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What those in President’s circle suggest

By Kipkoech Tanui | January 22nd 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

There is this hilarious 1930s hit: And The Pig Got Up And Walked Away Slowly by Frank Crumit It is about a drunken man lying in the gutter. He is then joined by a swine. The two sing; ‘It’s All Fair Weather’ and ‘Good Fellows Get Together’. A woman passing mutters: “You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses”.

Interestingly, it is the pig that rises and walks away. The analogy can be told better through the idiom; Man is known by the company he keeps. With due respect to President Uhuru Kenyatta, Frank Crumit’s lyrics ring in my ears each time I see him with Nairobi Senator Kioko Mike Sonko Mbuvi. Don’t get me wrong, I am not envious of Mr Mbuvi’s millions, neither am I impressed by his rags-to-riches story.

I just find his story that he has spent time in jail, specifically Shimo La Tewa Prison, useful in trying to understand him.

Sonko (as he is popularly known) was in Mr Kenyatta’s good company in Mombasa, a place he has developed a great liking for just like his father Jomo, to the extent he has been working there for weeks. If all goes according to plan, he may again like Old Jomo, move his power base temporarily to Nakuru. There he will remember to follow in his father’s footsteps to Lake Bogoria, on the shores of which the old man had a lakeside structure from where he would enjoy the sights of Tugen Hills and the Aberdare Ranges.

At a public function at the Coast, there was a near punch-up between Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho and Sonko. But that is not the story, never mind the insults Sonko hurled at Mr Joho as the President smiled with glee. This is because the insults spoke more about how we are shamelessly chipping away at the symbolic and uniting nature of the Presidency. It also showed the indignity to which we subject our President. One could say he enjoyed the tirade and could have been aware beforehand that Sonko would speak in such a manner.

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I doubted myself until he later took the microphone and told the crowd: “Hata nyinyi hamukutupigia kura”. (You did not vote for us). But voting for or against a presidential candidate is a constitutional right. The candidate who wins takes an oath binding him or her to serve the country (meaning all Kenyans) without fear, favour or discrimination.

Now what really got under my skin were the pictures that Sonko circulated of himself in shorts and open shoes in the corridors of State House, Mombasa. I refuse the thought that I am being old-fashioned or conservative because I believe there is a measure of dignity the Presidency must be accorded, even if Mr Kenyatta, who for the time-being holds the coveted seat, thinks differently.

If this is not checked, soon maybe even the swimmers on Mama Ngina beach will pose for pictures or take selfies in those corridors in their swim-wear. See, the question is not that Sonko was untidy or clownish, it is that he was taking the pictures knowing how he was dressed, to be showcased on social media, as proof that he is that close to the big man.

Secondly, there would be no problem if that is how he was dressed at a rally, but surely, unless you were going to play pool or darts at State House, it is quite unlikely you would have the temerity to walk the corridors alone taking pictures. Of course, I will not pretend to know what ‘businesses’ Sonko runs, but I will tell you that there are only a few money-making opportunities that can turn you into the ‘philanthropist’ that Sonko is. My friends, the last we heard, President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto (both of whom are not are only richer than Sonko but have greater access to the national cake) earn ‘peanuts’. Despite that, they announced that they would take a pay cut. That hasn’t happened yet.

There is another thing I worry about when it comes to Sonko and it stems from past experience. When Ministry of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei was about to flatten buildings in South ‘B’, Sonko called and talked to the President before the cameras, to make the point that not only does he have access, but can also get the President out of bed. Maybe. Sonko in the past conceded to recording and leaking to the media telephone private conversations. Who knows what he is doing when he is with Uhuru?


By the way, Sonko has demonstrated a penchant for breaking the law, say by uprooting fences or punching gates. He has also been found moving around with guards armed with unconcealed weapons in public. He has also been involved in public punch-ups and other rowdy situations.

In short, there is something suspicious about the man and he strikes me as one who may one day step on the wrong button, and probably end up in Shimo La Tewa. At that time, any recordings he might have may become handy tools for blackmail, and you can guess against who!

But for now, Mr Kenyatta’s handlers need not worry about the buffoonish image Sonko gives the big man, because Sonko is useful as the politician available to do dirty political jobs on behalf of the boss. However, even as he regales the President and makes him laugh, this comes with its own risks and time will tell.

Maybe we need a woman passing to sing those telling lyrics in Frank’s 1930’s hit.

president uhuru kenyatta nairobi senator mike sonko
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