A 2005 anthology described tears as vehicles of feelings that go too deep for language - the sorrow of exile, the sparkle of ecstasy, the weight of memory and the wound of empathy.
In Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination, Kimberley Christine Patton and John Stratton Hawley say tears serve as gatekeepers to a level of emotion that, like holiness, eludes a certain range of normalcy.
“Yet at the same time, weeping ‘guards the gates,’ preventing open communication and complicating efforts at translation or interpretation. Tears resist grammar; they are ineffable,” it says.
For two days, since Tuesday, Kenyans waited in bated breath for an explanation on why Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka would skip his own swearing-in as “Deputy People’s President.”
Memes and jokes
The internet was bursting at the seams with creative memes and jokes, not just on the person of Kalonzo, but also his community. His supporters were livid, hyped to the limit but confronted with a no-show.
But when he showed up at the press conference with Raila on Thursday afternoon, all it took was a burst of tears to silence friend and foe.
“My brother here has got a sick wife, who is ambulant in the house. You can imagine the kind of shock when a grenade is thrown and bullets fired in the compound,” Raila said as Kalonzo bent over slightly and wept.
From this point, the memes ceased. The insults stopped. The hero in him bounced back. And he was left to be.
Before him, Deputy President William Ruto had earned himself the undisputed title of the weeper. In the aftermath of the 2013 General Election, Kenyans were introduced to their weeping DP by Reverend Teresia Wairimu of Faith Evangelistic Ministries.
While being prayed for, Ruto was seized of the weeping spirit, possibly walked down his torturous past and reminded of his glorious present, savouring the Jubilee win. When he was given unto the podium, he broke into loud sobbing as his wife Rachel clutched on to his shoulder.
Ironically, Rachel, whose Biblical namesake from Ramah is renowned for weeping, never shed a tear. Instead, she held back her nose warding them off until Pastor Wairimu stepped in to end the show:
“It is well, it is well,” she said and brought the curtains down.
From that day, Ruto has been weeping.Kalonzo’s nemesis in Ukambani, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, tried it too. Cornered by ex-Senator Johnstone Muthama, the media enthusiast burst out in torrents of tears. “We will not accept politics of the past. Those who agree raise up your hands,” Mutua said wiping tears and voice breaking.
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko also cries out in public. When he gave his victory speech after the 2013 polls, he almost broke down. More recently when his daughter reportedly fell pregnant, he wept over it while raining her with a love monologue.
“I love her, she is my daughter and I love her no matter what,” Sonko teared up in an amateur video that went viral.
And when city politician Charles Kanyi aka Jaguar was beaten to the game by Maina Kamanda, he resorted to tears to turn his fortunes. Kamanda, an old stagger in the game, laughed it all off with a cheeky remark:
“He’s like my son. If he comes to me and says daddy come we talk, I won’t chase him away.”
It is possible Jaguar dragged his tears to Kamanda for soon thereafter he had his way.
On the international scene, leaders have been weeping. Canada’s Prime Minister Justine Trudeau has been weeping. Former President Barack Obama too. Bill Clinton used to tear up. His wife Hilary as well.
Psychologists say tears make leaders appear more human to their people. Others say they are deployed for convolution purposes - blur the truth.