The Mukuru Sinai tragedy has exposed the underbelly of Kenyan politics as we mourn souls lost in a fire that should have been avoided.
Tragedy in Kenya is a strong and unifying force. Strangely, Kenya’s political parties, the likes of Ford Kenya, ODM, PNU, ODM-K, or Sisi Kwa Sisi disappear whenever there is a disaster.
Early in the month when politicians joined hands nationally to mourn the Kawethei traffic accident victims, they did it in one voice. No political party chairperson raised a voice as a party, yet Kenyans had died. Then there was last week petroleum induced fire tragedy that claimed over 100 lives, left over 1,000 homeless and caused massive destruction of property.
The scene was horrifying. Charred bodies littered the place. A sense of hopelessness pervaded the air. A country of 40 million people and 42 cabinet ministers could neither prevent disaster nor respond to one.
Even hardened police and army officers looked dumbfounded by the harrowing scene.
Sinai had always been a disaster waiting to happen but who have averted it when the very politicians who mourned more than the bereaved opposed it?
Then there was the second lot of politicians who went public asking residents not to vacate the slum — they are voting machines. They needed for political mileage and strategy.
Sadly, one such former politician failed to win his seat, despite spirited attempts against relocating the people of Sinai.
As fate would have it, after a string of messages of condolence, local MP Gideon Mbuvi aka Sonko decided he wanted to show the people he was their leader in grief, using his usual theatrics.
Consequently, he led a people stampede to the Kenya Petroluem Compnay head office.
This time round, he did not punch a steel gate. Once beaten, twice shy. His wisdom drove him to use his leg wisely. But his hip protested and jerked out of place.
At the Sinai scene, Sonko spent the whole day traumatised and clutching a walking stick as he welcomed high profile mourners: Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu, Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi and Permanent Secretary Andrew Mondoh.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi arrived, too.
They waded through rubble, and billowing smoke and were taken aback by the enormity of the fire, with Kiraitu describing it as the worst petroleum disaster in the history of the country.
Later, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka also arrived. He, too, was shocked. He later joined President Kibaki at the Kenyatta National Hospital to wish the aggrieved a quick recovery.
Meanwhile, as the pain and reality of the tragedy sunk in, Sonko was admitted to Nairobi Hospital. His injury had aggravated. He said doctors told him he needed surgery and that he had suffered trauma, too.
The next morning, from his hospital bed, he issued a statement asking the Sinai people to continue resisting relocation from the danger zone. It is a safe bet that no heads will roll and the people squatting on potential disaster sites will remain put, until the next disaster happens and catches us napping.
Welcome to Kenya.