Friday, October 29, 2010
Next time you peel that orange pause for a few seconds and look at it critically because there is more in this fruit than just the juice and seeds. The peelings of this sweet citrus share their famous colour with the dawn sky which signifies the tide of new beginnings.
For this reasons orange has been used symbolically in as many fields as man has ever ventured but politics and war leads the pack.
Since ancient times to present armies and political activists have flown orange banners, flags and pendants in their quest for supremacy and conquest and for reasons that are hard to comprehend orangemen, most often than not, carry the day. This theory is solidly backed by the current political landscape in the country where Orange parties retains a lion’s share of Parliamentary and civic seats, besides having the premiership and the vice-presidency.
But how did orange become the colour of power?
The weird phenomenon dates back hundreds of years from the mediaeval principality of Orange in southern France. A princely dynasty known as House of Orange led a successful military campaign against the French and the pope and went on to take the throne in The Netherlands, which explains the country’s obsession with anything Oranje.
The Orange Revolution in Ukraine that brought Victor Yushchenko to power six years ago after protests by hundreds of thousands of “orange” mobs seemed to have rekindled these long forgotten revolutionary tendencies of this colour of dawn.
An outbreak of orange activism exploded all over the world thereafter, with Kenya being its first stop in Africa. And although commentators have described this as just another wave of colour revolutions that had previously rocked governments in countries like Georgia and Lebanon, something about the orange-politics symbiosis smells mystery.
Every time the two sleep under the same sheets victory is more often than not conceived, albeit to be prematurely born or aborted.
Orange is also the colour chosen by activists in the United States to remember when Floridan voters felt ignored “in order to put the governor’s brother in White House” during the 2000 presidential poll. Radical Israeli settlers used colour orange as their rallying symbol against Gaza evacuation in 2005. The Orange Order is the biggest and one of the most radical protestant sectarian groups in Ireland. Strangely, prisoners in many American jails are made to wear orange jumpsuits to make them easier targets in case of a prison break.
However all this orange fiasco had remained an Asian, European and American affair until five years ago when one Samuel Kivuitu, the controversial chairman of the now defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya, either by coincidence or providence, dragged it into the African political scene. As if that was not enough he went on to set the stage for a fierce ideological battle between the Orange revolution and the concept of banana republic during the explosive referendum campaigns.
This not only led to a widespread public abuse of the two popular fruits by politicians and their followers but also set the precedent for one of the most violent electioneering seasons in the country’s history. And with the multibillion dollar deal between Orange Telkom and CAF painting all international football tournaments in Africa orange in the next seven years, one is bound to ask whether all these events are just coincidence or a visitation of the long forgotten orange oracle?