“The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while”
– Albert Einstein
Kenya, we are a very interesting people, we claim there are two tribes –poor and rich–, but the reality I’m seeing is that we are still very partial to literal tribe, to an ethnic agenda that is no agenda at all, because it is informed by nothing rather than a response to the most base of feelings, a need to prop up our tribesmen first and damn the consequences, after all we reckon the elevation and enrichment of one is a collective victory for us, us being a loose nation of one tongue.
Look at the Clifford vs Jimnah battle, most young and learned friends who gravitate towards TNA were with Mbaru because frankly he was better qualified. Same scenario on the ODM side where many were with Kidero over Dr. Bishop Mrs. Kamangu for obvious reasons. Now Wanjiru of course got knocked out on a technicality, but Clifford somehow beat Jimnah (the snotty middle-class friends said it was slum dwellers’ fault, never mind Jimnah beat Waititu in Embakasi but lost to Clifford in Westlands).
The dilemma for my schooled car-driving mortgage paying friends who had fronted Mbaru was what to do: stick with the incorrigible hooligan representing the petite bourgeoisie in Clifford, or switch to the condescending Karen denizen and representing the nouveau riche in Dr. Kidero. The choices were not easy, it is not easy in Kenya to abandon tribal affiliation for the sake of competence, especially not when it pits the lakeside vs the mountain.
Then came the debate yesterday. Kidero came out to attack Clifford, Clifford took the insults with unexpected grace. Kidero wanted to show he had travelled the world’s capitals and their slums, Clifford effortlessly showed he had come from the gutter and still had a pass to the gutter. Kidero looked out of touch. Clifford connected with the informal population, and they heard him, they are the majority. They saw only privilege and entitlement in the Doctor bemusement at Clifford’s simplicity.
And so a lifeline was handed to the more educated voters who had rooted for Mbaru but were now facing the prospect of holding their noses and voting for Kidero; voting for perceived competence over the cold comfort of voting for “one of ours”. Now they could update blogs and facebook and twitter with self-righteous pontifications on Kidero’s non-performance and arrogance, and in one fell swoop endorse one who had hitherto been termed an utter and complete hoodlum. Kidero seemed to have the ear of the middle-class thanks to his qualifications. But Clifford was reborn, thanks to Kidero’s poor performance that turned away a fickle swing vote. And Clifford might just become governor, thanks to this swing vote that is now back to being beholden to the politics of tribe.
Get ready for governor Clifford Ndung’u