The second week of September in the year 2020 will be referenced for many years in Kenya following uproar over comments from two MPs, direct insults to the Founding Mother of the Republic, Mama Ngina Kenyatta and a huge retrogression in the gender equality journey.
The videos of Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi and Emurrua Dikirr MP Johanna Ngeno went viral on social media platforms on the same day as the two leaders from the rift muddled the reputation of wife to the Founding President of Kenya, Mzee Kenyatta.
The calls for an apology from the MP turned into protests across the country and press conferences, some led by elected leaders, local women, youth caucus, rights groups calling on the MP to respect all mothers, irrespective.
The conversation spiraled to media shows and twitter debates on whether the anger portrayed against the two MPs was truly a fight for the respect of women or political expediency.
Women leaders condemn insults at Mama Ngina Kenyatta
Women leaders held a press conference and spoke to the issue. Some present included Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Former Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi, Garissa County MP Fatuma Gedi, Kiambu County MP Gathoni Wamuchomba, Homa Bay County MP Gladys Wanga, Muranga County MP Sabina Chege, Samburu County MP Maison Leshoomo, and Laikipia County MP Cate Waruguru.
Gov Waiguru said: “We condemn this insult and ask politicians to direct their responses and attacks, if need be, to their fellow politicians.”
MP Wanga said: “Insults must stop. There has a been an attempt, a serious scheme to discredit the family of President Uhuru Kenyatta. They started with Mzee Kenyatta…Uhuru’s Brother…then President Uhuru…they have now crossed the line to the matriarch of this country, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, and it will not go uncondemned. Sudi and Ngeno must apologise to Mama Ngina.
Elachi said: “I humbly apologise to Mama Ngina. She is our mother, grandmother with children, and grandchildren. I would like to tell the Deputy President if your mother was abused as (the boys) Sudi and Ngeno have done, how would you feel? When they abused Mama Ngina, they also abused your mother, DP Ruto. Let us remember that President Uhuru was brought up by a single mother, and her mother is also his father. When we play politics, let us not bring in our parents.”
MP Leshoomo said: “We are in utter shock because of the insults from the Rift MPs. I am from the Rift and let me make it clear, it is not the people of the Rift who have abused Mama Ngina, but the two MPs. It is quite unfortunate that two leaders have abused a woman of such caliber in this nation, the founding mother, a grandmother with grandchildren who is respected across the country. She contributed greatly to our independence and freedom. The abuse at Mama Ngina is an insult to all women in Kenya. If you want to be elected, power is not won through insults. Insults will result in a loss of votes. This is not the first time abuses are being hurled. There was a time Mzee Kenyatta was insulted in the grave. We will not accept such insults.”
MP Waruguru said: “Her Excellency Mama Ngina prayed for the ICC suspects, covered their shame and nakedness at Afraha Stadium. Is this how we repay her?”
MP Sabina said: “I want to remind Kenyans where we have come from – 2007 massacre. It started with the inciting of the 42 tribes in Kenya. As the women of this country, we want to say, no more bloodshed in Kenya.”
“I want to remind the two dishonourable members, Sudi and Ngeno, do your politics, but avoid addressing Her Excellency Mama Ngina. We have never seen her on a political platform. At her age, all she needs is to sit and pray for this nation. I wish to remind Sudi and Ngeno, you are cursed; that is your mother, grandmother, and the matriarch of this nation. The bad things you said to her, you also said to your mothers. Women suffer when chaos happens; our husbands and children die, and we have no food. We do not want bloodshed. You will not get the respect of a father if you do not respect women. If you do not apologize, God’s wrath will deal with you.”
Yvonne Okwara Speaks on Sudi and Ngeno Insults to Mama Ngina
However, according to popular TV Presenter, Yvonne Okwara, the calls for an apology were purely pretentious as the ground had been set in the past with such abuses uttered with little or no remorse from the public or other leaders.
She said: “We have all been collectively horrified by Sudi’s words!”
Yvonne: But how I wish we would hear this noise for all mothers in Kenya. How I wish we would have been this outraged when the disabled mother who brews illicit liquor to feed her children was beaten by the village chief in Uasin Gishu County, and further humiliated when he poured that liquor all over her head.
Yvonne: Where were these noises and promised demonstrations when we learned of the mother who boils stones for her children to eat? Where were we when an MCA, a mother was clobbered at the Nairobi County assembly? Did we hear the widespread condemnation from these leaders when mothers and their children slept outside in the cold during a pandemic in the state-sanctioned Kariobangi evictions that had been halted by the courts?
Yvonne: Folks, let’s be clear, everyone deserves respect! From the First Lady in the country to the first ladies in our lives – our mothers.
Yvonne: We cringe at the mention of the breasts of the First Lady but we do not cringe at other human rights violations against our mothers and women in this country? We cringe at those words but do not cringe at a country that for seven years now has not been able to pass the gender rule? We cringe at Oscar Sudi, yet some among us use the phrase uko na umama as an insult. We cringe at this insult to the First Lady yet we are the first to make jokes about single mothers and pass judgment on their parenting? Think less of children brought up by single mothers? Isn’t the First Lady (Mama Ngina) a single mother raising her children following the death of her husband?
Yvonne: How many times have we heard, pesa si ya mama yako, or this and that si ya mama yako? Is the outrage to be on the right side politically or do we really value the women and mothers in this country?
Other leaders speak on the issue
President Uhuru Kenyatta made it clear that people should not abuse her mother (Mama Ngina).
Deputy President William Ruto wrote a tweet to condemn the remarks by the two legislators.
The National Assembly Security Committee also called for sobriety and asked leaders to stop beating the war drums that would threaten the stability of the nation.
Former Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and Kipsigis elders apologised to Mama Ngina.
Women in Narok, Nyeri, Muranga, Kiambu and other regions held demonstrations against the two leaders for abusing the Founding Mother of the Nation.
But Oscar Sudi, stood firm, and openly refused to apologise! Mtadoo?
One of the popular hashtags #RespectOurMothers
Muranga Women Rep Sabina Chege wrote on her Facebook page:
“Mothers are fiercely loyal and protective. The world needs more mothers because they fill a role in the family that no one else can. Moms are the emotional backbone of the family. They protect their families’ emotional needs and do everything they can to keep their children from being hurt. Thus, any insult directed to a mother should be condemned with the strongest terms possible. I joined demonstrators in Murang’a County to condemn insults hurled against Mama Ngina Kenyatta by Hon. Oscar Sudi and Hon. Johanna Ng’eno. With their message clear that women are an integral part of a society and they should be kept off any kind of political mudslinging if they are not in a political arena.”