October 9, 2014 OPINION/NEWS




Joe Khamisi

Irish-born English novelist and humorist Laurence Sterne once said respect for ourselves guides our morals and respect for others guides our manners.

In other words, morals and manners determine who we are, how we treat others and how we like to be treated.

Mike Mbuvi Sonko is a remarkable person and leader; and, though eccentric in demeanor and action, he commands a near-fanatical following, not only in his Nairobi senatorial district, but in the country. He is youthful, filthy rich (don’t ask me where he gets his money for we all know how much our MPs earn), extremely philanthropic, urbane and a role model to many, not because of his casual deportment but because of the journey he has travelled from an ordinary youngster in a village in Kwale to an influential public figure.

The only one time I met Sonko was in 2013 when he accompanied Uhuru Kenyatta, then a candidate for the presidency, on a whirlwind helicopter tour of the Coast. I hosted them at a public rally at Watamu and later flew with them – travelling in the same chopper with the bling-bling king –  to Kilifi for another rally. Although outwardly capricious, he came across to me as a warm, personable individual, somehow haughty, but fully committed to the Uhuru presidency.

I have watched him more closely since Uhuru became President and most of his actions have been an aberration of what I thought Sonko to be.

I am not referring so much to his bombastic swagger. I am specifically referring to the kind of behaviour we saw this week at the Hague. If news reports are correct, Sonko engaged in a street demonstration to demand the collapse of the case against humanity facing Uhuru; and he did so in a dramatic, comically theatrical way.

He led a public protest outside the court along with others. He wore a T-shirt that insulted the International Criminal Court, (takataka, rubbish) as if the court was responsible for the events that followed the disputed 2007 elections and the deaths and displacement of tens of thousands of people.

In doing so, he showed disrespect for the host country and to the institution that Kenya is a signatory to. He embarrassed the Kenyan people and portrayed it as a manner-less country. The demo was completely unnecessary.

This was not the first time the Nairobi Senator had engaged in bizarre conduct in Kenya and at the Hague.. Earlier this year, during one of the court sessions involving Deputy President William Ruto, he was allegedly singled out by authorities there for a number of small infractions. It seems to me that while we want foreigners to respect us in our country, we are unwilling to extend the same goodwill to them in their countries..

It is about time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a point of briefing our public figures travelling abroad on how to behave while in foreign countries. There have been too many cases of our elected representatives engaging in all manner of immoral and disconcerting behaviour abroad to the extent of hurting bilateral relations. The briefs do not necessarily have to be verbal. They can be passed around to all delegates before their departure.

In the meantime, our Ambassador in Switzerland has been left, once again, with the job of cleaning up the diplomatic mess left behind by the Kenyan visitors.





Joe Khamisi

Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of the Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.

The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.

Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’, is currently awaiting publication.

In addition to the above books, Joe Khamisi blogs at , and for media enquiries can be reached at [email protected]

(This article is courtesy of Joe Khamisi and was originally published at the above blog on 9th October 2014)



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