The Star (Kenya) - - Voices -

Dear Miguna Miguna, I write you from the Ital­ian city of Firenze, or Florence as it is more widely known. As you may be aware, this is the home of the fa­ther of mod­ern pol­i­tics, Nic­colò Machi­avelli. Al­most 500 years later, his mag­num opus — The Prince — con­tin­ues to be the hand­book of ‘re­alpoli­tik’. Of course you know all this, af­ter all you are Miguna Miguna. So well read, so well trav­elled, so well ev­ery­thing.

As I walk through the cob­bled streets, and I know you can imag­ine them as you read this, I am awestruck. Not just by the mag­nif­i­cent in­fra­struc­ture, but by the fact that art and en­gi­neer­ing were put to im­pres­sive use so many cen­turies ago. I there­fore un­der­stand your frus­tra­tion when your fel­low as­pi­rants now, in 2016, say that we can­not put up a light rail in Nairobi.

But this is not why I am writ­ing to you in the first place. Enough with the niceties.

You, Miguna, are be­hav­ing badly. You are like a guest din­ing at your be­trothed’s fam­ily gather­ing, but you are belch­ing and fart­ing at the din­ner ta­ble. You are chew­ing with your mouth wide open. You are be­ing of­fen­sive. You are be­ing crass. You are be­ing trag­i­cally un­palat­able, you are mak­ing ev­ery­one at the ta­ble push away their own plate in dis­gust.

Al­low me to para­phrase Machi­avelli. He said it is bet­ter for an ef­fec­tive Nairobi gov­er­nor to be feared than to be loved. Therein lies the prob­lem. You are not the gov­er­nor of Nairobi yet. You are still woo­ing an elec­torate. There­fore, it is ab­so­lutely im­por­tant to be loved.

But, Mr Miguna, it seems to me that you are do­ing the op­po­site. You are work­ing hard to be loathed. No­body loves a pompous, self-im­por­tant know-it-all. Es­pe­cially one who re­duces half of the pop­u­la­tion to ob­jects who need to have the ‘right’ skin colour and phys­i­cal ap­peal in or­der to be any­thing.

To pre­vent this tragedy from pro­gress­ing, there is one thing you need to do. And still keep­ing with the fam­ily din­ner anal­ogy, I ad­vise you to reach for a huge serv­ing of hum­ble pie, with a gen­er­ous sprin­kling of gen­uine re­morse. Let the fam­ily know you know that you were wrong. Let the girls know that their ap­pear­ance is not es­sen­tial for po­lit­i­cal suc­cess and the boys know that they can­not be sex­ist bul­lies. Take penance for throw­ing the word rape around in a squab­ble.

Miguna, re­mem­ber what Schopen­hauer said in Coun­sels and Max­ims, “Wax, a sub­stance nat­u­rally hard and brit­tle, can be made soft by the ap­pli­ca­tion of a lit­tle warmth.”

A long winded let­ter mak­ing ex­cuses and threat­en­ing to sue peo­ple doesn’t cut it. It makes it worse. In­stead, ac­knowl­edge that your words were a pro­jec­tion of an un­for­tu­nate mis­guided bias.

If you don’t do this, we are go­ing to look away ev­ery time you open your mouth, fear­ing that we will see the ex­posed hor­ror of the undi­gested mess be­ing chomped vi­o­lently in your mouth. Fear­ing that we will see the un­sightly drib­ble. We will close our ears fear­ing that we can hear the un­bear­able smack­ing, slurp­ing sounds. We will be dis­gusted, we may even vomit.

I still want those things you promised, like break­ing up the car­tels and mak­ing Nairobi the great me­trop­o­lis it should be. But first, your at­ti­tude to­wards women must catch up with your pro­gres­sive, vi­sion­ary think­ing. Other­wise, we may be bet­ter off with peo­ple who steal our ma­te­rial things than some­one who steals our dig­nity. By the way, I may or may not be here in Italy on a sex hol­i­day, but that has got noth­ing to do with any­thing. Es­pe­cially not my in­tegrity.

Sin­cerely, your po­ten­tial voter, Daisy.


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