Looking gift horse in the mouth and telling whole world about it

Wednesday March 18 2020

Ms Damaris Wambui outside the house in Nakuru gifted to her by President Uhuru Kenyatta; she rejected it. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The story about the Nakuru woman rejecting a house promised by President Uhuru Kenyatta sounds like a case of misplaced sense of entitlement.

Damaris Wambui rejected the house built for her, saying it was sub-standard and not worthy of a gift from the President.

The Nation ran the story on four consecutive days — February 16, 17, 18 and 19. More than 3,000 words were devoted to the story.

Did the story deserve such heavy and continuous coverage?

The answer is yes, if there was corruption among the government officials charged with delivering the gift. But the story doesn’t provide any proof of that; just innuendos.

Wambui is media-savvy. She comes out as a wronged person. She has embarrassed State House officials and given the impression they are corrupt.



The media did not ask the government officials concerned any hard questions. For example, what kind of house did the President promise Wambui?

In one of the stories, she says the house was not what President Kenyatta had in mind when he ordered a State House official, “a Mr Wanjohi”, to ensure the family has a decent home.

The Nation reporter, however, did not seek the “a Mr Wanjohi” to give his side of the story.

Other questions that should have been asked linger on. For example, who built the house? How much did it cost? Was a certificate of occupancy obtained as required by law?

Wambui ran away with the story, describing the house as “a big joke”, thanks to the softly-softly approach of the reporters involved in the coverage.


But let’s give credit where it is due. The story has all the ingredients of what makes a story newsworthy. The story has broad appeal.

It’s close home; every Kenyan dreams of owning a house. It has prominence; it involves the Head of State.

It has human interest; it involves Wambu’s son, Dennis Ngaruiya, the target of the presidential gift, who wowed the President with the recital of a poem four years ago at Kenya Defence Forces celebrations in Lanet, Nakuru.

It has conflict, disagreement, and drama involving a woman and her son and State House mandarins. It has the potential of a scandal or hypocrisy.

It’s also unexpected, bizarre, unusual and outlandish. And it’s the story of a woman who is so rude as to look a presidential gift in the mouth and tell the world about it.

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