Has Martha Karua been trapped by her own culture?

Saturday December 29 2012

Gichugu MP Martha Karua. Photo/FILE

Gichugu MP Martha Karua. Photo/FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP


Every time I think of Martha Karua, my mind flicks back to the saga of Simbi Nyaima — a historic little lake in the Rachuonyo County of Nyanza, where a woman arrived at a home in a torrential rain asking for accommodation among pombe drinkers.

They kept her out in the rain, but after she left the house and its compound, where the boozers had been yodelling, they were swallowed up by the torrent.

Simbi, the unwelcome woman, is said to have used her personal magical charm to cause the destruction.

Indeed, since Martha Karua abandoned the Kibaki PNU regime, his government has never remained stable.

Karua’s political pilgrimage started in the early 1990s in Mwai Kibaki’s Democratic Party of Kenya. During those days I was a solid Kanu supporter, so I never shared any political plank with her, but she was a strong, sagacious and level-headed debater.

Among Kibaki’s parliamentary frontiersmen, Karua always articulated the DP and Opposition policies best.

After Narc defeated Kanu at the end of 2002, Karua became Minister for Water and later for Justice in Kibaki’s government.

She was good, but at the same time hard and ethnicist. At the same time she began to study how men behaved in an arena of power and wealth.

Having, for example, supported Kibaki for a long time, and particularly during the contentious period of the 2007 election rigging, she could not understand how the Mt Kenya Mafia could opt for Uhuru Kenyatta to be the Deputy Prime Minister in the PNU/ODM coalition government and push her aside after all she had done to defend Kibaki.

Was it because Uhuru was male and rich? Was it because his father had been President? Did Uhuru have better brains to function in the new turbulence?

At the end of the above reflections, Karua resigned from Kibaki’s government. She had seen corruption in practice. But she had also failed to see her future in the ongoing rabble.

Coalition of the people

She decided on heading her own political party where her own values and principles would work; and they have worked to her own delight and satisfaction.

She has recruited a large number of women and youth into her party. She can, thus, boast that her party’s alliance is not, and will not be, with other political parties, but with the people of Kenya.

But the truth is that most male politicians have kept away from her party. Some call her Margaret Thatcher. Others refer to her as Indira Gandhi. They say she is difficult and unbending.

Male chauvinism against women is an international dilemma. Even the United States, which has made democracy its core international project, has never elected a woman president.

After Thatcher left government, the British said they had had enough.

Even the lead Anglican Church of England has recently ruled out women from top leadership in the church.

Many men, the world over, seem to see only “sex and motherhood” in women, and no other useful attributes.

It is just a matter of time. In the next three to four decades, given their rising population, women will dictate the political direction in Kenya.

Today they waste time and opportunity in trivial activities like fashion and entertainment. As many graduate from universities and find no jobs in the market, many Karua types will emerge and take over political leadership; at which time they will be asking: Of what use is a male? And their response will be: “Simply sex and claimed fatherhood.”

This paper is biography from a distance