George Wackoyah's humour and other jokes erode our value system

George Wajackoyah during the launch of Roots Party manifesto at KICC. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Back in the 2013 General Election, Mohammed Abduba Dida captured the attention of the nation when he vied for the presidency on the Alliance of Real Change party. The former teacher of English Literature and Religion at Lenana School, and Daadab Secondary School, became a high pressure release valve for the highly charged election atmosphere.

Abduba drew significant attention with his high sense of humour on the state of the nation and critical matters of leadership. Having put almost no money into his campaign, it is amazing that he faired quite well in the elections, garnering over 52,000 votes, ahead of several seasoned politicians.

In 2017, it was Kamotho Martin – a poor Nairobian – who took centre stage when a photograph of him eating githeri, as he queued to vote, was posted on social media. Kenyans quickly nicknamed him “Githeri Man” and he immediately became the release valve in the do or die elections. Several of his cropped pictures appeared showing him dinning with dignitaries and celebrities – even addressing the UN Council.

For all this – none of his own making – Githeri Man was catapulted into the world of fame. He was awarded different gifts by various brands and companies. But the culmination of his newly acquired celebrity status was to come on Jamhuri Day, when he became one of the few Kenyans picked by President Uhuru Kenyatta for national commendation. He was awarded the Head of State Commendation for that year.

The trend having been set, it does appear that in 2022, Prof George Wajackoyah has stepped forward to pick the baton from Abduba Dida and Kamotho Martin as the release valve for the August 9th elections. Running on the Roots Party, the highly educated law professor has captured the national stage with his otherwise extremely vacuous proposals. He believes farming bhang and rearing snakes and hyenas for export could not only wipe out our national debt, but put surplus funds in our pockets. He wants to export dogs to China, whose contracts he however intends to cancel.

Whereas there is absolutely nothing wrong with the good professor inheriting the platform left by Mwalimu Abduba and the Githeri Man, there is a vast difference between him and the two. Abduba had clean and harmless humour. The Githeri Man of course was not in charge of the stir he caused. However, there is concern as to the possible impact of Wajackoyah ideologies on impressionable minds.

Ours is a nation where alcohol and drug abuse, especially among young people, has been on a steady increase. In fact, it is most unfortunate that just when his star was rising, Githeri Man was found a man under a serious struggle with alcoholism.

It is therefore surprising that we have not only granted Wajackoyah a presidential ticket, but that we are least bemused by his assertions – finding them more entertaining than disturbing. The inadvertent implication is that we have endorsed such claims – even if only casually – and have no issue if by some remote chance the professor takes over the presidency. This can only be termed as a value erosion.

Value erosion, just like soil erosion happens slowly but its ultimate impact can be devastating. Deserts are created when we allow water to carry away surface soil, with all its nutrients, to the sea. Likewise, moral and ethical deserts descend on communities that allow their surface values to be carried away to the moral abyss by simple jokes, fads, and fun. It is through such that taboos are trampled upon and abominations are normalised. That is how the new moralists have almost succeeded in normalising such practices as abortion and homosexuality – hitherto considered abominable in many communities. They have drummed it down our ears until many now speak in serious defence of these practices.

By allowing the glorification of marijuana by a presidential candidate, we could be normalising this drug that has been proven to have negative effects on those who use it. Thus, as we enjoy the Wajackoyah humour, our children are being exposed to negative and dangerous messages. While it is appreciated that we are in a free and “progressive” society, allowing such value erosion can only be termed as being careless.