‘Hustler’ going pantiless is too much information

Deputy President is taking transparency and accountability too far

In Summary

• Society has become a lot more open since the days of Moi. DP is taking full advantage

Image: OZONE

In the very late 1980s and the early 1990s, the mantra for those elements of Kenyan society pushing for political reforms was: Transparency and Accountability.

This is not to say that political goings-on were completely opaque as they were in some parts of the world, where anything reported in the media had to be vetted by a government committee, but people wanted to have more of a say in their own governance.

In short, they wanted more accurate information about various governance issues and for institutions to be held politically accountable for their commitments and performance.

This was not really possible in a single-party system, where every MP belonged to the only legally allowed political party, and dissent was seen as treason. 

Even when the dissent was mild or against obvious foolishness, stupidity or even pure evil, the party and the government could and more often than not did their utmost to crush it.

People wanted to have the freedom to discuss political ideas that did not necessarily rhyme with those of Kanu or President Daniel arap Moi and his gang of sycophants, without fearing that they would be picked up by the not-so “secret police”, also known then as the Special Branch.

In those days, I recall sitting at a bar after work with fellow journalists from across the print media spectrum, and before anyone said even the most mildly controversial thing, they tended to look around them to see who from outside the group looked like they were paying attention.

If Kanu and President Moi were the head of the home, the Special Branch or Directorate of Security Intelligence were the unseen guest at every drink and the silent listener to every conversation.

After 1998, legislation changed and the DSI morphed into the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS).

They were everywhere and if you were observant enough, you could figure them out in a setting such as a bar or restaurant. If you were paranoid enough, you could probably tell which of your colleagues at work was one of them or on their payroll as an informer.

It was just a fact of life in those days. Just as everyone who bothered to know such things knew that the DSI agents drove around in Audi 100s, and so if you saw such a car tailing you in traffic, you were under surveillance.

I think that the DSI cops knew that people knew who they were, and they kind of liked it as it helped in their duty to intimidate everyone into silence. If they weren’t aware, then perhaps they were not quite as all-knowing as we might have thought they were.

A greater openness in public and political affairs began to be noticed with the return of a multi-party system of politics. 

Almost overnight, we stopped looking over our shoulders in bars, and in some cases where people looked as though they were listening, we called them over to join us so they could hear better. They didn’t love that.

Now, more than three decades later, Kenyans seem free to say whatever they like about whatever they like and they don’t care who hears them.

But more than this, even our elected leaders have become more open and transparent than we may have needed them to become, as the recent comments by the deputy president about his underwearless youth attest.

Not having been in the presence of the “ngothaless” one when he made his comments about going commando until his teens, I may not have the full context in which the remarks were made or why.

Nevertheless, I gather (or should that be “ngotha”) the comment was made in an effort to burnish his hustler credentials, as if those were ever in doubt or needed such elaboration.

Whatever next? Will we now be told whether he wears Y-Fronts, Boxers, Briefs or Thongs? Do we really care?

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