Monday, September 9, 2013

Shebesh, Sonko and Kidero Behaving Badly

1st to 7th September 2013 has been one hell of a week in Nairobi, hasn't it?

We thought it was going to be all about the ICC and why signing on to Rome Statute was up there with wearing Tokyo trousers as the worst decision Kenyans have ever made, but that was before the three people we elected to the Apex of Nairobi County’s inaugural government decided to spice it all up a little bit.

First, it was Sonko Mbuvi, the money-dishing, gold-wearing, wall-punching, foul-mouthed mound of unpredictable immaturity who sometimes remembers he is the Senator from Nairobi.

The saga began innocuously enough. Reportedly incensed that a certain misguided comedian from a leading radio station had made some apparently inappropriate remarks about his daughter, the senator decided he was going to call the radio station and make his displeasure known.

Which, in my opinion, was totally fine.

If voicing his displeasure was all he was interested in.

But Senator Mbuvi’s call to the radio station and his conversation with a leading female presenter from the station, rather than end at displeasure-voicing and apology-demanding or, if absolutely necessary, display the kind of reasoned debate one would expect from a graduate of Punjab University voicing his displeasure, instead produced something straight from the theater of the farcical.

Which, in my opinion, was totally not fine.

Both the senator and the radio presenter are well known in their respective capacities, attract varying degrees of adoration and derision from the general public, and have been known to spar on occasion over a number of issues. But when the presenter asked the senator a perfectly innocent question about sustainable plans for the people of the city that didn't involve handouts, (something Senator Mbuvi has perfected into an art form,) the senator was, quite inexplicably, livid.

In furious, unconcealed rage, he launched into a lengthy, jaw-dropping rant that focused on the presenter’s presumed salary, alleged partying habits, apparent  narcotics use and assumed fondness for activities of the carnal type.

In a bizarre exchange where all pretext of cordiality was flung to the four winds, the senator mentioned everything except sustainable plans for the people of Nairobi, and instead themed his tirade around advising the presenter on exactly where to take her apparently considerable state of arousal before capping it all off with what amounted to actual threats against her safety.

Did I mentioned that the Senator had called in during the presenter’s live morning show, and all this was live on air?

For the next twenty-four hours, Nairobi and the rest of Kenya erupted.


Even in this day and age where the average scandal has an average lifespan of a couple of days, such drama as that of the senator and the radio presenter would have been guaranteed a solid fortnight on water dispenser, drinking joints and social media conversations.

But as it was, twenty-four hours was all it took until the other two thirds of Nairobi’s inaugural elected government decided to get into the action in one fell swoop.

This one too started innocuously enough. Prices are up. Salaries are not. City Council workers want a salary raise that is commensurate with the rate of inflation. They petitioned the governor, who said that was untenable at this particular moment but promised to explore the matter further in due course.

End of story? Well, not exactly. 

Next in a nutshell, the workers congregated at Jevanjee Gardens in the Nairobi CBD to force the issue. There, they were joined by Hon. Rachel Shebesh, Nairobi County’s Women Representative to the Senate and drama queen extraordinaire all rolled into one massive lump of kick-ass attitude and a WTF! hairstyle.

The workers needed a figure to lead their petition to the governor, and as an elected representative of a constituency in Nairobi that forms almost half of the county’s workforce, Representative Shebesh agreed to present the workers’ petition.

Which, in my opinion, was totally fine.

If presenting the workers’ petition was all she was interested in.

But Representative Shebesh’s presentation to the governor, rather than take the form of a calm, dignified march to the office of the county’s elected chief executive followed by an equally dignified presentation of the petition and an equally dignified wait for a formal response, instead took the form of a pandemonium-packed  invasion of a public office by a disorganized swarm of goons led by the screaming representative.

Which, in my opinion, was totally not fine.

An opinion which His Excellency Gov. Evans Kidero, the elected Chief Executive Officer of Nairobi County, totally shared.

So totally shared that when it became apparent Representative Shebesh did not understand how not fine he was with her antics, he lifted his right hand, revved it back a couple of feet, changed its trajectory and connected it, hard, square and solid, with the pile of flesh on Representative Shebesh’s left cheek.

Did I mention that all leading media houses had sent reporters to cover the event, and all of them caught the incident live on camera?

Nairobi, and the rest of Kenya, erupted.

Before we continue, let’s get one thing out of the way.

It has always been my opinion that the use of violence, both physical and non-physical is an inescapable social reality, and every incident of physical or verbal assault on anyone by anyone else, regardless of sex,  should be considered within its particular context.

But that said, my opinion has always been that, if you are a man, then;

  • Unless you are in reasonable danger of actual bodily harm from a woman, or,
  • Unless a woman has harmed/insulted your mother, your child or your basic honor,

You are under no circumstances whatsoever to lift your hand or mouth against any woman.

I am sure this is an opinion shared by a very great percentage of the world’s civilized adult male population, and I am fairly certain Governor Kidero, clothed in his irritating aura of haughty, dismissive over-achievement, belongs to this population.

I am not too sure about Senator Mbuvi, though.

Senator Mbuvi is a maverick, as non-conformist as they come and as obnoxious about his non-conformism as a septic tank in a slum abattoir. But much as some of his antics can be remarkably original and attention, grabbing, he needs to understand that there are certain lines leaders do not cross, certain depths true leaders never descend to.

 Such understanding, though, can only come with a certain level of maturity, which Senator Mbuvi’s attack on Ms. Caroline Mutoko did not display. Even with the benefit of context, the attack was unprovoked, unwarranted crass, juvenile and in such unbelievably bad taste, anybody who listened to it will need a lifetime’s supply of sweet liquid chocolate to wash it off. 

As for governor Kidero, his actions were, indeed, way out of line. But like I said earlier, context is very important in the consideration of any incident, and goon invasion of the office of the capital’s Chief Executive sounds to me like a very reasonable context for more than just a little violence.

Throw in a crazed woman screaming to the said Chief Executive’s face and I may not agree with it, but I can totally understand a hard, square, solid one right to the pile of flesh on said crazed woman’s cheek.

In conclusion, Nairobi has in the past couple of days witnessed attacks, both verbal and physical, by and on prominent personalities. That in itself is a man-bites-dog occurrence indicative of the kind of Nairobi decorum and social manners we do not want, and therefore  worthy of certain actions by the personalities in order to see that it never happens again.

Senator Mbuvi needs to grow the fuck up.

Governor Kidero needs to take anger management classes.

Representative Shebesh needs psychiatric help.

And all of them need to call a joint press conference, apologize to Kenyans, promise never to bring such shame to us again.

And, further in Senator Mbuvi’s case, an announcement of a lifetime’s supply of sweet, liquid chocolate to every Nairobian.

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