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Sonko's Nairobi: We made our bed, let's lie on it

Friday December 14 2018

Dauti Kahura

Dauti Kahura 

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On a day the governor of Nairobi was supposed to present the city as a conference destination, fit for international meets and tours, he took to the podium, and thinking he was impressing the delegates before him, forked his tongue, and pressed his nose to speak in a strange accent.

The result of this disastrous joke was a viral You Tube clip that went around showing him making a silly caricature of himself.

The conference was on the "blue economy", hosted in Nairobi and attended by international delegates four weeks ago.

Since Sonko took over the reins of power at City Hall, he has exhibited multiple complexes depicting an archetypal politician who did not have a clue of the expectation of his governorship, was not really prepared for the job ahead of him, and even after finding out what was the scale and scope of his job description, has proved to be incapable of doing it.

His greatest selling points and experience that ostensibly made Nairobians vote for him was that he could pull massive rowdy crowds of youth, he had called his predecessor all manner of names, and above all, he had allegedly threatened that if he did not secure the Jubilee Party ticket, he would, with his band of ghetto youth, disrupt the socioeconomic activities of the city.

Crowd pulling, insults and the threat of political disruption earned him the most politically and economically powerful governorship seat in the country.


It is no longer a laughing matter that most of the country’s 47 governors are clueless, inept, megalomaniacs and have developed a dangerous appetite for public coffers, just like their counterparts in Parliament. But Sonko has been always a dangerous hodgepodge of a man, invested with great county powers for him to use and misuse.

Sonko was supposed to be a disruptive force in city politics. Instead, he has disrupted the people’s lives, as he goes about fumbling and stumping his foot in a county he has governed for just about 15 months now.

From the blue, a fortnight ago, he decreed that no matatu would enter the central business district: It was an edict from a man who has been ruling the city with a personal fiat and therefore did not involve consultation or consensus, for had he consulted or arrived at a consensus, he would not, in the first place, come up with that obnoxious fiat. He would also not, in less than 18 hours, rescind that decision.

Clearly, the hasty, unexplained decision, neither informed by policy nor knowledge, was made by a man out of his depth regarding what his job entails. His explanation thereafter, of why he had recalled his decision overnight, was of a man who seemingly does not respect the office of the governor and Nairobians, whether they voted for him or not.


His dry humour about Nairobians not going to the gym and that the matatu CBD ban was therefore in order, was made by a man who still thinks he can get off with insults. For the record, Kenyans are a forgetful people, but the nightmare of waking up on the morning of November 26 and not knowing how you will arrive at your place of work, is something Nairobians are not willing to forget in a hurry. Sonko had delivered the ultimate insult to them: I can disrupt and un-disrupt your lives at the most critical juncture, with ease and casualness, because I am the boss and you are my subjects.

Sonko said Nairobians are lazy and unfit, a claim he has repeated yet again, while threatening to reimpose the ban, presumably because they do not attend gym classes. Has Sonko built any gyms for Nairobians to attend? When was the last time he walked from Muthurwa to the CBD to determine it was a one-minute walk? When was the last time he boarded a matatu to experience the counter-culture of the crew that drives many a Nairobian crazy?


Yet Sonko, in his imagined flamboyance, coupled with his power of issuing spontaneous diktats if and when he feels like it, believes Nairobians still owe him lots of love – maybe they do – but they also have a lot to reflect upon on their choice of a governor. It would be impudent to heap all the county problems – real and imagined – on Governor Sonko.

By voting Sonko, what did they expect? That they were giving a mighty job to a man with the Protestant ethics of a church minister? Seeing the state of their city deteriorate by the day, the city dweller has resorted to gnashing of teeth, groaning and moaning, cursing and coursing through the streets, angry and hungry.

For what? Cliché for cliché: Nairobians got the governor they desired and wanted, the county leadership is a mirror reflection of how Nairobians would like to be governed – mindlessly and recklessly. They have no one to blame but themselves.

In an ideal world, one would like to believe that this would be a learning curve for the Nairobi voter. Far from it. Presented with an opportunity to right their wrong possibly by choosing a person fit for the governorship seat, maybe in four years’ time, guess what? They would repeat the same mistakes, as indeed the majority of Kenyan voters would.

I will end by saying this: Contrary to popular belief among Nairobians and Kenyans at large, matatus are not the cause of the traffic jams – saloon motor vehicles are. Neither do matatus congest the city centre nor disrupt vehicular and pedestrian movements; hawkers and street vendors do.

But because matatus have been demonised so much, largely because of their own doing, nobody likes listening to their story. But also, county honchos believe they are easy to dispense with.

Why are hawkers and street vendors tolerated by the county government, even after it has issued zillions of threats to evict them from the CBD? That is a story for another day.

Mr Kahura is a senior writer for 'The Elephant', a Nairobi-based publication. Twitter: @KahuraDauti