Wining and Dining with Kenya’s Primaries: #VPMeetup

VP Meetup. *pauses for a moment…draws out a sigh and attempts to go through with the post*

A bunch of people have already shared their thoughts on said meetup. Here’s one by @kachwanya.

Something I’ve come to appreciate with this wave of ‘political seduction’ on one of the most levelling, if not the only levelling platform/forum in the world today,social media, is that objectivity can easily be thrown out the window,and with seemingly just cause! It is no secret that the #VPMeetup stirred up quite the sensation! It didn’t tip towards the positive for the most part. It can be argued that the memorable bit was the food and drink, because when it got down to the heart of the matter,well, it was a crowded shallow-end of a vast pool,which comprises a much bigger,more accommodating deep-end.

Into the meat of things. (Mind you,this is one bony chunk of meat.)

For the meetup, one had to submit a form, in which you were to ask any question. I wonder if anyone filled in a less ‘formal’ question and ‘made the cut’. There was 100 of us,possibly more. I will inject this post with commentaries on what I consider was the strategy at play.

Now this was an interesting one as well. [Strategy One] In my opinion, this was a very shrewd approach. It is proven that when you give a platform to your critics, present yourself in person for questioning/to be put on the spot, most often than not, the questions they were all too eager to ask escape their minds. What replaces them is an interesting entrée of speechlessness on one end, sycophancy on the other, and a whole lot in between. Again, not to say that this was ‘Stevo’s’ intention…I am no mind reader.

He surprisingly kept time,and was there @thenailab,well the premises at an acceptable hour.(Not so the PM who arrived an hour late!) He then took a quick trip to the reknowned, Pete’s Coffee bar,over at The iHub (where I was hitherto seated and sent off once he approached…to that I say,I am more of a loyal customer than he ever will be,so next time,I’ll be a bit more defiant!).

Then it was on to him meeting the tweeps. Said gentleman was quick to display his twitter lingo. (do we say twingo,by the way?) Proper positioning. [Strategy Two] I sense the brief was to pass off as ‘one of us’. (As we have told your fellow politician,of the “Tuko Pamoja” fame: Uhuru Kenyatta, no! We are not together on that high pedestal on which you look down on us from!)

Politicians and their advisers,in my opinion,seem to not do their homework right. Maybe in the past they haven’t had to. See as much as sycophancy,in no small proportions, still exists, there is a new breed of people who smell out the sideshows from a mile away! That is why it may seem like most bloggers,and indeed attendees of such forums,are negative critics, but it’s really simple: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! [herein lies the most effective strategy…the same approach used in ‘traditional campaign trails’ will NEVER…I repeat…NEVER apply in the online world.You must reinvent the wheel, ensure matters are customized for and pertinent to the interest group at hand. You are welcome.]

I don’t recall the VP answering any one question directly,and in a satisfactory manner.[Strategy Three,perhaps?] That those who would ask him questions,and “sit on the bench with him” were predetermined defied the whole purpose of the rest of us even bothering to attend. We were duped on that one and actually insulted.

What was probably the most interesting strategy, [Strategy Four] was putting one @sickolia on the spot. Now,residents of twitterverse are well aware of this chap’s hilarious tweets about Mheshimiwa,and his ‘Kigeugeu-ness’ (which he said was a plot by his enemies to give him a bad name…I paraphrase.) I really liked what he (@sickolia) said when asked why he ‘viciously’ tweets ‘against’ the VP; that though funny (and embarrassing really for Mheshimiwa) his tweets may be, they are informative! I suppose by that he meant that they are informed by real-time events around ‘Stevo’. The VP went ahead to ‘sweetly’ ask Sickolia to give it a rest…so will he? All eyes on his TL…

When the moderator, Tonee Ndungu asked the VP what kind of role someone like @sickolia could play in Kenya’s future under his leadership…I thought, ‘Finally! A question that might redeem the whole thing.’  That the VP’s response is unmemorable marks the end of my attention span as regards the ‘meetup’.

Well, the #VPMeetup, for me,was more entertaining (on a purely comical basis). It was hilarious to listen to the questions posed, the interesting moderation and for the most part lucklustre and off-the-topic responses. As to what that did in terms of changing anything, we’ll have to wait and see.

Oh,did I mention that the biggest Genge sensation, P-Unit were in the house? [Strategy Five] As to whether they,too,applied for the meetup or were ‘special guests’ is not clear, seeing as they didn’t get to speak. I would have loved for them to take to the mic,and not to woo us with their catchy tunes,but ask some questions! Are they Stevo’s supporters? Should we expect an ‘official campaign song’ from them?

I must commend the Vice President, Hon.Kalonzo Musyoka (all protocol observed),for daring to step into the minefield like he did. We all know the sentiments we hold as regards him. True, he barely answered any questions,and it was very evident that it was all PR (or a gimmick,depending on who you ask). [Strategy Six,never to be repeated again] The speech was a horrible, and I repeat,horrible blunder in a forum that was promoted and branded as an engaging one. Mheshimiwa, I hope you never do that again,for your own sake. Point taken though, you are tech-savvy, kudos!

That being said, I think we must applaude these gentlemen ( the PM and the VP) for diving into the deep end for this one.(Engaging the new generation of Youththere’s some other preceding generation still parading itself as ‘youth’, or is it ‘youths’!) They’ve literally walked into unfamiliar territory! To me, that translates to one of two things: either they really are interested in who we are/what we have to say as the resounding voices of Kenya…or they are out to take us for a whirlwind of a ride, ahead of the coveted race to the house on the hill, only to shut us out once they make it through the fortified iron gates. Only time, and due pressure for follow through will truly tell.

So,what’s next? #ChillingWithSonko? #HangingWithAtwoli? #BondingWithMigunaMiguna?



By Nanjira

Perched at the intersection of tech & governance, media, culture.