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Gathoni Muchomba: Last 'man' standing against political dictatorship

Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Before she gained national fame for her contrarian views, and which are canvassed rather loudly, Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba's bubbly voice filtered on Kameme FM under her on-air moniker, "Mu-British." This is a tangle on her surname, for chomba is colloquial for whites.

But her views were anything but British: A few years ago, Muchomba gained fame as she admonished Kenyans for their "pretentious" attitudes that demonise polygamy, yet this marriage form had served society well in the past, she said.

She challenged menfolk thus: If you are a man and you can afford to marry five wives and raise their children, marry them! She concluded: "Kwani iko nini!?" The latter expression is fluid, but it's a defiant pose intimating: so, what?

There was plenty for Kenya Kwanza MPs to fear especially after Prezzo Bill Ruto, in a strange departure from the principle of separation of powers, threatened his MPs of unstated sanctions should they oppose the Finance Bill of 2023.

And when the moment came on Wednesday night, as 176 Kenya Kwanza MPs, both male and female, rose to vote, only wa Muchomba had the gall to go against the grain and she did it in her characteristic stride.

I suspect she was enacting her radio days, reading the mantra that adorns the hallowed entrance of the National Assembly, and which encapsulates parliamentary creed: For the welfare of society and the just government of the people. Muchomba did a series of "takes."

Take 1: "I rise for the welfare of the society and the just government of the people of Kenya; I rise to oppose," she started. A few ungrammatical articles had been introduced into the text.

Take 2: "For the welfare of the people of Kenya that qualifies them to eat well, eat a meal or three meals a day, that is the way to make them the welfare of our people better." This is off-script; the qualification about the frequency of meals departed from the pithy poetics.

Take 3: "And for the welfare of the society and the just government of the people, it is our business as representatives of this House to make sure they live happily improve their welfare and make them feel they are sovereign." Now, things were getting muddled.

When poetry failed, Muchomba decided she could try prose: "I have gone to my people in Githunguri constituency and they have told me very loudly that the Government of Kenya through Finance Bill 2023 it is punitive, it is oppressive and it is scandalous!"

She delivered the last word with a throaty cry, dithered for a moment, before explaining the funding on housing was first packaged as contribution, then a levy, before morphing into a task (tax). "Is that not scandalous?' she thundered. It is scandalous, indeed, but she needed to return to the script.

Take 4: "For the welfare and the society of the society and the just govt of the people, I, Gathoni wa Muchomba, say no to an oppressive bill!"

Time was up and the four takes had not gotten better with practice. For the welfare of society and the just government of the people. Twelve words that intimate the solemn duty of parliamentarians and which was spectacularly defiled this week.

Out those who voted this week, 257 in total, only Muchomba's vote counts.

It wasn't cast in confirm to party dictates but in furtherance to an ideal that she strongly believes in, and had singularly sought to protect, at great personal peril. And she had done it only Mu-British. Hail the gallant woman of Gitgunguri who has the gall to stand up and be counted!