Moses Kuria: Courier of coarseness veiled as right to freedom of expression

Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria during launch of voluntary carbon market second auction in Kenya. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria is an intelligent man. The intellectual world has a full vocabulary of its own and does not need assistance from the world of the vulgar. But Kuria chooses to import rated phrases into his public expressions. To some, his unfettered use of words comes across as boldness - one unafraid. But the virtuousness of boldness is negated by the viciousness of disdainful content.

Kuria is not the kind to lose an argument. He does not apologise. He must make the point that he is not stupid - even when he sounds so. The CS will always find a line of argument that justifies his words - even when the line is leaky. Even when it is obvious to everyone - including himself - that he is wrong, he will wrestle with criticisers to make sure the last word is his. He literally "keeps his word."

Amidst harsh commentaries seeking to floor his worthiness as a leader, he pushes to be the last man standing. But that he is the last man standing should not connote victory or that his critiques have fallen. Skunky language repels. Pro-sobriety people will choose not to spend too long a time in his environment and leave him alone in his foul atmosphere.

Kuria is as eristic as he is specious. He will attack the sight of the seeing and lecture them on their blindness. He will oppose the voice of reason and talk of its refined foolishness. When you argue with him, be prepared to lose. He will not hesitate to dig up some mess from your past to back up his words. And just when you think his statements are awful, he goes to the same bag of nasty vocabulary and moulds another statement as if to mockingly say "Uta do?" (What will you do to me?).

Kuria is not nice. Censored language is now part of his brand. Whether this corrodes or builds his brand depends on how one views words and their phrasings. A wider segment of our community has been parented and tutored with the wisdom that words matter. Coarse language is chided. And in a world where role models for boys are in high demand, Kuria's talks are often used as examples of how not to speak.

Do not let his "Praise the Lord" at the start and the characteristic "God bless you" at the end fool you. These two spiritual phrases are just the outer bread of a strange sandwich. The patty is in between! The foul filling neither praises the Lord nor blesses the listeners. His consistency affirms that his unpalatable phrasings are never a slip of the tongue. His snide sentences could be as pre-meditated as his sober expressions.

It appears that Kuria's worldview licenses his public vulgarism. To the extent that his words spring from his worldview, a mere reprimand to mind his language is too simplistic to persuade change. Laying down coarse language is a process that would necessitate a revision of his life philosophy. If CS Kuria considers his hair-raising phraseology an asset, laying it down would be to him a loss he is not willing to incur. His current worldview needs to be accompanied by an arsenal of knifing words. Only a change in worldview can birth a change in vocabulary.

His bosses, who are usually quick to invoke moral calibrations, seem to have surprisingly developed immunity against Kuria's vulgarism. When your boss cannot call your mouth to order, then your pronouncements must be of significant political value. But some things are just wrong - whoever promotes them notwithstanding.

The tolerance and defense by his bosses and colleagues is tantamount to wrapping Kuria's coarseness in political foil and serving it to the public as a right of expression. I wonder how it would be if the entire administration adopted the Kuria accent. A tower of Babel it would be! If it would be wrong if done by all, it cannot be right if done by one. The most famous speeches and quotes by world leaders past and contemporary portray rich language decorum which renders vulgarism an oddity.

Scriptures consistently instruct and guide that words matter. That the holy scriptures are described as "The Word of God" affirms that words are a central part of the divine activity. That Jesus is called "The Word" gives the bearing our words should take. Our words are best when they rhyme with The Word. Better still, our words are best when they are drawn from The Word. When some followers were deserting him, Jesus asked his disciples if they too wanted to leave. Peter responded, "Where do we go? You alone have the words of eternal life." Words of life - even eternal life. Some needy person told Jesus, "Just say the word" - a word that heals. Words in the scriptures are connected with life, healing and eternity.

The dark side of the spiritual world has its words too. The devil is described as one who has lies as a native tongue. Lies are not only the opposite of truth. They serve as distractions from what is right. Lies lead to the left and are midwives of death. At the Genesis of things, no sooner had God said "Do not eat..." than the devil came in and asked, "Did God really say?" This distraction opened the door to death. Lies grow beyond just words to become institutions and systems - "System ya majambazi" (gangster system). The majambazi system has its vile-spreading ambassadors. Words dipped in deception attract and distract humans to the expressway of death.

Words are chosen to serve an end. The word baskets are there for your choosing - reviving words or killer words. It is my submission that being a courier of killer words serves a weaker purpose. Life words revive - and this is the basket leaders should harvest their vocabulary. That world was made out of words - "Let there be...and there was" affirms that words matter - a lot. Words are clay - you speak, you make. If a leader happily builds with clay intentionally harvested from the wild side of the moral quarry, the completed work will be a series of x-rated scandals.

It may be a lot of work, but maybe one-day CS Kuria will ditch the foul basket. I imagine he would have a way larger audience - an attentive audience - which is fair to his brilliance.