WANJURA: Why aspirants should not expect a penny from me

WANJURA: Why aspirants should not expect a penny from me

To show he was digital or to cut on costs or perhaps for both reasons, he shared the invitation via a WhatsApp group specifically set up for the event.

Scrolling through the group membership, I noted that he had conferred on me the privilege of being a co-administrator ­­­­­­– but largely of strangers. Apart from two names that were recognisable by dint of their media background, the rest were random persons unregistered in my mind.

Not even a simple, courteous text or a quick call had preceded this momentous honour. I found it assumptive and intrusive. Save for a bland WhatsApp text four months ago, there had been no communication between us. True, we used to be good friends. But that was before money evidently favoured him more than me.

With changing fortunes, he upped his social circles. I was a witness to all this because he is prolific Facebook sharer. He incessantly posts pictures of his escapades with envious captions: ‘Heaven is hitting T9 Muthaiga early morn’; ‘Norway is great get-away’; ‘Surely Enashipai! Can’t get my eggs right! NKT!!’

Reading his WhatsApp invite, got me reflecting.  Just the same way Facebook is struggling with fake news, its sister social site should do something to tame abuse of social groups.

The other day, for instance, someone had the cheek to subscribe me to ‘Men Against Kilimani Mums WhatsApp group! Again, there were no consultations whatsoever. No one cared to check where my loyalties lay. My local has one too that wastes my recurrent efforts to stay away. Concerned members religiously remind me of my absence especially after credible scientific research recently revealed bar company is actually healthy!

My friend’s group was essentially a fundraiser. Since money is an ambition appetiser, he had decided to go for a parliamentary seat. I had picked hints of it in his Facebook posts especially from his sudden interest in attending funerals, remote weddings and even children birthday parties.

Like many aspiring politicians, he clothed his ambitions in altruism and religion. “The voice of man is the voice of God,” he once posted. “For all of you asking me to be your servant, I will not let you down…I’m fasting about it…God willing, I will have an answer soon…!’

And true to his pledge, the answer came in the form of the WhatsApp group. But at least he had been ceremonial about it albeit in a presumptuous way. He was inviting us for a breakfast fundraiser. What caught my attention was his audacity to arrogate himself the prerogative of determining the bare minimum donation for each of the attendee.

It wasn’t really an original concept. Kanu and retired President Moi had trail-blazed it many years ago with Ksh 1 million dinner plate. Then, I wondered whether anyone could ever muster the appetite to eat anything from such a plate considering the cost until a friend pointed out misers like me had not been invited for obvious reasons.

In place of dinner, my friend had gone for breakfast. That raising as much as possible topped his agenda was evident from the choice of restaurant. It was in Ngara where ordinarily, your breakfast company would be clandestine couples in lowered caps negotiating the last instalment for overnight services or exchanging notes on how to shed off the smell of infidelity on their way home.

The invitation was clustered. My friend had, in his own wisdom, grouped us in categories of amounts of money he has unilaterally assigned each invitee. The groups were in the range of Ksh10,000. My name was in the cluster of 20,000. That was the least my breakfast was supposed to cost.

At the top of the invitation were curious instructions. Prominence had been given to a reminder that God loves a cheerful giver. He had added a quote from a Greek-sounding name I had never heard before about the wisdom in weighing ambition in gold and silver and the blessings of surrounding oneself with rich friends.

Judging by the fundraiser clusters, my friend has plenty of rich friends. From 11 of them, he expected Ksh100,000, and Ksh200,000  from seven. The latter were in a category dubbed ‘Golden League.’ Seeing where I fell in his assessment of my means, I wasn’t sure whether to feel lucky or to take offence at his modest impression.

I intend to give the breakfast a wide berth and for good reasons. First, I will hide under the dictates of my career. Professionalism demands strict political neutrality. But if he were summoning a breakfast to give – not demand – the same, that position would be open to review. Then it could be an acceptable consideration for advising him, on say, how to effectively smile to TV cameras.

Secondly, I have a very good idea of how much my breakfast costs. And I would know because I have been eating breakfast for a very long time. To purport to sell me some bread and tea at 20,000 bob is unchecked avarice. I will not knowingly surrender to such extortion. Besides, who told him I need hotel breakfast? Has there been fire in my kitchen!

Just like treating yourself to an extravagant Harambee wedding, it is immoral to fund your ambitions with friends’ money. I know the argument is that no one is forcing anyone to pay. But what’s the difference between my friend and those street beggars who thrust an emaciated child to your face while reminding you that God is watching whether you will help or roll up your car windows?

In an election season, there are many wanna-be aspirants pleading for assistance. But I have interacted with politicians long enough to witness the fallacy that is servant leadership. The predication of seeking elective office to help the public is a cheap lie unless by serving, they mean helping their immediate family and themselves.

Elective offices are essentially self-aggrandisement projects. I have seen how bosom friends mutate once you’ve helped them into office. They discover endless meetings to keep you at bay. They manipulate their phone to give it a permanent ‘line busy’ status whenever you call. They perfect the art of avoiding you. They tend to view you primarily as just another hand-out expectant.

And finally, and most importantly, my political intelligence tells me my friend is likely un-electable. Why would I waste good money betting on a losing horse? Besides, if you are truly electable, we will vote for you even if you are rags.