In the Holy Bible, the story is told of how Moses obeyed God’s call to go and rescue the Israelites who were suffering in the hands of Egyptians as slaves, only for the same people to turn against him midway the journey to Canaan.
A similar narrative exists in the New Testament of the sacred scriptures where the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus Christ to the city with pomp and colour singing hosanna hosanna then went ahead to crucify him not long thereafter.
These two analogies do not just qualify as classic examples of how man has over time perfected the art and science of celebrating a trendsetting soul today and then annihilating the same tomorrow, but also provide a perfect explanation for what is currently happening to illustrious Education Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Okengo Matiang’i.
THE GAME CHANGER
For starters, Matiang’i is a man who need no introduction.
Whether you ask 42 year old Atieno in Kondele, Kisumu whose son got a chance to join Alliance High School this year because Matiang’i successfully eliminated cheating in national exams or 15 year old Njeri, a daughter of a peasant coffee farmer in Murang’a who is comfortably attending classes thanks to Matiang’i’s efforts to scrap arbitrary fee increments in our secondary schools, they will all tell you that indeed, this industrious son of Kisiiland is a game changer.
Matiang’i’s famed education sector reforms have made him a darling to many.
A VICTIM OF HIS OWN GLORY
Unfortunately, a sterling record such as Matiang’i’s also puts a person at the risk of becoming a victim of his own glory; as is now happening to the CS.
In a case filed at the Nyeri labour court, former Kenya Airport Authority security guard Daizy Cherogony has blamed Matiang’i for the termination of her employment claiming that she was fired on May 11 this year, for making the CS queue for a security check like other passengers.
As expected, the case has become a subject of public debate within no time, as it puts into question the character of Jubilee administration’s most adored CS.
So, amidst all the accusations, counter accusations and name calling, what are the facts in this whole story?
Dr Matiang’i was flying to Kisumu for official duties on the evening of April 5, 2017 accompanied by his security detail.
When he arrived at JKIA to board a plane, he found Daizy on duty who went ahead to deny him VIP treatment normally accorded to CSs. Definitely, Matiang’i wasn’t happy about it. He was humiliated and unnecessarily subjected to security procedures yet matters of national importance awaited him at the lakeside city.
But as a man who loves decorum, Matiang’i avoided putting up a show and instead opted to lodge a complain with his colleague – the Transport CS who in turn raised the matter with JKIA management.
Consequently, the management factored the complain in an ongoing disciplinary process against the lady which had been intiated in February.
Eventually, the guard was sacked.
Either way you look at it, Daizy’s firing was not solely based on the Matiang’i encounter as she alleges. From the severance letter issued by KAA, the lady had three other cases dated two months before.
Note that the CS didn’t insult the lady or pinch her nose. He simply complained to his counterpart about the incidence. Was it wrong for him to do that?
NOT PARTY TO THE CASE
Legally speaking, Dr. Matiang’i is not party to the suit currently before the courts. He can’t even appear in the proceedings as an interested party yet his name is being used to solicit sympathy for the lady.
Therefore, is it fair by any standards to try and use Matiang’i’s name to dramatize an industrial case between the lady and JKIA?
Does Daizy really understand how easily she is assassinating Matiang’i’s character by recklessly invoking his name in the case?
Is this another example of thankless humanity persecuting a man who spends each day trying to make better the life of Kenyans?
As the debate rages on in the mainstream media, public gatherings, social media and even in bars, we should be careful lest we make one of Kenya’s best performing public servants a victim of his office and public profile.
Otherwise, our future generations will never forgive us for wrongly persecuting a good man simply because we decided to reason with our hearts instead of our brains.