Thursday, November 07, 2013
Ngilu troubles and her controversial "skirt and Raila" photograph
All hell broke loose when The Star published this photograph showing Charity Ngilu's legs with CORD leader Raila Odinga in the background. Ngilu is said to have thrown away the newspaper in disgust when she saw it and later complained to the owner of The Star newspaper. Details in the post below.
All indications are that Charity Ngilu may soon be out in the streets without a cabinet portfolio and with bleak chances of ever making her way back into politics.
Still there is a much bigger story behind Ngilu’s woes which I will talk about in a minute.
The Lands cabinet secretary is not new to controversy. Just a few months ago a mere photograph in The Star newspaper (reproduced here) caused more than just ripples. An article from The Star reproduced here gives details;
“The photograph was one of two accompanying a story about Ngilu’s surprise appearance at the unveiling of a political coalition spearheaded by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
It was an extreme close-up of Ngilu’s legs, shot from in front of the table on which Ngilu was standing. Raila is shown looking up at her from a seat to the right.
Noting that the Star, on the whole, has done a good job of publishing articles about women, Amwik said that coverage like the Ngilu photo “trivializes and ghettoizes women in politics”.
Martin Masai, a spokesman for Ngilu, said she preferred not to comment. But he said that on the morning that the photo ran she pushed the paper away in disgust.
“When Ngilu was on that table she spoke about the five issues in her campaign,” Masai said. But instead of hearing about those, the public was offered a message of a woman “between whose legs the PM is portrayed.” (Raila was actually shown to one side of her legs.) Masai asked, “What is the message?”
Ngilu did complain personally to Patrick Quarcoo, the CEO of Radio Africa Group, the Star’s parent company. According to Quarcoo, Ngilu demanded an apology but he told her only, “If you’re offended I’m sorry about it,” and that he would let the Star editors know of her concern.
For his own part, Quarcoo said, he can see why Ngilu was unhappy, because the picture could be interpreted on first glance as showing Raila “looking up her skirt”. (Which was my first thought, too.)
Jack Owuor, who took the picture, says nothing could be further from what he intended. “It had nothing to do with her being a sex object,” he said.
Rather, said Owuor, a talented photographer who is always on the lookout for a creative shot, the photo captured Raila looking pained at Ngilu’s performance. “She seemed to be forcing herself” on the coalition, he said, choosing to stand on the table in front of Raila to address the crowd. He insisted, “If Kalonzo had been up on the table and Raila was looking at him [in the same way] that would have been another perfect picture.”
And what about the contention that the picture suggests Raila is looking up her skirt? “What people are talking about is what is in their minds,” Owuor said. “People read a lot out of nothing.”
Editor Catherine Gicheru said she had no problem with the photo. “I was looking at Raila Odinga’s face,” she said. “It was supposed to be a celebratory occasion, but he looks in pain.” She added, “If you’re a woman politician you can look at anything and say it’s objectifying you. But I don’t think this was such an occasion.”
- See more the full Star story HERE.
This is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to controversies linked to Ngilu. In my raw notes today I carry an unprintable saga in 2005 that gave the lands cabinet secretary quite a reputation.
But back to the issue at hand. Kenyans need to ask themselves a few very important questions;
Was Ngilu acting alone in the appointments she made? Who gained the most from what Ngilu did that was contrary to the constitution and why are they NOT being mentioned anywhere? Could this whole circus be a clever spin and effort to control the dialogue away from another bigger story behind the hurried signing of title deeds at the Coast?
We know for instance that the man Ngilu appointed “illegally” Peter Kangethe Kahuho used to be the former Coast Province lands officer during the Moi days and was extremely powerful, so much so that a court was recently told that he directed then Lands commissioner Wilson Gachanja (his boss), to issue letters of allotment in respect of land belonging to Kenya Airports Authority in Changamwe, Mombasa (where the airport is). Join the dots will you?
See also; What was Raila's role in the 2007/2008 post election violence?