By Gabriel Oguda
There is this question no one has bothered to answer.
What is it about women that we find them difficult appointing to public offices? The law requires that we have at least eight women in the Cabinet, but Uhuru Kenyatta appoints six and we clap for him like he’s made a scientific discovery.
Let me tell you something.
I’ve been to Kotulo, in Mandera South. That was in 2008 and another visit in 2015. Kotulo is the birthplace of Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed. His father was a Chief, Chief Mohammed Jari – which makes Adan Mohammed a cult hero over there, even before those days he was the Barclays Bank top man.
Adan Mohammed is soft-spoken, and genuinely humble. He loves the people of Kotulo with his heart and he has built a nice school right there for the children of Kotulo – an ultra-modern boarding facility that covers for primary and secondary wings. That academic oasis is named after his father; Chief Mohammed Jari Academy. For an arid zone beset by seasonal pestilence, clan animosity and cross-border terrorism, Adan Mohammed has done well providing an academic sanctuary for his village people and children of other peasants keen to crack the marginalization ceiling and make it big in this country. Anyone who remembers where they came from and seeks to uplift those they left behind is my kind of person.
But here is my problem.
I watched the news last weekend. Mandera County residents addressed the media both from Kotulo, and in Mandera town, thanking President Uhuru Kenyatta for renewing his faith in their son. There were also celebrations in Nanyuki by Mwangi Kiunjuri’s villagemates, Najib Balala’s clansmen read the same script in Mombasa, Meru town was blocked by PNU supporters on behalf of Peter Munya, and the list goes on. There was no single celebration, anywhere in this country, for any of the six women appointed to the cabinet. If there were, I did not see it.
Which begs the question.
What is it about women that we find it difficult celebrating their achievements? Why are we afraid of coming out with twigs to thank the president for appointing our sisters to the cabinet? Doesn’t Farida Karoney (Lands) have a clan? Aren’t they proud of her appointment? What about Ambassador Monica Juma? Everyone knows she’s a perfect fit for the Foreign Affairs docket, but why aren’t her people rubbing it in our faces, like those of the other male appointees? Do we feel inferior having women as leaders in our topmost decision-making organs? Then why are we silent about it?
If Uhuru Kenyatta was looking for his family members to fill Cabinet slots, I’m sure he has many women to choose from his Ichaweri bloodline. If the criteria for appointment to the Cabinet solely rested on tribal affiliation, conventional wisdom dictates that we have more women than men in those respective tribes to go around. If those who can cart away hundreds of millions in gunnybags were the only ones required in Cabinet, we have excess female hairdressers who make the cut. And if appointment to the cabinet was based on merit and merit alone, this country has the tyranny of women brain-boxes, in the entire region, by a country mile.
There is no reason we did not have at least eight women in the new elite group; because the law requires us to do so, and no one wants to break the law on something as simple as plucking two male names and replacing them with women, from whichever list they get them from. Let us not make it look like we need a rocket scientist to read the constitution for us, because rocket scientists are already complaining that lawyers aren’t helping them send rockets into orbit, and they find no reason why they should help lawyers read common law written in plain English.
We are handling this violation of the two-thirds gender principle as if President Uhuru Kenyatta only broke a water-pot or lost our grandmother’s garden rake. This guy has violated the constitution, the Mother Law that rules us all. The last time some contractor came to the quadrant where I live and mowed down the fence, the residents jumped on his neck and confiscated his tractor, until he planted a new perimeter wall and apologized for sleeping on the job.
This should be the first trumpet, might as well be the last.