Joyce Nyairo’s review of Presidents’ Pressman: A Memoir by Lee Njiru

By Joyce Nyairo

Let’s talk about Lee Njiru’s memoir. Or maybe not. On the eve of an election, why should we give bandwidth to this tale of victimhood, which is utterly blind to graft and to the static colonial framing that makes us “ready meat for carnivorous politicians”? ( Howard Zinn)

No actually, let’s do this. The cover portrait screams cloak and dagger, and the book does not disappoint. Treachery and petty rivalry emerge as the staple of the Jomo (Kenyatta) and (Daniel) Moi State House operations that Njiru witnessed.

I’m not sure what the most tedious and unfortunate part is: Njiru’s utterly uncritical reading of Daniel Moi’s character or his insistence on locking every person he ever met into a tribe. Never mind he opens his book with “I strongly abhor tribalism”

He confirms where the rot in Kenya begun – with greedy, self-serving state officers, uninterested in or unaware of public service. Just goat-eating, dancers and gossips. The inability to see waste, bribery, deceit, plunder, and pettiness in the pursuit of power is just stunning.

Ms Nyairo says what was unsaid – Ekoroi

Njiru’s sense of justice is as alarming as his zero bar on corruption. Has he no idea of the heinous crimes committed against so many in the Moi years and the sheer lack of democratic space and justice so that all he can register as Moi exited is the “humiliation” of tribesmen?

The less said of Njiru’s take on Goldenberg the better; for here is a man whose book displays no grasp of the ruinous effects of a plundered economy and how ordinary people suffer as a consequence of the pilfering and abuse of policy.

I see no introspection here, no growth in the man’s ideas, over time; just a celebration of hobnobbing in foreign capitals, receiving cash gifts; fighting “tribalists” then a strange defense of the very same tribalists aided by a complete distortion of our military history.