PLO Lumumba:My Mao suits are from Hong Kong
Do you have any regrets for the time you worked at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, considering that your exit was unceremonial?
I never regret. I made my contribution. I am on record as someone who fought corruption and fought it visibly. The tragedy is that those we named as suspects have now become darlings of the media. They are praised as liberators. It’s a pity that Kenya celebrates thieves and demonises her saints.
When and how did you learn to speak the way you do, and how do you always manage to deliver such long and colourful unwritten speeches?
The reason why I don’t need to read my speeches is because they come straight from my heart. They don’t need to be written down for me. As the saying goes, ‘he who speaks the truth does not need to remember what he says.’ It is only liars who need to remember what they say, lest they contradict themselves.
Is that the way you speak at home with your family or during social gatherings with friends?
This is a question I am often asked. Of course I don’t speak as if I am addressing a gathering at home. But what I believe is that people should speak grammatically well, whether they are in the house or in formal meetings.
Is the Twitter account that posted a complicated statement on Raila Odinga after he appeared on a national television programme yours? No. I can confirm to you here and now that I am not on any social media platform. I am not on Twitter, neither am I on Facebook. Any person purporting to be me in these platforms are identity thieves. There are several parody accounts and I ask Twitter and Facebook to take action on these accounts or their operators. This is important, especially now that a Kenyan court of law has declared that evidence from social media can be used in the defence of or against individuals.
Is your admiration of Congolese freedom fighter Patrice Lumumba the reason for your name? Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba is my name. Remember Patrice Emerile Lumumba was an active pan-Africanist who died in 1961, and I was born a year later. Quite a number of people were named after Lumumba, just like many others were named after Nyerere, Obote and Nkrumah. My father could have been impressed by the credentials of Lumumba of Congo at that time. I am not sure.
Some people have said that PLO is too elitist to be successful or elected in competitive politics? I only contested in 2000 for the Kamukunji Constituency seat and there were no elections that year. I have always maintained that people like me, with the kind of views I hold and the way I articulate them, are not appealing to the Kenyan electorate, who unfortunately are susceptible to ethnicity and corruption.
The reason why Africa remains in the ‘Third World’ and is a scar on the conscious of the earth is because of consistently electing wrong people. So, you can say I am a victim of ethnicity and corruption. If I was a candidate anywhere in Europe or America, I would be a serious contender for any elective position. There are many people who have the ability to serve this country but cannot be elected because they don’t worship at the altar of ethnic demigods.
There is a speech that you delivered so passionately that you shed tears uncontrollably…? It was a speech on the day of commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr, and the tears could have welled up because I was looking at the hypocrisy of this country. This country is so hypocritical that when Barack Obama is elected US president, they claim him as a Kenyan, yet if he were to contest an election in this country, he would not even be elected as a county rep. The Luos would say he is not Luo enough, and other Kenyans would say he is Luo. The tragedy of this country is that one is judged by his ethnic extraction rather than the content of his mind
We always wait for the white man to put a dot on the foreheads of the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Wangari Maathai for us to celebrate them.
What about your family, is there anything from your childhood that could have influenced your adulthood? I have a wife and two daughters who are adults and graduates, but I prefer not to expose them to the glare of the vicious Kenyan media. They will come out when their time comes, and rest assured, that time will come. I was personally influenced by my family, particularly my uncle who died last month. He taught me how to be focused and to have values in life. These are the first people I interacted with before the external influences of the likes of Gandhi and Mwalimu Nyerere. There are those who claim you were a sellout as a student leader at the University of Nairobi, that you went to bed with the administration… I belong to a very unique group of student leaders who had ideals and believed in something. I believe the role of a student leader is to articulate and create an environment where academic excellence can be achieved. In the perverted mind of undisciplined students, they think that the role of a student leader is to lead riots and condemn the government. That is not my style and that’s why I am one of the most enduring student leaders to date. Just look at the history of most of the other student leaders, even those who hold public office today. They still remain adolescent in behaviour with an addiction to rioting and anarchy.
Your love for Mao Suits is an open secret. Why the style? I wonder why they should not be called Lumumba suits (laughs). I began wearing them in my second year at the university, and the reason I do is because they are very comfortable and suited to my slight built. They are designed specifically on order by a tailor in Hong Kong, hence I feel very comfortable in them.