What if UK's disgraced Boris Johnson was African?

Outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

At the height of the Covid-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom last year, an intern at a London beauty parlour offered to trim British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hair.

Jack Jenkins wrote to 10 Downing Street expressing his rare offer. He said the premier’s hair needed some smartening-up because it was messy and all flying around.    

Days later, Johnson’s aide Mandy Godridge responded, telling the young Brit his thoughtful offer would be considered and a decision communicated. It led to an online buzz. In one afternoon lecture during my study at the University of Oxford that time, the boy’s courage was a subject of discussion. As the premier quits having been dragged down by a series of missteps, it appears the man who changed careers from journalism to politics may have needed political primping more than the haircut the intern offered. How things change!

The bubbly Johnson, according to observers, had created monsters that eventually led to the resignation of nearly 50 senior officials in his administration.

Many people, including his bitter rivals, didn’t think it was over until it was over on Thursday.  Admitting that no one is indispensable and that when the herd instinct is powerful the herd moves, Johnson essentially ate the humble pie as did his predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron. It’s called taking political and personal responsibility. 

The former mayor, who once accused the ‘part-Kenyan’ Barack Obama of hating the UK, smelt the coffee. The gods at Westminster must be happy. But of course, history doesn’t begin and end with him. Great leaders of our time must never struggle to own up to their mistakes. Turning to scapegoats can never save one from indignity. We saw it with Richard Nixon in the Watergate saga and Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky drama.

It is the tendency by leaders to cover faults that has hurt African nations big time. If Johnson were African, he would have dug in and stayed put even if elected reps and the public hated it to the core. He would ask ‘utado?’ the Kenyan style. As Johnson falls, Yoweri Museveni, Obiang Nguema, Paul Biya and their ilk still stand despite the evident self-rule to self-ruin situation in their countries. They have become political liability. 

It’s called leadership addiction. It can come in all shapes and shades. Remember when Majority Leader Amos Kimunya preferred to die than resign when ghosts of the controversial sale of the Grand Regency hotel visited him during his days at the National Treasury?

Anne Waiguru, the Kirinyaga governor, opted for ‘lighter duties’ when she was besieged at the Devolution ministry over the theft of millions at the NYS, and quickly became a State witness. The ritual of never taking personal responsibility and ever looking for someone or institution to blame for endemic pure bad behaviour is sickening to the core. Even those who no longer perform functions of their officers continue to shamelessly enjoy the perks that come with higher officers. We have an accountability crisis which we must fix this election.

There’s talk about Kenyans and their habit of ‘recycling’ politicians. On August 9, we must elect those who can take full responsibility for their offices and set out a clear path for progress in search for social justice and equal opportunities.

Let’s not be sucked into the armpits of wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking political officers to eat up our nation.

They should know the era of gullible voters is long gone. Let’s put candidates seeking self-gain where they belong. Enough is enough. We must sanitise our politics.

The writer is an editor at The Standard. Twitter:@markoloo