Larry Madowo’s sobering lesson from Raila supporters
It was a statement I could easily have made in this column because I would have 800 words to explore it, not 140 characters.
“Show of hands, who else was expecting an explosive list from Raila Odinga and all we got was nothing more than a fart?”
It was part of a series of tweets following the former prime minister’s naming of several civil servants as persons of interest in the Eurobond saga.
My Twitter lit up as his supporters incorrectly assumed I had accused the CORD leader of farting in public. I did not abuse him and I greatly respect the statesman for all he has done for Kenya.
But the outrage machine kicked in without understanding the metaphor and I was eviscerated. The most common and by far most amusing accusation was that I attacked Raila to keep my job, especially after the Denis Galava situation.
The charge was that the Nation Media Group had become a Jubilee mouthpiece and this newspaper’s Special Projects Editor had to be suspended to please State House after he wrote a critical editorial.
Not only is that manifest nonsense, I was the only NMG insider to publicly support Galava and criticise his suspension. The same people who supported me for standing up to my bosses just a fortnight earlier were now saying I had suddenly changed sides to retain my position.
I was insulted in every way possible by thousands on social media and there were more than a few credible threats to my life which I will be reporting to the police.
Several people even promised physical violence should I show up at certain places. I was accused of having been paid by Jubilee to tarnish the name of “Baba”.
“Kneel at the shores of Lake Victoria and call the name of Raila three times at the full glare of cameras,” wrote Brian Wakhungu. “Then present a black goat without blemish to The Luo Council of elders. Raila is an institution not an individual.”
The insults in Luo were particularly colourful. The overall themes were around my mother, genitalia and domestic animals.
“We dealt with Miguna Miguna who was well educated, so who are you to abuse Baba???! Larry Madondo???” posed Wuod Nyauyoma on my Facebook page.
“Idiot still, how can you just call him Raila Odinga? He is Honourable Prime Minister Raila Odinga, you better shut up you unmarried old boy,” added Abraham Gamba.
Twitter was just as interesting, and several people reminded me that either the “Luo Nation” or pride would bring me down.
“If I was your boss, I would have sent you back to internship, who are you to compare & contrast Raila’s list, useless goat,” tweeted Matthew Mola.
“You are a young man who is an imbecile,” Jacob Juma informed me. “How can you use offensive language like ‘fart’ on Raila? At least respect your employer.” He tweeted that Nation should suspend me like it did Galava, and called one of my bosses to ask them to do just that.
One of my tweets had also disagreed with Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich’s statement that “all proceeds of the Eurobond were received and properly accounted for” when experts had already disproved this. My lynch mob did not bother with any of it and chose to take it personally that I had the gall to “abuse” the CORD leader.
What I learnt is that the former prime minister is not to be contradicted, especially by a fellow tribesman, at all costs. CORD bloggers, supporters and just about everyone with an O name condemned me in the strongest terms possible.
I had plenty of support, though, from Jubilee fans and it all degenerated into a bitter tribal fight. It was not worth it. I apologised and took down the tweet.
“Raila Odinga is a patriot and a gentleman from my interactions with him,” I explained in another tweet. “He would be ashamed of those abusing and threatening others in his name.”
A new round of insults followed. Posts appeared claiming I was a product of rape, I had changed my name after high school, was a preacher at a church, was engaged to a Kikuyu girl, was gay and was raised in an orphanage, all completely false.
“I was abused for daring to claim he didn’t show evidence of theft (not that theft didn’t happen),” the Wall Street Journal reporter Matina Stevis tweeted me.
Mercifully, there are still reasonable people out there. “The insults that were meted on Larry Madowo, for the reason only that he expressed an opinion is not only the height of dictatorship by the mob, but the clearest indicator that we have in large numbers a people who are yet to reach the threshold of civilization,” wrote Viscount Francis K’Owuor.