Friday, April 17, 2009

A moment With an MP

My friend has indicated to me that he will be in the running for parliamentary office come 2012 and he has told me (not requested) that I will support him in deed and spirit. (he doesn't come from my constituency). He doesn't have to be persuaded or dissuaded since politics runs in their family.

However for me any minute political ambitions I could have hitherto nursed evaporated last week when I went to see my MP and Minister for Lands. Because of the project in Urenga that I have been working on, the man has constantly sought to meet me and sent a number of people informally to me. I felt flattered to be sought by such a strong man. The other day when I passed by home, the school committee chairman insisted that we would use the opportunity to see the MP since he had also come the previous night. I was told the minister woke early and so we had to go by 9AM. However because of late breakfast and some other 'unavoidable' circumstances, we got to his home at about 11AM. I was surprised to find out that it was only 1KM or less from my home.

Getting to the home, I almost turned. The home was packed with villages of all shapes sizes and shades! old women, old men, young men and women. some sitting others standing. some in small groups and some alone staring pensively at some white house beyond the gate. I later learned that this was a new home and the minister still stayed in the old home. The chairman encouraged me to go ahead and enter the home. some helpful young man who I leter learned was the usher directed us where to pack.

The minister was still asleep and we were told he had come home in the early hours of the morning. The chairman told me the crowd would be dispensed of in a twinkle of an eye. The MP would see all of them and it would be very fast. I was told most of the crowd was people of 'gonya'. 'Gonya' is the term locals use to indicate to you to give them money either for being your relative, or your dads friend or the person who saw you when you were born or who came to visit you when your dad was working in Kisumu or because they told you that you are driving a nice car any other reason that is taxable. Its a sort of a relationship tax. For an MP every constituent is entitled to 'gonya'. I was told Orengo always has wards of new crisp 50 bob notes that he uses for that purpose.

I soon got tired of waiting and wanted to leave but a whisper went round that the MP was in the shower and would soon come. Soon there was another whisper that he was taking breakfast. Luckily the chairman knew the usher and told him who I was and what I was doing for the village. We were immediately taken to a waiting room next to the 'office' of the MP. We would be the second in once he came. We waited there and talked. Soon the man came and we went in. He looked apprehensive at first on seeing me but after while he oppened up and said he wanted us to work together. He even explained that he had stayed up late in Bondo the previous night and only got home at about 4AM. He was also scheduled to go to Sabatia to attend the burial of the sister of the Deputy Prime minister. However before that he had to see each of all those constituents in his compound! With that I stood to go after exchanging contacts and agreeing to call each other to make plans.

On our way back I couldn't help but ask the chairman what all those people would be seeking. He told me that the needs were varied. Some people would come to tell the minister to help them with school fees, or with paying dowry, or burying their father in law. Or that their house was leaking and needed a new roof or that their son got lost in Nairobi and they wanted fare to go get them. or that their neighbor who had borrowed their chicken when they had guests had declined to pay and so the minister needed to step in! At the end each person would get at least 50 shillings and also a meal of ugali with meat. The meals I was told were a daily thing even when the MP wasn't home!

I was dumb founded. What about his own privacy! When does he get to talk to his wife, kids, mother, brothers cousins , unties, etc!!! and when does he even get to take a walk around the home to enjoy the otherwise fresh breeze and the beautifully rolling land full of greenery? When does he get to sit under the shadows of the beautiful mangoe trees and put his legs up on a reed-made stool sipping busaa and catching up on the wars of the president and Prime Minister on Lolwe FM???!!!

If that is the life of an MP, obed!


  1. Od,

    I suppose when you are an MP in certain parts of Kenya, that is what you sign up for,lol. Your immediate family share you with your constituents. I talk from experience,lol. No peace, and people turning up 24/7.

    The question is does the MP use his salary for Gonya, or does it come from his personal account?????

  2. Interesting... I doubt the city (nairobi) MPs go through that kind of stuff...

  3. yes this is sadly kenyan

    the MPs and constitutents continue to support the culture of handouts

    noone brave enough to step out the box. otherwise his/her career will end abruptly

    need new solutions new thinking new mindsets.

    more of that exhibited by the author, i.e impatience. waiting around for 50 or to see an MP is not the kind of thing progressive people do. (realistic) appointments are made, agenda for the meetings set/agreed on in advance where possible, and then timings and commitments honored. everyone goes away having moved forward one step.

  4. Does this build a case for not paying taxes? I mean, just compute the 50 bobs and the free lunch every day, does the total come to 30% of gross income + allowances?

  5. Yenyewe OD leo umenichekesha-is this all true? Ati people who saw you when you were born want 'gonya'.

  6. @tamtam, am not sure from where the money comes but i suspect this thing contributes a lot to corruption by the MPs

    @coldi, maybe not

  7. @UrXlnc! lol what a name! I agree with you, the ruled must share responsibility of their lives with the rulers

    @mwasjd, I suppose so and probably this is what Koskey was talking about the other day

    @PKW, Well I have paid the 'gonya' a couple of times and the reason am often given is that they saw me when I was born or carried me when I was a toddler etc. some even tell you to give them since your dad or mum also used to give them!


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