Are you President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political adviser?”The Nairobian asked controversial political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi at his luxurious Museum Hill office that sports a Martin Luther King watch and chess board on glass table.
The man known for catchphrases like ‘politicians are cream of the c**p’, and who once said former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is like “an egg without salt” made it clear the interview must count because he “sells time.”
Raila ‘slow puncture’
“That’s total nonsense. The last time I saw Uhuru was way back in 2007 when I was trying to bring him and Ruto together, just before the General Election,” Ngunyi claims.
“He actually smoked in my car. He also gave me his number, which I still have to date, though I have never tried to call. The only person that I regularly text and speak to is Bill (Deputy President William Ruto)”.
What particularly irked him about media reports that he was the President’s adviser, was that Uhuru’s decisions do not reflect good advice.
He says if he was advising State House, his political signature would be written all over Uhuru’s major decisions. And although he was greatly annoyed by The Standard on Sunday’s reports, he will not be taking legal action against the paper.
“Saying that I will sue was my way of trying to dramatically deny a rumour,” says the analyst who equates Cord leader Raila Odinga to a car on ‘slow puncture’ and denies that he is a Jubilee diehard.
“I support UhuRuto not because of what they stand for (I actually don’t know what they stand for) but because they are my agemates who represent generational change,” Mutahi says.
On whether the president is inadvisable and that he might be Kenya’s first one-term president, the straight-shooting political analyst is unapologetic.
“Uhuru is a political greenhorn who was pushed into the scene ten years ago. He needs help to dry those green horns,” Mutahi says.
“And he can’t get this from the bunch of people he has surrounded himself with, all of whom are driven by self-interest.”
The former University of Nairobi don-who has a doctorate in political science- says his ability to make accurate political predictions derives from science, reading and interpreting patterns and trends.
Ngunyi predicted with blinding accuracy the 2007 political violence and Uhuru’s victory in match-before they happened.
The tyranny of numbers
“You don’t need to be a prophet to know these things. After the end of the 2013 election voter registration, I could easily tell the Jubilee win was a forgone conclusion from the numbers,” Ngunyi says.
“In 2003, I could tell there would be bloodshed during the 2007 elections from the country’s political mood.”
Shortly, Kenyans on social media began referring him as ‘Prophet Mutahi Ngunyi’ complete with a Twitter handle.
Jaramogi a neighbour
After hatching the ‘prophesies’ he packages them in catchy phrases like ‘tyranny of numbers’, an ability he attributes to his background as a “revolutionary writer since my youth”.
The self-proclaimed Christian who says grace and reads the Bible daily before bed says his rabble-rousing character is greatly influenced by growing up in Eastlands where he fought hood ruffians and competed with bad-tempered hunting dogs. That unapologetic aggression is one trait from Eastlands that he still retains despite having moved far from the madding crowd, socially and economically speaking.
“Jaramogi used to be our neighbour and as boys we greatly admired his white Mercedes Benz,” Mutahi, who calls UhuRuto’s claim that they will rule for 20 years “political rubbish,” recalls.
The biblical book of Isaiah
“I used to see a certain dark, pimple-faced boy in his compound. It might have been Raila.”
Revolutionary tales from his Mau Mau grandfather ignited a political fire in Ngunyi and, with a team of other young people, they started a neighbourhood magazine The Crucible, which he edited at the age of 19. However, the publication was banned by powers that be during the 1982 coup.
But if The Crucible moulded Ngunyi’s political perception, his controversial weekly column in the Sunday Nation introduced him to the world.
“I was inspired to start and keep the column going by the biblical Book of Isaiah which is a violent political discourse on justice, retribution and vengeance for the down-trodden,” explains the Principal Fellow at The Consulting House who claims to play chess every night. “But given that it took me nine uninterrupted hours to craft every piece, I won’t be doing another column anytime soon.”
The weekly political treat ended abruptly after irreconcilable differences with the editors whom he claims wanted to control his thought process.
Kenyans on social media petition for 500,000 signatures for his weekly political treatise to resume.
Nairobians are just like Sonko
Reading, Ngunyi says, is the most critical thing for the human mind and he spends a lot time traversing the world through books. His office has a bookshelf and among his favourite reads include biographies, political and war narratives like Art of War, The Prince, The Swan, The Book of Five Rings and 48 Laws of Power.
Asked whether he is eyeing a state appointment or whether he will be joining politics any time in future, he minces no words.
“It defeats common sense to be spiteful of politicians and then turn around and become one,” says the man who is rumoured to earn millions from consulting for prominent politicians. “About appointments, most people who pant for these government jobs are either broke or irrelevant. I’m neither”.
On Michela Wrong’s accusations of corruption in her book It’s Our Turn to Eat, Mutahi claims they are “lies” inspired by his beef with John Githongo, which goes back to the 1990s.
And while describing “the three musketeers” of Nairobi politics with a sardonic chuckle, Mutahi says, “Politicians are a (reflection of the voters) hence Sonko, Kidero and Shebesh are a reflection of who Nairobians (really are). What will become of their never-ending dramas, only time will tell.”
But after all is said and done where does this cool and calm political fortune-teller get the money to rent lavish offices at the MMID Studio House in Museum Hill and pay his staff of mostly young, gorgeous and sophisticated-looking women?
“Money is in CCP (corruption, consulting and politics) and as The Consulting House, we do get work from governments and bodies like IGAD through referrals across 18 countries,” Ngunyi quips. “The political stuff is a hobby. I am also a security expert and I wonder why people didn’t bother to seek my opinion during the Westgate tragedy.”
Described as arrogant, he says he only follows Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and Jeff Koinange on Twitter, despite being followed by 197,209 people. Ngunyi says this is informed by intellectual discourse.
“I used to follow Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in the hope that we would engage in serious debate,” the father of three says.
“But I deleted him after he started posting useless photos. But he is still my good friend.”