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DRUNK WITH POWER

Humility is a virtue, even when in power

In Summary

• The clique of the powerful during Kenyatta days had been shoving off those they did not want near the seat of power,  and the rich were literally puking on the ragged boots of the poor.

• The powerful around the President in many instances mistreated and humiliated Vice President Moi. When he became President, these people were forced into self-exile.

A file photo of Kenya's founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
A file photo of Kenya's founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.

Towards the end of the Jomo Kenyatta rule, those in authority and the wealthy had become drunk with power.

The clique of the powerful had been shoving off those they did not want near the seat of power,  and the rich were literally puking on the ragged boots of the poor.

One example of this notoriety of the 1970s is the story of a man who was annoyed with his fellow reveller in a bar on the outskirts of Nairobi and told him he would shoot him “na hakuna kitu nitafanyiwa”(nothing would happen to him).

His colleague called his bluff and dared the other to shoot him. The two intoxicated merrymakers came out of the bar and no sooner had the would-be victim leaned on the wall than his friend took a few steps backward and shot.

One man was down and gone forever and the other surrendered to the police only to be released a few days later without charge. That was the misplaced power of ill-gotten wealth.

Then at one time, my uncle (may the Lord rest his soul in peace) parked his old Vauxhall outside a butchery at Uthiru shopping center in Kabete to buy half a pound (not kilo) of meat. He almost left without his family’ rare but favourite stew ingredient. Inside the butchery were two ‘gentlemen’, one who had come in the then top of the range Peugeot 504 saloon and another in a small but fairly new Toyota saloon. The one with the 504 loudly wondered how the other could drive a ‘kagari ka kina mama’ (tell that to our ladies today). With a cast down face, the Toyota man told the Peugeot man that he had just borrowed it from the wife to test its roadworthiness.

My uncle was so worried they would wonder whose the ‘junk’ Vauxhall outside the butchery belonged to and it was at that point that he almost walked out. The husband and father in him kept him on the queue. That’s how shamelessly arrogant the well-off had become during the Kenyatta I days.

Then there was this young executive related to a top family who literally drove, dined and wined on the fast lane.

Apart from his love for the good life, mature wine, gorgeous women and flashy cars, this gentleman loved his nyama choma. Stories are told of how he would go for his sumptuous meal at what was then one of the top entertainment joints in Westlands. Waiting for his kilo to evenly roast, he would drink in hand approach revellers at tables where couples were enjoying their meals. He would then demand attention from the ladies on these tables, unbothered by their male company.

Rumour had it that if the attention was not forthcoming, the man would brazenly draw down his trouser zipper and audaciously urinate on their meal. Then tables turned when Daniel Moi became President. This man did not become a pauper, but he, like many of his ilk, had to lie low and even face a few court cases.

The powerful around the President in many instances mistreated and humiliated Vice President Moi. When he became President, these people were forced into self-exile, while others had to practically kneel before him seeking forgiveness and favours. Those who took lives or committed other atrocities simply because they had godfathers or had acquired dishonest money went underground living like Sadaam Hussein in his last days.

Some of those who drove ‘men’ cars, and made my old Vauxhall driving uncle look for mole holes to hide in, ended up jobless or with no tenders to service, reducing them to penniless ramblers.

Today we hear of young men from prominent families extravagantly spending millions of shillings in a night and even ejecting other Kenyans from entertainment joints. They do this because they have more money than they know what to do with and the muscle of security details paid for by the taxpayer. They enjoy the sight of grown men some the age of their fathers, coiling tails between legs and meekly walking away.

Unless we want God to continue being unhappy with us, some people must apologise to Him and to Kenyans. Power does not last forever and wealth comes from God and he can at any point in time, decide to take both away. Humility is a virtue.