Grand theft has killed dreams, it's not pilferage

A photo of gloves indicating fight against corruption. [Patrick Vidija, Standard]

It is possible to be a Roman citizen and a Jew at the same time. Paul of Tarsus –  at once a historical and biblical figure –  was also at once a Jew and a Roman citizen.

Roman authorities arrested him in early biblical times for preaching about Christ.

His accusers, largely Jews, were unhappy with his new orthodoxy. On several occasions, they flogged him thoroughly, and framed him up before Rome. 

To secure himself from further flogging, Paul invoked his Roman citizenship on at least two separate occasions.

On one occasion, he wondered why the authorities would flog a Roman citizen without trial.

“As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?” (Acts 22:25). 

Yet, on another occasion Paul said to his arresters, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors.”

In the ended week, I had a joint Jewish-Roman moment, discussing matters of my birthplace on national television.

I considered the show as wrongly titled, “Ruto’s dalliance with the Mulembe Nation.”

Now, Mulembe is the insignia of the Abaluhya people, among whom I was born.

We flatter ourselves with the thought that we are a peace-loving people. We also love greetings. In both cases, we say, “Mulembe.”

We keep an open-door policy that outsiders consider a weakness.

We are the kind of people about whom it has been said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”  (Rev: 3.20).

We are not a tribe. We are a movement. If you want to join us, welcome. If you want to move on, you are free. But, that is not why it is wrong to call President William Ruto’s recent visits into our home a dalliance.

A dalliance is a cheeky and frivolous relationship. It is a temporary flirting, characterised with pseudo-romantic sensuous intents.

As Ken Saro Wiwa says in “High Life,” the flirt wants “to quench electric, make romantica,” and quit.

Do I put this idiom of “dalliance” to a deficient grasp of language and issues? I have often heard senior newscasters say, “billions of shillings have been pilfered.” How now? Where were billions ever pilfered? Even the simplest dictionary says pilferage is stealing of useless things. In focus, instead, is grand larceny.

In the “Bloody Code” of England, Ireland and Wales in the 18th Century, the punishment for grand larceny was death.

The crime was abolished as recently as 1969. It was disaggregated into theft in its various guises, such as burglary, forgery, fraud, robbery, piracy, extortion, embezzlement, looting; among others.

In Kenya, high theft is deodorised. It is called “corruption.” The thieves are shameless, because society is permissive.

Together with their sympathisers, they are shocked about President Ruto’s prescription of banishment, imprisonment, or death. They say this is unlawful.

Maybe because the law does not say so? But, is there a case for enacting laws to provide for this, if they don’t exist?

Whatever the case please, don’t call grand theft pilferage. Grand theft has got us in the sorry place where we are. The cost of living is rising like the tide. I lie if I say I know where we are headed. I can only say we are in a very bad place.

Shall we get out of this place? I don’t know.  Still, President Ruto must go everywhere in the country, taking them their share of national development. This includes, unapologetically, visiting Emanyulia. 

Dr Muluka is a strategic communications advisor.