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What Kidero oughts to do to win women back

By By NJOKI KARUOYA | September 21st 2013


The saga surrounding Nairobi Women Representative Rachel Shebesh and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero is akin to that of a volatile marriage gone south. The similarity in this instance is that of a man ‘disciplining’ his wife for perceived misbehaviour. Sadly, immediately after the assault, there were ‘yippee’ sounds from male chauvinists whose immediate reaction to the unfortunate saga was that Shebesh had asked to be slapped. Yes, sentiments that are unbelievable in this day and age, but we must accept that we still have diehard male chauvinists who believe that women should behave like doormats, not like humans, and any time women display human—like behaviour, they must be slapped (or beaten) into silence.

How Shebesh behaves following the violent physical abuse on her person will go a long way in demonstrating to women how they should react when abused, be it by their spouses, lovers, male colleagues, relatives or even strangers.

The burden on Shebesh’s shoulders are, indeed, heavy. Being the Nairobi Women’s Representative, her actions and reactions will be analysed through the lens of ‘model behaviour’ for abused women.

So let’s imagine this scenario: Shebesh and hubby in tow come out of those negotiation-cum-reconciliation sessions hand in hand with Kidero, and declare to the world that they have forgiven the governor for the sake of service delivery. Translation: Abused women should focus on the bigger picture, like say, family peace, continuity, or family honour, instead of crying foul over a slap/ngumi or two.

Imagine this other scenario: Shebesh and hubby come out of that heated room and announce that Kidero will financially compensate the Nairobi Women Representative for the public humiliation and injury caused to her emotional and physical state. Translation: The cost of a slap/ngumi is _____ (fill in the blank).

 Scenario three: Shebesh and her team come out all guns blazing and declare that they will not settle for anything less than Kidero kicked out of a job as the Nairobi governor. Translation: Women are unreasonable. They blow ‘small’ things out of proportion and make unrealistic demands.


Scenario four: Kidero and Shebesh come out of the hot room, with their hype men and women in tow, face the inevitable cameras and directly speak to Nairobians. First off; Kidero makes a public statement that culminates with a public apology to Shebesh (facing her and looking into her eyes) followed by a public apology to all women in Nairobi and Kenya in general, for his unbecoming behaviour as a leader. Kidero will acknowledge that as a leader, he reacted like a hoodlum from the perceived provocation instead of like a leader. He will then say that in retrospect, the experience had taught him the need to keep a tight rein on his wayward emotions and demonstrate leadership skills (remember former US President George Bush and the shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist. Bush ducked and got away from the experience smiling. Imagine if he had leapt at the crowd with his folded fist thrust high in the air trying to hit the disrespectful target).

This public act of humility will definitely earn Kidero major points among women. Apologies always work wonders, which is the lost opportunity that I believe former Deputy Justice Nancy Baraza missed at the beginning of the unfortunate saga that brought her down to her knees. The public apology will also allow the Nairobi governor to show Kenyans that his violent behaviour, which went viral on social media, was a one-off event, and not his usual reaction to the women in his life when they agitate, anger or provoke him.

Shebesh, on the other hand, will act appeased and accept Kidero’s public apology (and moment of humiliation as his ego in turn takes a physical beating). She will also declare publicly the other compensational benefits agreed upon by the two warring parties (the equivalent in the traditional set–up would be goats, cows and so on) for the sake of peace and harmonious service delivery to Nairobians. The two would then shake hands (hugs even) and share tea and snacks together, laughing to the cameras to display camaraderie (forced or not).

 Translation: This is how conflicts of any nature, physical or otherwise, should be handled — with public apologies (largely before family members unless the injurer and injured are public figures) and some sort of compensation to deter such violent behaviour in what is largely growing into a civilised country, what with the Vision 2030 being aggressively rolled out and with youthful, digital (read modern) presidents to boot.

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