I miss Giggles – the little pub across the street where I often walked in to drown my sorrows in the evenings after a tough day in the newsroom, before the owners closed it abruptly without any personal notice to me.
Because of the large number of patrons relative to its size, the tables would be arranged so close to each other, you sometimes found yourself sitting knee-to-knee with a stranger. And the next minute, you had probably picked a conversation.
Being popular with journalists, wannabe politicians or political hangabouts were attracted to it like a moth to light, raising suspicions of integrity breaches, including “media guruing” services. But if you were a nosy journalist with a clear conscience, you would treat such allegations as professional hazards and returned to the source-rich watering holes of Giggles anyway.
The thing with Giggles is that you never left empty-handed; if you missed on the hard-fact type leaks, you at least took home some good quality rumours you could work with.
In the run-up to the last elections, for instance, I happened on a highly charged political conversation involving these three folks from the mountain one evening.
Uhuru Kenyatta had recently been nominated the Jubilee coalition’s candidate to face Cord’s Raila Odinga in the March 2013 presidential election, and the three patrons were discussing what an Uhuru presidency would look like.
Along the way, President Kibaki’s name also featured in the agitated conversation, with his character and leadership style analysed and compared to Mr Kenyatta’s.
Their opinion appeared divided on many issues except one; that, as one remarked, “Uhuru si Kibaki (Uhuru isn’t Kibaki).” Of course, he isn’t – in the literal sense. Yet the “Uhuru si Kibaki” remark, made as it was in the context of a discussion that had at that stage gravitated towards figuring out how a President Kenyatta would handle a Raila-led Opposition, spoke volumes.
“Uhuru would never have allowed that referendum,” quipped another patron. He was referring to the 2005 constitutional referendum in which the Opposition led by Raila and other rebels in the ruling party Narc inflicted an embarrassing and debilitating defeat to the Kibaki government.
The toxic referendum campaigns and the outcome are also widely believed to have set in motion a number of events that would significantly shape the country’s political landscape, culminating in the near-civil war of 2007/2008.
With wind in its sail, the newly victorious Orange movement transformed itself into a formidable political party, which went on to face a severely weakened coalition of parties desperately cobbled up together to try to secure a second term for Mr Kibaki.
The electoral commission declared Mr Kibaki the winner. The Opposition disputed the outcome of that election. Mr Kibaki was sworn in at night anyway. The rest is history. These are only my musings from Giggles. Let the Opposition continue to blame the IEBC for their failed bid for another referendum.
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