By Dikembe Disembe.
What did it mean? Symbolism? These are some of the questions Kenyans have been asking after Amazon.com put on sale a head mask of Raila Odinga, Kenya’s iconic politician and leader of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, CORD.
The Amazon mask, selling at USD $123.99 (sh10,455) has sparked condemnation filled with racial undertones as ‘Africans’ feel offended over a western and Eurocentric depiction of one of the continents most popular figures.
The head costume to be used during Halloween (never mind Halloween itself is a bizarre and scary thing whose recent ‘invention’ at the port of Mombasa caused uproar in Kenya) celebrations caused bitter outrage as people felt the proprietors were attempting to spite the person of Odinga. Recently, Kenya’s Coastal seaport of Mombasa reported the entry of ‘satanic’ cargo which were initially believed to belong to former assistant minister Omingo Magara but were later claimed by owners of the Westgate Mall.
The costume is said to have been made to depict a ‘realistic Kenyan black man’ for Halloween. What most people disagreed with was the depiction of Odinga as an embodiment of a scary, horrific persona whose facial image can be used for Halloween pranks. In fact, this writer, being a fan and faithful follower (whatever that means) of Odinga, is highly offended!
Let’s be clear about something here: The use of Raila Odinga’s image by anyone in the world wide web is welcome; however, violent opposition arises when Jakom’s image is used to depict agonising and horrendous things or events happening around the globe. You see, that’s how Islam became synonymous with terrorism, or blacks (Africans) with savagery.
Interestingly, at USD $123.99 (10,455), the ‘racist’ costume is costlier than renegade writer Miguna Miguna’s book, Peeling Back the ‘Mask’, also selling on Amazon.com at a paltry USD $30. (sh2,550). Miguna’s book, like the Amazon costume, all attempt to depict the former prime minister in a negative light. But for a man whose public history is well ‘taken care of’, supporters have often come in large and telling numbers to tell a different story, like it happened after Al jazeera took up the image for public debate.