By Alvan Kinyua
On Thursday this week, People Daily newspaper ran a story titled: “Scholars to battle it out for Kisumu Woman Rep position.” The piece dissected the unfolding battle for the next Kisumu County MP that is turning out to be a battle of pure brains; literary!
The race has Kisumu County Minister for Lands Prof Judith Atyang, former Maseno University Social Science lecturer Caren Aketch, Management and Economics lecturer at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology Dr Rose Kisia and high school teacher Valentine Otieno, all seeking to succeed incumbent Rozah Buyu who has opted to go for the Kisumu West MP seat.
Now folks, it is not the first time such news – of top notch brains dominating a political race – are emanating from Kisumu, Former Prime Minister and ODM Leader Raila Odinga’s home turf. The senatorial race in the same county has among others two professors: Law Prof Tom Ojienda and Prof Ayiecho Olweny, a former Assistant Minister for Education. The current Kisumu governor is none other than Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o.
As I read the Kisumu Women Rep race story, my mind fast drifted to Kisumu County’s peer, Kiambu County, the backyard of Raila’s Handshake brother President Uhuru Kenyatta where, the unfolding political contest is a stark contrast of the Kisumu one.
Unlike in the lakeside county where it is a contest dominated by the finest brains, with a few intellectual weaklings being the exception, in Kiambu County – the home of two of Kenya’s four presidents – the scenario is a complete opposite; a battle dominated by leadership intellectual dwarfs with a few notable brains being the exception. What an irony!
But the state of affairs in Kiambu would not be worrying if a few dynamics were not at play. Kiambu is no doubt the most urbane county, outside a city, after Nairobi. It is not just among the places where civilization landed first; Kiambu boasts of some of the highest literacy and enlightenment levels owing to its proximity to Nairobi and an enviable concentration of stellar education institutions which include several national schools and globally celebrated universities. Kiambu is also not short of good brains; some of the finest minds come from the county.
With that in mind therefore, one would not help but wonder, what exactly is amiss in Kiambu so that, in the upcoming elections, just like in previous ones, brains appear to be getting sacrificed at the altar of mediocrity, empty rhetoric and braggadocio?
Just look at the patterns of the recent past. In 2017 for instance, then incumbent governor William Kabogo who was by all standards doing quite well, was shown the door ruthlessly by the Wanjiku of Kiambu to pave way for his Punjabness Ferdinard Clifford Ndung’u Waititu Baba Yao, a man whose academic, intellectual and leadership record we all know. Even James Nyoro, the only brain worth consideration in the now infamous United 4 Kiambu formation that propelled Waititu to power, was forced to play second fiddle, at times even being overshadowed by Reverend David Kariuki Ngari alias Gakuyo, another soul who is no doubt a mockery to leadership and intellectualism. Gakuyo would call for prayers in a campaign rally and then go ahead to hurl unprintable words to opponents in between the prayers; I doubt such prayers went beyond the O-zone layer. The other day, I heard that Gakuyo is now seeking the Thika Town parliamentary seat and his manifesto is simple; all women must wear panties!
Of course as expected, when Waititu took over, he went ahead to run the county in a style never witnessed before, where no rules apply, eventually prompting an intervention to oust him lest the President’s county sank into an abyss. Waititu’s only legacy was the ‘Kaa Sober’ cash cow ‘initiative’ where he used billions of county funds to pay drunkards, in hard cash, so that they could stop drinking, only for them to rush to the nearest watering hole and flood their throats using the same money! In a recent interview, Waititu said he remains very proud of the initiative!
Back to the Women Rep fiasco, by her actions and utterances, incumbent Gathoni Wa Muchomba has also proven not to be of much value to a county that is home to many women of substance like celebrated educationist Prof. Olive Mugenda. Otherwise, what would you make of a legislator whose first mission immediately after election was to demand for a pay rise? Since 2018, Wamuchomba’s tenure has been dominated by theatrics. But don’t forget Kiambu voters gave her a historic win in 2017 with a total of 915,992 votes to become the only MP to receive such a high number of votes in the entire country.
And now to succeed Wamuchomba who has decided to go for the Githunguri MP seat, an interesting list of women has lined up and a quick background check of the aspirants confirms that bravado and braggadocio might again determine who becomes the next Kiambu Women Rep.
Most notable fronrunners are gospel singer Loise Kim, motivational speaker Ann Wamuratha and women & youth rights activist Gladys Chania. Deputy Governor Joyce Ngugi is also rumoured to be eying the seat although she is yet to officially declare her interest.
Now, if you eliminate Dr. Joyce Ngugi, a very serious brain, as she is yet to declare she is running, you remain with a list of Loise Kim, Wamuratha and Chania as the topmost contenders for the seat.
Honestly speaking, what is there to write home about Loise Kim and Wamuratha?
Her music fame aside (parliament is not one big gospel concert), what is Loise Kim’s capabilities to drive a legislative agenda in bunge?
Her impeccable skills in captaining wedding cake-cutting ceremonies aside (Bunge is not one big wedding), what leadership capabilities does Anne Wamuratha have to legislate in the National Assembly?
Perhaps Gladys Chania might be an option considering that she appears to have a trace of leadership brains owing to the fact that she has been widely recognized and applauded across board for her community leadership & empowerment initiatives and the fact that she is an intellect who holds a Bachelor Degree in Sociology from Phoenix University, Arizona, and a Masters Degree in Child and Adult Psychology from Leicester University.
However, my question is, in August 2022, ceteris paribus, will the decision of the voter of Kiambu be swayed by the ideas of Chania or Dr Joyce Ngugi (if she runs), more than the entertainment of Loise Kim’s songs in charged rallies or Anne Wamuratha’s satire/pure comedy disguised as advice on how to run homes?
Or will the Wanjiku of Kiambu once again remain true to self and give us Ferdinard Waititu as governor (his Punjabness is back!), Karungo Wa Thang’wa – a theatrics master whose only campaign manifesto is “I Kau!” – as Senator, and Loise Kim or Wamuratha as Women Rep?
Only time will tell.
Alvan Kinyua is a Kenyan Digital Communication Consultant, Columnist and Political Analyst. He is the Founder and Managing Editor of The County. firstname.lastname@example.org . +254720685844