Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko urgently needs to put his vulgar tongue on a leash.
His claim to fame might have been the Shakespearean melodrama that involved punching walls and hideous matchy-matchy outfits, but Sonko needs to realise those days are behind him.
One would have hoped after Nairobians overwhelmingly turned out to vote for him, he would at the very least pretend to change his ways. Change he did — his clothes — for he swapped the awkward outfits with a bespoke slim-fit suit, but that’s as far as it goes.
What we have now is the same old Sonko, a little well spoken than before (give credit where it is due), but as foul-mouth and profane as they come. The public melt downs we saw when was rolling on the road alongside frenzied supporters have graduated into offensive and distasteful interviews in which he shreds his poor victims in the full glare of national television.
The most recent melt down was two nights ago, when he went on a rampage against his Kiambu counterpart Governor Ferdinand Waititu. When asked by the interviewer what he had to say about Waititu’s criticisms of his leadership, Sonko went ballistic: “I think he used to smoke a lot of ‘bhangi’ when he was an MP,” he said, “ … I am a witness to this, we used to go to a certain toilet there … we used to smoke a lot of bhangi … in fact, he was hiding bhangi in the socks …”
We thought Sonko would be Nairobi’s saving grace, but he is fast hurtling into Nairobi’s top disgrace. I am among the millions of Nairobi residents who are massively disappointed in Sonko.
Of course, this is not the first time Sonko has been publicly abusive. In his days as a senator, he insulted a well-meaning female radio presenter who put him to task about his role in influencing policy. Insults, it would appear, come more naturally to Sonko than tears do to the deputy president.
I will give credit where due. Sonko’s heart seems to be in the right place. I mean, I have never seen a leader who protects the poor and the lowly in society like Sonko. Few things hurt Sonko more than seeing people suffer and most of you will agree with me that Sonko is a man with a big heart. Let’s state the facts. Another fact is that he is not only immensely popular with the masses — which is great for a politician — but he also comes across as a street-smart and shrewd guy who, even though many may doubt his source of wealth, most will agree Sonko has done well for himself so far. And if you are a Nairobian like me, you might also agree he is in his own way trying to straighten out the city. I may not agree with all his policies, but everyday he proves he is a better man than the clown we had previously.
Sonko has a lot going for him. He is charismatic, he has the energy and he seems to have a long political life ahead of him.
But, he needs to act more like a governor of the city of Nairobi and not the MCA type of behaviour he is exhibiting lately. Sonko is not the first politician to run his mouth on national television, but he must realise we hold him to a higher standard because he is not just any other governor, he is the governor of the capital city of Kenya — and that has to count for something.
I am impressed by his newly-found mastery of English. His command of language today is a far cry from the gubernatorial debates when Miguna Miguna would have him for lunch. I am impressed he is making effort to shift from the old Sonko to a new and improved Sonko.
But whoever is advising Sonko needs to tell him some things are better left unsaid. For example, we don’t need to know what he smokes and who he smokes it with. When he was starting out as a young and revolutionary MP, his youth afforded him the luxury of the craziness we witnessed. However, he is no longer the youthful Madaraka MP, but the governor of a city that is so important not just to this country, but to the region. And he needs to step up.
So, dear Sonko, I hope you are reading this. Slow down on the insults because your 'cirry' needs you!