Embakasi East Member of Parliament, Paul Ongili, alias Babu Owino in a Nairobi court where he was charged with subversion, incitement to violence and offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERUEmbakasi East Member of Parliament, Paul Ongili, alias Babu Owino in a Nairobi court where he was charged with subversion, incitement to violence and offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU
By CITY GIRL

Dear Comrade Babu Owino.

It was nice speaking to you over the phone yesterday after your ordeal with the government. When you called, I expected to hear a groggy voice after a week of psychological torture.

“Aye Comrade!” you said. I was surprised to hear a bubbly voice on the other end, cracking jokes and asking me how I have been all these years. It occurred to me that as an acquaintance, I needed to do more than write a news story about you. So I have decided to write you a letter.

I like you, Babu. I like your vim, courage and drive. You are a bit of a “drama queen”, with your silly little antics but all the same, I think I am right when I say you’ve got your heart in the right place.

Many people don’t know how far you’ve come. As someone who has written your story a couple of times before, I know you grew up in a slum in Kisumu. To make ends meet, your beloved mother used sell chang’aa and engage in menial jobs just to put food on the table.

From what you have told me in the past, you had a rough childhood and started spending nights in police cells when you were still in primary school; when police would crackdown on chang’aa brewers.

I also know what people say about you. However, I am not in a position to comment authoritatively on the rumours because I do not know all the facts. So I will speak from what I know for sure.

Let nobody lie to you that you are not doing well for your age. There are not many 29-year-olds that are in your position. The truth is, you are a young achiever and you have done very well for yourself so far. I would even say you have proven yourself already. On top of that, you have a few things going on for you. You are educated, young, brilliant, dripping with youthful energy and you have a lovely young family.

However, there are a few loose ends you need to tie up, and this is where your smile might disappear. Babu, you need to stop. You are fast hurtling down the path of self-destruction and self-sabotage.

Like many Kenyans, I was shocked beyond words when you uttered the words you did at that rally. No matter how you try to spin it, it came out very badly and this is not looking good. People are angry out here. I am angry, too.

That was not how to address the President. Indeed, it is not the way to address any Kenyan, especially at such a time as this when the country is politically divided. If nobody has told you that you were wrong and disrespectful, then let that person be me. You were wrong, Babu.

You may put up a strong façade but I know deep down in your inner courts, you know what you said was not right. There is nothing wrong with criticising the government. We all do. It is our right anyway. However, there is something wrong with a leader being disrespectful. And that is what you were.

Babu, you ought not to be like those other uncouth politicians. You can cultivate some level of refinement and intelligence. You sat in an actuarial science class and now almost completing a law degree.

It’s high time you stopped behaving like an ignorant, bucolic yokel and started to behave like the leader the people of Embakasi East Constituency elected you to be.

This is not about insulting the President. Had you said that of anyone else, I still would have written this letter. My point is, it is very disappointing for a young person in Parliament to forget why he was elected and to engage in mindless, empty politics.

You’re better than this. I am one of the few Kenyans who still believe that there is room for redemption. So pull yourself together, clean up your act and be the leader you were born to be.

Yours truly.
Fellow Comrade.