I woke up to some interesting news yesterday. A lot of people on Twitter were bashing Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza. It took me a while to figure out why, but as it turns out this was the cause of the furore. According to The Star, The DCJ had walked into Village Market, refused to be frisked, and pulled a gun on the guard instead.

My first instinct was to question the validity of the story. As much as the media is compromised, I still believe The Nation over The Star as a rule. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time The Star had published a story that was slightly less than true. Plus, a woman who was smart enough and accomplished enough to be publicly vetted as a Deputy Chief Justice is no ordinary person. At the very least, she’s smart enough not to go brandishing a firearm in public.

I also wondered exactly how the weapon would have come into play. I mean, we’ve all lost our tempers with security measures, so I can see someone asking a s guard, ‘How dare you frisk me!’ But it makes very little sense to follow that up with ‘Now get on your knees and look at my shiny new gun.’ That would be implausible, even in a Philipino Soap.

It surprised me how quickly the online community was ready to accept the story and begin attacking first the DCJ, then the female population in general. Of course the ladies on Twitter responded with equal anger, which then led the guys to accuse us of double standards. In their opinion, if they don’t get mad when we say ‘All men are dogs’ then we shouldn’t get mad when they say ‘All women in power are crazy’.

My question all this time wasn’t about the gun. I really didn’t think that was valid, plausible, or logical. My worry was more about how easily we accepted the article as truth, and how quickly we turned on the target, and subsequently, on each other. That’s what worried me. It worries me because while only a small percentage of the country is online, we do represent society at large, and if a regular day on Twitter represents a regular day in the world, then I quite hope the Mayans are right.

Incidentally, The Daily Nation has a version of the DCJ ‘gun fiasco’ which explains it was a verbal altercation, and that no guns were involved. In fact, according to the Nation, The DCJ doesn’t even carry a gun. You can read the story here.

This incident brought out some rather interesting debate from highly unlikely quarters. Most people were content to just make jokes. Some people believed in the DCJ’s alleged actions and defended them, saying they have mentally shot many guards themselves. Others said that when Obel shot a matatu driver, he was considered a hero, while the DCJ was villified.

Others said the only reason we were defending the DCJ’s alleged actions was because she’s a woman. Some even equated her alleged actions to Sonko and wondered why he gets flack while Nancy Baraza doesn’t. Never mind that until this morning, Ms Baraza was considered to be immensely more credible than Sonko.

I heard someone say that you should never argue with a watchman, even if you own the building. You simply won’t win. A lot of watchmen and makangas have an innate belief that the world looks down on them, so they try to right that wrong every chance they get. Hence the attitude. I’ve also heard someone say that little bit of power is the high point of their day, so it’s kinder – and faster – to simply let them have it. Plus there’s the little matter of security checks being for our own protection…

Still, as annoying as security guards [and makangas] can be, as a public figure, the DCJ should have known better. She’s human, but since the day of her appointment, she’s also public property, which means her actions hold a lot of weight. If a regular woman had thrown a bitch fit at a security guard, she may have been called names and possibly locked in a store for a few hours. But as the DCJ, Nancy Baraza’s response to the security guard not only became falsified national news, it may also put her credibility in question. Since she is in charge of a large docket that includes the New Constitution, a lot of important issues could get scuttled by that one quick decision.

The sad thing is that now every time we look at Nancy Baraza, we will think of Rebecca Morara on her knees with a gun. It doesn’t matter how many retractions will be issued or what Ms Morara’s intentions were – the damage has been done. She could have been genuinely afraid and aggrieved, or she could have been a pawn in a much grander scheme, but Rebecca Morara has opened a box much larger than Pandora’s.

Plus, every time a woman in power makes a faux pas, she makes it that much harder for women everywhere to get into authority. I heard an interesting joke in the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. The joke said the main difference between white people and Middle Eastern people is that white people don’t suffer as a group when one of their members does something bad. One white guy goes on a shooting rampage and it dies there, but one Middle Easterner blows himself up and all Muslims are suddenly viewed with suspicion. It’s the same with women. One man does an idiotic thing and it passes, but one prominent woman hits a Vitz and it’s ‘All women are bad drivers’. Makes it harder to build up credibility. I’m not a feminist, but I admit that I’ve benefitted from the fights of my sisters. So it’s sad that any time a woman makes a bad call, the ’cause’ is taken several steps back.

Kenyans are funny. We forget things very quickly. In a few days, something else will happen and we’ll forget all about the Village [Market] and the gun. But actions have consequences, and this incident has long-term repurcussions for the Office of the Deputy Chief Justice as an institution. And as for Kenyans on Twitter, I don’t suppose we’ll ever learn, but it would be good if we could gather all the facts before we get that tweet on.

♫ Love the way you lie ♫ Eminem ft Rihanna ♫


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