Politics in this country has an Ebola contagion quality. An individual starts clean with good intentions but once they come into contact with the murk and reality of the game of politics, they get infected and there is no cure in the market for this viral disease of grandeur. Politicians have become such oddities, a separate species apart from the common mwananchi spawning a mutant breed known as MCAs. Therefore, any politician who does something normal, like take a matatu is immediately labeled cool, down-to-earth and a breath-of-fresh air. A president who takes selfies at every given opportunity will find himself thrust into the ultra-cool stratosphere. President Uhuru Kenyatta has been orbiting up there lately.
Opposition PR strategists must suffer sleepless nights. Uhuru Kenyatta is getting way too cool for school. Only last week, he hosted music band Sauti Sol for a private birthday bash. He can legitimately claim a genuine stake in helping them win the MTV EMA awards, because an endorsement tweet from the commander-in-chief carries its weight in gold. I would not be half as surprised if Sauti Sol dropped the remix, featuring Man Unye. He can probably pull off a decent ‘Lipala dance”.
As it stands, a selfie with the head of state is now a huge national aspiration. I have seen journos who seized the opportunity smile so broadly, they looked Mongolian. The newspapers appear to run a daily feed of the president. He is regularly pictured cracking up and seemingly having a ball in his public engagements. Uhuru with the rugby boys tossing the ball about. Uhuru hugging his wife at the finish line of a marathon. Uhuru on a motorcycle trying to pop a wheelie. Uhuru in military fatigues complete with desert storm boots.
This is a highly unusual experience for older Kenyans accustomed to nearly 50 years of stiff upper lipped leadership. His predecessor Mwai Kibaki did have his wise cracks but he never pretended to be one with the watus. Kibaki was not the least bothered by public opinion. Uhuru on other hand laps it up with the zeal of a rock star.
The president appears to be a man who regularly ignores protocol and his handlers must have a nightmare. We have never seen a president with such a slack dress code. Sir Charles Njonjo, he of the pin stripped suits must regret the lack of a constitutional mandate to ban jeans wear in this country. The thing with Uhuru is that he is not even trying to be stylish. Ababu Namwamba comes across as dressed up. The president on the other hand must choose his own clothes despite the best attempts by his image consultant to hide his faded jeans.
President Uhuru’s governance may have its litany of challenges but a jolly president will be spared the brunt of rabid critics which is something Governor Evans Kidero could learn. It is hard to imagine that just over a year ago, President Uhuru was a tainted politician and the first serving head of state to suffer the indignation of appearing in a foreign court for crimes against humanity.
Conservatives, opposition supporters may not give two farts for his coolness but his growing horde of young fans, mostly admit that the president has swag. When a politician is perceived as cool, his flaws are less visible. Cool will get you votes. CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula should consider some hair dye, throw in an ear stud like the CJ and get some designer shades. That would be the last time he is frozen on a domestic flight for not flashing an I.D. Besides Mike Sonko, is not Nairobi senator because of his moving speeches.
Image source: kiss100.co.ke