BY NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU
Moses Kuria’s entry into elective politics will go down in history as one of the most controversial Kenya has ever seen. It included press conferences called by other MPs from his own party, to disown his candidacy; a cold reception from what are now his colleagues in Parliament, from Kiambu County; loss of senior members of his campaign team to his opponents at the tail-end of the campaign; etc.
This all happening with the backdrop of a hate-speech case in court. However he made it ‘un-opposed’ and I deliberately put this word in quotes because his journey to be MP for Gatundu South has been anything but unopposed, whatever IEBC might say.
However Moses Kuria is now the MP of Gatundu South, and essentially President Uhuru Kenyatta’s representative in Parliament. Several people are quite unhappy about this but I can publicly admit that I am not one of them.
I am extremely excited that Moses Kuria is finally in Parliament, because as far as I am concerned Kenya needs people like him in public office; especially if we are to make any headway in the pursuit of nationhood and the structuring of a common national social fabric.
I have had my own personal run-ins with Moses. He used to attend most of the KikuyusforChange events between 2008 and 2010 where he was an unapologetic defendant of the Kikuyu community whenever it was disparaged by anyone. At one forum he literally shouted down Maina Kiai for suggesting that maybe the Kikuyus needed to ask themselves why they keep finding themselves isolated from other communities.
Moses then stormed out in a one-man protest. In another incident Moses lumped me up with Maina, Muite and a few others and suggested that we were coaching ICC witnesses; a clear and very dangerous falsehood, especially at the time.
During the campaigns we went at each other hammer and tongs, in opinion pieces but also in other public spaces, presenting diametrically opposed positions on why our respective camps; Jubilee for him and CORD for me; were the best placed to run Kenya after President Kibaki retired.
On one occasion we were on late-night program on Kameme FM discussing whether the Uhuru/Ruto alliance was a good thing for the Kikuyu community and our discussion got so heated, Uhuru Kenyatta himself, then the Deputy Prime Minister, actually called in to help redirect the conversation.
The point I am trying to make is that I am under no illusions as to what kind of person Moses Kuria is. He is not the usual ‘softly-softly’ Kenyan. He is rough; the kind that pushes the envelope uncomfortably further than most people. In fact, anyone with a basic understanding of how politics is done knows that what we saw in the run-up to the Gatundu South by-election was political hard-ball, to the extreme. Moses Kuria might once have been an altar boy, but those years are clearly behind him.
However I am convinced Moses Kuria’s entry into Kenya’s national politics is a positive development as far as the pursuit for inter-ethnic harmony in Kenya is concerned; as absurd as that might sound. Moses Kuria will challenge our political ‘politeness’, which is what has stopped us from having candid conversations about who we are as a nation.
I do not see Kuria accepting loaded statements that suggest that ‘some people’ or ‘some communities’ are responsible for Kenya’s problems, without asking for specifics. I do not expect Moses will allow Muthama, Midiwo, Khalwale, Wetangula, etc to continue ‘suggesting’ that Kenya might be better off without ‘some communities’ in power, without asking them to substantiate.
If Moses Kuria stays true to what we have seen, I expect him to introduce ‘candid’ to our national conversation, something that will benefit all of us, especially at a time we are grappling with historical issues and inter-ethnic mistrust. I also expect Moses to introduce mutual respect for community narratives, whatever they are.
Incidentally, despite all these, I also expect that Moses Kuria will be superb MP all round, because he is also an extremely smart and exposed fellow, across the board. Moses Kuria, as far as I am concerned, is the first of Kenya’s political future.
So I celebrate Moses Kuria, because he is one of the proverbial ‘crazy ones’. The misfits; the rebels; the trouble-makers; the round pegs in the square holes; the ones who see things differently; not fond of rules and with no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. The only thing you cannot do is ignore them… because they change things; they push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who do!”
Well done Moses!
(Ngunjiri Wambugu is the Director of Change Associates; a strategic political communications consultancy)