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EDITORIAL

Why it's time to confront the cult of personality

In Summary

• In Nairobi, force, fraud, oppression and looting have over the years been openly displayed without any attempt at concealment.

• The crowd sees his style of leadership as defying the norm.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko during the 4th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri on March 14, 2019
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko during the 4th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri on March 14, 2019
Image: COURTESY

Rage is a mood characteristic of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko's style of governance. He is very good at exploiting it for the good of the "rare" politician he is – man of the people.

To the man in Nairobi street, Sonko is the leader to have. He will confront land "grabbers" and other wayward fellows to the cheers of those closest.

 

In Nairobi, force, fraud, oppression and looting have over the years been openly displayed without any attempt at concealment. It does not require a lot of effort for crafty politicians like Sonko to discover that anger is seductive, energising and even exhilarating to a crowd.

The crowd sees his style of leadership as defying the norm. 

Last week, he reshuffled his minimal cabinet hardly a month after he told off senators over what he called a non-issue –the appointment of his deputy.  He embarrasses his executives and fires them without blinking an eye.

But does Nairobi, the largest metropolitan capital in East and Central Africa deserve an abrupt and excitable leader in the 21st century? 

In the endgame of democratic societies, it’s not the cult of ideology but the cult of personality that’s the real danger. The elephant in the room in Nairobi and in Kiambu next door is the cult of personality. It's time to confront it.