The Star (Kenya)

Ngeno, Sudi’s con­dem­na­tion: Gen­uine or virtue sig­nal­ing?

- SU­SAN MUGWE @mug­we_s Mugwe is a po­lit­i­cal econ­o­mist and writes here on her own ca­pac­ity Politics · Kenya · Uhuru Kenyatta · William Ruto · Noam Chomsky

You brood of vipers!

How can you who are evil say any­thing good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that ev­ery­one will have to give an ac­count on the day of judge­ment for ev­ery empty word they have spo­ken. For by your words you will be ac­quit­ted, and by your words, you will be con­demned. Mathew 12:34-37.

is was an ac­count of Je­sus re­buk­ing the Pharisees and Sad­ducees. e Pharisees were the law keep­ers and pro­mot­ers of tra­di­tion, while the Sad­ducees com­prised the wealth­ier rul­ing class. Over time, th­ese two con­stituen­cies had be­come cor­rupt, le­gal­is­tic, hyp­o­crit­i­cal, wicked and op­pres­sors of the poor. e so­bri­quet ‘brood of vipers’ had a deeper mean­ing that was ob­vi­ous at first glance. e viper is an evil and de­vi­ous crea­ture with a deadly venom. Je­sus called them vipers be­cause they abused their of­fice by bur­den­ing oth­ers with strict re­quire­ments, while not re­quir­ing the same of them­selves, for steal­ing from the weak, for mak­ing gold, money and greed their main fo­cus, and for be­ing so­cial climbers.

He was an­gered by their moral grand­stand­ing where out­wardly, they made a show of right­eous­ness, yet in­wardly, they were full of the poi­son of wicked­ness. eir out­wards ap­pear­ance was to mas­quer­ade how evil they re­ally were on the in­side.

In phi­los­o­phy-speak, this is virtue-sig­nalling. It is the ac­tion or prac­tice of pub­licly ex­press­ing opin­ions or sen­ti­ments in­tended to demon­strate one’s good char­ac­ter, or the moral cor­rect­ness of one’s po­si­tion on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue.

It is a pub­lic dis­play of feigned right­eous­ness with ex­ag­ger­ated feel­ings of out­rage in­tended to make the virtue sig­naller ap­pear morally su­pe­rior by con­demn­ing oth­ers. Virtue sig­nallers al­ways have a strate­gic rea­son to pub­licly dis­play their disin­gen­u­ous be­hav­iour of ex­ag­ger­ated feel­ings of out­rage which does not re­flect their true thoughts and be­liefs. If you are a vis­i­tor to our land, you would be for­given to mis­tak­enly think that this week we had a Kenya’s Got Tal­ent on Virtue Sig­nalling com­pe­ti­tion. is was in­sti­gated af­ter Emu­rua Dikirr MP Jo­hana Ngeno and Kapseret MP Os­car Sudi were ac­cused of hurl­ing abu­sive ep­i­thets against Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, and which it was al­leged were in­tended to in­sti­gate eth­nic bel­liger­ence.

It was re­ported that the MPS is­sued the in­sult­ing re­marks against Pres­i­dent Keny­atta in their de­fence of Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto.

ey al­legedly ac­cused the Pres­i­dent of mis­treat­ing the Deputy Pres­i­dent by osten­si­bly sidelin­ing him from run­ning the af­fairs of gov­ern­ment. In their vex­a­tion, they asked the Pres­i­dent to dis­solve the gov­ern­ment and quit, if he was un­com­fort­able work­ing with Ruto. Ngeno also re­minded the pres­i­dent that this coun­try be­longs to all Kenyans and not to a se­lect few.

Sub­se­quently, the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions ap­proved Ngeno’s ar­rest and pros­e­cu­tion. e DPP stated that he would pre­fer crim­i­nal charges against him be­cause he was sat­is­fied the MP’S ut­ter­ances could po­ten­tially pit com­mu­ni­ties against each other. e MP was later ar­rested, de­spite his con­stituents’ en­deav­our to shield him from be­ing ap­pre­hended.

And just like that, as if on cue, the politi­cos and their flunkeys took to the stage to play to the gallery. ey com­peted to shout the loud­est in ex­press­ing their out­rage over the al­leged abu­sive ut­ter­ances. Some threat­ened to strip naked, while Kanu hon­chos ex­pelled the MP from the party.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more com­i­cal, the virtue sig­nallers called for Ruto’s res­ig­na­tion, never mind he is not the one fac­ing the in­cite­ment charges. ey have also been silent on mak­ing sim­i­lar spir­ited de­mands on gov­er­nors in their own par­ties, who have been charged with eco­nomic crimes.

The virtue sig­nallers are con­vinced and would like to per­suade us too, that Ngeno and Sudi are mar­i­onettes, and that their mar­i­onet­tist is the Deputy Pres­i­dent. at notwith­stand­ing, some of them are not vir­tu­ous by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. ey have equally pre­vi­ously hurled re­pug­nant in­sults at the Pres­i­dent and vice versa. ere­fore, by this mar­i­onettes as­ser­tion, they have in­ad­ver­tently in­vited us to de­duce who their mar­i­onet­tist is. And your guess is as good as mine.

Begs the ques­tion, where is the com­men­su­rate in­dig­na­tion as close to two mil­lion Kenyans — some of who are preg­nant moth­ers who de­pend on an­tiretro­vi­ral drugs from pub­lic hos­pi­tals to pre­vent in­fect­ing their ba­bies — have been with­out the life-sav­ing drugs for the last four months? Or when many Kenyans have been left vul­ner­a­ble to Covid-19 in­fec­tion fol­low­ing the Kemsa scan­dal? Or when or­di­nary moth­ers with small ba­bies were evicted out into the cold night fol­low­ing de­mo­li­tions of their houses in Kar­i­obangi and Ruai?

I sub­mit that the pub­lic out­rage we are be­ing treated to is noth­ing more than virtue sig­nalling. It does not pass the smell test. ose call­ing for Ngeno, Sudi and Ruto’s res­ig­na­tion, and the re­trac­tion of their ut­ter­ances, are merely do­ing so as a po­lit­i­cal rep­u­ta­tional in­cen­tive, given that some of them have been ac­cused of worse crimes that neg­a­tively af­fected and im­pacted mil­lions of peo­ple.

ey sur­mise that fail­ure to pub­licly ex­press moral dis­gust, might be con­strued as not be­ing in sup­port of the pres­i­dent. Would a modern day Je­sus call them a brood of vipers? You be the judge.

I do not con­done the ep­i­thets pro­nounced, but nei­ther do I ac­cept the feigned wrath pub­licly ex­hib­ited. Un­doubt­edly, this na­tion has wit­nessed worse in­hu­mane crimes, which if there was a res­onat­ing out­cry, would have prob­a­bly served as a de­ter­rent for fu­ture in­jus­tices. What we have wit­nessed is un­de­ni­ably a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Fi­nally, my un­so­licited ad­vice is to Wan­jiku. If you want to know who rules over you, look at who you are not al­lowed to crit­i­cise. If you want to know who the sub­ju­gated class is, look at who is not al­lowed to get an­gry.


For the pow­er­ful, crimes are those that oth­ers com­mit - Noam Chom­sky

 ?? / BEN NDONGA ?? Emu­rua Dikirr MP Jo­hana Ngeno is es­corted to Nakuru court where he was charged with hate speech and of­fen­sive con­duct
/ BEN NDONGA Emu­rua Dikirr MP Jo­hana Ngeno is es­corted to Nakuru court where he was charged with hate speech and of­fen­sive con­duct
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