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The restless Kisii ‘Calf’: What could be Maangi’s next stop?

The preferred nickname for Kisii Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, the lawyer-turned-politician, is Emori (Calf).

He has explained previously that he likes the name because it is thanks to a calf’s “motivation” that a cow brings forth milk that people can extract for consumption.

However, there are more characteristics of calves that he may have overlooked. One of them is the habit of switching from one teat to another while suckling and sometimes hitting its mother’s udder hard. There is also the happy-go-lucky jumping about, especially when they are well-fed.

By Christmas last year, he was an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) supporter, having ditched the United Democratic Alliance (UDA). But as of March 11, he was back to UDA. By Christmas, he was eyeing the Kisii governor’s seat, but by this Easter, he will be a Senate aspirant — unless he changes his resolve again.

“With your inconsistency, you are expected back to Azimio [la Umoja, which ODM is part of] before month-end,” Justine, one of his followers on Facebook, commented to him on Thursday.

The comment was not extremely far-fetched because — like the excitable calf that changes teats at will — Mr Maangi has been switching political allegiance back-and-forth since 2016 when he led a delegation to visit Deputy President William Ruto at his Sugoi home.

By that visit, he was seen as being sympathetic to the ruling Jubilee Party while he had been elected alongside Governor James Ongwae using ODM. That action earned him rebukes from the ODM leadership in Kisii, but, somehow, he was back on the line and was Mr Ongwae’s running mate in 2017 and they won the second term on an ODM ticket.

Adventurous calf

However, like the adventurous calf that sometimes wanders about and gets too close to strange cows, it would appear that Emori had formed a deep bond with another cow besides its mother, or Dr Ruto in this context. 

For the past six years, he has mostly been an ally of Dr Ruto. That is in contrast with his boss, who backs ODM leader Raila Odinga. He has faced arrests and probes, among other actions he has termed political ploys.

But Mr Maangi hasn’t always been a backer of Dr Ruto. He has had his exits and returns.

On the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that Mr Odinga championed, Mr Maangi was at some point supportive then later became an opponent.

And in November 2020, Mr Maangi left many guessing on his allegiances when he pledged to work with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, a move seen as spiting Dr Ruto. But that camaraderie did not last long.

“It’s only fools who don’t change, given the circumstances,” Simon Konga wrote to Mr Maangi on his latest decision to seek the Senate seat. “This is good.”

Mr Maangi told a local newspaper last week that going for the Senate was his “final defection”.

But some think Emori is likely to switch allegiances until the cows come home. 

“How can I trust you when you keep on jumping from one party to another?” Jose posed to Mr Maangi on Facebook.

Culture shock

An alumnus of the University of Nairobi’s law school, Mr Maangi began his legal career in 1991 as a pupil under the tutelage of Justice Abida Ali-Aroni.

He would later run Maangi and Company Advocates until 1997 when he relocated to the United States where he also took part in the legal practice. 

At some point, he was the chairman of the Kenyan community in the state of Minnesota. He has also worked with the International Leadership Institute and the African Business Consulting Group.

In an interview with TV47 on Monday, he said he got something of a culture shock in his December-to-March in ODM and had to return to Dr Ruto’s side “where everyone knows I have been”.

“I tried this Azimio thing and discovered nilikuwa nazimia. So, I really had to return to where I really believe I was,” he said.

“[Former US President Donald] Trump started as a Democrat but he ended up becoming president as a Republican,” he added.

Given the number of times Mr Trump switched sides, it appears Mr Maangi might have a perfect role model. You may call them calves with multi-coloured skins who like jumping about.    BY DAILY NATION    

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