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Why NASA got it wrong in Bomet

By Kipkoech Tanui | February 10th 2017
The issue today is not whether it achieved the set objective, which was to demonstrate NASA can get away with a slice of Rift Valley’s vote, by bringing Mr Ruto on board to join Kanu, represented by Secretary General Nick Salat.PHOTO: COURTESY

The National Super Alliance rally in Bomet last week to me was counter-productive.

The issue at hand was the wooing of Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto through his Chama Cha Mashinani Party. He was the host and politics is a game of seduction where one tries to be as charming and inviting as possible.

The issue today is not whether it achieved the set objective, which was to demonstrate NASA can get away with a slice of Rift Valley’s vote, by bringing Mr Ruto on board to join Kanu, represented by Secretary General Nick Salat.

I am focusing more on how they couched their message; it seemed to have been, ‘Let us go there and make the DP look horrible’. They are entitled to their opinion, but they should have said it elsewhere.

The leaders’ unsavoury remarks horrified me more because they seemed choreographed against Deputy President William Ruto.

Hold on, friends, I am not defending Mr Ruto against the claims of corruption and the supersonic speed at which he has become rich. That is for Kenyans to judge.

The point is that the rally showed a side of NASA that is ignorant of the counter-productive nature of this demeaning talk among the Kalenjin community. One leader rekindled the jokes that had been going round since the story of baby Abby Ruto broke.

I hate to repeat this but he was clear that this was, as if conception can happen any other way, a product of ‘condomlessness’!

Did he imagine for once that in the rally there were mothers, fathers and their sons or that this is about a young girl and mother who could be watching TV?

Another one talked about buttocks; yes, matako. Then half the time they spoke about William Ruto and less of President Uhuru Kenyatta and this Jubilee madness of corruption and alienation of certain sections of the country under the banner of tribalism and ‘tyranny of numbers’.

I will not speak of other communities for first, I know little and second, this is the community I was born into.

Sexual innuendoes are taboo, especially in public and in reference to someone who is a parent. Secondly, whereas a section of Kalenjins are disenchanted and unsure of what they have reaped from Jubilee, they frown at an ‘outsider’ coming to their kraal solely to spit in the face of their son.

This is not to say that if Mr Ruto were corrupt they should not have raised it, but the language of delivery should be well chosen, and devoid of insults.

When you insult him before them, instead of focusing on what NASA has to offer them, then the opposite happens. See, the Kalenjins have a saying; ‘ngo-samis murian kobo got nebo) (A foul-smelling rat belongs to the home it belongs to.)

That is why Kalenjin politicians hardly attack their rivals within the community by name or on personal grounds. As they grow, they are tutored to demonstrate respect and decorum directed even at those one hates or disrespects at a personal level.

So you now have an idea why the crowd in Bomet appeared lukewarm when they were asked to wave back with the NASA salute each time the condemnation was made.

Finally, they demanded that Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ng’eno addresses them even though the MC – Senator Elizabeth Ongoro - had declared the session for MPs to speak was over and it was now time for the co-principals.

This man has a way with words and even the most virulent criticism of the DP is couched in analogies and sayings. That is why they cheered him more than some NASA principals.On the national scale, it will help the politicians to respect the cultural sensitivities of the communities they are addressing.

That is why even though in the 2007 elections the Kalenjin rejected Kanu, directing insults at former President Moi were frowned upon even by those who disagreed with his style of politics. Elders are regarded with respect because of age and the fact that they have done their part.

I know some would argue the DP too has used insults against his opponents, especially Senator Gideon Moi, and right in the middle of Tugenland. My response is to point to you the reprimand he received and to take note that he has not done so of late.

Why? Because he is Nandi and Gideon is Tugen, so you insult him right at his doorstep and the backlash is immediate.

It is also important to point out that even at the worst of provocation, the senator demonstrated restraint and respect for the Kalenjin ways of life in respect of a father, mother, the old and the young.

Now let me throw in the unpopular line whilst courting insults by those who disagree; NASA and indeed all politicians should study our ethnic sensitivities as they draw up the list of their speakers. In Bomet, Mr Odinga’s allies played right into the hands of the DP. The lesser said the better.

Finally, whereas this has solely been on NASA and Bomet rally, it does not mean the Jubilee leaders are any better; I have in fact heard worse from some bigwigs here. All in all, it seems our leaders forget they are live on television when they take the microphone.


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