The president snoozes in his office by a tottering stack of papers in
his in-tray. The prime minister lounges in a toilet with a red carpet
leading to its door. Cabinet ministers take pot shots at each other in
a High Noon-style showdown, writes Katharine Houreld in The Namibian.

The stars of Kenya’s new smash hit TV show are puppets – but it’s the nation’s politicians who are providing the punchlines. For many of the millions who tuned into the debut of ‘The XYZ Show’ last week, the scenes of excess and ineptitude are only slightly more outlandish than the everyday antics of their real-life leaders.

“It’s a true picture of what’s happening,” said bookseller Chan Bahal, quoting lines from the programme. “These are their true colours … if they keep pushing this, it will be wonderful.”

The show’s creator, Godfrey ‘Gado’ Mwampembwa, hopes the show’s humour will force Kenyans to take a critical look at the leaders they elected, who plunged the country into weeks of bloody riots last year.

“We’re trying to get people to laugh and then stop and think: this is our life,” says Gado, whose biting political cartoons in the independent newspaper Daily Nation have earned him both widespread popularity and the occasional death threat.

The latex puppet caricatures in ‘XYZ’ were inspired by the British television show ‘Spitting Image’ and the French ‘Les Guignols’ – cult programmes whose send-ups of politicians have immortalised their eccentricities and scandals.

Kenyan politics provides plenty of bitter punchlines. There’s President Mwai Kibaki, who often appears befuddled in public and whose sole press conference since his disputed election in 2007 was aimed at squashing persistent rumours he had taken a second wife.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been ridiculed for loudly complaining that he lacked a red carpet and separate toilet at a recent government event – even as scandals over money and missing food reserves severely strained the coalition government that ended election violence.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Namibian's website.