By Charles Kanjama
One of the most successful books of inspirational literature is Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It spawned a genre, inspired several spin-offs and also became the foundation for Covey’s company. Covey (who passed on this week) then entrusted the company to his son, also called Stephen Covey.
In three years, Stephen Covey Junior doubled the company’s sales and multiplied its shareholder value. Covey Jnr also wrote a landmark inspirational book, The Speed of Trust. He explained that trust is the one thing that changes everything, in work, in relationships, and also in politics. The foundation of all trust is personal credibility.
Covey Jnr explains that credibility has four cores: first, integrity or character; second, intent, meaning your agenda; third, capability or competence: in other words, can you do the job; and finally, results, in other words, your track record. When Kenyans go to the polls, we will have to make personal choices and determine which candidate we trust most to steward the country.
So my first reaction to Miguna’s critical biography was, ‘Bring it on.’ Indeed, democracy would gain if we could get several Migunas writing factually on each presidential aspirant. So I commented, “If you plan to step into the ballot booth next year and cast a vote for the best candidate, and yet you will not make an effort to learn more about them, you cannot be helped...”
The main purpose of Miguna’s critical biography, ‘Peeling Back the Mask’, is to deconstruct Raila the man and the politician. But Miguna still directs withering critique against other political players in Kenya, both on ODM and PNU’s sides of the Coalition Government.
The rejoinder of Sarah Elderkin, one of Raila’s communication advisors, was equally fascinating. She adopts the ‘tu quoque’ or ‘what about you?’ approach, and deconstructs Miguna as “... a person with deeply worrying issues and insufficient personal morality... to prevent him embarking on a campaign of all-consuming personal vengeance filled with hatred... Miguna Miguna’s lack of political wisdom is the reason he became a dangerous loose cannon.”
On Miguna’s claims of corruption in the Prime Minister’s office, Elderkin attacks, “He was extremely gullible and exploded loudly on a regular basis... It was embarrassing because it was nonsensical. Miguna was often chasing ghosts, and this became a huge encumbrance to operations in the PM’s office.” Elderkin concludes. “Miguna’s spite and malice was the guiding principle in writing this book.”
I keenly read Elderkin’s rejoinder. I appreciated that her ad hominem arguments were simply a response to Miguna’s own personal attacks. But I felt that Elderkin’s flights of fluency had merely dodged and not adequately confronted the various factual claims in Miguna’s book.
More surprising are Elderkin’s own previous recorded statements about Miguna that appear in his book. In May last year, she publicly wrote of him, “I know Miguna and I have worked with him. I have found him intelligent, well-read, well-prepared, honest, stalwart, upright, hardworking and supremely committed to what is good, proper, right and just. I also know... “That he does not suffer fools gladly.”
Most shocking is Elderkin’s leaked confidential email protesting Miguna’s suspension to Raila. She wrote, “Apart from being completely ill-advised that you rid yourself of one of the best brains around you (and you have got some nincompoops, that’s for sure), this has been done in the most disgusting fashion... You have people around you playing major roles who are irredeemably corrupt... Now you have a man who is totally loyal and not involved in your office staff’s blatant, well-known all over town corruption, yet he is suspended without pay...”
So I am a stumped dear reader. This exercise of peeling back the mask has left its three main protagonists, Raila, Miguna and Elderkin, as enigmatic as ever.