Think of parliamentarians and what comes to mind? Dour suits, grey hair, big bellies, interminable debates... Probably not a Hummer-driving, gangsta-styled, diamond-encrusted watch and baseball cap wearing geezer who would be more at home in Compton than the corridors of power.
But Gideon Mbuvi, aka Mike Sonko, is not your average lawmaker and last week his bling styling got him thrown of Kenya’s Parliament where he is a serving MP.
The offending items were diamond ear studs and sunglasses, a conservative sartorial choice by Sonko’s standards but one that nevertheless outraged the female Deputy Speaker who complained that it was the first time a man had worn earrings in the chamber.
She had him ejected from Parliament after MPs had spent a full 20 minutes debating his earrings.
One choice quote from the debate: “In the history of this world, since God created this earth, men have never imitated women,” this according to Bifwoli Wakoli (a man, of course).
Some lawmakers may have been outraged but Sonko – meaning “rich man” in the local patois ‘sheng’ – has his supporters outside the chamber.
“Sonko has always made statements with his clothing. When he appeared in court concerning a fraud allegation, he cheekily went in a designer shirt from Singer Akon’s clothing line, Konvict,” wrote Waga Odongo, in a recent article in the local Daily Nation newspaper.
Sonko’s colourful reputation is partly to do with his rich, party-hard lifestyle but also thanks to allegations – all thus far unproven – of involvement in fraud and even drug smuggling, allegations he has vigorously denied.
Another Kenyan writer shook her head at the scene last week and, saying the furore showed how out of touch MPs really are, described Parliament as “an entire cast of fuddy-duddies”.