This is what happens when you upset Raila Odinga supporters

Wednesday January 20 2016

CORD leader Raila Odinga presents his findings on Eurobond saga on January 14, 2016 at Serena Hotel, Nairobi. Raila Odinga is a patriot and a gentleman from my interactions with him,” I explained in another tweet. “He would be ashamed of those abusing and threatening others in his name. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

CORD leader Raila Odinga presents his findings on Eurobond saga on January 14, 2016 at Serena Hotel, Nairobi. Raila Odinga is a patriot and a gentleman from my interactions with him,” I explained in another tweet. “He would be ashamed of those abusing and threatening others in his name. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE  

By LARRY MADOWO
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It was a statement I could easily have made in this column because I would have 800 words to explore it, not 140 characters. “Show of hands, who else was expecting an explosive list from Raila Odinga and all we got was nothing more than a fart?” It was part of a series of tweets following the former prime minister’s naming of several civil servants as persons of interest in the Eurobond saga.

My Twitter lit up as his supporters incorrectly assumed I had accused the CORD leader of farting in public. I did not abuse him and I greatly respect the statesman for all he has done for Kenya. But the outrage machine kicked in without understanding the metaphor and I was eviscerated.

The most common and by far most amusing accusation was that I attacked Raila to keep my job, especially after the Denis Galava situation. The charge was that the Nation Media Group had become a Jubilee mouthpiece and this newspaper’s Special Projects Editor had to be suspended to please State House after he wrote a critical editorial.

Not only is that manifest nonsense, I was the only NMG insider to publicly support Galava and criticise his suspension. The same people who supported me for standing up to my bosses just a fortnight earlier were now saying I had suddenly changed sides to retain my position.

I was insulted in every way possible by thousands on social media and there were more than a few credible threats to my life which I will be reporting to the police. Several people even promised physical violence should I show up at certain places. I was accused of having been paid by Jubilee to tarnish the name of “Baba”.

“Kneel at the shores of Lake Victoria and call the name of Raila three times at the full glare of cameras,” wrote Brian Wakhungu. “Then present a black goat without blemish to The Luo Council of elders. Raila is an institution not an individual.” The insults in Luo were particularly colourful. The overall themes were around my mother, genitalia and domestic animals.

“We dealt with Miguna Miguna who was well educated, so who are you to abuse Baba???! Larry Madondo???” posed Wuod Nyauyoma on my Facebook page.

TRIBAL FIGHT

“Idiot still, how can you just call him Raila Odinga? He is Honourable Prime Minister Raila Odinga, you better shut up you unmarried old boy,” added Abraham Gamba.

Twitter was just as interesting, and several people reminded me that either the “Luo Nation” or pride would bring me down. “If I was your boss, I would have sent you back to internship, who are you to compare & contrast Raila’s list, useless goat,” tweeted Matthew Mola. “You are a young man who is an imbecile,” Jacob Juma informed me.

“How can you use offensive language like ‘fart’ on Raila? At least respect your employer.” He tweeted that Nation should suspend me like it did Galava, and called one of my bosses to ask them to do just that.

One of my tweets had also disagreed with Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich’s statement that “all proceeds of the Eurobond were received and properly accounted for” when experts had already disproved this. My lynch mob did not bother with any of it and chose to take it personally that I had the gall to “abuse” the CORD leader.

What I learnt is that the former prime minister is not to be contradicted, especially by a fellow tribesman, at all costs. CORD bloggers, supporters and just about everyone with an O name condemned me in the strongest terms possible. I had plenty of support, thought, from Jubilee fans and it all degenerated into a bitter tribal fight. It was not worth it. I apologised and took down the tweet.

“Raila Odinga is a patriot and a gentleman from my interactions with him,” I explained in another tweet. “He would be ashamed of those abusing and threatening others in his name.”

A new round of insults followed. Posts appeared claiming I was a product of rape, I had changed my name after high school, was a preacher at a church, was engaged to a Kikuyu girl, was gay and was raised in an orphanage, all completely false. “I was abused for daring to claim he didn’t show evidence of theft (not that theft didn’t happen),” the Wall Street Journal reporter Matina Stevis tweeted me.

Mercifully, there are still reasonable people out there. “The insults that were meted on Larry Madowo, for the reason only that he expressed an opinion is not only the height of dictatorship by the mob, but the clearest indicator that we have in large numbers a people who are yet to reach the threshold of civilization,” wrote Viscount Francis K’Owuor. Then he quoted Jean-Jacques Rousseau: «Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.

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OSCARS SO WHITE

The Oscars ignore blacks. Again

IT HAS BECOME an annual tradition now, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its nominees and then #OscarsSoWhite trends on Twitter. Once again, the Oscars all but ignored black filmmakers in its list of those up for awards this February. Fourteen-year-old Ghanian Abraham Attah was not nominated for his outstanding role as Agu in Beasts of No Nation. The evergreen Idris Elba was not recognised for his role as a warlord in the same film. While everyone is excited that Leonardo DiCaprio might finally win an Oscar for The Revenant, it is forgotten that Will Smith doesn’t have one. He’s got Concussion this year, but was not nominated. “At the Oscars...people of colour are always welcomed to give out awards...even entertain,” his wife, Jada Pinket-Smith, tweeted. “But we are rarely recognised for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of colour refrain from participating all together?”

I watched Straight Outta Compton and O’Shea Jackson Jr was phenomenal playing his father, Ice Cube. Twenty-three-year-old John Boyega, who played Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also snubbed. The leaving out of minority actors is just another whiteout by the Academy. At least Chris Rock is hosting.

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HEAVY LOSSES 

Is it time to leave Somalia?

THE AUDIO recordings purportedly of two captured Kenya Defence Forces soldiers in Somalia are heartbreaking. They talk about how they became Al-Shabaab’s Prisoners of War and where they come from. Both of them have children and just want to come back home. The massacre in the town of El-Adde in the Gedo region of Somalia is probably one of the worst attacks our troops have suffered in the whole operation. I asked Col (Rtd) Geoff King’ang’i Muturi whether it is time to consider pulling out.

“You don’t withdraw a watchman just because he has been attacked,” he told me. His argument, and that of our commanders, is that the threat still exists and they will not pull out until it is neutralised.

“KDF soldiers are giving their lives for a cause that does not convey a plan nor a solid strategy,” tweeted Charles Ambetsa.

War is messy, but is this worth it, really?

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FEEDBACK

On the government’s move to regulate media content

Larry, I loved your article. I think they should ban more movies so that I can add them to my to-watch list. And yes, the government should not determine what to be aired; we have smart phones, free Wi-Fi, among other enablers.

Truth be told, a 14-year-old kid knows more porn sites than me, a 25-year-old. People will always watch “bad” content, so the government should leave moral monitoring to parents.

Morris Mexi

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The government is doing its job, trying to protect Kenyans, especially vulnerable and impressionable groups such as children. I would be shocked if it sat back and allowed media houses to be the moral compass and educator of the masses. Unfortunately, this is what has been happening. Now that the government is doing something to ensure that content is regulated, people are up in arms; why?

I understand your logic behind the Netflix streaming, I think it’s a brilliant idea to get easy access to TV without paying that perennial Sh50 for a DVD. It is a herculean task to regulate such platforms, but it can be done. I live in the Middle East and it is done. Some content is not available on the Internet, youtube and TV.

I applaud the CA for gazetting the Programming Code for Free-To-Air Radio and Television Services. I am sick and tired of listening to those X-rated morning and afternoon radio shows in PSVs. 

Lynette Muthamia

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Your article on the government’s attempt to regulate morality is quite thought provoking. I agree that there are certain things the law should not over-regulate.

That said, the government is acting in good faith, bearing in mind that the media is a powerful force with incredible power to shape society. If there are no checks on the media, there is always the risk of abuse for the sole purpose of profit. I therefore, do not think it is a bad thing for the government to try and protect its people, in fact, we should applaud the government and support it in every way to ensure that negative content, such as explicit morning radio shows, no longer reach our children.

I believe that what the government is doing is commendable, so let’s not condemn, but instead give credit where it is due. A blanket disapproval might not be the best way to go about it. 

C. N. Karanja-Waithaka