He is arguably Kenya’s most controversial blogger of our times. One moment, he is being bundled into a police van by ruthless and mean-looking detectives as it happened in March 2012 during the ICC cases fiasco, then, the next moment, he is running the show as the president’s Blogger-in-Chief, with a State House Digital Secretary title to his name, freely tweeting selfies with the big man. And then, before you know it before you finish celebrating his grass to grace story, the cycle repeats itself all over again; he is being arrested for allegedly originating a fake ‘murder’ letter against the Deputy President. And before the dust settles, he is captured on camera, being roughed up by the same president’s security guys, who used to usher him into the House on The Hill earlier, like it happened this week at the Bomas of Kenya, during the launch of the Building Bridges Initiative Report. Just what is the true story of this man Dennis Itumbi? Outspoken, articulate, yet loved and hated in equal measure, was Itumbi fired from State House by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who he had allegedly worked with since 2010, and why? Is his alleged shift of allegiance to Deputy President William Ruto a show of defiance to a former boss who he disagreed with? What next for Dennis Itumbi? He spoke EXCLUSIVELY to the MANAGING EDITOR of THE COUNTY, who caught up with him in town, hours after the Bomas of Kenya BBI Launch scuffle with the president’s security, opening up about himself, more than ever before. Here is the full interview:
THE COUNTY: I know you love getting dodgy every time someone begins by asking you about Jacque Maribe. Or why you are still single. So, we won’t kill this interview this early; we won’t start there. Instead, we shall start with a more friendly question. Why is Dennis Itumbi the one who always gets arrested for online fakery and cyber-crime?
ITUMBI: We just have a DCI obsessed with headlines. These DCI investigators are making life too hard for DPP in court. Take, for example, DCI shouted to Kenyans through headlines that we have an FBI report. That FBI traced the fake letter to a cyber in Langata.In court, there is no FBI report. The witness has already said no FBI witness interviewed him. I can cite many other cases but let us leave it there. Time, as always will prove me right. Lawyer Muthomi Thiankolu, in a case he won after similar creative headlines, tailored at DCI HQ described DCI investigations in a Shakespearean phrase, found in the play Macbeth, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing!”I agree with the lawyer. Drama, movies, but zero evidence in court in many cases.
THE COUNTY: Talking of arrests, you had quite a rough moment with the DCI in March 2012. I know you will deny hacking the ICC website as you did in court but how was the experience in the cells? You came out looking quite sulky. Did you meet those ‘rough guys’ they talk about, in the cells (you know what I mean)? And have you received the 5 million windfalls from Treasury? Our sisters are curious!
ITUMBI: Sleeping on a cold floor for days in 2012 was easy. I was younger and more adventurous.5M cannot replace the experience of losing freedom. I had asked the court to award me Kshs 50M by the way. The money has yet to reflect in my account. The ruling was a classic. The judge actually told me to go for more money if they do not close investigations on the ICC matter. Interestingly, DCI still has that file open, waiting for Ocampo or Bensouda to come to write a statement as the complainant. I will look for Bensouda next month when she comes to Kenya and ask her, that is if I can drive her to DCI to record her complaint or just tweet her. Patriots do not complain about the hazards of standing for the truth, instead, they compose songs, write books, or recite poetry.
THE COUNTY: Still on arrests, why do you think everyone was convinced that you forged the fake DP Ruto assassination letter? And were the cells any different from those of 2012? Has the government you campaigned so hard for instituted any real reforms in our police sector, 7 years later?
ITUMBI: I will let the police speak for themselves. They have an able spokesman.You see, let me tell you what real freedom is; it is when you finally do not really care what everyone thinks about you. I got to that great space kitambo.So what people think is immaterial to the facts.I am now water on the wings of a duck.
THE COUNTY: So, considering that you were arrested not long after it was reported you had fallen out with President Uhuru Kenyatta, can you confirm if you were fired from State House?
ITUMBI: Can we have tea in my State House office before Christmas with The County website staff?
THE COUNTY: That invite will be considered but of course, as expected, you have denied being fired from State House. How comes the President’s escort roughed you up from the dais at the launch of the Building Bridges Report, Bomas of Kenya, this week? You should have pinched their nose and told them to know people, right?
ITUMBI: Hahaaa. Look, Philip Etale would easily contradict me right? We were at the VIP podium with him. We sat there throughout the event. The little push just happened during the exit. There was just a slight miscommunication which was sorted almost immediately. Hazards of the job. By the way, only that this was on camera; it has happened before. You see, presidential security is for the President NOT his staff. It was a cop doing his job. I salute him. Mimi ni mtu mdogo sana my friend. In the scheme of things, I am the hook at the end of the chain, without me, the chain is still a chain. Mtu wa mkono tu. Hustler tu, Jamaa wa Digital!
THE COUNTY: So, what about this new found dalliance with DP William Ruto? Isn’t it a show of defiance against the former boss you disagreed with? A bitter former employee perhaps
ITUMBI: I am and always will be #UhuRuto.I am lucky to have the President as a boss, a friend and mentor. He once gave me a movie titled Shaka Zulu. Google a synopsis of it and you will understand the President has no problem with criticism, praise and difference in opinion.WSR, on the other hand is your guy next door. Firm, friendly and he keeps reminding me to get married by the way. Beyond that he is a great boss, he experiments, he opens up space for fresh ideas and damn, he now believes that beyond the Blue Economy, there is something called the Creative Economy and he has given me a chance to empower those I can on that space.If inspiration was a person, it would be William Ruto in my life. We both work late into the night and rise early.The only thing he has not recruited me into is the gym.
THE COUNTY: How did you know Uhuru Kenyatta? What are your most fond memories with him. What about William Ruto?
ITUMBI: Uhuru always says power is not given, it is taken. Very memorable, and he celebrates every milestone however small, and he has a phrase I love; today, is the beginning of the rest of our lives.
THE COUNTY: Would you work for Raila Odinga who you have consistently critiqued?
ITUMBI: Let me answer that with a rare photo.
THE COUNTY: Still one more on bloggers and arrests before we forget. You have been very vocal against the arrest of bloggers. Why then did you recently sue bloggers Polycarp Hinga and Martha Miano? Isn’t that going against the very same ideals you stood for? Is it not a case of a hungry man who finally gets space at the dining table and immediately starts seeing other hungry men as a nuisance? Ni kama umeanza kula nyama, SINDIO?
ITUMBI: I will never advocate for the arrest of bloggers merely for blogging. That is why instead of going to a police station, I went to my lawyer. If the two feel they were right, all I am doing is handing them a chance to prove I sent the fake text they circulated. By the way, my notice expired today, so the next steps will follow. I encourage you to come to court and listen to one of the most progressive cases even if it gets there. Let me sum it up this way; there is constructive criticism and even insults. Those I personally do not mind. I get very many even on SMS every day. My issue is, I think it is time to draw a line between outright malicious falsehoods and criticism. That’s all, sina story mob. By the way, if I met any of the two people you cite, I would not even identify them in a crowd, so there is nothing personal.
THE COUNTY: Enough of arrests now to the controversial, or would I say loathed System ya Facts? Define it.
ITUMBI: It is the soil upon which Facts are Sacred and Opinion is Free. It is meant to create a movement of Truth. Because, as Ephesians 4.25 records: “Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another.”
THE COUNTY: Does your 36 Bloggers online terror team still exist?
ITUMBI: Phantom intrigue. Creative imagination. FAKE NEWS!
THE COUNTY: Pastor’s Moment. Why don’t you just open a church and preach more widely? You could perhaps make a buck out of it?
ITUMBI: A book compiling all the 4,000 sermons so far is in the way. It will be more comprehensive than Daily Bread and other devotional books because it has a local touch and stories of names and faces you know. Kindly pre-order a few copies.
THE COUNTY: Who are your favorite online fan and online critic?
ITUMBI: This is suicide. I cannot declare love to one in what is a polygamous engagement.
THE COUNTY: Do you hate anyone online?
ITUMBI: Why would I? I have no time for extreme emotions, especially negative ones like hate. But I love the legal and societal content by Wahome Thuku. On political content, I read several people, sad we lost Wambui Nyutu to a commission, but I am happy for her.
THE COUNTY: Where is Dickson Bogonko Bosire?
ITUMBI: In his own words, the dwellers of the city do not understand the feelings of the village hunter
THE COUNTY: Did you abandon Mapozi John and Sam Gitau, the Jubilee bloggers who perished in the Lake Nakuru chopper crash, at their hour of need, as is alleged?
ITUMBI: I did not. I did all I could. They worked under Senator Susan Kihika and I know she did well. With the recent findings that the pilot was under the influence of alcohol, we should all find out what that means for insurance claims.
THE COUNTY: According to you, who is Kenya’s most promising blogger at the moment? What is the way forward and the future of blogging in Kenya?
ITUMBI: I have an idea on a few, but let me tell them directly. The future of blogging is in targeted blogging and specialized writing. Also, new university courses like New Media and Governance.
THE COUNTY: To more personal questions now. Have you gotten a degree yet?
ITUMBI: Do not spoil the surprise. It is more than that. Keep it here. Bash loading.
THE COUNTY: I understand you have four siblings. Who is your favourite?
ITUMBI: Hahaa. I remember that Standard Three question, “Wewe ni wa Mum ama Dad?”I refuse to fall into the trap.
THE COUNTY: You claim to be a pig farmer. Why pigs? Why not chicken? I mean, you are an egg, literary? Or does the fascination with pigs originate from their signature dirt which is an exact replica of the online space from which you originate?
ITUMBI: Pigs have a legendary orgasm. 30 Minutes! But seriously, Pigs are the cleanest animals only that we falsely believe the opposite. Pigs will not even urinate where they sleep; very organized. By the way, the best model to farm pigs is together with the chicken. Pigs have high returns.
THE COUNTY: In another life, what would Itumbi be?
ITUMBI: A lawyer. I have also considered myself a mechanic. The two are related, one cross-examined people, the other interrogates metals or so I think.
THE COUNTY: When is Mama Dennis seeing a wife? Perhaps, at this point, I can even comfortably ask, Jacque Maribe uliacha hivyo tu? Please be honest. We won’t put this on paper.
ITUMBI: Hahaaa. Journalists are always on the record. Listen Miss Maribe is a beautiful person with a big heart and she cooks well too, I have tasted her signature kitchen art. She also has a great family. She can also party. She is a fine mum. You should see that side of her. Then, she is also a superb friend. An excellent buddy. The kind that makes roses blossom because she invests in growing friendships. Try to be her friend. It cannot be described. Her friendship bond can actually be floated as a Treasury Bill and give awesome returns.JM, ni rafiki yangu sana.
THE COUNTY: So, define Itumbi in a few words. An attention seeker, a ramble-rouser, a socialite or a rebel without a cause?
ITUMBI: Itumbi is a story. The manuscript is ready for publishing. Lights on. Cameras rolling. Drumbeat. Soundtrack. Ever tried spelling DENNIS backward? Try.
THE COUNTY: What next for Dennis Itumbi? Another cyber-crime, another forgery or perhaps another arrest?
ITUMBI: Maybe another interview
THE COUNTY: Your final word.
ITUMBI: Tell those social media bullies who try to push me every time I step on the rope during a skipping session – I am a trained and hardened hustler. Pushing me can only achieve one thing; acceleration to the top of the hill.I am not saying they should not write or critic, let them.I am only saying I excel where landmines and thorns are in plenty.The lyrics of the song that is me, are not dimmed by sideshow.God Bless Kenya
Interview copyright: www.thecounty.co.ke