THEMES: Poor Governance
The play Betrayal in the city talks about the failed leadership of Boss. It highlights the major problems faced by people in countries where the leaders are least concerned by the problems of the masses. The book exposes the present day democracy in Africa that reeks of Coups like in Burkina Faso and failed resolution of conflicts like in Kenya where a little matter like teachers’ pay throws the country’s education system in limbo.
To begin with, in Kafira, there is no justice for the weak. The family of Nina and Doga lose a son over a shooting in town during university demonstration. The shooter is known to all, but instead of him being brought to justice, he is only laid off from his work. When Jusper claims to have killed Chagaga the law of the jungle rules and he is almost killed by an angry mob.
Boss implants his cronies in the position of influence. Firstly, Boss appoints Mulili as a political advisor. Mulili is further given a piece of land where he practices farming. Secondly, there is Tumbo, Tumbo is little concerned with the affairs of his office. Due to his negligence, Tumbo manages to make it easier for the coup plotters to overturn the government. Mosese says; “but we thank you; it was largely due to your inefficiency that we have achieved this.” (pg74)
Besides Tumbo and Mulili, there is a bunch of miscreants like Nicodemo and Kabito. On the entertainment committee, the two are well engrossed with how they candle swindle the money through meeting regularly. Among the major failure in Africa, and I have watched this in various government offices in Kenya, the interest of the employees is to increase chances of getting per Diem among other allowances.
Workers in many government strive towards creating a constant flow of leakage within the pretense of working. Kabito says, “….it will be necessary for us to meet every day until the visitor arrives……………..to meet after the visit for the purpose of review.”(pg53) This clearly outlines their intentions to pocket a lot of money for a tiny job. In many occasions, in Kenya tenders have been cancelled in order to allow the tender committee to eat more “potato”
The prevalence of murders orchestrated by those in government point out to a lack of judicial good will to resolve such homicides. Investigations as seen may be compromised given that the police are involved in the extra-judicial killings as was seen in Adika’s case. Furthermore, Boss who issues orders is rarely seen in the public and therefore Mulili’s word if final.
The lack of free media in Kafira is also an indication of bad governance. The government has compromised the independence of the media that, it cannot go against the dictates of those in power. Jusper says that all they wanted was Adika’s photo in the newspaper and that they were willing to pay for it but no media house would dare do such a despicable thing.
We also come across Tumbo’s trepidation, despite his opposition to what is going on in the government, he keeps mum and lets tyranny rule.
Some of the poor policies that have been passed by the present regime includes the changing of names which ironically was agenda one on the development committee. It beats logic how shuch can be considered as key parameter to development when there are very pressing issues that even forces the university to protest. It seems that Kafira, just like KENYA has fine universities but, contrary to what is expected, the authorities neglect local intellectuals for foreign expetriates. (pg68)
In his address to the AU when he visited Africa this year (2015), USA president Barack Obama proclaimed that leadership requires honouring the demands of the constitution. He condemned leaders like Boss who stick to power even when in old age. We understand this from Mulili’s accusation of Kabito. We also get to know that Boss uses his power to win sexual favours from unsuspecting women as he had tired with Regina. Furthermore we learn of his foreign accounts, a very common vice committed by those in power.
The picture in Betrayal in the city is filled with sordid images of poor governance and a lack of leadership. While the nation burns those in power are making schemes to benefit themselves. Worst of all in Kabito with the highest greed, when after the news of the demise of Kabito his friend, he asks tumbo whether the day shall be counter. What A hell of a person!!!!