Everyone likes a helper. Especially in these hard economic times. Actually, scratch that. Everyone likes a helper, period. Because we’ve all been through hard times.
As a matter of fact, some of us reside there. For a majority of Kenyans, hard times are the stuff that life is made of.
People talk about living from pay cheque to pay cheque like it’s a hardship. As if living on money that comes in month-on-month is destitution.
As if poverty is measured by the state of your bank account when the month turns a corner. The reality is that true poverty is measured by the distance between your hand and your mouth.
When you’re living from day-to-day, only eating if you work, having to choose between taking a matatu to your workplace and bringing home the ‘bacon’, your life is hard.
Life is hard when every spontaneous event is a crisis. When there is no financial safety net to cushion a fall from illness, accidents, lay-offs, disability, famine, conflict, bad governance, a failing economy, injustice, discrimination et cetera.
When one day away from a poorly paying job means that there will be no food for your family. When treatment for a sick child can bankrupt you.
When a dead relative lies in a hospital morgue for months because you cannot afford to pay the bill. When a friend stays behind bars for weeks because there is no money to raise bail.
Life is hard when you’re living in a world that is propelled by money and you’re running low on hard cash.
When you know that kind of hardship, you truly understand the value of a helper. Someone who will save you from the money monster that chews up and spits out ordinary folk because they don’t have the financial muscle to fight back.
On these Nairobi streets, if there is one man who has financial muscle and is not afraid to flex, it is Senator Mike Sonko. When it comes to money and the willingness to share it, Sonko is a heavyweight.
Legendary tales of how he came to the rescue of men, women, children and families across the capital abound. Reports of his unmeasured generosity and his heart for the common man are not in short supply.
Were it not for Sonko, so many would have ended up in the belly of the beast, swallowed up by the hardship of everyday life.
Were it not for Sonko, so many would have been dead, or barely alive, or incarcerated without lawful charge, or destitute, or grieving, or ailing.
For so many Sonko is a helper. And for some, he is a saviour. A moneyed messiah who sweeps in when the sky is falling down to restore order in the heavenlies.
Not many of them care where the messiah gets his money from because when someone is offering you a hand up, one of your least concerns is where that hand has been.
He is sullied on one hand and sanctified on the other, but the contradictions in his character are theoretical in a very practical world where people need help and need it urgently. So say what you want about Senator Mike Sonko.
Question his sartorial choices, his penchant for gaudy jewellery and liking for coloured hair spray. Criticise his unique manner of self-expression, his tendency to go over-the-top with his words and assertions. Speak about his largesse and grand lifestyle. Whisper about his great wealth but lack of class.
Say what you will.
Your thoughts and feelings about Sonko mean nothing to anyone who has been on the receiving end of his generosity. He meets the people at their point of need; stands in the gap for them; turns their troubles into good fortune.
He doesn’t sit in an ivory tower pontificating about what the city needs, he meets and rescues people who are standing at the mouth of the tomb, about to be buried under an avalanche of hard times.
He speaks to an impoverished majority. And this is why the possibility that he could transition from senator to governor is real.
The middle classes that voted for Evans Kidero in their masses are no match for the majority. Not when the Jubilee Party has given Mike Sonko a pass.
Sonko has said that only God can deny him the opportunity to run for high office, and it is becoming more and more apparent that the Jubilee Party is no match for the God that Sonko serves. Or for the people in whose eyes Sonko may as well be god.
But hey, in politics anything is possible; a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day, especially when a country is in the eye of an election storm.
No one knows who will remain standing when the battle for Nairobi is done.
But one thing is sure; in the minds of the majority, Sonko is saviour, giving his life for the people. It’s the thieves on the right and left of him that need to redeem themselves.