In Summary
  • Mike Sonko might not be very fluent in English but ignore him and his potential at your own peril.

  • I have a feeling that the rivals who were laughing at him during the gubernatorial debate will not be so amused after this year's General Election.

Mike Sonko is a man of many talents and strengths, but English is not one of them.

As I watched the Nairobi gubernatorial debate, I cringed and felt sorry for Sonko as he struggled to match up to eloquent speakers like Miguna Miguna and the incumbent, Dr Evans Kidero.

I pitied Sonko, who put on a brave face, nonetheless, as he blabbered colloquialisms trying to keep up with Miguna’s impeccable mastery of the Queen’s language. All efforts fell flat, much to the amusement of his rivals as Kenyans on social media pounced on the chance to mock him. It was very clear that Sonko was out of place in that debate, chiefly because he was being forced to communicate in a language he is clearly not very proficient in.


Now, let's get this out of the way.

Good English is not the mark of intelligence. Neither should it be the scale on which we choose a leader, because we have a lot of incompetent leaders who speak very good English.

English may be the official language in this country and the language of instruction in institutions, but a mastery of English is neither a mark of cleverness, nor is it a scale upon which you can measure one’s acumen. Good English does not come installed with a software for aptitude and intellect. There are a lot of fools who are very proficient in English, both spoken and written.

Let’s give Sonko a break. Yes, the guy cannot express himself in English. He probably is not a bookworm like some of us. You are most unlikely to find Sonko’s nose buried in TheEconomist. He probably does not belong to any book club. Yes, he has a degree in Business Administration and he graduated “in” Mount Kenya University (as he said during the debate). Yes, he does not have those heavyweight degrees like law and pharmacy and he has no MBA or PhD.


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