When Decorum Flies The Coop


Politicians never miss the opportunity to do what they do best; politic. For this special group of people every even can and often will be turned into an impromptu political rally of sorts they have proven time and time again that all they need is a microphone, podium, stage or raised platform and most importantly a crowed of eager and adoring supporters. They are always armed with witty and clever lines and are never short of a comment or insight into the latest happenings and goings on. They are rarely off the pulse and more often than not off the cuff- there is nothing wrong with that, in fact we have come to expect it from our political leaders.

But when does politicking cross the line? At a wedding? In church on Sunday? Not quite, this is weird but not all together in bad taste. What is in bad taste and absolutely unacceptable is when our mighty and powerful, politicos chose the funeral of 4 teachers and 11 students who died two weeks ago as a result of a road accident. This was to be a sombre event, and a sad day all around and it was until the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga decided to shake things up by choosing rather distastefully to speak about the last general election, thanking those who voted for him and stating for the umpteenth time that he had been robbed- it is fine to voice ones discontent but at a funeral? And about an event that took place 4 months ago? It smacks of no more than sour grapes, and a deep seeded inability to let things go, for someone who loves sports the former PMs behaviour is most un sportsman like.

 He also took the opportunity to shaking a disapproving big stick at the government and their handling of the recently ended 3 week teaches strike over pay and allowances. Saying that the Jubilee government should have taken the time to agree and listen to the teachers long standing grievances much sooner, he went on to add that after they had come to said agreement the KNUT should not have been taken to court; this was a consequence of their having disobeyed a return to work order issued by the Industrial Court.

Whether Odinga acted as a result of sour grapes or not is not the problem- everyone has the right to lick his or her wounds in public or private- that was and is his prerogative. The problem I and many other Kenyans including a section of politicians from the Abagusi community have is the manner and timing of these statements. The politicians chose to come out and voice their strong displeasure and embarrassment and to promptly dissociate themselves from the debacle and demand an apology not only to Matiang’i and Ongeri but the entire community as well. They also condemned the lack of respect shown not only to the dead and their bereaved but the Kisii community by the former Prime Minister.

Manners and decorum have long since been tossed out of the nearest window in favour of winning the cheers and jeers of a crowd. The grieving families who were to be the focus of the day’s event seemed to promptly be forgotten in a move that could be said to be incitement of a crowd. This was not to be the end of that as the crowd-perhaps swept and whipped up in the euphoria of the moment- forgot what occasion they were bearing witness to and began to loudly jeer and shout down both the former education Minister Professor Sam Ongeri and ICT Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiyang’i who had come with a promise and message from the President that he himself would ‘come and visit with the families and hold a meeting with the teachers’- a message that could hardly be heard over the heckling of the CORD affiliated crowd. It seems that much like the leader they voted for the crowd too cannot seem to let go of or swallow the pills of defeat dealt to them on March 4th.
Politicians are known for their thick skin, they let nothing faze them and have been known to grab any occasion to politic. They seem incapable of switching it off, but bringing the mudslinging to a funeral is taking it all one step too far! Instead of aiming bullets at the government Odinga should have stayed with the subject at hand. Or better still not turned up to Gusi Stadium at all but instead focused his energies and considerable popularity on the upcoming Makueni by election set for Friday and drumming up support for the Wiper Candidate Mutula Kilonzo Jr. Who hopes to capture the senatorial seat left vacant by the sudden passing of his late father senator Mutula Kilonzo on the 27th of April this year.

If our leaders; perhaps some of our most educated, intelligent and seemingly level headed people in society can lose their heads and forsake good manners, judgement and taste in favour of having an impromptu rally or moan session nothing should be said then when the average Kenyan citizen chooses to walk down the same path once in a while.

Shame on us all for this shambolic behavior, (or as our third president would have said 'kumbafu sana') before we lose our heads at the next funeral come rally we would do well to remember that a funeral is a ceremony in honour of a deceased person or in this case people.

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