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Humble? Tell that to the birds!

Updated Monday, April 16th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3
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By OYUNGA PALA

I recently caught the tail end of a special feature on presidential aspirant Moses Wetangula on a local channel. I was drawn to the visuals and tuned out of the dialogue. That was until the interviewer posed a question on his wealth.

Wetangula said, "I am just a humble man."

I rolled my eyes. Really? Truly humble people never have to say they are humble!

In these parts, this is a word used as cover for raw ambition. When a televangelist talks of a ‘humble home’, expect to see an opulent mansion with a manicured garden and a shimmering swimming pool. A musician yapping on about of his humble roots would more likely to be posing next to a gleaming Range Rover.

Humble is a word used by the nouveau riche to apologise for their successes. In a country where the poor stay poor, successful people understand the magic power of the word "humble".

It is the beauty queens equivalent of "World Peace". A phrase one uses, not because they mean it but because people expect them to. It is obviously difficult to be humble and run for President at the same time. In a contest to prove that you are better than others, humility only counts after you bag the prize. Besides, the electorate has previously held a dim view of humility as a presidential quality.

The record shows that in Kenya, the humble candidate never even got started. In our politics nice guys finish last. You might remember David Mailu, Joe Donde and Martin Shikuku — all past presidential candidates who came flashing the humble card. The voters flashed the red card.

Dirt poor

To be taken seriously as a humble contender, one has to die first. Perhaps this will be the enduring legacy of Wangari Maathai. Humility is not something one can show off. One has to embody the virtue. Since that is quality that is reserved for either the dirt poor or living saints, the rest of us only need to act humble.

On the podium clamouring for public office, one has to learn how to fake humility until they make it. Humility won’t get you places before you make it. It is pointless being humble to stuck-up women. Neither will humility faze watchmen or stubborn traffic police officers.

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