Today marks five years since Miguna Miguna’s barbaric verbal attack on Esther Passaris on national television. Of course, the issue of the former’s return to his birth country, a right he has continually been wrongfully and unlawfully denied, is of more currency. Nevertheless, it is the lawyer’s utterances I would like to discuss here, not because I do not care about the government’s infringement on his rights—I have condemned this before and my position has not changed—but because only a handful of Kenyans have registered any disappointment regarding Miguna’s worrying utterances. On the contrary, Kenyans have often celebrated Miguna’s demeaning, often sexist, and occasionally outrageously false remarks as heroic discursive “deconstructions” of his hapless victims.
A man as careless in speech as Miguna Miguna; one who has as little patience to listen to others as he demonstrated on multiple platforms including Jeff Koinange Live in 2016/17; one who does more to discredit competitors than he does to sell his policies as he did while campaigning to be the Governor of Nairobi; one who raises his voice in insult, especially to a woman; such a man is unfit to hold public office.
A few of my friends with whom I have had this discussion have argued that women, especially those in politics should be prepared to handle pressure, just like their male counterparts. They have suggested that if we set lower standards for women, then women will never realize their full potential. But who can claim that our society hasn’t been and isn’t still patriarchal and that hence, women have always been handed the shorter end of the stick? Hasn’t the patriarchal nature of our society preferred men over women just based on their genders and put in place measures and structures that enable men while hindering women? Aren’t women judged more harshly than men, taken less seriously and given credit less often even when it’s due to them? Besides, how can insults be characterized as “pressure”?
Whether or not men and women should be held to the same set of standards for leadership roles is besides the point. It is demeaning not only to women but also to men for a man to raise his voice to an opponent (man or woman) in insult, rather than using facts and logic to defend his position. It is demeaning and insulting to society’s morals for a man to argue his case using baseless and unfounded allegations. Miguna, through his utterances, has demonstrated how unfit he is of any leadership role. His insult on Passaris only discredits him further. Electorates would be wise to reject his pleas if he comes knocking in search of votes. His right to return home must not be construed as ability to lead. On being able to handle power, the general is evidently deficient.