By Dikembe Disembe
There is a debate, an interesting debate, about the merits of one Chris Kirubi, a city landlord and self-imposed â€˜statesmanâ€™ who thinks by snubbing an invitation sent to him by President Barrack Obama, he is doing me and you a favour.
Here is what Kirubi posted on his Facebook page:
â€œAfter reflecting hard on the invitation by the organizers of Barack Obamaâ€™s visit to Africa by passing Kenya, Iâ€™m just wondering if Iâ€™m any more special than all the other Kenyans. I seriously feel like I can only do what he has done to Kenya. Should I not skip the invitation in solidarity with all Kenyans who have been ignored on his trip to Africa and more so to his ancestorial home? Does it make sense going to meet him in other peopleâ€™s country? I am very proud to be Kenyan and hopefully one day, Barack Obama will also be very proud to have Kenyan roots in his blood.â€
I canâ€™t believe he misspelt the word â€˜ancestralâ€™!
After 22 minutes, his publicity stunt got him 9017 â€˜likesâ€™, a development I think jolted him back to consciousness by the sheer surge in tribal hatred this ominous statement generated. Before, I slept yesternight; I called him silly and let his backers have it on me. But do I care?
A question which rung in my mind this morning was: who is Chris Kirubi in the larger sphere of things? A venture capitalist with probably billions stashed in some off-shore accounts? A man at the top of the economic food chain where, I, Dikembe is at the bottom, right? But beyond these materialistic interpretations, who is Kirubi?
Already, those schooled in tribal bigotry may want to put my tirades in the dangerous context of Kenyan ethnic contempt, tarry a little because I respect and adore James Mwangi, Jonathan Ciano and SK Macharia. I respect resilient industrialists and bankers and managers. I adore these three not because they are successful businessmen but because through their endeavors millions of other Kenyans eke out a living in their shadows; or pick great lessons in corporate management and philanthropy. If Dr Mwangi was to snub the invitation on â€˜my behalfâ€™, that would be another story, but, who is CK in the high pedestal of citizen duty?
Now, let me take it to CK. By the way, I am Luo and your wealth doesnâ€™t bother us; only your manners do. So I was bothered by your political manners.
You see CK, when the US organizers of the Obama visit invited you, we did not know. Why? Because they did not do it on Face book. In all your years as a corporate captain, you have never mustered the little decency to treat official communication as â€˜official businessâ€™, or may be, you just wanted to show contempt, or sadly, appeal to a new constituency born after the tyrannical numbers had produced an age of ethnic nationalism; where western capitalism, which made you who you are today, and which they christened as â€˜neocolonialism or interferenceâ€™ is the new enemy.
It is still hazy to me why this capitalist octopus is â€˜claimingâ€™ to be â€˜confusedâ€™ whether to â€˜snubâ€™ an invitation extended to him not as a renowned philanthropist, researcher or farmer. By the way, how did mother luck even pick on this ungrateful rich man?
To claim that Chris Kirubi is a nobody is to miss the point. He is indeed a â€˜somebodyâ€™; a self-important fellow. And in a government with twisted priorities as ours, he may even be part of the select few in the rank of Artur brothers allowed to use our VIP lounges! *This Iâ€™m just hypothesizing!
But in the larger social machine that chances to uplift many Kenyans out of our current abject penury, I dare say Chris Kirubi is only a World Bank statistic of the few Kenyans living above the poverty line. His economic importance fades as you leave Nairobi towards Eastern, Coast, North Eastern, Western, Rift Valley and Nyanza. His political worth, probably as a wheeler dealer, may only be of significance to the two tyrannies that now control Harambe House and BP & Shell House! Finally, his social worth is a matter of personal conjecture.
As a student leader, I have come up close with poverty vis a vis the hopes of a younger generation of graduates hoping to climb the economic ladder. I have had to marshal thousands to dramatize ugly situations. I have seen bright students miss examinations or those with sterling certificates miss out on one interview after the other. Each day, a call comes through of a student already worried that he may not get employed, or that he read somewhere in the dailies of the â€˜tarmackingâ€™ already ongoing in the country.
The shared story of the youths of Kenya is not what Chris Kirubiâ€™s FM radio stations or TV is concerned with; instead, his airwaves is filled with sex talk, sex chat, sex gossip and sex plans. When he, Kirubi, is not in some boardroom meeting, he is deejaying, and then recently he made a triumphant entry into twitter with some hashtag calling on the poor, emaciated youths and the jobless of Kenya to â€˜askâ€™ him questions on how to grow and prosper-as if success is linear.
In short, by snubbing the state department invitation to attend a meeting with the visiting US leader, Kirubi failed to appreciate what â€˜the presidencyâ€™ means in some democracies. President Obama is not just a single individual. He is not just that walking man with a Luo surname, â€˜funny earsâ€™ and nilotic swag. The man is a whole institution; a representative of the American people! And the Americans have strong opinions on what public repute their president must carry with him, so it doesnâ€™t bother me that President Obama snubbed Kenya.
In Kenya, our sense of the presidency ends in the snapshots of photo sessions taken of our president at Statehouse; or the â€˜Today I met blah blah blahâ€™ updates we see here on his face book timeline. Again, our tribal differences, and alliances, have obscured our appreciation of the presidency-so; it no longer bothers us whether we have an indictee president and deputy or a free man who can bring home the good tidings of the two worlds, East and West, as we see the Tanzanians are doing.
Be all these as they may, I recoil back to my usual corner, hopeful that equity has suffered no loss.