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The Crying President

October 10, 8:30 p.m.;
Nairobi, Kenya.

Image: Ghafla.com

FLORENCE GACHANJA-WILLIAMS WAITED FOR THE cameras to be set up. She had already been prepped, her make-up done and rehearsed her speech. The media was already waiting to popularise her, the newest presidential candidate to join the race to State House.

But she was no ordinary politician—she was young, just turned 23, and with brains to match her age. Her intellect told her that she could go for it; she was the president that the country needed.

Age was just numbers!

However, she was ready to face the seasoned, veteran politicians of Kenyan politics, some of whom were an enigma.

When given the thumbs up, she walked to the podium, smiled and waved at the people who had turned up for the launch of her political party, her vehicle to State House, and her manifesto.

She faced the cameras, leaned toward the microphones and began her speech, accentuating each word spat by the autocue with an Anglophone twang. She had been born and raised in Britain, but it was time she traced her roots, and with purpose.

As she spelt out her political objectives, she occasionally caught glimpses of familiar faces—ambassadors, dignitaries, and political heavyweights—faces that were the engine and fuel for her political dream.

Her speech was moving—it highlighted the burdens of debt, diseases, corruption, violence and domestic terrorism, and the scourge of tribal clashes that had become Brand Kenya in Africa and the world.

She turned to the cameras and pressed the back of her wrists to one eye. She had used the methylated chapstick that her personal assistant (and campaign secretary) had placed on the podium to dab the edges of her wristwatch and pantsuit coat with menthol. The sting drew the required tears.

She wiped her cheek and hardened her countenance. Tears were just fine, but she did not want to appear weak.

Well, they served the purpose.

By morning the following day, all major dailies and papers that were struggling to remain in business, even the gutter press, ran her teary, beautiful face on the front page with the headline: ‘The Crying President’.

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