The first time I heard of Raphael Tuju’s presidential ambition was through his Sheng video. I didn’t even know he had released English and Kiswahili versions! Anyway, his use of Sheng definitely brought a lot of discussion, and a reminder of some Sheng speaking ‘youth’ leader(
idiot) whose very behaviour is barbaric. I hoped he had not inspired others to follow in his roots!
Politicians are discovering the importance of bloggers. Google and type a political name, and chances are you will get a few hits on news websites and perhaps a random, badly edited Wikipedia page.
What if you searched the internet, and landed on hundreds (possibly) thousands of results, all by local authors. The information will be seen as more reliable, and you will be able to get a clearer picture of the subject of your search. Now what if all the bloggers, online journalists in their own right, were writing something negative/positive about someone/something? Wouldn’t you be swayed by their opinions? Or be persuaded to listen to what the politician has to say?
Anyway, a few weeks ago, Raphael Tuju invited some bloggers to meet and discuss with him on his presidential bid. I went to the top floor of Laico (The Grand?) Regency with an open mind. We got settled in one of the meeting rooms and waited for him for a while.
I must say I was impressed. For over the two hours in which we interacted with him, he kept his cool and responded well. He has a deep understanding of national issues and is clear with what he wants to achieve if he becomes president. We asked him all kinds of questions, from where he will get his campaign funds from, to what books he reads.
It was an open discussion with no moderation, no shying away from questions, no censorship. We told him his Sheng was rather old school, and if he planned on releasing another Sheng video (maybe a rap too!) he should consult some young people in his campaign.
We asked him to honestly evaluate his chances of winning this presidency. This is what he said: (I’m paraphrasing since I didn’t record it!)
“In terms of tribal voting blocks, my chances are zero. In terms of wealth (he’s not the richest chap, he says), my chances are zero. In terms of family history in politics (think Uhuru, Raila and Mudavadi whose fathers were political leaders), my chances are zero. However, if we can change people’s way of thinking, then I stand a chance.”
I am definitely willing to hear what Rapho has to say. Trouble is, can Kenyans change their way of thinking? Therein the challenge.
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