Author: Margaret Ogola
Publisher: Focus Publishers
Year of publication: 2012
Number of pages: 246
Many Kenyans will be familiar with Margaret Ogola’s 1995 Commonwealth Prize winning novel The River and The Source. The book also went home with Jomo Kenyatta Foundation Prize for literature. This is not because the book about three generation of women is a prize winner, although it can’t hurt, but that the book has been used as a set book in Kenyan high schools on and off in the last few years. Margaret Ogola unfortunately passed on in 2011 but she gave a gift to the world with her book from Focus Publishers which launched posthumously last year just in time for the last Kenyan elections. The book is entitled Mandate of the People.
The book is about a forthcoming election in Migodi constituency which has several candidates running. One of these is Gervase Gwalla Kitambo aka GK who has managed to unscrupulously get on the ticket of the “correct party” – the National Democratic Alliance. Also competing for the seat is former MP JJ Sori who is running on the Liberal Democratic Front (LDF) ticket after failing to get the politically correct NDA one. Last on the ticket is our main protagonist Adam Leo Agade.
Adam Leo Agade is a Peter Kenneth of sorts. Raised in the city by his single mum and with his superior intellect and hard work, he goes to college in spite of the odds that are stacked against him. After he finishes college he starts a successful business and afterwards starts assisting the youth in the community of his mother birth to start their own income-generating activities. It is Leo’s wife who sees his potential as a leader and convinces him to try his luck at the game of politics in the community he has already been serving.
This book follows the ups and downs of the Migodi election and this is one book that shows the Kenyan (and African?) election cycle to a tee. It shows how candidates use money to bribe voters, hire thugs to intimidate the enemy candidate and his camp, and just how far they are willing to go. This includes messing up nomination exercises by voting earlier and then bringing drama to scare away voters of the competition. Also featuring are the candidates and the lengths they will go to win including visiting witchdoctors.
The book also shows an alternative way of going way about an election as show by the newcomer Agade who uses the youths he has already been working with to campaign for him.
The characters are well crafted by the good doctor who wrote this book while she was extremely ill. Agade for instance is seen from his start as a slum boy to when he is able to take care of himself and where he meets his one true love lawyer and hottie Zanna.
For those who want to know just how much drama anyone who want to run for office in any Kenyan (and I assume Africa) political office then this has got to be the best fiction piece to show it out there.