For a man given to political bravado, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria cut a remarkably subdued figure at his press conference last Thursday.
Where we expected a brave guerrilla leader emerging to announce the capture of yet another key region by his triumphant Tanga Tanga army, we instead saw a defeated, disarmed and apologetic rebel soldier down on his knees, pleading for mercy from government forces.
The lieutenants, who often flank MK, as the sharp-tongued Gatundu South legislator is fondly referred to by his fans, at public events were conspicuously absent.
Journalists who went to cover the news conference where an online story had earlier suggested Mr Kuria would be announcing his resignation as MP recall having only spotted him in the company of Cornelius Serem, the Aldai MP and an ally of the Deputy President, moments before he sat down to read his press statement.
The full story of how one of Kenya’s foremost political attack dogs shed his teeth just within days of picking a fight with his master and dishing it out on social media will no doubt come out one day.
If and when the story is finally told, it will most likely open with a line in Mr Kuria’s Thursday press statement alluding to some ‘subtle and not-so subtle threats’ to his life. But it is not just the criminal nature of the threats to the Gatundu South MP’s life that should concern us.
They also betray the kind of political intolerance that is associated with the dark Nyayo Era when anyone who dared to express an opinion perceived to be anti-establishment would be silenced. The Handshake, it would seem, is the new Nyayo.
The vicious backlash against a group of Jubilee MPs from central Kenya who see the political deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga aka the Handshake as a ploy to frustrate Deputy President William Ruto’s chances of succeeding Mr Kenyatta harks back to the well-orchestrated Kanu campaigns to stigmatise party dissent in the 1980s and 1990s.
From governors to Kikuyu Council of Elders, no one who considers himself or herself a leader in the region wanted to miss out on the opportunity to publicly declare loyalty to the President and support for the Handshake. Mr Kuria, of course, found it important to emphasise in his statement that he, too, supports the Handshake.
But even if he didn’t, it would be simply out of place for anyone to want to harm him for it well into the third decade of the return of multiparty democracy.
Amid the tense moments caused by politicians fighting over the Handshake, some Kenyans still didn’t lose their sense of humour and served up quite some wisecracks on social media.
The Facebook exchange between these two, particularly cracked me up: Wainaina Wa Wambui: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is the most useless president in Kenya’s history!
Ochieng Otieno: Respect our president.