By David Oginde
Many of us must have at one time or another watched in dismay as a man ruthlessly beat up his wife or children in public. No matter how justified the man may be in his actions and no matter how grievous the evil the culprit may have committed, the drama never leaves the passerby with any sense of admiration for such a man.
Rarely would you esteem him as a man of high values who simply cannot tolerate evil in his house. To the contrary, such drama leaves one with the impression of a man who has totally lost control of the leadership and management of his house.
Furthermore, when a man behaves thus, it greatly undermines his dignity and status in the sight of observers. He likewise exposes his children and other members of his family to an undeserved public ridicule.
That seems to be the case with the recent drama over Miguna. For security forces to spend almost two hours trying to force a Kenyan into an aircraft belonging to a foreign airline – most likely packed with foreigners from around the world – left many not feeling too proud to be a Kenyan. It appeared like whoever was in charge of the operation had lost control, dropped professionalism and entered into a bare-knuckle fight in public with one lone individual. One then is forced to wonder what loss the government in particular, and the country at large would have suffered if Miguna had simply been allowed back into the country and whisked to the nearest police station to await arraignment in court for whatever crimes he had committed.
Yet, if the Miguna drama was embarrassing, the attacks on journalists was totally uncalled for. The media serves as the eyes and ears of society. When security forces turn on the media with utter ferocity, it gives the chilling impression that things are getting out of hand. In the Miguna case it shows that even those directly engaged in the fight were not proud of themselves or of their actions. Something in their inner conscience must have told them that whatever was happening was not only ugly but also not right, and thus should be kept from public eyes and ears. No wonder they turned onto the media with brute force. Sadly, this is a continuing trend, but one that must not be allowed to take root. Without a robust media, we will be like a people fighting in a dark room, where anything is possible.
But which way forward? Rejected this advice A sad but interesting story is recorded in the Bible about one of Israel’s kings. After the death of King Solomon, Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king. A group came to him to seek relief from the heavy yoke that his father Solomon had apparently placed upon them. Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime, as to how he should respond to these people. Their advice was simple, “If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants.” Unfortunately, Rehoboam rejected this advice and instead consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. The young men replied, “Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” Thus, the king ignored the advice of the elders and obliged the young men.
Looking at some recent actions by some government officials, it seems like they may be getting advice from some hot-blooded young men, who appear to believe in the use of the yoke and the scorpion to subdue citizens. Unfortunately, for better or for worse, it is becoming increasingly difficult in Kenya to use the yoke and the scorpion to subdue citizens without injuring your own self. Instead, the season we are in, it is the wise leader who heeds the elders’ counsel to Rehoboam. For sure, there are some of us that are most certainly deserving of the yoke and scorpion. They are irritants who are forever getting under the skin of everyone, not least the government. But, even in such cases, great tact is required. Otherwise, you end up not only embarrassing yourself as a leader, but also inadvertently exposing the whole nation to unnecessary ridicule in the global scene.
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