Absurd queries facing Karua and what lies below the neck

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s running mate Martha Karua. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

It is a universally acknowledged fact, that a good leader must have an attractive chin, a full head of dark hair and must have kept a household pet for at least five years. Without these, it is obvious that one cannot lead people. End of story.

If this sounds ridiculous to you, then I have three more absurd stories to tell you.

Absurd story number one: in 19th Century Kenya, ‘the natives’ were going about their lives.

The good Africans were playing their role in society, and making contributions based on their individual varied skills and inclinations.

They were busy minding their business until the colonialists descended upon them.

The imperialists, in their depraved wisdom, forcefully assigned the natives work based on their physical features and perceived ‘character attributes’.

The Luhyas were deemed loyal and were therefore engaged as domestic servants. Maasais were seen as the tall, regal and stoic tribe that would make the best administrators. Luos and Kambas, for some mysterious reason were heavily recruited into the colonial army and police force.

The Kikuyus on the other hand, were seen as dangerous and untrustworthy so they were relegated to the farms to help grow the colonialists’ cash crops. 

The absurdity is obvious: a subjective, stereotypical principle was applied to effectively determine a people’s work, destiny and maybe even self-perception.

Story number two: In 21st Century Kenya, millions of Kenyans are expected to vote for tribal representation.

Electoral history informs this, and present political action confirms it. Political coalitions are ethnic formations with kingpins expected to bring their tribal numbers to the ballot box, wholesale.

Some, like Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula have specific, numerical targets as though they were salesmen who, instead of goods, have people as merchandise for delivery to their coalition.

The absurdity of the story is that no matter how corrupt, no matter how gory and bloody the leaders’ political history, no matter how much stolen land and money, many Kenyan’s voting will be informed by a warped need for tribal kinship.  

The third story also takes place in the 21st Century, where there lives a politician of Kenyan origin called Martha Karua.

She is among the most gifted leaders to walk the land, sharp in mind and quick of wit.

She is of high integrity, standing head and shoulders above her peers, who have made the acquisition of illicit wealth a norm and deceptive politics a national standard.

She is a master of the law and a fearless defender of the country’s constitution.

Meanwhile, many of her contemporaries have made buffoonery an accepted part of political leadership and have fostered intolerance amongst their followers.

But this is not even the absurdity. The farce is that there are those who gauge her against eligibility criteria of gender and marital status. Factors that are as ridiculous and preposterous as the colonialist divisionist rationale. 

None of these things are pre-requisites for leadership, much as having a full head of hair, and owning a pet are not measures for one’s leadership capabilities.

If Martha Wangari Karua was a polygamous man named Matthew Wahome Karua, he would not experience half of the absurdity that Martha, the first woman running mate on a front-runner ticket is subjected to.

No one raises an eyebrow at Karua’s political peers who, although they confess to being devout married family men, are prolific extra-marital fathers, some with an equal distribution of children across the 47 counties.

It is a universally acknowledged fact, that the only part of the human anatomy that matters in leadership is what is above the neck.

So a person of any gender, a person without limbs, a person with or without a foreskin, a person who is young or old, a person with a life partner, a single person, a person with forty-four children and a person with one pet can be the most positively transformative and impactful leader a country has ever seen. So please, do not be absurd.