By K’Onyango Ochieng Dennis
These are my thoughts about Mutahi Ngunyiâ€™s hate speech case, apology and the goat he gave to Apollo Mboya as a symbol of peace.
Mutahi Ngunyi consults for the president and keeps some of the most powerful company in the country. I have seen a photo doing the rounds on social media in which he seated next to Anne Waiguru devouring a cob of maize in Kibera. Mutahi Ngunyi is powerful and it is the image of the cob of maize in his hands that gives him some semblance of commonness.
Moses Kuria is the presidentâ€™s Member of Parliament: he represents Gatundu South. He has also been saying certain things that we donâ€™t like. There have been attempts to prosecute him but like most people who are close to the president in our country, those efforts have been largely futile.
This is not to suggest that he is above the law. Of course he is below the law just like Moses Kuria is.
So what is likely to happen to Ngunyi, if the prosecution stays its course?
Mutahi Ngunyi is not your ordinary poverty stricken Luo. He is awash with cash. He might be arraigned in court to take plea to charges of hate speech. He will plead not guilty and the closest he will come to suffering will be the few minutes he will be locked in the holding cells at Milimani law courts as his charges prepare the bail. The bail of course is lose change to him, he will pay.
Mutahi Ngunyi will most likely get the best lawyers in town to represent him during the trial. If anyone doubts that we have some really good lawyers in this city, they have to look at the Delamere farm. Therein is a tall aristocrat who walks free despite dispatching some two souls to the underworld!
In the unlikely event that the Courts somehow convict Ngunyi in spite of the best representation available, he will appeal to the higher courts until he secures his freedom at the Supreme Court. If the Constitution and the Common law do not unite to secure his acquittal at the Supreme Court, then Mutahi Ngunyi will pay the fine, which he will do without feeling any pinch in his pockets. If he doesn’t feel the pinch, then it is not punishment.
That by no means suggests that prosecuting Mutahi Ngunyi to the bitter end for hate speech is an exercise in futility. Some of us will be happy to see him inconvenienced, humiliated, ridiculed and lose face and hang his head in shame but I doubt we will see him convicted, let alone see him in handcuffs.
As we speak now, the case is out of Apollo Mboyaâ€™s hands. It is the DPPâ€™s problem to decide whether to prosecute him or not.
As humans, we are called to magnanimity, to be able to forgive. Scripture exhorts us to forgive our transgressors so many times into infinity. We should have forgiven Ngunyi even before he apologized.
Should Luos forgive Mutahi Ngunyi?
Someone suggested that there are so many Luos in the world: there are 6 Million of them in Kenya, 18 Million in the East African region, hundreds of thousands in the diaspora and four in the white house. If you add the number of naturalized luos, assimilated luos and those folks who are not luos but have just installed the luo software in their systems to become luos, that population could shoot to 100 million.
Among this multitude of Luos, I have no doubt that the ones who saw Mutahi Ngunyiâ€™s slurs on twitter weren’t amused by them. However it was only Apollo Mboya who was sufficiently annoyed to take any action. For that reason, I think that in as much as he is not the cultural leader of the great Luo tribe, he could accept that apology in Kerâ€™s absence. May Kerâ€™s soul rest in peace.
Jokes aside, I donâ€™t think any human being or the powerful Satan can decipher Ngunyiâ€™s mind to determine the authenticity of his apology. That, only the Great God and his son the Nazarene can do.
As humans, we are called to magnanimity, to be able to forgive. Scripture exhorts us to forgive our transgressors so many times into infinity. We should have forgiven Ngunyi even before he apologized. The fact that he apologized should make it easier even for the hard hearted ones among us to forgive him. I forgive Ngunyi. I suggest that Luos should forgive Ngunyi.
As for the goat, I donâ€™t know if it really symbolizes peace in the Luo culture. But how could I possibly know when I forsook the Luo culture of removing the six lower canines and embraced the Bantu initiation rites instead? I know for a fact that the dove is a symbol of peace but that is a universal position. Moreover, a dove is so small to feed anyone and its meat is not renowned in the nyama choma circles.
Apollo Mboya suggested that a bull should have sufficed but I guess that is because he was craving more meat. I am glad I spared my lower canines and I will gatecrash Apollo Mboyaâ€™s goat eating party if he does not invite me, to put the canines I spared to good use.
Conclusion: Letâ€™s accept and move on! Mutahi Ngunyi is a small man and even he acknowledged that he cannot fight Raila; he would be punching above his weight. To unleash the full force of the Luo fury on Ngunyi would mount to reacting to a mosquito bite with a sledge hammer to quote a certain learned friend. Letâ€™s spare that fury for something bigger.
K’Onyango Ochieng DennisÂ is an advocate of the high court of Kenya.