Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Betrayal in the City" by Francis Imbuga

Today I woke up with my mind traveling down memory lane. I remembered some of the books that I read as a young man in high school. I thought of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart". I also thought of Elechi Amadi's "Concubine" but the book that stuck on my mind the whole day was Frank Imbuga's "Betrayal In the City"

In Betrayal In The City, play wright Francis Imbuga paints a picture of an independent African state, which has to bare the brunt of repressive leadership.

The head of the state of Kafira, who is perfectly referred to as "Boss", gives no room to alternative view.Those around him perpetrate this, and even believe that Boss' interests have to be protected, whatever the case and cost.

One of the characters, Mosese wa Tonga, who succumbs to this repression, looks back, in the history, and into the future of Kafira under Boss, and what he sees is emptiness.

He envisages a state failed by the politics of bad policy, improper ideology, tribalism and corruption.

Reading Betrayal In The City, one does not escape the nostalgia that informs the disillusioned citizens of Kafira; from the peasants in the village to the elite in the city.

Mosese sums this up in the resounding words; "It was better while we waited. Now we have nothing to look forward to. We have killed our past and are busy killing our future..." What ails Kafira is the spectre of Political realism. This is a socio-political Darwinism in which those in leadership believe that by whatever means they got to their positions, they were born to lead over others.

Alexander Mosley, in the On-line encyclopediaaedia of Philosophy © 2005, says Political realism .. takes the assumption that power is (or, ought to be) the primary end of political action... it assumes that interests are to be maintained through the exercise of power.True, this is how dynasties and kingdoms exercised power before the emergence of nation states brought about by political revolutions and civilization.

Civilization meant that nation states exercise universal suffrage and a doctrine that those affected by social institutions participate in their established management.

Coming back to the Church and mission organizations in the 21st Century, one wonders how many churches/organizations are suffocating under the authoritarian leadership of "Boss" and his lieutenants. I hate to imagine it but the more I talk to people who have been in the church/mission organizations for a long time, the more I realize how Francis Imbuga's novel brings out the sufferings of many faithfuls and clergy. How I wish some churches/mission organizations would just take this book and read it then prayerfully and humbly glean some valuable insights from it.

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