowning at me for my choice of cinematic entertainment. Kwani how did she get that wailing kid anyway? Then I think about the African leaders discussion. Why do people discuss politics? For me it’s like when I stub my little toe on some furniture. There’s like 72 seconds of pain, cursing, more pain and more cursing. Then I hobble away. Then I start wondering who put the furniture there, or if I should cut off my toe and never stub it on anything again. Or whether furniture should have protective coverings in case it should so happen to run into a hapless toe. Should there be a commission of enquiry formed? Then when the pain subsides, and all is forgotten. And I move on with life. That’s what I think about political discussions.

Relieved, I leave the lavatory and head back to my seat. Smiling sarcastically at previously wailing child and judgmental mom as I walk by. I take my seat, pop open another beer can and take a sip. My South African neighbour has calmed down and is now thumbing through the duty free magazine.

Maybe it was the sip of beer. Or the unexpected silence now that my neighbour did not continue his rant. I started thinking about the chief, and a discussion we had had the weekend prior to my travel. He had talked about how he was proud that he had educated all his four sons and that they were now all out in the world living their own lives. He’s been getting mushy of late. Which is strange.

As a man, you have to do the basics. Take care of your family and yourself. Leave a mark on the world and leave it better than you found it. Think about what they’ll say when you’re gone. What will your legacy be?

Those words he said had stuck. And kept playing in my head. What will they say indeed.

I wonder if our leaders think of those words. I said that out aloud. Chirpy neighbour looked at me.

I wonder if we have leaders who think about a legacy and what they want to leave for the country or the world.

I said this out loud, consciously this time.

Ei. Ma man. I dont know. But I guess we should just do our bit eh.

We sighed. Together. I put my earphones back on, took a sip of my beer and continued watching my movie.

Soon I nodded off. 1 hour to land. All that talk on legacy and leadership was too much to digest in one flight.


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