Kneeling down for politicians is not new, we all do it
- People like Boniface Mwangi and Okoiti Omtatah fight lonely battles as the rest of us stick to fighting with bundles and emojis.
- Perhaps we hold on so tightly to politicians and the standards they’ve set for us because it serves some unconscious needs.
It was mortifying. It was repulsive. It was news yet it wasn’t new.
DJ Kriss Darlin knelt before Raila ‘Baba’ Odinga to beg for his endorsement in the upcoming Kibra elections and catapulted himself in a spectacular way from showbiz straight to the full glare of politics.
His actions, however demeaning, are inextricably intertwined with our general attitude towards politicians.
Kriss Darlin is a soldier in the battalion of aspirants in the Kibra by-election after the seat was left vacant following the death of Ken Okoth, who succumbed to cancer in July 2019.
If nothing else, Kriss Darlin will be remembered for his buffoonery as the other candidates fade into oblivion.
There was a fleeting moment when he leaned close to the seemingly unmoved Baba to grovel at his feet, that one wondered if Kriss Darlin’s many years of deejaying reggae music, which is rumoured to make one more “conscious”, would influence his choice of words.
So much so that he would say something that would sound less narcissistic.
“It was not a publicity stunt,” he later told a local daily. As if he would ever admit such a thing.
There were various reactions to his act of supplication. But the “I only kneel for my God” comment topped them all. Other popular descriptors used were “embarrassing” and “shameful”.
Now, kneeling is not that big a deal, really, and means different things to different people. It can be the ultimate act of humility.
In April this year, the Pope knelt before the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar, and three other vice presidents and kissed their feet, urging them to keep peace.
Or it can be the ultimate sign of sycophancy, like in Kriss Darlin’s case.
But Kenyans, especially the so-called middle class with access to social media, are not so different from Kriss Darlin. It’s the classic “same script, different cast” kind of story.
Some may disagree that there are similarities but there’s contrary evidence all around us.
It’s in the way politicians bring their greed and mediocrity to the public and are met with praise and worship by the same people who grumble and scream the loudest on social media.
Demands of integrity and accountability are often made loudly and aggressively online but come election day, buffoonery and mediocrity are rewarded generously with votes.
And there are numerous examples to prove this theory, so there’s no need to revisit the embarrassing list.
People like Boniface Mwangi and Okoiti Omtatah fight lonely battles as the rest of us stick to fighting with bundles and emojis.
And if Kenyans are so averse to kneeling before politicians, then they should try doing what Marsabit residents did in February this year.
They served dirty water to leaders to protest a decision by county officials to prioritise the formation of a municipality board instead of giving them access to clean water.
The political and administrative leaders were taken aback when a group of women served them with bottles full of muddy water.
They certainly taught their leaders something about misplaced priorities better than any Twitter thread or hashtag would.
Their courage was enviable but unfortunately not infectious. Can you imagine if the Nairobi Governor was served with empty bottles of water to signify water rationing?
Granted, there’s too much poverty and disease going on in this country. And the leaders responsible need to be asked the hard questions and tagged in posts, among other tactics, but to what end?
Perhaps we hold on so tightly to politicians and the standards they’ve set for us because it serves some unconscious needs.
One thing for sure is that this cycle of complaining about politicians and still voting them in will not end anytime soon.
As for Kriss Darlin, may these words by reggae legend Bob Marley from his song "Revolution" reach his soul: Never make a politician, grant you a favour/ They will always want to control you forever/ So if a fire make it burn/and if a blood make it run.
The writer is editor, Living Magazine;