G-SPOT

Behold as narcissists aim their snouts at the trough

The usual suspects parade for a bite of the national cake

In Summary

• Philip Ochieng’s derisive description of 6th Parliament captures our leadership to date

• He called them 'layabouts, idlers, thieves, ne'er-do-wells, conmen and illiterates'

Kakamega Governor and ODM deputy leader Wycliffe Oparanya, ANC chief Musalia Mudavadi, ODM boss Raila Odinga, President Uhuru Kenyatta, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford-K Moses Wetang'ula and Kanu chairman Gideon Mombasa at State House Mombasa on August 10
Kakamega Governor and ODM deputy leader Wycliffe Oparanya, ANC chief Musalia Mudavadi, ODM boss Raila Odinga, President Uhuru Kenyatta, Wiper's Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford-K Moses Wetang'ula and Kanu chairman Gideon Mombasa at State House Mombasa on August 10
Image: PSCU

I come from a fairly large extended family and I have many cousins, all of whom I love very much in very different ways.

One of my many cousins became infamous at his boarding school for never sharing any of his stuff and was even nicknamed “dog in a manger” by some of the other boys.

However, instead of being embarrassed by this pejorative moniker, my deluded and ever so slightly narcissistic cousin decided it was a badge of honour and gloried in it, much to the irritation of those of his classmates who had baptised him.

I thought of this situation when I read that a group of elected Kenyan politicians are planning a law that will get them in Parliament even if they lose at their party nominations.

To me, they sound like champions of the “everyone's a winner” school of thought, which the American psychologist Jean M Twenge skewered in her book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.  

Twenge, who makes her living researching generational differences, including work values, life goals and speed of development, wrote: “The everyone's a winner mentality does not build true self-esteem; instead, it builds this empty sense of 'I'm just fantastic not because I did anything but just because I'm here.”

Based on that definition, there is no narcissist like the Kenyan politician who believes they should be in power even if they lose the race.

They are probably the young people who have been brought up to believe that it is not just the person who crosses the finish line first that is a winner but everyone else who showed up also won.

This kind of thinking, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean that every competitor at the recent Olympics was a gold medallist. In fact, what the heck? Everyone who was there, including those who pulled out of races or didn’t take part in their competitions for whatever reason, should also have received a gold medal.

Do away with silver and bronze altogether and that rostrum should be levelled as nobody is better than anyone else and meritocracy is bunkum. 

Clearly when in 1991, Philip Ochieng branded the members of Kenya’s sixth Parliament a bunch of “layabouts, idlers, thieves, ne'er-do-wells, conmen and illiterates”, little could he have known that he was spelling out a job description for all future seekers of elected office in Kenya.

Speaking of elected leaders I recently saw a poster on social media that purported to show the mainstream choices Kenyans will have at the next general election.

One group was labelled Team Kenya and featured the usual suspects: President Uhuru Kenyatta, former PM Raila Odinga, former VPs Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka, and a number of governors, senators and party leaders such as Gideon Moi, Charity Ngilu, Hassan Joho and Wycliffe Oparanya.

The other group, which was bigger, was dubbed the Bottom-Down Group and featured Deputy President William Ruto and legislators Alfred Keter, Kipchumba Murkomen, Caleb Kositany and Oscar Sudi.

I looked at the list of what my old friend Amboka Andere used to call the eating chiefs and could not but help thinking that if this bunch of has-beens and never-quite-were are truly the only choices Kenyans have to lead the next government, we are in a horribly deep pile of excrement.

Clearly, we need a better leadership pool to pick from. I am sure there are people out there who have the ability and would not be as corrupt or tainted with muck as the people in either of the lists above, the trick is finding them and then managing to keep them on the straight and narrow once they got into power.

Of course, it could be worse; they could all come together in one great big national unity coalition, which would allow them what they all ultimately want, which is to have their snouts in the trough.

Edited by T Jalio