Political Ridicule: Mediatized Notions of ‘Transparent Concealment’<sup>1</sup>

Bantu Mwaura

in Media and Identity in Africa

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748635221
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653010 | DOI:
Political Ridicule: Mediatized Notions of ‘Transparent Concealment’1

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In the last couple of years before he passed on, Wahome Mutahi was acclaimed for his Gikuyu political plays, which he co-wrote, produced and performed widely across Kenya. However, he was better recognised as a newspaper humour columnist. Indeed, Wahome was synonymous with the ever-popular Whispers column that he penned every Sunday for more than two decades. The column was social commentary encapsulated within vignettes set in the household of the fictional protagonist, Whispers, along with his wife and their two children. Wahome's plays can easily be fitted within the milieu of a mass media that itself contributes to the debate about the cultural crisis of representation. Just as some readers would avidly follow Wahome's column on Sundays, so were there members of the public who never missed a chance to watch his plays every weekend. The mass appeal kept the productions going for as long as there was a sizeable house every time a play was put on. In every respect, Wahome's theatre was an extension of his Sunday newspaper humour column, in the same way that the technique he employed was similar to that of a political cartoon caricature.

Keywords: Wahome Mutahi; Gikuyu political plays; Kenya; newspaper humour columnists

Chapter.  3408 words. 

Subjects: African Studies

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