Kenyans’ obsession with scandal does not augur well for the nation 

Friday May 24 2019

There is a worrying trend building up in this country; even a visitor who arrived today probably spotted it from outer space. Late last week, an audio clip allegedly featuring Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula became a hot-button topic, for which the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has already opened a file.


It involves an alleged transnational gold deal gone awry, with the person on the other end making veiled threats if his ultimatum isn’t met. You should have seen the social media stampede the leaked audio immediately generated. If gossip was medicine, that audio alone would have been enough to run Kenyan hospitals out of business.

Details are yet to emerge on the authenticity of the leaked audio. Those who went to school to study impersonators’ voices are yet to come back to us with their assessment of the matter.

But Kenyans and patience are like water and oil. We have already conducted our own investigations and concluded that everyone who was named in that recording should hand over the keys to their offices and march to the nearest prison to go chew boiled beans with more weevils than a maize farm.

We have even created memes inviting the ruler of Dubai to come colonise Kenya if we do not return the gold of which we allegedly scammed him. If Dedan Kimathi got wind of us making jokes about the sovereignty of this country, he would rise up from the dead and apologise to the British.


The reaction to this audio might look like casual banter to many people, but it conceals the deep affinity for cheap gossip and reckless drama hard-wired among Kenyans.

We are quickly elbowing Hollywood as the drama capital of the world, and there is no way this is a good thing. We are so gullible and naive my village madman could one day pick up his irritating trumpet, stand on top of a hill and declare that Jesus is coming back tomorrow, and you will see people stampeding to ask him what they should do to make it right with God.


Just because someone threw the name of the President around in a telephone conversation doesn’t make the claims authentic, the same way the Bible warns us that not everyone who calls the name of the Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

Kenyans have a fatal attraction to scandalous stuff. It is no wonder we have a soft spot for flashy drug dealers, fake pastors, flamboyant gunrunners, loud-mouthed ethnic bigots, and irritatingly loud matatus.

We keep asking ourselves why we voted for a political bunch who love selfies more than food, and who would rather die than miss an opportunity to insult each other at funerals. In Kenya, the burning urge to outdo each other for social media clout is so real that prominent people have been killed before their time, erroneous court verdicts leaked before actual rulings, and government projects launched a million times. Sir Charles Darwin might have warned us that survival is for the swiftest, but this is not what he had in mind when he made that life-changing scientific discovery.

All this obsession with the sensational is an indictment of our lack of critical thinking, and which is glaring in the way this country is being run.

Not long ago, the National Assembly vetted and approved for Cabinet Secretary someone who could not read a policy paper to save his life.


Just two weeks ago, two ministers appointed ethnically homogenous groups to the boards of Postal Corporation of Kenya and Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority, and had someone not rushed to court to suspend that gazette notice, all of those appointees would have assumed their positions without raising a finger, because that is how we roll and there’s no stopping us now.

If countries of the world were to be allocated a saintly figure that characterises what they are best at, Kenya would be the Patron Saint of Scandals, with the headquarters being on social media.

A Kenyan jobseeker would rather be late for a job interview than miss the latest gossip on Twitter. A Kenyan motorist would rather hit a side rail and crack his windscreen than miss an opportunity to break fake news on Facebook.

If you want to divert the attention of Kenyans from the corruption scandals going on, just drop some random nudes on WhatsApp and see yourself trend the whole week for free. We are so hungry for scandals in this country we make food jealous for nothing.

Mr Oguda writes on topical issues; [email protected]