Kiambu Governor William Kabogo got into the latest controversy in a most familiar manner — by talking his way into it.
On a sunny day last Saturday at a village a few kilometres from the county headquarters, Mr Kabogo turned a rather routine project launch into an opportunity to lecture the electorate.
He got on the path to controversy by making remarks that have not only been viewed as sexist but likely to land him in a political storm.
He elected to deliver them in Gikuyu.
WOMEN CAUSING PROBLEMS
“Na inyui airitu aya anyinyi múcarie athuri múhike, tondú niinyui muratúrehera iúndu ici cioothe na arume maihúirite gúku (...and you young women should find husbands and get married because you are the cause of all these problems we are having yet there are men all over the place,” said the governor.
“Ukúgutha mirongo itatú na ithano útari úrona múthuri angalia maneno yako. Inaenda mrama, I kana tiguo? Riu ona nitúgúcoka kuuga ati wenda gúcagúrwo, úka na múthuri múkarúgama hau.
Wenda gúcagúrwo úgoka na matumia (Once you get to 35 and you don’t have a husband, you should find out what’s wrong with you because you are on the wrong path, isn’t it? Now we’ll start the practice where if you want to get elected, you declare your intention with your wife or husband at your side),” he told the amused gathering.
He went on: “Múndu úkúhota gútwarithia múcii na mbere ona búrúri ni egwika atia…niegútwarithia. No úngikorwo ndúngihota múcii, na múcii gútiri kiriro gikoragwo ni gikeno githeri ona mbuu nyingi ni mbuu ya gikeno, no úhote? (Someone who is able to manage a home is equally able to run the affairs of the people. But if you cannot manage a home, yet there is usually no cause for worry in a home and in fact, a lot of the wailing you hear from homes comes, can you manage public affairs?)”.
These would have passed for a set of innocuous statements or advice from the governor had the facts and context not been different.
It is not the first time the governor has found himself on the defensive because of such remarks.
One of the governor’s emerging fiercest critics is Ms Alice Ng’ang’a, the MP for Thika Town who not only shared the governor’s TNA ticket but whose constituency also hosts, albeit temporarily, the governor’s office.
Ms Ng’ang’a was Mr Kabogo’s rival at the by-election in September 2010, where she gave him a good run for his money and finished second.
The campaigns at that time were marked by Mr Kabogo’s fierce rivalry with Mr George Thuo, who has since died.
But Ms Ng’ang’a surprised both men when she beat Mr Thuo and challenged Mr Kabogo.
She also happens to be a single mother and his statements last weekend were seen to be directed at her.
The youthful Ms Ng’ang’a has also been behind demonstrations in Thika town over the past two weeks where traders protested against the increased levies introduced by the government Mr Kabogo presides over.
With the governor under fire because of his abrasive style of leadership and his rejection of the former Kiambu County Council’s offices because they were not fit for him, Ms Ng’ang’a was among MPs from Kiambu who criticised him.
She was also on the receiving end of his barbs on Jamhuri Day 2013 when he again switched to Gikuyu.
“Riu ona nginyite kúrumwo ni…túiritu twetagwo atia tene? Ndirarikana úria túiritu twetagwo hau kabere (túrigu) (It has now come to the point where I’m insulted by (uncircumcised) girls,” he said.
Ironically, Mr Kabogo nominated a female-dominated Cabinet — six women and two men to the Kiambu County Assembly in June 2013.
“My concern is that the men in this county need to wake up as we almost had a cabinet of 10 women since women were more qualified in terms of job experience and education,” he said.
The county executive was eventually approved by the assembly.
On Tuesday, Ms Ng’ang’a and four other MPs from Kimabu criticised the governor. “Although I may be single that does not mean I have no family values,” she said. “I also fear God and I know that even some of those talking about these things have no value for human life,” said Ms Ng’ang’a.
She was accompanied by colleagues Kigo Njenga (Gatundu North), MunyuaWaititu (Juja), Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) and Mburu Kahangara (Lari).
FOCUS ON ISSUES
A defiant Ms Ng’ang’a said she was unapologetic on her stand against the levies and vowed to mobilize residents to hold more protests ifthe governor William Kabogo fails to “listen to the people.”
The MP said; “I refuse to be intimidated by anyone and as long as thecounty government continues to impose unreasonable charges and taxeson the people, I will continue to oppose it” .
She accused Mr. Kabogo of getting personal on matters affecting thepublic and attempting to intimidate other leaders.
“When I oppose the county levies I am not attacking the governor inperson. Why should he tell us not to cross his path?” she posed.