In a re-enactment of the epic Greek mythology, the Trojan War, celebrated Hollywood actor Brad Pitt stars as Achilles, the nemesis of the Trojan prince, Hector. In the movie Troy, Achilles, seething with a mixture of both anger and grief following the brutal killing of his cousin by Hector in the mistaken belief that he had slayed Achilles, rides his chariot to the gates of Troy and calls out Hector to a one-on-one duel.
Before the fight begins, Achilles and Hector, belligerents with immense respect for each other, enter into a pact. Hector proposes to Achilles, which proposal Achilles readily accepts, that whoever kills the other will have the decency to allow the other a decent burial befitting the great warriors of their time that they were.
To cut the long story short, Hector, as if with a premonition of his own death, accepts the challenge after bidding goodbye to his father (The king of Troy) his young wife and infant child. He then descends into the open battle field and engages Achilles in a brutal fight in the full view of Hector’s wife, father, the king of Troy, brother and the Trojan Army, over which he is commander. All watch in utter silence, only displaying facial and body expression which intermittently give away their feelings. The duel ends with Hector falling to Achilles’ sword.
Hector’s death in the hands of Achilles devastates his young wife and profoundly pains his aging father. It angers and fans the juvenile spirit of revenge in his younger brother, Paris.
But as if that were not enough to bear, Achilles ties Hector’s body to the carriage of his chariot and drags Hector’s dead body on the rough and hot rocks and sand right at the gate of Troy in full view of Hector’s family and army. Achilles eventually drags Hectors body to his camp where he is received with pomp and celebration by his army.
The enduring mistake made by Achilles is to breach his word to Hector, made before their duel. Hector’s father, the King of Troy, under the cover of night, humiliated and without his usual royal trappings or guards, visits Achilles and pleads with him to release to him his son’s body for its return to Troy for interment. Achilles reluctantly grants the King’s request.
Two lessons can be drawn from the analogy supplied from the Trojan War story which rings true to the current political context in Kenya.
First, is the decency of the victor to give the vanquished a befitting burial. Common decency, African moral etiquette and, indeed, sport ethic, particularly in boxing, corroborate this rule of fair play. As my pupil master always aptly put it, when your opponent is down on the canvass, do not continue pounding him into pulp. Have the decency to acknowledge that your opponents back is on the canvass or wall. In other words, the fight is finished. It gains nothing to flog a dead horse. In fact, extend a cordial hand to raise him up and maybe even hug him in encouragement. Let him live to fight another day.
Fairly or unfairly, Jubilee vanquished Cord in the 2013 General Election. Jubilee should have the moral decency of allowing Cord to lick it wounds and bury its “dead”. If the utterances of senior Jubilee politicians, the President, his deputy included, and its leaders of majority in both Houses of Parliament are anything to go by, Jubilee has failed this fair play test in combat.
The Deputy President, William Ruto, Leaders of Majority Aden Duale and Kithure Kindiki and other legislators have time without number reminded Cord and it’s Principal Raila Odinga of the loss they suffered in 2013, and one, according to them, that is inevitable next year as well. They have also suggested that the Cord brigade is a group of sore losers who perennially cry wolf after every election cycle.
Mourning in the political context is manifested in several rituals, one of which is the filing of the election petitions. The other one is through press conferences disputing election results and raising allegations of rigging, both real and imagined, against the electoral body.
Parallels can be drawn to a sporting context where losers blame the referee, the pitch, rain etc., except their own (lack of) preparedness, or sheer strength of their opponents.
The second lesson drawn from the Trojan War story is the ability of combatants to keep their pre-combat agreements. It was imperative that Achilles, as a good sportsman and warrior, kept his pre-combat pact with Hector. The effect of the failure by the victor to allow the vanquished to lick his wounds only stirs up animosity, anger the urge for vengeance and revenge.
When Achilles calls out Hector and dares him to a duel, Hector accepts and descends into the arena. This is despite the fact that he had his army of fifty thousand strong ready and at his command. Hector was under no obligation to accept the challenge. Hector’s father, brother and army may also have been tempted and strongly drawn to enter the battle field and annihilate Achilles but they restrained themselves, leaving Hector to fight his battle and ultimately die as they watched.
Equally, when Raila Odinga calls out Uhuru Kenyatta to battle on the various issues he alleges to directly address the head of state on, it is only fair that Uhuru’s hounds, political relatives, sympathisers hangers-on and hoodlums should allow the President to fight the war for which he descended into battlefield. He is very competent to do so. The President’s handlers should watch from a distance, however painfully their bull fights his battle.
Similarly, Raila Odinga’s soldiers, die hard supporters and mercenaries should allow their general to fight the one-on-one combat without the temptation to descend into the battle field to aid their leader, however painful it is, and whether it has political fatalities or not.
Back to the Trojan story, Troy eventually falls to Achilles Greek army following the “Trojan Horse” hoax. However, Achilles eventually succumbs in battle to the poisoned arrow of Hector’s brother, Paris, whose blood boils with vengeance for having to watch as Achilles killed and then flog the corpse of his elder brother.
Writer is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya