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Rigathi represents our value system and culture of believing half-truths

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

On September 13, during the presidential inauguration ceremony, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua gave a moving speech which we all took in because he spoke to our past and present dreams and aspirations.

Without mincing his words, the deputy president rambled on about everything and nothing, but ironically, his speech was loaded and we were happy.

Almost a month in office now, he has continued with that spirit of talking to our needs and addressing our values as a nation. He continues to show that he understands and respects our growing culture of believing half-truths and conspiracy theories provided they come from our favourite political characters.

He understands the power of sound bytes in a modern world where the minds of a nation can be whitewashed through a staccato of 280-character unproven statements and does not shy away from giving media interviews and talking candidly when an opportunity presents itself.

Some of his utterances have led to State and semi-State institutions issuing statements to clarify some issues and assure Kenyans that things are not as bad, even as his fans counter that the media has a sinister motive and love to see him slip, and that is why they keep interviewing him.

In one instance, the deputy president had to make a clarification himself, saying he had been misquoted or that his words about farming and forests and farmers and food security and elimination of hunger - in whichever order - were taken out of context.

Even as he was giving a clarification, some people had defended him and gave numerous examples of how what he said he had not said will be implemented. They quoted several authorities and denounced others as they explained that the system the deputy president had denied saying will be implemented had led to Kenya being food secure in previous years — and we all agreed.

During the swearing-in ceremony, the DP spoke about his pet theme of State capture, demoralised civil service, dilapidated economy, poor standards of living and generally the ills affecting the Kenyan society because of a toxic political landscape. 

He spoke about the high cost of basic commodities and high fuel prices, insecurity, personal safety, police brutality, abuse of office, importance of family, friends and a good spouse, religion, prayers and ended his sermon with a line about freedom, mostly of expression.

He said the negativity and toxicity that Kenyans had experienced from the political class, of which he is a prominent member, would end.

Rigathi was addressing Kenyans and the world just as he had done during the campaigns. He was talking about the same issues he had mentioned several times before, and he was not just exercising his freedom of speech, but also living it, considering that he said Kenyans were now free to say anything without fear. 

The free-to-say-anything-without-fear was the most important part of his speech and he was leading by example and has continued to do so. He had promised that freedom would come, and come it did, and he was basking in it on that 13th day of September.

Kenyans clapped, and were happy, as they had done when he spoke of State capture, or who was responsible for the high cost of living, while on the campaign trail.

We cared less whether he was saying the truth. We did not want to find out if it were really true that there was State capture and that a few families or certain political figures were responsible for the high cost of living because they were gaining from it.

This is the reason why we should not try to gag the deputy president now. It beats logic for us to now stand back and be surprised at what he says about the economic situation or the state of semi-State corporations and State institutions.

The narrative has remained the same, and he is not the only person who was running with it. Other politicians gave us all these tales without providing evidence; we spread them too without asking any questions, and anyone who dared ask for evidence could only be anti-development and against the uplifting of the poor.

It would be too cliché to write that we made our bed and we must lie in it, but that is closer to the true situation that the deputy president presents, and he is one of us. We are all in this bed.

He speaks to our values and value systems, addresses our unfounded fears and love for conspiracy theories and hullabaloo, and just like all of us, he is averse to providing evidence.

That is why we should all stand with DP Rigathi because he is demonstrating to us that we are now free to say anything without fear of incarceration or State capture — whatever we want that phrase to mean.