I did not go to Alliance ,but I know that Shakespeare said that ,”a rose by any other name would smell just as nice”. This proverb says nothing about the deputy president’s effect on the olfactory senses. But even if it did ,let’s assume for a second that the former Mathira MP does in fact mirror the mjengoforeman morethan he does Channel No.8 in that department relating to his appearances. Many a fashion blogger in Kenya have lamented the deputy president’s massacre of couture attire what with his Museveni suits and crass handling of chapatis atop a campaign vehicle. Dishing out chapatis as if he were handling wads of cash in a market. All he was lacking was that pink checkered mama mboga apron.
Far be it for me to speak for the president himselfu but I bet when he lamented etiquette among government employees that had something tangentially to do with his second in command. On handling fork and knives it seems that our deputy president does not distinguish between the realms of left and right. He’s a transcendental man ,as my watchman colloquially likes to put it ,”yeye hapana tambua”. No need to belabor Gachagua’s heavy importation of his native Kikuyu pronunciation into the colonialist’s language. We can fault his excellency for many things but it shall never be in doubt that Riggy G is a son of Mau Mau. He can be many things but Mt.Kenya can never confuse him for a Homeguard descendant ,of course I am not referring to Jayden Kenyatta or Keff Joinange with their Queen’s English.
But even if Rigathi Gachagua is not polished ,does not wear fitted suits or does not Donald Kipkorir his way through a table ,does that make him an inferior leader? Especially juxtaposed next to his rival Senior Counsel Martha Karua. Is Gachagua an accident that we will regret or does his ascension to power exemplify a Kenyan rendition of the American dream. Does he resemble Joe Biden’s image of a raggedy boy From Scranton, Pennsylvania rising up the ranks of Washington DC to become the world’s most powerful man? Not only do Joe Biden and Rigathi Gachagua profess the bottom up economic model ,they are both viscerally in touch with the common man. With Joe using public transport as a congressman for the longest time and Gachagua dishing out chapatis to Kenyans as if he were at a kibandaski and he was their mama dondo. Riggy G is perhaps the truest personification of the Kenyan modern man.
Not only is Riggy G a duly elected politician, he is a consummate representation of the average Kenyan male his age. While indeed it may be presentable to learn how to use a fork and knife ,does Kamau from Roysambu or Otieno from Homabay care which hand you hold the fork when in practice he uses his hand to test the structural integrity of the ugali ? Should any Kenyan leader’s self worth be measured by how well he wears attire introduced to us by white foreigners only a century ago? Riggy G does not pretend to be the Duke of Mathirashire and has never aspired to that title so why should we use Charles Njonjo’s standards to measure the son of MauMau? What is the relevance of exemplifying white markers of excellence in Kenyan society?
Our country seldom elects do-gooders who feign sophistication ,yes I’m talking of the likes of Peter Kenneth, Patrick Lumumba and our mother of integrity senior counsel Martha Mzalendo Karua. On the face of it looks like a mistake but just like Kenyan farmers ,the Kenyan voter often makes very rational decisions.Martha Karua ran on a ticket of integrity but her dalliance with British American Tobacco leaves a lot to be desired about her moral crusade of sanctifying Kenyan politics.
In many respects ,her eloquence reminds Kenyans of home guards with their western education and how ,instead of using their newly found knowledge to assist native Africans ,they instead took advantage of their ignorance ,grabbing land before their peers could discover the meaning of title deeds and private property. With the memory of rigged elections fresh in our minds ,it strikes one as doublespeak that Martha should lecture Riggy G on matters integrity or fairness. The first currency that Riggy G possesses that defies gentrification is the trust that voters place on him. He speaks and dresses like most Kikuyu uncles at family gatherings. Unabashed by millennial stares or Gen Z questions ,Rigathi Gichagua is a burning image of most Kenyan fathers if you substitute his Kikuyu accent for Kamba ,Luhya or Taita. You seldom need to guess just how Riggy G feels about any issue, he always gives us an unadulterated version of his feelings ,raw and flavorful just like Muratina (if you have ever enjoyed western wines shame on you for looking down upon muratina that stuff is smooth).
So what at first appears to be a trite argument about appearances ,fluency and finesse evolves into an interrogation of what is the true definition of a Kenyan. Like Rousseau said about finding the “people’s general will” ,what was true of Kenya in 1963 has perhaps received an update. Kenya’s social conscience has had time to simmer in British sensibility and marinate in native nostalgia. The result is an acute awareness of self, of what it means to be African ,of the rehabilitation of the Mau Mau image. Dark complexion is not a blot on beauty as Joseph Conrad once made us imagine. Dreadlocks have little to do with dread or fear ,dreadlocks are an expression of black courage to be oneself ,almost a blooming of sorts.
This idea that development is a sterilization of Africanness/blackness -shaving one’s God given hair ,using fork and knives and wearing the finest Italian suits has been dented with the election of the son of Mau Mau. Rigathi Gachagua is so unapologetically African in his grasp of the real issues afflicting Kenyan women ,policemen ,businessmen and even civil servants. He is that proverbial rock that would be thrown away but that Christ would choose as a cornerstone for his church. And I for one am so glad that this man of the people was elected to serve because this continent belongs to us. As we lay the Queen to rest it is very befitting that this year begins with the ascent of Kenya’s most deserving son – the son of Mau Mau. He is a rose by a different name ,but to me and seven million other Kenyans he smells just as nice.