Sellers of mitumba (second-hand clothes) are bracing themselves for a slowdown in business activity as politicians traverse the country, handing out free t-shirts, caps, wrappers and reflective jackets as they solicit for votes. The traders are worried that with so much free clothing and Kenyan’s love affair with freebies, few will see the need to buy themselves clothes.
“As politicians go around campaigning, or to be honest, putting down a deposit for a huge salary, allowances and possible corruption rewards in the future, they are basically killing our jobs!” said one trader who is fearful of the future. For a lot of Kenyans, though, this is one of the few times that they will get to wear new clothes, considering they usually wear rags, tatters, hand-me downs or basically donated clothes from the West that are sold here as used clothes.
There are, of course, the lucky few who have had a by-election or two and, therefore, didn’t have to wait for five years for a new set of clothes! But as one sector stares at tough times ahead, another one will be enjoying the situation. This includes the fashion police who will not lack something to criticise as they are now going to have more work than ever as clashing colours become the norm and the wearing of both ill-fitting, undersized and oversized t-shirts goes into overdrive.
“It would probably help politicians to be moving around with mobile dressing cubicles equipped with mirrors so that we avoid this national disaster and menace of Kenyans wearing ill-fitting t-shirts… this could even put off potential tourists when they realise we don’t know how to dress properly, you know!” said one wag.
However, not everyone will be enthusiastic enough to wear the free t-shirts and other merchandise that politicians are handing out. This is because some of them will purportedly claim it is because they are apolitical not only to maintain a reputation of being apolitical but we all know it’s because they have a potbelly that is too big to be contained in a t-shirt. That is, however, not to mean that they won’t be wearing them in the dark.
“For those who can’t be seen wearing some of these attires, the next best alternative is to sleep in them!” said one political analyst. “This will hit the sales of pyjamas very hard and some executives in pyjama-making companies could even be fired for sleeping on the job!”
But that sleeping in campaign t-shirt will come at a price has already become apparent. This is because it has the potential to cause strains and tensions in marriages, especially when the wife and husband are supporting different candidates and they happen to wear their respective candidates’ t-shirts to bed!
For people who are regular customers of boda bodas, on the other hand, this will be one of the few times that they will get to enjoy their ride because their favourite rider will now get to change the dirty tattered and smelly reflective jacket when some politicians hands out several of them with their images and names emblazoned on them.
“Too bad for you if you don’t like that particular politician as you will sometimes have to lean close to his image as the rider speeds and you decide that the only way to avoid falling off the motorcycle is to hold on to the rider tight … that will be the longest ride of your life!” said one wag.