Why Waititu, Sonko emerged victorious


The sheepish reactions by the elitist urbane and pretentious middle class towards Ferdinand Waititu and Mike Mbuvi Sonko’s triumph in the just concluded TNA party primaries for Nairobi County gubernatorial and senatorial contests are astounding.

They generally point to one fact; that people who live in the comfortable and privileged parts of the City have no clue about life in the highly congested parts and are scared of losing the privileged near-lord status they currently enjoy. But are the people expressing shock and disgust at Waititu’s and Sonko’s triumph through social media right?

I have previously registered and voted in Starehe Constituency since 1992, and I must admit I have never cast a vote in favour of Mr Jimnah Mbaru. At the heat of campaigns, his competitors always paint him as an arrogant, snobbish and elitist manager who belongs to corporate boardrooms.
The voters in parts of Eastleigh, Pumwani, Majengo and Mathare seem to have accepted this description of Mbaru thus branding him the distinction of a perennial loser in Starehe.

What the people expressing shock and pouring vitriol against Waititu fail to appreciate is that Kenya is a democracy and the people who live in Mathare, Kibagare, Mukuru, Githurai, Kawangware, Umoja Kayole etc have equal votes to those who live in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi.

In politics everybody has and is entitled to their opinion; however in an election only the votes that are cast and counted matter. The people who woke up and braved the cold morning chill and endured the hot afternoon sun have spoken. Waititu is their governor of choice; Sonko their senator!

On the other hand it is unfortunate that Jimnah Mbaru is the Facebook & Twitter governor, for the snobbish and pretentious elites who were perhaps too lazy to wake up or too busy to queue (read ‘waste’ time) and vote in party primaries! The good thing is that our Constitution guarantees the right to equality before the law in every aspect of life; thus a slum dwellers’ vote is equal to that of a Karen tycoon!

Now, a counter-reaction to the pretentious urban elite; your whining will not help; in fact it displays the disdain that the elitist wannabes have towards the real workers who drive the economy of this city and the country! That you have resources and can afford to use acres and acres of cyber-space in social media to pour vitriol on fellow citizens who believe in and voted for Waititu and Sonko actually proves that you are motivated by an arrogant, dismissive, and snobbish attitude to besmirch, abuse and dehumanise voters in places like Githurai, Mukuru, Mathare, Embakasi, Kayole et al.

This is an anti-thesis in democracy where basic rules ordain that one man has one vote; the tycoon in Karen has an equal voice with the voter in Korogocho! Or is that a very hard lesson?

And anybody who imagines that leadership has anything to do with academic papers is dead wrong! Research by international anti-fraud agencies has shown that most of the fraudsters in government, private sector and in religion have a lot of good academic papers but they spend 75percent of their time plotting to steal and rob the poor.

They are highly educated smart thieves and have the same kind of disdain the local elite are showing through social media towards poor people who vote for the likes of Waititu and Sonko.

Actually any plot owner in a place like Embakasi is more likely to trust Waititu and Sonko more than Kidero or Mbaru with their vote, because they know they will not use some officialdom to grab and allocate it to some favoured well connected elite!

After all, Waititu has been arrested many times fighting against grabbing of public land in Embakasi or the forceful eviction of poor people from the humble dwellings by well connected individuals. The poor who live in Nairobi slums are victims of the predatory State ran by the educated elite in Kenya and nobody should be surprised that they support Waititu and Sonko who show concern and empathy to their plight.

Finally, it is important to consider why the super-rich Marc Ravalomanana, former president of Madagascar lost power to a DJ and TV personality Andry Rajoelina.

A study into how DJ Rajoelina got elected as Mayor of Antananarivo before ousting the president using people power would be a good lesson to people whining about Waititu and Sonko.

In the same vein the political developments in Venezuela where the poor vote massively in favour of President Hugo Chavez and his VP Nicolas Maduro a former bus driver are good lessons to the elite in Nairobi.

This may help the elites appreciate democracy and people’s right and ability to choose their leaders! Politics is not like corporate boardroom contest where money and snobbery rule. Politics is about influence and successful politics is power. Waititu and Sonko are champions of the poor; they influence the poor in the neglected and less endowed parts of Nairobi and the poor voted for them the same way they do for Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

(Collins Wanderi is a commentator on social issues)

24 Replies to “Why Waititu, Sonko emerged victorious”

    1. From my experience good managers are hardly good speakers and they are neither populists. Sometimes they make painful decisions which are firm and fair. If arguments articulated last night is anything to go by , then I don’t know what Kenyans are smoking.

      Nairobi needs a manager not a politician/populist somebody who would bring sanity into the city through
      Planning of the infrastructure- good transport network,organised communication and not the chaos we witness daily
      Shelter affordable shelter for all
      Addressing insecurity and reducing crime
      Creating wealth
      Creating employment
      Generate revenue- income generation, tax collection
      Regenerate communities
      Restructure and support informal sector
      Attract investments
      Manage wastes
      Explore alternative sources of energy
      Clean drinking water to all
      Improve standards of education, re skill, up skill the unemployed depending on local needs
      Organised governance that is inclusive
      Affordable accessible health systems

  1. rubbish. They have ‘popular’ vote but they may not get this country to the level it needs to be by 2030. My opinion. Whereas we settle for mediocrity, other nations around us play their cards more intelligently. SA, Botswana, Angola, Egypt – though troubled at the moment, Malaysia, singapore, Rwanda and Taiwan. If you bury your head in the sand, it does not mean your competitors are also sleeping. You will wake up to a rude shock, when it turns out that a senatorial or gubernatorial seat is not a city clerk’s or an MPs job.

  2. Go attend a jounarlism course…seems more like it is you Mr. Wanderi seeking attonement for your sins. ‘Commentator on social issues’..yeah right!

  3. thank you for saying this. and tollander, the one with a dream is more powerful than the one with all the facts. don’t rubbish. you might be forced to take your words back and eat humble pie.

  4. Well stated.But you would hope we would learn lessons form those very examples you just quoted.Dyu know how the economies of these countries you have quoted have performed?simply put,that something is popular does not necessarily make it right.But the point is taken,the middle class(who FYI are mainly from poor backgrounds and probably have many poor relatives) didnt vote and therefore gave the ‘poor’ a chance to choose a leader for them.BUt it still doesnt mean the choices made are the right choices.BUt they have to live with it.I will try and imagine Waititu hosting the mayor of New york…..or Nairobi trying to put a bid to host ACN!Am afraid the problems of Nairobi do not start and stop at land grabbing(unless you also think everybody in the middle class is there by virtue of having stolen from the ‘poor’),neither do they start and stop at sanitation in Kibera etc.This is the capital city of Kenya,the commercial hub for Africa………….as such requiring a broader mind.BUt such is democracy.That both of these won doesnt validate their aptness for the positions.It just validates the fact that there are more less-priveliged (sic) people than the middle class.BUt every one of those less-prive^&^ aspires to be a middle class citizen.Dont demonise it.Its the stuff that grows economies.Kidero ,Jimnah all grew up in poor families but have made it.Maybe we should allow them to show us how they made it.But as earlier stated,such is democracy.It kind of explains why,driving on any road around Kibera,Mathare,you will find alot of young men who will walk on the road in total disregard of the fact that you need to pass.We can only pray and hope that the partty that sponsors the said individuals lends a hand and puts in a team with technocrats who know and understand what needs to be done.Because after all the politics is done and dusted,the work begins.And Waititu will have to meet the international delegates relevant to Nairobi as much he has to relate with the possibly ignorant poor man who voted for him.

  5. jokers get elected…keep attending blankets and wine with those puppies and think ur governor will be voted in at your own peril. Go out and vote else Waititu is your CEO come March 5th

  6. Truth is the best aspirant seat for the Nairobi gubernatorial seat was Jimnah Mbaru. He would have made a difference for Nairobi as a whole by upgrading slums and improving the lives of those at the very bottom. At the same time he would also made nairobi an investments hub: GDP would have doubled, more jobs etc.

    When he lost I felt that Kidero would be my fall back plan. But from the face off he had with BABA YAO (lol) last night on Citizen, I can say that he is not the good manager he has been portrayed to be so far. That guy is a corporate thug and he has no vision for Nairobi. His condescending behaviour towards Waititu really hurt me.

    I came from poverty but now I enjoy the greener side of life but in no way would I look down upon someone just coz I am more educated, richer and so on. I WILL NOT GIVE KIDERO MY VOTE. I will actually VOTE FOR WAITITU. Why??? Because at least he is passionate about those who need the most help. The poor Nairobians. Let him go build toilets in Kibera and defend them. They need that the most.

    Maybe in 2017 I will give my vote to a technocrat who can change Nairobi but for now I will give it to THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE

  7. I appreciate your thinking but i find it lacking in some aspects. First, the people in slums need improvements in their living standards and waititu has no idea how to change that, leave alone any strategy to raise funds for the same; he has toddler-simple solutions for complex situations. They can vote en masse and continue to languish in deteriorated living conditions, or vote wisely for someone who will change their livelihoods. Secondly, most people airing their views in social media, myself included were denied that democratic right to vote in the diaspora. They know the change they need in order to have a better home to go back to after toiling abroad !! Collectively ignoring that fact and generalizing them as the fortunate ones from Nairobi superbs is a naive view; you ought to address these groups as well. Finally, Nairobi needs to remain competitive in the international fora. Neither waititu nor sonko have the capacity to implement that. Nairobi will be overtaken by competitive cities like arusha, dar, kampala in hosting international events and as a city of choice to invest in. UNEP and other CGIAR organizations preferred to be housed in Nairobi due to its prospective growth in infrastructural and manpower. These prospects need continuation. If your nairobi problems end with land-grabbing, i consider you shallow-minded !! We need implementation of the laid vision 2030 plan, which above all things needs a manager and enough funding. Nairobi is not Mukuru and Karen; its more about its conducive accessibility and productivity.

  8. Nairobi governorship gives the occupier of that seat the right to work with any team he deems fit to make Nairobi better. You dont have to come from boardrooms or corporate world to do that. Waititu can achieve the same things Jimnah can. Matter of fact, Jimnah can help him with ideas. That’s what democracy is all about. Clinton and Obama fought a bruising battle but they have worked together to achieve more for the country. That’s what we need to understand. It’s not about bruised egos. It’s about Nairobi and its people.

  9. The point is that if the middle class who love Jimnah had voted, the results would have been different but they did not. The middle class have to realize the importance of the primaries no matter how disorganized and time wasting they are are, it is the price we have to pay if we want our candidates to win. Waititu may not be all that bad. Now that he will be serving the whole of Nairobi, we could see the posher, boardroom, intellectual, developmental him that we did not know existed.

  10. Waititu and Sonko celebrate and grotesquely elevate poverty and benefit from it, and actually have no plans to reduce poverty – evidenced, for example, by their inability to work the legal system for their “people’s” benefit, opting instead to appear at scenes where the poor are lamenting and purporting to join them in their lamentations, occasionally joining them in destroying property etc…They, it is, who would constantly offer the poor fish, but would never teach them to fish…CHIOICE IS YOURS

  11. Waititu might not be the best to steer Nairobi into greater heights. But compared with Kidero, he is the better option. At least we came to learn how Kidero thinks of the “uneducated” when he appeared on a TV show last Sunday. His attitude gave us the impetus to scrutinize him more and realized that his performance at Mumias Sugar was not impressive at all and hence there is nothing to back the misguided belief that he is a good manager. All he has is an impressive CV and polished English to assist him talk “big issues” to make Waititu look like a kindergarten pupil.

  12. Style Up, you really think that’s why they lost? Cause snobbish rich people and middle class didn’t vote? We all voted, the person with the most votes won, simple and clear. It is after all a democracy.

  13. Collins, you are dead on the dot. On Facebook, Mbaru garnered 91% of votes cast against Waititu’s 9%. When it came to the real world, Waititu passed with flying colors. Am thrilled by your analysis, keep it up.

  14. the so called middle and upper classes are outnumbered by the lower classes. so if the issue was rich vs. poor (rich represented by Mbaru and poor by Waititu) and everybody turned up to vote, the end result would be the same!

  15. March 4 will PROBABLY be a different story altogether with people retreating to their tribal cocoons. The party nominations were largely intra-tribal contests defined along class lines. Parties, after all are organized along ethnic lines. The actual elections will see the class line disappear and people coalesce along tribal lines. We will revert to the usual inter-tribal contests. The Luo slum guys will vote for Kidero and the Kikuyu slum guys will vote for Waititu. Its not rocket science!

  16. The venom, in your commentary, against ‘those who live in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi’ is shocking. “The poor who live in Nairobi slums are victims of the predatory State ran by the educated elite in Kenya”. Who doesn’t want to live in leafy suburbs? Who doesn’t aspire to be educated to improve their circumstances? Why should improving education, infrastructure and resources to small businesses and the youth be worth considering if they will only elevate people to become snobbish and elitist? And this being the democracy you talk about, don’t those rich snobs have a right to vote AGAINST those they don’t want?

    Your commentary has a good basis, on social inequality and how it has influenced the voting trends. But your delivery is pitiful and ruins what should have been a very enlightening presentation. Please also note that within democratic systems and structures the possibility of an emergence of the tyranny of the masses is real. Just because the majority win does not make their decision the best one. Mob justice is an example of the tyranny of the masses.

    Improve the quality of your arguments, not the volume of your venom.

  17. NOW ALL WE NEED TO DO IS GO OUT NEXT TIME AND VOTE WISELY. politics is not done on social media but on those dirty ground with all the dirty smell of sweat and hot sun and loudy people. anyone who doesnt want to experience this should keep quiet. and therefore, if you all want your candidate to win go experience that.

  18. good article wanderi.You captured all the aspects of this “facebooking and twitting elites” who think that their comments and innuedos will take kidero or mbaru to office.If you are one of them n plans not to vote come march 4th then you beta go to the blanks n wine

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