Before I receive any hate mail, get labeled a “warmonger” or accused of “inciting violence/hate speech,” let me be categorical:
As a general proposition, but importantly, on a personal level, I am an avowed pacifist. I so abhor violence that my last physical altercation dates back to 1967. I was in Nairobi Primary School, and in the ensuing dust-up, I got my scalp handed to me by a classmate whose name I still remember. The experience was that traumatic. After that, I was “challenged” to an “endo” by an underclassman who rained slaps on my nape and both cheeks – before they realized that they were “fighting” alone – because I did not fight back! We later became friends – and neighbors along Protectorate Road.
(“Endo” referred to the fisticuffs between students who held off their score-settling until the end of the school term hence the portmanteau “endo” – “end of.”)
Along the same lines, I unfriended a former school mate after he sent me what I read as a veiled threat because of my support of Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka – in the run-up to the 2017 Elections. Similarly, another school mate unfriended me because he took offense to a piece I penned for the Huffington Post. The article was a biting, pointed, but factual critique of Jubilee’s first term in office. In calling out the corruption and abuse of power that remains endemic under the incumbent administration, the friend accused me of “inciting violence” even though the same piece was unequivocal in delineating my call for peace during the same heated (2017) race.
And before “building bridges” was all the rage, I challenged a prominent media personality to join me in moving beyond our noticeable and very public differences in how we characterized events in Kenya and “bridging” our differences towards a more “tribeless” Kenya. This exchange occurred at the 2018 African Business Forum at Stanford University – when I challenged her rosy characterization of Jubilee’s first term in office – one not supported by the facts as I saw them. She asked for my contact information, which I gave her, but two years later, I have yet to hear from her.
Simply put, I do NOT advocate violence – or even heated rhetoric – the Clausewitzian road to war, i.e., violence (war) being the continuation of diplomacy by “other” means.
I can, however, hold my own rhetorically. I also know that none other than Jesus Christ had to break out the whip against traders who were defiling the place of worship. (John 2:15)
Before purists come after me for invoking the Lord’s name, let me point out that I am not doing that, nor am I equating Oscar Sudi and Johana Ngeno with Jesus. I am pointing out that even Christ, the paragon of patience and “turn-the-other-cheek” advocate, was pushed to His limits and resorted to violence! If He can be “provoked” to violence, then mortals such as Sudi and Ngeno can be goaded into reacting and speaking their truth, arguably to power.
There is a school of thought that posits that family members of politicians are “out of bounds.” A quick google search on that unspoken contract between politico-types revealed a Sept. 1, 2008 piece in the New Republic where then-nominee Barack Obama categorically states that “Family is out of bounds.” I am sure the understanding pre-dates 2008 but suffice to say, most politicians and their acolytes steer clear of criticizing the family members of their rivals. The two caveats to this pact are when a family member (a) holds a policy/public position/office or (b) makes public pronouncements that touch on on-going public discourse on issues of the day. When either occurs, then the family member in question becomes fair game for criticism and the rough-and-tumble of politics.
The preceding is my admittedly circuitous way of contextualizing Oscar Sudi’s recent rant. It is also my way of understanding Johana Ngeno’s upbraiding of the way the Deputy President William Ruto has been treated since the March 2018 “handshake” between the DP’s boss President Kenyatta and his erstwhile nemesis and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga.
Many Kenyans have taken umbrage at the language and tone used by the DP’s proxies. Others see in Sudi’s and Ngeno’s utterances, the heartfelt and pained pushback by the friends and supporters of a Deputy President who is under siege, thanks to near-daily acts of betrayal, duplicity, and relentlessly maligning by supporters of the two principals of the “handshake.” The preceding is a reality that sets aside Ruto’s soiled reputation, his many transgressions, and the karmic ethos of his on-going travails.
Few can question the relentlessness of the verbal attacks and personal slights David Murathe and Francis Atwoli,together with a shrill cavalcade of online supporters, have leveled against William Ruto, someone the now-critical voices previously spoke glowingly about.
It bears pointing out that Kenya’s political landscape is chockful of many cautionary tales – of acolytes who flew too close to their benefactor’s political sun so Sudi and Ngeno should tread carefully. I am also aware of the Palmerstonian “No perpetual enemies, just eternal and perpetual interests” caution. The two sides may still come together like they did as the ICC bore down on their principals. However, juxtaposed alongside the supposedly altruistic objectives of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), the hypocrisy and double-speak of the initiative’s two principals and their toadies are beyond obvious – and galling.
In highlighting the lack of sincerity surrounding BBI, former Kiambu County Governor William Kabogo takes direct aim at those hellbent on ostracizing William Ruto. The former governor posed the rather obvious question:
Kabogo further echoed variants of the very sentiments echoed by Oscar Sudi and Johana Ngeno, the latter who has been summoned by the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) office. In a display of leadership that is sorely lacking, the governor urged the three men “to sit down and agree.” Failing to do so, Kabogo urged Kenyans to “kick (vote) them out, all of them…….because the country doesn’t belong to them.” The “them” in this case are President Uhuru Kenyatta, DP William Ruto, and former Opposition Leader Raila Odinga. Reflecting the views of an increasing number of Kenyans, Kabogo’s exasperation is due to the musical chair, almost flippant, on-again/off-again nature of the relationships between these three men over the past decade.
It is beyond stupefying that Kenyans cannot see the selfishness underpinning BBI; that they cannot see the unfairness of the treatment that William Samoei Ruto is being accorded by the same people pushing the supposedly “unifying” initiative.
Even worse is that they cannot see what that duplicity portends to the long-term peace and stability of the country.