Nairobi, the green city in the…scum?

How on earth did we manage to pull off a trifecta of shitty elected officials?  This has to be a record, somewhere, having a langa senator, and a langa governor, and a langa women’s representative.  I mean really?  This takes skill, is all I’m saying.

This week has not been very kind to my city.

First there were the City Hall riots, pardon me, the strike by City Hall workers, they who congregated in the city after downing their proverbial tools (what tools?), a congregation that was then violently dispersed by riot police.  This pretty much meant the roads were a complete mess on Tuesday evening.  It took me a whopping one hour and forty five minutes to cover a stretch that normally takes me thirty minutes to cover in traffic, five minutes at night.  At one point I was close enough to the gate to my abode to see the padlock, but I couldn’t get there, and as tempting as it was to abandon my tuktuk and walk, I couldn’t pull off the road and park the bloody thing, because this particular road has no ’off the road’ to speak of.  I was in traffic long enough to update all the software on my bandia phone, install and uninstall truecaller, I even had time to catch up on old articles I’d saved but never found the time to read, back in July.  Now that I think about it, those two hours were very well spent, all things considered, so I guess I owe the geniuses at City Hall a huge debt of thanks.  Or not…

Slight detour.  I got the creepiest call a couple of weeks back, in the middle of the night, from a man threatening to ’acha maiti hapo kama hutafungua mlango, huyu mtu wako hutamwona tena’.  I was very scared, until I remembered that I live alone, and I’m single, and therefore there was no-one who could conceivably be left at my door, dead or alive.  Note to would be gangsters: get your facts straight before you wake me up at 2 in the morning, wrong numbers are most unpleasant, especially when they involve misguided extortion.  Bloody nkt!  As I was saying…

On Wednesday morning, we found out our governor saw fit to increase county charges and fees across the board.  Ksh 25,000.00 to bury someone in a public cemetery (not including morgue fees and such like) and Ksh 50,000.00 to hold a crusade?  I don’t know about those hesabus, seems a bit silly to me to charge a bugger planning on fleecing the masses only double of what it costs to bury one of them, at least charge the prophets per head, no?  No?  I thought that would be a brilliant plan.  This is the problem, VAT price hikes had only just begun to hit us, with prices of everything (no matter how removed from this VAT story) going up, even the price of your favourite prophylactic.  As citizens, we were already kinda upset, and feeling a little poorer, and then this bugger unleashes this list?  Daktari, what the hell?  You couldn’t have waited a week or two?  I guess he figured seeing as how we were already bent over and whatnot, might as well shaft us too.

And what do they plan to do with this money?  Build a brand spanking new mansion for the governor priced at 120M, or perhaps implement the vaguely titled ERP project of 350M, or maybe spend 103M on county media services and consultancy… read it for yourself here, Nairobi County budget.  Do you know what the best part of this story is?  We are being asked, nay ordered, to give more money to bunch of geniuses who have not delivered what they are supposed to deliver since kendo the early 80’s.  I was born in ’77 and I have never known a Nairobi Town/City Council that worked, therefore, if it ever worked it was before I saw the city, really saw the city, which means before I was 7 years old.  Yes, I know it’s not a very scientific theory.  Sue me, I’m from Nairobi and we don’t care about facts.

Case in point.  That same Wednesday, I saw glimpses of matusi’s being thrown in Sonko’s direction, but I ignored them, figuring, he had probably done something foolish, again, and was now claiming he didn’t.  I was half right.  Come Thursday and the story was in the mainstream press; the man had abused someone, a woman, a woman allegedly of some standing in our society, and he did so on national radio.  Oh joy!  The first I read of this saga was in an opinion piece on the Nation blogs, in which the author referenced the name calling, for the most part only in the title.  Now my curiosity is always piqued when a man allegedly calls a woman a prostitute, so off I went to Wazua, to finally read the thread I’d ignored the day before, and lo and behold, I found a link to the abridged audio clip, the insult portion of the conversation.  My week just got that much worse…  Our senator is, and some would argue always has been, not the sharpest tool in the shed.  A hugely popular tool.  A somewhat effective tool, depending on it’s purpose, but not a sharp tool.  He was asked a simple question, in simple language, two languages actually, but rather than answer with a bullshit PR statement along the lines of ’we are looking into it’, this bugger goes off on a rant of slightly epic proportion.  First he talks shit about the woman, his interviewer, going to Carnivore with her cigarettes, and then asks who has paid her, then what she does with her million bob salary, then concludes by threatening her and some chap who talked shit about his daughter, telling her to take her horniness and shove it.   Ah yes, he also asked her, ’Who fucks you?’ Slightly epic that rant (epic would have been if he actually threatened to beat her).  The internet was frothing at the mouth, ready to carve him, and her, a new one.

Why her as well?  The ’her’ in question was the ever modest Ms Mutoko, she of the ’don’t write your filth on my wall’ fame, she of the ’average people lead average lives’ fame, she of the copy/paste fame.   She has her fair share of ’haters’, people who think that verbal smackdown was well deserved, just because.  Others claimed Sonko was simply defending his daughter/family/ego and things got out of hand when he was prodded.  Apparently crude insults are warranted when dealing with an ’arrogant’ woman, at least the way they tell it.  I was sceptical, thinking it was just the normal internet rage at matters inconsequential, until I listened to the full clear unedited audio of the exchange.  See, she wasn’t just asking harmless little questions about Sonko’s now infamous handouts, she was, in her own special way, condescending as hell as she did so, down to the ’…by the way, sir, you’re not doing anything I’ve never done, you are not special…’ response.  You could practically picture her sneering down the line, as if to say, ’negro please…’  As far as interviews go, that one was not particularly well handled, and by that I mean it was crap.  Turns out, Sonko did try to answer the question as best he could, acknowledging that he is not in a position to make a statement on government plans, but he was endeavouring to make a change as best he knew how (listen from 2:13).  I have to admit, the man made some sense, in his own special way, but round about 4:00 things went south, and he gave up the quest at making his case, and she got onto an even higher horse.  When the interviewer spends more time mocking her guest, and not listening, that’s a crap interview.

That said, a crap interview doesn’t warrant resorting to cheap insults, and snide insinuations as to her sex life, as Sonko did.  That’s small-minded thinking if ever I heard it, and, even worse, it’s very bad politics.  The best way to deal with a smug bastard is to ignore their patronising bullshit and use their (often times fake) intellect against them, no?  All the man had to do was ask her to make a suggestion, any suggestion.  Put the bugger on the backfoot, scrambling for answers they most probably don’t have (being that their job is to talk without thinking), while your assistant cobbles together a fluffy sound bite that you can then use to sign off, because at that point you need to leave, fast.  But not our Sonko, no sirree bob!  He flew off the handle, after painting himself into that corner, and attacked the person and not the issue.  Cheap and stupid politics, but I can’t honestly say I’m surprised.  Despite his temporary makeover earlier this year, I suspect the man has no interest in actual government (the act of governing) and policy making, not if his rumoured antics the last few months are anything to go by, all he seems to care about is a fancy office and a big title, and telling ‘the man’ to go fuck himself (he doesn’t seem to have grasped the concept that he is now ‘the man’).  Just what this city needs, no?

Which brings me to the question of the day.  Who voted for this bugger, and why?  Don’t tell me no-one voted for him, he won his election with the largest margin in this city, he thrashed all and sundry most comprehensively.  Of the 1.2M people who voted, about 800,000 voted for his ass.  Those are Ukambani type percentages, my friend, rarely seen in these parts.  Watu wa Nairobi, really?  No, I didn’t vote for him, I voted for Omtatah.  Stop laughing, it seemed a very wise choice at the time.  Not so much any more…

And then came Friday.  We like Fridays in this city, for us Friday is a day we work in the morning, then spend the afternoon ’having lunch with a client’ (read ’eating nyama and having a beer or two to open the gullet for the weekend’) or ’getting our hair done’ (read ’getting our hair done for the hopefully hot date we shall have in a bar so dark he won’t even see your hair but who gives a fuck it’s Friday and we’re gonna get laid’).  A Friday in Nairobi is a day for humour, alcohol and/or sex, and anything that doesn’t fit within those parameters can wait until Monday.  No really, if you want to do anything foolish around here, do it at the end of the week, we’re too busy trying to funga to pay attention.  Or so you would think.  Our governor saw fit to test this theory for himself, and he roped in our women’s rep, to ensure he had our complete attention.  Woi…  That slap!

I shouldn’t talk about this story, not yet anyhow, but I can’t see any way around it.  See, it’s one thing for me to take shots at Sonko and Caroline, I have a history with those buggers, at one point both have been on my list of people I will one day slap.  I may have also thrown a loose brickbat at ’Manzi wa Nairobi’, in passing, so perhaps she’s fair game too, and I voted for the governor, thus I have earned the right to call him names for acts of great stupidity.  Thing is, that slap has so many bloody dimensions, two thirds of which are the stuff of most excellent satire.  I want to talk about it, but first I want to laugh at these two idiots, long and hard.  I want someone to edit that clip into a ’bitch-slap’ GIF, but I cant even call it a ’bitch-slap’ in the most generic sense, meaning the slap given to someone acting like a bitch (as in ’punk ass bitch’) to snap them out of their silly behaviour, because the sensitive people with certain leanings will, well, bitch-slap my ass for being insensitive to the plight of the women/children/disabled/oppressed/marginalised/insert any other NGO term that could apply…  From what I’m reading on the forums, this slap has transcended City Hall foolishness, and entered the realm of gender and empowerment.  You try cracking a joke about that and see how long you last.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to launch into a defence of my governor’s actions, sorry, make that my gavana’s actions (pole boss, but you lose the fancy title when you start slapping buggers in the office).  The man had no business slapping anyone, male or female, that’s just silly, and surprisingly short sighted for someone with as great an ambition as his.  He has no business in City Hall that one, not if he can’t figure out how to fight without fighting.  Hang on, given City Hall’s history of thugs in gowns and chains, perhaps he’s an even better fit than we thought?  I’m just saying, his violent tendencies are pretty much a prerequisite for City Hall, all we need now is proof he can fling a chair with one arm and he’s sorted.

See, there’s no way you can talk about this shit without having a bit of a chuckle, no?  No?  I need JayK, he’s the only one who could offend without offending, or without caring who he was offending, or offending us all while making us feel special.  Good times, no?  Back to the saga…

So the gavana was a spectacular ass of a man in slapping the woman.  I don’t care what she said or did to him (he claims she laid a hand on his little governor, but eish… the man completely lost it, even he was surprised by the slap), there is no excuse for losing control like that, especially for a man in his position.  The woman could have spat in his face and he would have been expected to remain calm, and before you accuse me of being too hard on him, the same would apply if their roles were reversed.  That’s why those buggers have a code of conduct (despite all evidence pointing to the contrary).  The only thing he has going for him right now, and it’s a tiny little thing, is that he slapped that woman.

That’s right, I have no intention of defending Manzi either, she can fight that battle all by herself.  What?  Don’t look at me like that, any woman who steps up to a man like that has the balls to take care of her own damn self.  Revoke my feminist card if you want, but I refuse to defend a woman who chooses to act like a man, a crude man at that, ati because we both wear skirts.  She’s a politician, just like him, just as foolish as him, perhaps more so given that not too many months ago she was in the news for another slap she allegedly received at the hands of the would be Gavana.  She’s not some wee little thing who was abused by a big bad man, she’s a tough as nails hustler, ready to throw down with the best of them.  Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t slap him right back, strong black woman like her could’ve gotten at least one good lick in, the man is not that big (hence his use of a sneaky pre-emptive strike, no?).  Although, one could argue that she did in fact get a good lick in, first, if he’s to be believed, no?

Still too soon for the jokes?  Dammit I got jokes aplenty…

’But what if she was my mother, or my sister, or my aunt?’ you ask. Well if she was, I suspect someone would have taught her better, ages ago, as they did me.  Any woman with half a brain knows not to fight a man like that.  Verbal confrontation, in his face, physical intimidation, will always end badly, usually for the woman.  Despite all protestations to the contrary, we are the weaker sex, physically, best if we admit it to ourselves and stop trying to play the game on their rules.  Women, smart women, fight dirty, and smart women politicians fight dirty in the press, playing to the public gallery, hell, perhaps Manzi’s doing just that, who knows?  Storming the gavana’s office?  What the hell for?  I’m curious, Madam Manzi, what made you think this particular man, generally regarded as an inflexible man, would be inclined sit down and talk to you and your people, assuming City Hall workers are your people?  Or did you think he could be bullied, because you’re such an important person in this city?  What was the expected outcome of that little stunt, other than a two minute slot on the evening news?  On the up side, you did get the slot…

I voted for the gavana, though I was duped into believing he was less of a thug than the others (his campaign posters were really very good, and I am a sucker for a pretty picture), so I accept responsibility for part of the mess we’re in, but I didn’t vote for the other two geniuses, those ones are on the rest of you buggers.

With our top elected officials acting like idiots, I think it might be time for us to start worrying for our city. Then again, we’re not that much better, now are we? Ah well…