By Thuothuo Anthony | Boston, MA
**This is my opinion and does not represent any community or organization in the diaspora or anywhere else. Please try and read to my conclusion.**
Boniface Mwangi just concluded his second diaspora book tour. This was his second drive in the diaspora and both events, according to the organizers, have been very fruitful.
When Bonnie first announced his bid to vie for Starehe parliamentary seat, every single online public platform in the diaspora (that I know), shared the story. Some, including those run by his critics, volunteered to publicize his book tour at no fee as a sign of support, unity, and love for Kenya.
His assiduous tour organizers have spent thousands of dollars and endless time in planning, making sure BM’s events are a success in the diaspora. Meetings and WhatsApp groups in the diaspora have been fired up about Boniface. Churches opened their doors for free to give bonnie a platform to sell his very valid dream of transforming Starehe and Kenya in General.
His Facebook post while still in the USA ‘I traveled here…’
On Thursday, while still in the USA, Boniface posted a lengthy commentary on Facebook boasting of the many states he has been to on his twin book-tour, adding that the tour was made possible by fellow Kenyans in the diaspora who volunteered their time and money to fully fund his drive.
”I have done this with full financial support of fellow Kenyans who came together to make it happen. It is this support from the people in the diaspora that made me admire what the unity of a people is capable of” bonnie said.
Reading his above-quoted statement, one would say Boniface has really admired the diaspora unity and is thankful to those who volunteered their online platforms to market the events, those who offered their busy venues such as churches, those who bought his books and those that organized his tour. He probably has, but after that ”thank you” note, follows a different type of campaign. A campaign calling out Kenyans in the diaspora to ”unite or perish”.
He headlined the article ”Kenyans in the diaspora: unite or perish”, and then continued to call out the diaspora, saying communities are highly divided along tribal lines. I’m not here to deny or agree since I don’t know his sources, so just keep reading….
Something to remember as you read: This was done on the last day of his USA book-tour.
”Once you meet them you quickly realize that many Kenyans in different areas are organized into different groupings, largely based on tribal lines,” he says
Boniface did not stop there. He went ahead to say how diaspora remittances are an integral part of the country’s economy and a lot of other good things that a united diaspora could achieve. But I’ll only highlight my takeaways.
”The most toxic people online don’t all live in Kenya. They are in the diaspora and share the most of the abusive things you can find online……Post-2007 elections, tribalism became so bad. Kenyans in the US turned against each other…Some of them even called immigration police on fellow Kenyans….they wanted them deported because of tribal hatred.” he says
”Today, tribalism in the diaspora is worse and any existing tolerance is turning into hate, I saw it everywhere; It is in the pulpit, in the streets, and at the workplace. I have been turned away from churches because of the activism I do and some people openly said they couldn’t attend my event because there is nothing important a person from my community can tell them.”
”Every year thousands of Kenyans converge for Dallas Memorial and Vegas for Rugby, I would be happy to see as many Kenyan in the diaspora come together for dialogue on tribalism and how to heal and resolve our differences. A divided Kenyan diaspora community will only make things worse in America and at home. A united diaspora will help us all.” he adds
Bonnie was in Kenya covering the post-election violence from beginning to end, but he knows what happened in the US because he’s a smart man, it’s probably in books and newspapers, right? So, above-quoted statements may not be baseless accusations as some may want me to call them. No, Bonnie is an award-winning journalist, and for him to put that out he must have credible sources to support it. Evidence showing where in the diaspora he was profiled, where he was denied access and why it happened as well as our alleged tribal division. Interesting, but let’s leave it at that and go to the next most important questions.
Why is Boniface in the USA while Jaguar and Kamanda are shedding tears, fighting for votes that will get them in parliament in the same constituency that Bonnie is vying for?
Why would Bonnie write this type of post while still in the diaspora, knowing too well that it’d throw away more would be ”book buyers” than gather? oh, it was his last day, remember?
Why is he writing posts that won’t get him any vote nor money from Kenyans yet that’s what he’s looking for?
Why is Bonnie’s video on Gofundme made of the best media cuttings of his entire career as an activist and not him saying what he will do for Starehe and that’s what he’s fundraising for?
I have my own answers.
***Dear Boniface, please stop misleading your supporters. You know the difference between tribalism and ethnicity and calling ethnic groups tribal just because they don’t mix is an insult to the community. If you go to Minnesota, you will find Somalis chatting outside kiosks and they won’t change their language because you’re there, If you go to New Mexico, Amingos there will take your order in Spanish, when you go to Boston, the Uber driver is Kenyan.
When you narrow down to Kenyan ethnic groups, the structure won’t change and you know this, you’re just hoodwinking your supporters while possibly addressing other forces on your schedule.
I have always told your supporters that you’re a very smart man. One that knows the best words to use, where, and the best of the best timing. This is not a mistake that you made calling out your host while still under their roof. No, this is possibly a well thought out mission, and it’s probably not addressed to Kenyans in the diaspora, nor in Kenya. You may be playing your supporters. You may be cheating, you are possibly addressing other forces.
You have chosen the right, uncommon way of campaigning, where your supporters finance your campaign. Bravo! but you’re probably not interested in this seat, and Starehe people who see the bigger picture have expressed this concern on your Facebook (see some comments below). We are three months to the elections. Voters are making their decisions now. Your opponents are getting free press each day, headlining newspapers roaming the backyards of Starehe constituency that you want to represent. Yet you are here ranting about a diaspora that doesn’t even vote. You are on a different mission.
You are possibly writing your posts as references for your other mission. They may look like Facebook posts because they’re on Facebook, but after all the reads, likes, shares, and reactions by your followers, my opinion is that primarily, they are possibly meant to be used elsewhere after that to build a different agenda. Your video on Gofundme is too detailed for a Kenyan audience who already have seen you through that by the way.***
My conclusion is a forecast that Boniface Mwangi will lose elections and he knows that. He will possibly relocate to the US in the next year or so, and since according to his record he may qualify for political asylum, he will settle down really fast and continue with the mission he has already started. The mission of a united diaspora. He will have massive support from his wide network of both Kenyans and non-Kenyans in the USA.
His argument will be what he started and will continue to emphasize, that ‘‘The most toxic people online are in the diaspora”. That they fuel violence and tribalism in Kenya, ”and they never get to see the impact of their statements on the society back home.” And that definitely needs to be addressed. He will possibly start forums to address that as he suggested in his commentary when he used vegas and Dallas events as examples.
In my forecast, this will be Boniface Mwangi tomorrow.
And that is my opinion
By Thuothuo Anthony | Boston MA
*Editor’s note: The above article is just a personal opinion and prediction by the author. The opinion and forecast are not scientific and should not be used to gauge the credibility of any mentioned individual or to influence any decision making. The author urges voters to use their God-given intelligence to determine the right candidate for any elective post.*