By Baraka Sudi
Does the Media Deliberately Mislead the Public on Public Officials?
In the Greek mythology, the goddess Thetis prophesied that Achilles would die in the bloom of his youth thanks to his vulnerable heel. Thank God the Greeks didnâ€™t depend so much on him during the Trojan War. Profiting from such lessons, the media of Western countries expend a lot of time and effort researching for major weaknesses in candidates that might disqualify them from holding the highest office in the gift of their people, lest their flaws prove tragic to the entire nation.
Unfortunately in Kenya, we are yet to instill such culture in our body politic. That is why we keep on getting surprised by our leaders once they get into office.
Take Kibaki for example. Just like â€˜I am a Roman citizenâ€™ was the proudest boast 2000 years ago, â€˜I am a Kenyan citizenâ€™ was perhaps the proudest boast in Africa, if not the world in 2002-2003. No one can doubt that that was our high noon. Power had changed hands peacefully through a very free and fair election.
Ethnic animosity was at all time low, free primary education was being rolled out; sanity was being restored in the public transport. Everywhere things seemed to be on the move. Everyone was hopeful for better days. It seemed we were experiencing some great turning point- like transitioning from Medieval Age to Renaissance. At the heart of all these was Mwai Kibaki.
Like an experienced symphony conductor, he seemed to be presiding over a highly effective and efficient band without much ado and hullabaloo like the present PR-obsessed presidency. I doubt anyone at that time harbored any hard feelings towards that old man. Central to this great goodwill was not just his perceived effectiveness but his â€˜detribalizedâ€™ mind.
The fact that Kibaki had been the only Kikuyu who attended Tom Mboyaâ€™s funeral and that he never spoke Kikuyu in public was sold to Kenya by the lazy and compromised media as proof enough that he was a Kenyan at heart who just happened to be Kikuyu and not a Kikuyu supremacist that his epitaph should rightly read.
And so it happened that this man who came to power with his greatest asset, according to the media, being a detribalized mind was to lead Kenya to the most deadly ethnic violence in its history.
Did the 2007/2008 PEV come as a thunderbolt from the blue? No. Had the media done its homework well on Kibaki it would have found out that he was singularly incapable of leading a multi-ethnic nation given his deep tribal animosity towards other communities.
Had it dug deeper, it would have found Kibakiâ€™s complicity in many of the ethnic-based violent incidents that occurred in the Rift Valley in the 1990â€™s. Thank Lord time has exposed Kibaki for who he truly is- a heavyweight ethnic bigot. The â€˜mistakeâ€™ the media and other opinion leaders made in 2002 was repeated again in 2012 to the comas and full stops.
We were told Uhuruâ€™s greatest strength was his incorruptibility. That assessment was not based on any rigorous analysis of Uhuruâ€™s past but on the wholly stupid grounds that his massive inherited wealth made him less likely to indulge in feathering his nest with public treasure or condone such from his subordinates.
Just like Kibaki, what was sold to us as Uhuruâ€™s greatest strength has turned out to be his Achilles heel.
Far from being incorruptible and a crusader against corruption, Uhuru is now widely perceived to be presiding over one of the most corrupt regimes in our history with the most senior members of the government proving time and time again that they have no deep convictions on anything only deep appetites for everything high office has to offer.
Not only was Uhuru sold as incorriptibe but also an effective and skilled businessman who had managed a huge business empire through leveraging on the skills and talents of subordinates. Well, two years down the road, the verdict is out.
Except for Emperor Caligulaâ€™s appointment of his horse as Roman senator and consul, rarely has mediocrity been handsomely rewarded as Uhuruâ€™s appointment of Joseph Ole Lenku, Kambi Kazungu and even Nkaissery, that unbelievably inept relic from KANU days.
In fact, just as ethnic bigotry became the symbol of Kibaki administration led by a â€˜detribalisedâ€™ Kibaki, this administration of the â€˜incorruptibleâ€™ and the â€˜competentâ€™ is likely to be remembered for the scale of its corruption and incompetence contrary to what the media falsely claimed.
The Fourth Estate is the gate keeper of public good. To fail to correctly inform the public the flaws in character and temperament of a person whose will and decisions the fate of so many depends on is no evil but to actively promote a false narrative on such personalities smacks of unforgivable conspiracy against the public good the media pretends to defend.