If you are a pretty young thing (PYT) with the lethal combination of a vivacious personality, a pair of well-turned, chunky legs, a well-proportioned derrière and a Rolls-Royce brain that purrs with ideas, chances are the young men will be screaming ‘Minji Minji’.
The likelihood of this happening increases if you are cruising in the hilly countryside of Murang’a or down the winding roads of Kirinyaga.
To many, minji is just the Kikuyu name for green peas but recently, it has found a whole new meaning.
The term now refers to what I often call a PYT — who happens to be a young woman of note, with style and class, and who wears those four-inch high-heels that carry greatness.
So popular is this phrase that it has found its way into politics with Kirinyaga gubernatorial candidate Anne Waiguru becoming one of the aspirants to be referred to as ‘Minji Minji’.
Notably, Kiambu woman representative candidate Gathoni wa Muchomba has since undergone a radical metamorphosis from wa Mother (a term that loosely means “Our mother’s child”) to… you guessed it, ‘Minji Minji’.
I must appreciate the creativity of one radio and TV presenter, Mr Kamau wa Kang’ethe of Inooro TV/Radio, who coined the phrase to refer to the youth.
In a single stroke of genius, what began as a name for a radio show meant for young people, has spiralled into a national catch phrase, right up there with the now popular campaign expression “Tuko ndani… ndani… ndaaani”.
On the surface, this could just be dismissed as a joke, a passing happy moment in our politics but if you think of it, why are we referring to female politicians as something you would put in a stew?
True, monikers have been part and parcel of politics. Not that I am a veteran political journalist, but it doesn’t escape me that we refer to Raila Odinga as Tinga (a tractor) but refer to our women politicians as mere legumes. Legumes. Imagine that. All those great ideas, years of hard work at school and brains to match reduced to something that goes for Sh50 a tin.
Reading a story the other day in the newspapers, it seemed to me that the Kirinyaga gubernatorial race is not about competing ideas on how to make the county great again, but on who was more ‘Minji Minji’ than the other.
Incidentally, the female candidates themselves are now the ones leading in perpetuating these objectifying epithets that advance stereotypes about women.
YOUTH AND BEAUTY
One female candidate who has milked the moniker for whatever political capital it is worth, is selling herself as ‘Minji Minji’ while the other claims she is too old to be one.
For as long as we refer to female politicians using such terms, nobody – not even themselves – will ever take them seriously. As long as female politicians exploit these demeaning nicknames, voters will never view them beyond their youth and beauty.
I have said this before and it bears saying again: Female politicians had better stop selling themselves as objects. Although we thank God we are beyond the msupas and bae stage, women who are in politics need to sell more than just their youth.
I hate to sound like Miguna Miguna, but I must say: Stop selling beauty. For once, sell your ideas. Let your ideas be what you want to be associated with. Allow people to know you beyond your youth and looks. If you don’t, what will happen if a fresher ‘Minji Minji’ hits the market between 2017 and 2022?
I get it, sometimes these nicknames emanate from the crowds and sometimes there is nothing a candidate can do to change these names that stick for years. My point, however, is; just don’t use the phrase “add stew” in your campaign. It sounds petty. You are a politician, not a mama mboga. Sell ideas, not beauty.