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Friday, 9 September 2011

Jaffer Isaac & the ambitions of youth politics in Kenya

I woke up today and switched on my TV set, tuned it to The Breakfast Show on Citizen TV. You see, of late I have become an ardent viewer of their incisive and very mind boggling Power Interview segment. 

I have to hand it to Jimmi Gathu and the ever straight shooting Mutegi Njau, thanks to the two of them Kenyans are starting to see the folly that is our Kenyan politicians. This on-screen “grilling” of our politicians is exposing them in their true element and what they stand for; very crucial for each prospective voter in the run up to the 2012 elections.

On the tube was Jaffer Isaac,a presidential aspirant.Yeah,I know, the name does not ring a bell? 

Let me bring you up to speed.

Jaffer Isaac came onto the Kenyan political scene recently and declared his interest in the big seat at State House, joining an ever increasing pool of presidential hopefuls.Jaffer,a former taxi driver in the UK,an Ex-Soldier,Businessman,came back to Kenya in 2006 to try his hand out in the transportation business and to silently harness his political ambitions. He says he is from a humble background, being a Gabra by ethnicity. 

Jaffer Isaac confident of winning 2012 Presidential elections

The four walls of a decent classroom, the blackness of the blackboard and the whiteness of the chalk do not relate with the contours of his face. He says in his own way he schooled himself in his formative years and later on in 2001 enrolled in a Community College while in the UK to further his education.

Jaffer is 38 years old. That makes him a ‘youth’ if I am to use the Kenyan political vocabulary. He is a fresh faced individual, sharp in his appearance.

Mutegi, as usual, went bare knuckled in his approach to the interview asking him why he thinks he can be the president of the Kenya. To say the least, Jaffer’s preamble to the interview in response to this straight forward question was weak! He scrambled for ‘intellectual’ responses that sounded utopian to say the least.

According to Jaffer,he came back to the country from the UK  to bring change to the governance system. He claims the system is rotten and corrupt. He believes that the electorate choose leaders that are corrupt.The change he is bringing is incorruptible.

Mutegi challenged Jaffer as to why he believes he can change the system from the top rather than from the ground up. His response was that if he was to come into the current political system say as a Governor or a Councilor for that matter, by the time he scaled his way up to presidency the corruption bug  would have bit him along the way up.Absurd?Makes you question his value system?

Jaffer went on to label himself a Brand. His brand he maintained was the change that Kenyans desired. This is despite the fact that his name does not have any negligible percentage attached to it as far as presidential opinion polls are concerned yet he says we will be shocked if he was to make a phone call to get the figures to prove his backing.

The part I found very laughable was him claiming that he has a national outlook seeing that within the 8 months he has been in ‘active politics’ in the country, he has traversed the country as a political missionary. He watered this down by saying he has been fund-raising for various ventures in the Coast, Nairobi and his native home. How is that politics again?

How about his manifesto? Well, he does not see any need to have a manifesto for his presidential bid. Funny for a man who does not even know what he stands for and what change he will be bringing. Then again, it comes as no surprise. Lets no even start talking about the fact that he has no party affiliation.

Being from a marginalized community, Jaffer wants us to think of him as a political refugee. In his own words:”We are from a marginalized community; we are not even allowed to run for presidency.”According to him, the only reason why he might not win the election is because Kenyans will not give him the mandate by virtue of him being a Gabra.Seriously?
Jaffer Isaac:better off as a businessman

His responses were full of empty rhetoric and lacked substance for someone who wanted to be trusted with steering a country of 30 Million Plus. His ambition is clouded by westernized policies that cannot be conceptualized in the local context. He has a lot to learn about the Kenyan political landscape; I guess when he had asked his wife to brief him on the 10 year political happenings in his absence, she missed out on a lot. 

Go back to the drawing board Jaffer!

Sorry to say, it is such ‘youth’ that give us the real youth a bad political image. Little wonder that from a pool of well learned, ambitious and articulate MP hopefuls in the recent Kamukunji by-elections it’s an old guard who took the mantle. Which is rather sad that the youth do not trust their ‘own’.

The Jaffer’s of our time are spoiling the party for serious ‘youthful’ presidential contenders like Raphael Tuju {..that’s a story for another post..hmm..}I only wish we had a thorough vetting system where we could vet our political reps’ as youths, grill them seriously like they did CJ Mutunga and his deputy Baraza.Im sure the final product would stand an unquestionable chance against the most prolific of political veterans at any stage.

Bottom line, unless we as the youth take ourselves serious and encapsulate our visions and missions y articulately then we will be doomed to be leaders of an elusive future.

The Scribe rests his pen...

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