Unfortunately for the president, the Chief Justice, now a hero, comes from an ethnic community which NASA have argued was one of the areas where the voting tally is largely suspicious. So in order to back track and appeal for their vote, he had to explain why he was displaying such unpresidential behavior at one of their own. His explanation? I’m only human.
Tragedy tells us that the king must suffer or die for the redemption of humanity because the king matters enough. That means that the more power one has, the less access one has to being “ordinary,” including making huge blunders. One cannot drive around in air-tight security, earn the salary of the president, and attack the Supreme Court, and then tell us one is "only human." No. The president does not know what it means to be only human.
Being only human in Kenya means having no access to healthcare, because the nurses in public service have been on strike for 100 days. Being only human means sleeping in your house and cops dash in, beat your 6-month old daughter, which puts her in a coma before she dies. Being only human means being a high school kid in a crowded public high school dormitory and guards taking photos as your dorm burns.
So Mr Uhuru Muigai does not have the authority to tell us about being only human. He spoke as president, behind the presidential seal, surrounded by presidential security, ranting about a fundamental institution embedded in the Constitution that he swore to protect. He doesn't get to be human at this crucial point in Kenya’s history, when we need leadership more than ever. So many of us didn't get to be human because the votes we cast were disregarded by vifaranga vya computer. Some of us didn't get to be human when our bodies were found in Nam Lolwe. He doesn't get to be only human, unless he resigns and lives in a county or country where no one knows him.
And yet, that has been the story of the 21st century, where politicians like Sonko join protestors in the streets, to demonstrate against policies he is responsible for changing. Especially under this president, we are expected to ooh and aah as politicians descend to our level and share a meal or a hug with us, or line up in a long queue to vote. But those are not spaces where politicians get to be like us. The real test of being an ordinary citizen is not drinking a soda at a kiosk; it is in our schools, hospitals, transport and other public services. Politicians are not “only human” if their kids don't attend the schools our kids attend. They are not “only human” when they do not get treated in the hospitals we go to, or when they have huge medical insurance, while our insurance is not enough to cover two days in ICU. They don't get to be human when they are inebriated, abandoning their duties as president and ranting at a crowd.
We Kenyans are equally “only human” under the 2010 constitution. That means that the president’s only claim to being “only human” is when the Supreme Court nullified his re-election, because being president does not exempt his election from following the guidelines of the Constitution. That Supreme Court ruling is when he got to be human, like all of us others who are bound under the constitution, the same constitution he quoted when telling Raila to go to court.
If the president wants to legitimately claim to be “only human,” then he must not only say he respects the court, but he must also behave like the respects the Constitution which protects the court. And he must call off his foot soldiers consuming Kenya’s mental space with shenanigans like hate speech and calling for the firing of the Chief Justice. If people are going to claim to be only human, they should respect the laws to which other Kenyan humans are bound. And in this Kenya, in 2010, we affirmed that our standard of being “only human” is respecting and following the Constitution.