When a mentor disappoints

I have been hanging on for a while but I have to finally admit that i’m sorely dissapointed by Martha Karua. The admission should have come earlier but I’m biased and I wanted to believe against hope that she wasn’t as bad as she seems.

You see I met her when I was a kid, and she was a lawyer in private practice, before she became a member of Parliament and a political heavyweight.

My mom rightly percieved that I needed some inspiration in life and she was astute enough to realize that she wasn’t able to deliver it in quite the doses that I needed. (she’s a cool woman but thats another post for another day).

Anyway, so one day she had me get dressed and we trapsed into town and right to Martha Karua’s office. That was the first time I met a woman lawyer. A woman who had more power than my mom. (I’m sure psychologists have a term for this moment)

There she sat, behind her big desk, in her own office, at her own law firm. I was impressed. Beyond impressed, I was inspired. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. Her image was singed into my mind, urging me forward.

I met her again at a the founding of a woman’s rights organization. She had joined politics by then and even though well known, she was not all powerful. I sat next to her but was too nervous to speak to her. It was one of my proudest moment when I suggested a way to structure the voting system within the organization to ensure equity without deadlock. I made my suggestion to the floor and it was adopted! She congratulated me. I could have died!!!

That was another capstone moment for me. I realized/decided that I had an affinity to figuring out politics. Not being in them, just figuring them out. I began to see people’s political behavior as one large, enticing puzzle. Martha was there when that light went off.

Fast forward another ten years and I’m writing my dissertation on women’s politics and ethnic politics in Kenya. Martha is larger than life. She leaps from the pages of my dissertation to the newspaper headlines and marches right into yet another chapter of my growing tome.

I’m older now, and I know a bit more. I know enough to start to be critical of this incredible woman from whom i’ve drawn my inspiration until now. I appreciated her presence as the most powerful woman in Kibaki’s government. It gave me hope for the future of women in power in Kenya. I didn’t think much of her actions during the Kivuitu ECK vurugus even though I was a bit skeptical. I even cheered her firing back and Sir Clay on BBC.

Then I started reading between the lines and wondering about her role in the mediation talks. It slowly became apparent that she was one of the hardliners making a deal impossible. the today I read of her absence from the negotiations that resumed at Serena today.

And I sadly have to admit to myself that she is not the heroine I want her to be. Even though her rise to power has been on behalf of democracy, and she paid a steep price for it in the Moi era, she has slowly transformed to join the other side.

I”m thinking Darth Vedar before and after….

Actually, Its amazing the similarities between star wars and Kenya.

Hmmm. I just gave my class an opportunity to watch Disney’s Alladin for extra credit. perhaps I should have my African Politics class watch Star Wars for extra credit too.

In the meanwhile, I’m off mourning the end of a long but one sided relationship. I have to remind myself that she is just human after all.

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