My Dear Readers:
I am an angry Comrade. Today, I choose to use this space to give voice to my fury and to cry out my disappointment. I am disappointed that yet again I am drumming up an article about the unfortunate indefinite closure of The Most Prestigious University in Kenya. I am furious about a ‘Man of Controversy’ who has continually wreaked havoc in our esteemed Institution of Higher Learning.
Where am I coming from in all this? I am currently a Fourth Year Student at The University of Nairobi, Main Campus, pursuing a Bachelors’ Degree in Economics and Statistics. My stay in Campus is long overdue since Monday the 13th day of January 2014. Yet here I am, in my First Semester, which has unfortunately been discontinued indefinitely. I have lived through demonstrations and strikes, through teargas canisters thrown at comrades with wild abandon. Our tenure at campus has seen its fair share of slogan shouting, From “Babu Must Go!” to “Mbithi Must Go!”
We met one, Paul Ongili alias Babu Owino, the then sitting SONU (Student Organization of the University of Nairobi) President, during our first week of Orientation into Campus. He perfectly exemplifies many the ways of an African Leader; Over-ambitious, Controversial and Tyrannical. Note that I do not mean over-ambitious in my statement above as a compliment to the young man. I find aggressiveness in any person appealing; but when it is displayed in the form of trouncing every law known to God and man, when it uses others’ hearts and heads as stepping stones to higher ground, when it neither plays by the rules of the game nor acknowledges the rule of law, then I term it a vice to be condemned and punished. And such was known of Babu Owino during his Dictatorial rule at the Helm of Student Politics. A man who continuously and consistently propagated student strikes and protests during his tenure and birthed the Comrades’ Power slogans of “Tibim!” and “Tialala!” How I pitied his clique of misguided and uninformed hoodlums commonly referred to as Goons! I believe it is such unseemly behaviour in a grown man, and an educated man at that, to leave the code of his behaviour and cause of actions in the hands of others; to incite them into acts of violence even in the quest for justice. I find it ironical that one can be a leader and yet not master democratic and diplomatic amicable ways of handling issues.
And that to me is not leadership. A man who seats on a political seat with glee and arrogance and deigns not to nurture others who shall come after him, succeed him, is no leader at all. Perhaps the self-indulgence of such leaders is to our advantage as the people of the nation, lest he spawn an untold number of faithful followers who shall walk in his footprints. Those who shall be misled into believing that one gets to the top by all means, eliminating all contingencies along their way. Many of our current leaders engaged in national politics are products of the skills they nurtured, the eloquence they nursed and the confidence they pursued while at SONU. Babu Owino continually denied aspiring students the chance to fan their political gift into flames. The first indefinite closure of the University over the duration of my stay, of which I cried foul over in this space, was due to the hotly contested SONU elections of April 2016 that he adamantly refused to have lost to his competitor, Mike Jacobs.
A man who has not learned to tame his tongue and bring it under his mastery is not worthy of respect. It is ironical that now, as a Member of Parliament, he would expect all to kow-tow to him as mheshimiwa; He who can neither respect the highest office in our Sovereign Nation nor the man who seateth on it, a man who cannot respect the powers that be. I for one would not deign to stoop so low as to bestow such a crown of glory upon him. It is time he learned that respect is earned and not gained; not by tyrannical rule in student leadership, not by winning a political seat and certainly not by loose-mouthed insolence. One is crowned with respect by the integrity of their character and the nobility of their words and actions.
I am an avid reader and devoted lover of articles written by Njoki Chege in her City Girl Blog. I knew she would write an article on Babu Owino. I counted on it. I was surprised that she would congratulate him and praise his ‘hard work’. It appeals to our human nature to praise, appreciate and perhaps even place on a pedestal a man who has journeyed from rags to riches, who has risen from the gravity of slums to flourish in the game of Politics. But when the journey has meandered through the darkened alleys of dictatorship, corruption, blackmail and unmerited means, then such a man is not worthy of such considerations.
It has reached a point where we must tire of hearing the loud bangs and the sharp tear-inducing smell of tear-gas canisters in the School Premises. It is time we shed off the dirty garments of meaningless slogans. It is time we stopped harassing peaceful hard-working Nairobians cum potential employers and business associates. It is definitely time we restored the confidence of the general public in The Giant World Class University committed to Scholarly Excellence.
We are students and therefore have no business whatsoever engaging the police in Tug-of- War and Hide-and-Seek games. This is not our lot in life. We do have Careers to Build, Education to Soak up (ain’t we in a fountain of knowledge?), Skills to Nurture and Networks to Create. We do have an Economy to Grow and a Nation to Build. We are the crème de la crème of our society, the intellectuals that will champion relevance in our generation. We shall not be used as spawns to further the political gains of greedy selfish politicians. And we certainly shall not be used by one Babu Owino; neither to protest his arrest for hate-speech nor advocate his release, to just do nothing else but be Babu.
As a student in Campus, he wreaked havoc and reeked chaos. It seems that even after having left, his tentacles and manacles are still reaching out to encumber the Student body at The University of Nairobi. But we are intellectuals; we do have a future, and dreams. We are a body independent of political tethers.
Kindly, Let us run the course of our Academia with the due diligence and respect we deserve!
An Angry Comrade!