In Plato’s ‘The Republic’, Adeimantus of Collytus sorely disputed Socrates’ idea of a good philosopher in republic.
Most “men of the knowledge” that he knew of at the time were either useless or vicious. Those, however, were not the kind of philosophers Socrates was alluding or leading to.
The philosophers who should wield power in Plato’s republic are those so much illuminated by the idea of the good as to see beyond the changing empirical phenomena, and who reflect on incorporeal values of truth, justice and even beauty.
In Shakespearean prose, they are “constant as the Northern Star, of whose true fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament.”
Last week, Mutahi Ngunyi, public intellectual and member of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inner court, issued a public notice of his defection to President William Ruto’s side, citing change of facts which, in turn, fed into his change of mind.
“For the record; I am a gun for hire. And then? What will you do about it? I am a dog of war. A dog for hire. A mercenary for public good. I do not care about credibility. It never fed my children,” he declared.
For three years, Ngunyi fired acerbic volleys at Ruto’s political side. Nothing good could come out of Ruto’s political wing. They were idiots, murderers, boring, gays, fellowship of thugs et cetera.
A review of his yearlong volleys, from January to December 2022, reveals a picture of a steadfast dog of war, completely sold, first, to a regional brief, and secondly, the bastardisation of the whole of Ruto’s campaign machinery.
From the review, it is clear Ngunyi’s brief was largely a Central Kenya affair. A good percentage of his volleys were aimed at his community. Indeed, his first tweet of the election year (2022) was a direct address to the Kikuyu nation:
“Dear Kikuyus, we cannot ignore Kiambaa. We will forget, but never forgive. Eat Ruto, vote Baba,” he tweeted on January 3, 2022.
He would replay the Kiambaa card several times, but mostly at his desperate and frustrating of moments. Very early in the year, Ngunyi seemed quite alive to the fact that Ruto was running away with the Central Kenya vote.
And true to his claims last week, Ngunyi had warned Raila’s team against relaxing. On Raila’s 77th birthday on January 7, he required of the birthday boy to put in more work in his campaign.
“Fact: You will become the 5th. Caution: The battle is hardest when victory is nearest. Advice from the gods: Work five times more than you have worked in the five times you have run for President! You relax, you lose,” he tweeted.
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When Musalia Mudavadi’s ‘earthquake’ moment came and he crossed to Ruto’s side, Ngunyi declared him a “blind man in a dark room chasing a black cat which is not there.” Mudavadi must have been bribed to cross sides, he claimed.
But he was straying from the brief. On February 4, he came back to the line and addressed the Kikuyu nation, advising it to be careful on who to trust:
“Even the devil was once an angel, think about it,” he tweeted, betraying his feeling that Central was gone. Even then, he took consolation in the fact that the election was eight months away.
To further console himself, he crafted the analogy of traders and market day trading. According to him, no trader- least Central Kenya traders- could tell you the price of their tomatoes eight months to the market day.
“The price is revealed a few days before. The GEMA tide will change just before election and the real price will be revealed,” he tweeted on February 16.
On March 7, he declared Ruto a “loose wire.” He hoped that “his tongue would betray him one of those days, and say something stupid and thereon lose GEMA for good.”
Things were getting thick with his brief. When the going got tough, he turned to threats:
“Dear Kikuyus: I do not see how UDA will beat AZIMIO. You will cry and gnash your teeth when the truth is revealed. Remove the scales from your eye and do a church boycott,” he tweeted on March 12.
Climbing the mountain
Still, there was no change of fortunes on Ruto’s grip of Central. As Ngunyi tweeted in the comfort of his state office in-between puffs or mugs of coffee, his candidate, Raila, was “climbing the mountain in city hotels”, meeting Central’s greying politicians.
Despite Ruto snapping up all the young, promising leaders from the region, President Uhuru Kenyatta kept off the ground, only appearing in select official events to bemoan the situation. Day in and day out, Uhuru’s allies left him, after “listening to the ground”.
When threats failed, Ngunyi resorted to the good old trick of selling fear, to Ruto:
“Dear William Ruto: GEMA will betray you. It is not a matter of whether or not. It is a matter of when. And when they betray you, you will fall from hero to zero; from grace to grass. End of discussion,” he tweeted on March 14.
By March 23, Ngunyi was giving up. Nothing was working. On that day, a poll he conducted between his candidate and “Ruto, hustler bandia” turned out 46.9 and 44.4 in favour of Ruto.
Rather than embrace the numbers, Ngunyi opted to flip them over:
“Remember: Those who cast the vote do not count. Those who count the vote determine everything,” he tweeted, reminding all of Nikita Krushev’s infamous statement.
In between his failing Central Kenya brief, however, Ngunyi was given to occasional bouts of reality checks. There was certainly no love lost between him and the ‘Deep State’. He remained distrustful of it, insisting that if it failed Uhuru, it would certainly fail Raila.
In an interview with the Nation, Ngunyi admitted at operational level, he stood at the periphery of Raila’s campaign machinery. The ‘Deep State’ characters who were at the core of it, he claimed, were clueless.
When the Building Bridges Initiative failed in the courts, he blamed the ‘Deep State’.
Occasionally, he would get downright crude, like on April 8 when he claimed Ruto was a creation of the Freemasons. He also claimed Ruto had a covenant with dark forces. Not even the solemn, national mourning of former President Mwai Kibaki in April was spared.
When Ruto suspended his campaigns to mourn Kibaki, Ngunyi declared it a lie saying he (Ruto) had wanted Kibaki charged at the International Criminal Court. He insisted that Ruto was broke.
When Ruto, in his role as Deputy President, mourned Kibaki at his burial service, Ngunyi declared that he spoke gibberish. He claimed the DP had “nothing memorable to say about Kibaki.”
The announcement of Martha Karua as Azimio running mate gave him a new lease of life, or so it appeared. Celebrating the ‘magic’, Ngunyi would outdo himself, telling Central that their “drunkard men would be led by their virgin women”.
For bolting out of Azimio in the interlude, Ngunyi declared Kalonzo Musyoka a wimp.
He tried to adopt Ruto’s choice of Gachagua as a project of the establishment, but when it failed, he declared his horror at a Gachagua presidency if Ruto were to win and be incapacitated.
“Ruto has become a slow-punctured candidate. No Energy, No Electricity. He began too early,” he tweeted on June 5.
As the election approached, it was still not lost to him that Ruto was winning. But being Kenyatta’s hireling, Ngunyi did not appear to have the moral courage to admit as much. He clung to his brief.
By June 6, however, it was getting on his nerves that Azimio was not doing as much as they should have been. He reminded them “the battle is hardest when victory is nearest”, and beseeched them to double their efforts.
Ngunyi also took time to make light of the heavy situation facing him. On June 9, he expressed his admiration for the Wajackoyah ticket, saying he had given a “voice to the dark soul of Kenyans”.
Uhuru’s technical man approached the election with trepidation, quite unlike the man who expressed absolute confidence in Baba’s victory. On July 18, weeks to the election, he was crying foul.
He complained that Ruto had flooded the electoral commission with his people for returning officers: “This is the rigging plan. Take it or leave it.”
Thereafter he took a long lull. In the Nation interview, he claimed he met Ruto privately and immediately thereafter had his accounts frozen. It is probable this was the time because, for weeks, he tweeted nothing, only to emerge on the election eve with another one:
“Something in this election smells like a rotten fish. And IEBC is the butcher. Mombasa and Kakamega fishy. Let’s pray for the soul of our nation,” he tweeted on August 8. The electoral commission had just suspended elections in the two counties.
On the same day, he claimed that “Raila will not win the election, rather Ruto will lose it”. He hoped that “history will remain faithful to science”, but cleverly left a caveat to hang on to: “But may be history will be wrong this time.”
Sending mixed signals
During the counting at Bomas, Ngunyi was sending mixed signals. According to his tweets at the time, someone was sleeping through the revolution at Bomas. And power is taken, not given.
When it became increasingly clear that Ruto was taking it away, Ngunyi immediately began to discredit the win, tweeting: “Can you compete against a thief and expect him not to steal?”
On the now infamous August 15 date, Ngunyi only hurled one tweet: “This looks like a civilian coup,” and retreated to his god-knows-where cocoon.
A day later, after Ruto was declared President-elect, he was still oozing hope, against the odds. For him, it was not over until it was over because “a gazetted President-elect can be de-gazetted.”
The Supreme Court hearings gave Ngunyi a second lease of life. Again, he took to mocking Ruto’s legal team, saying he was relying on legal infants for lawyers.
When the Supreme Court returned the “hot air” and “wild goose chase” verdict, Ngunyi was utterly crushed. Everything he had built had failed. He declared that maybe Raila had all along been a decoy, and that Uhuru had planned to hand over to Ruto.
He finally got the courage to call out his boss, saying Uhuru had acted sub-optimally in the election, that he handed over his constituency to Ruto without a fight, and that he disabled the ‘Deep State’ when it was needed the most.
The end had come for Ngunyi:
“Today I cleared my desk at State House. And it was a joy serving President Uhuru Kenyatta as his Technical Assistant. Now we must prepare for a Ruto Presidency until 2032. And then Gachagua until 2042. And then Kiprop until 2052...and so on and so forth,” he declared on September 9.
The man who had spent years gloating over his tyranny of numbers prediction had failed miserably. He tried to spin a few political theories to console himself, and ended asking the country to rally behind Ruto.
By September 14, he was beginning to come around, and declared that Ruto would make a great president. He was now sympathetic of the treatment Ruto had been receiving at the behest of his boss, Uhuru. And he found clever ways to express it:
“I have only one request. He should designate a toilet for Riggy G. Standing in queue on the urinal with Ruto at State House was demeaning of his stature.”
On October 17, Ngunyi finally admitted he failed in his brief. He addressed his tribemates: “Dear Kikuyus: I think you gambled well. You have 30% of the government. Make use of the next five years. Ruto is a generous man.”
He had spent years working up his region against rapprochement with Ruto. By October 27, he was celebrating Ruto as an ultimate political force, and generously predicting he would not fail as a president.
“For 30 years, President William Ruto has never lost a battle he fought. Fact. First man to run for Presidency round one and win. fact. How then can he lose the battle for running country?”
By November 9, he was celebrating him as a “consummate politician” and December 9, a statesman. Ngunyi’s last tweet of 2022 was a poor attempt to please both Ruto and Uhuru.
He declared that Uhuru had struck a win-win by making peace with the Odinga’s while also keeping his promise to Ruto by handing over power to him.
In a span of a year, Ngunyi had succeeded in making a fool of his intellectual self, and demonstrated that sometimes appetite is cheaper than reason.