By EUNICE KIPSANG
In my literary journey, through high school to college, I came across a tome on the Socratic philosophy that espouses the essence of systematic doubt and questioning.
Sufficiently egged on by the foregoing I have decided to put on the great Athenian hat and question who really our leaders are.
We admire him because he has a lot of money — never mind where or how he got it! We gawk and gape at him in awe, even reverence. Because he is rich, he must be great and we will elect him with overwhelming numbers!
His father was a famous chief, leader or politician and so he must also be a great leader. Bypossessing his progenitor’s genes he can think likie his father. We overlook the fact that it is courtesy of nature’s lottery that Mr Progeny found himself born into that family.
Depending on which tribe is the preferred flavor of the month, we will, like sheep, blindly cheer and celebrate whenever one of “the right tribe” ascends to high office. It could be one of the big five tribes or the minorities that we all seem fascinated with at the moment. Never mind that one’s tribe should not matter as far as leadership qualities go.
Mr Big Car
As a society we judge you and condemn you by the car you drive. It is irrelevant if the car is borrowed, stolen, a gift or government property. Woe unto any aspiring leader who shows up in a tuk tuk or boda boda even if this is what they can afford! Not even when that could well be the most convenient means of transport in the circumstances. He will be consigned to the losers’ junk yard.
Mr Snazzy Dresser
I once read an article about a supposed “business mogul”. I was looking for the secret code on how Kenya can move from the third world to the space age in a single dash. To my disappointment, I found no pearls in the tale — only ghouls. Every other line in the article was about the mogul’s suits, watches and shoes. Yes, we greatly admire men who can afford and know how to wear a suit and on that basis.
Then there is the fellow who owns more land than everyone else combined and therefore he is good to ascend to the throne. Never mind that he may have violently evicted hundreds of squatters from the land, stolen public utility land or conned his hapless relatives out of it. To most of us, the background is immaterial and in any case we love leaders with such acquisitive tendencies because they come in handy for something.
Mr Church Owner
Every charlatan who starts a church and can shout pseudo-religious proclamations endlessly is a leader. This category is special. Its high adherents claim to be God-ordained. So we the masses, the sinners tremble before them. Whatever they say is the gospel truth and since they all claim to have the hot line to God, who are we to question them?
We deliver all our hard-earned cash to them in the name of building the church, never questioning their moral fibre, qualifications or asking them to account for the cash. After all, it is blasphemous to question Mr Church Owner as we might be condemned to hell.
At the end of my brief sojourn I respectfully return the hat to the truly great Socrates and ask myself, with such skewed values, why am I surprised that I elect such leaders?
The writer is a postgraduate student at the University of Nairobi.