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It is time for our politicians to respect the people who pay them

Saturday August 10 2019

Kiambu MCAs fight in county assembly

Kiambu MCAs fight in the county assembly on March 21, 2019 following a disagreement over a supplementary budget. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NJOKI CHEGE
By NJOKI CHEGE
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I am embarrassed to admit that I was one among the millions of irrational Kenyans who voted for Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko.

It is even worse that I cannot vent my frustrations regarding him because he will send his army of bloggers to ‘revenge’, so I promise to keep my complaints short and limited to one paragraph.

GOD-SENT BEINGS

I acted out of anger. In a moment of temporary insanity, I thought voting for Sonko would rid us of Kidero, but now I realise that was not very smart. In my defence, I was not voting for Sonko, per se. I was voting for Polycarp Igathe — Sonko’s former deputy — whom, it appears, needs to share his prayer template seeing as he has mastered the art of hopping from one corner office to the next.

Anyway, I am not here to discuss Sonko’s peerless lunacy which once again reared its head during the funeral service of one of his colleagues, Kibra MP Ken Okoth.

Today, I want to write about the state of our leadership.

Kenya does not have leaders. We have a seething mass of uncouth, cantankerous, scandal-ridden individuals who have abandoned all regard for leadership, public service and self-respect. We have set the bar so low for leadership that anybody can be a leader so long as they have the money and the charisma.

Why do we hate ourselves so much that we put up with such nonsense? Could it be that we have been conditioned to think less of ourselves, to feel so small and so unimportant that we are okay with politicians treating us like we work for them?

Why do we treat politicians like they are some important creatures from a different planet? We swiftly give up our seats for them at functions and even ‘recognise their presence’ at burials and weddings as if they are God-sent beings we cannot do without.

What is so special about MPs, senators and governors that they feel so entitled to special treatment on our roads, hospitals and other public spaces? Why do we approach our MPs with an air of fear, humility and meekness that we do not even have when we approach God?

INSULT US

It is this nationwide self-loathing that has made it okay for arrogant politicians and government officials to harass us in public spaces because they are ‘waheshimiwa’.

Have you ever thought what would happen if, on Monday morning, you ignored that siren, stood your ground and refused to move your car for that politician?

We have become so immune to complacency and mediocrity that we heap praises on MPs building roads, hospitals and schools yet it is their job to do these things.

We are so used to leaders not performing their duties that it becomes national news when Ken Okoth builds a series of schools. What is wrong with us?

We have not only condoned inhumane and humiliating treatment from our MPs, we are okay with our leaders discussing just about anything in the media and on social media. Our leaders insult us. They call us thurakus and order women to ‘queue in two lines like a dog’s breasts’ to receive handouts from them, yet they still walk unbothered amongst us.

We have leaders who do not believe single mothers have the right to be elected but we have no problem entrusting them with the future of our children. We have a governor serving his term comfortably, even after he was charged with the murder of a young woman carrying his child.

This week, residents of Mombasa lived through nights of terror while their governor was busy ‘slaying’ on holiday and rubbing necks with washed-out American socialites, yet the people of Mombasa are still not out in the streets dragging this man out of office.

We applaud the pseudo ‘liberation’ of a female MP when she openly declares her sexual preferences on social media, and we are also okay when a governor insults a woman based on her perceived incapacity to have children.

TRAFFIC BULLIES

We had an MP who was accused of raping a woman in his office, but we allowed him to finish his term, leaving office smelling like a bunch of roses.

When they come to our churches, we allow these fools to misuse our pulpits to spew their nonsense. We have seen pictures of our greedy leaders stuffing their faces with food in front of hungry villagers and children, yet these people are still in office today. Are we that blind?

I think it is time for us to say enough is enough and stop allowing ourselves to be bullied into silence and submission. What we allow our MPs, senators and governors to get away with is enough reason for them to resign and vacate office in other parts of the world.

Next time you spot an ‘important’ Kenyan in traffic bullying you, don’t give way. Next time you spot an MP at a funeral you are attending, don’t give up your seat. Remind them to show up early in future.

They are not special. They are not more important than we are.

They work for us, not the other way round.

Ms Chege is the director, Innovation Centre, Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications; [email protected]

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