By NJOKI CHEGE
A legal battle between two of Nairobi’s foremost politicians was on Thursday evening brewing as governorship aspirants Esther Passaris and Miguna Miguna tore into each other’s character and past.
This followed a fiery live television debate a day earlier that kicked up a public storm.
The Nairobi businesswoman, whom the outspoken politician pejoratively referred to as “a socialite bimbo” on TV on Wednesday evening, said she would sue him for defamation. Calling Mr Miguna a “loud” and “obnoxious” man, she said this was not the first time he had attacked her but this time she had lost patience with him.
“I know that, as a woman, these are some of the things that we have to go through,” Ms Passaris said as video clips from the interview went viral on social media platforms. “A lot of men have also come forward to support me, saying what Mr Miguna said was disrespectful.
“I was so disturbed I couldn’t keep my thoughts together. I even asked Jeff (Koinange, the KTN host) to control his show but he did not.”
Mr Miguna however termed the accusation of disrespecting women as “outrageous”. Said the former adviser to Raila Odinga: “I have never had a problem with women. I am a progressive man in my political philosophy and I deal with a woman in the same way I deal with men.”
He added that, having been raised by a single mother alongside eight sisters, and as a father of four, he could be many things but not disrespectful to women.
The interview had intended to bring together the two Nairobi gubernatorial aspirants to discuss issues but it instead turned into a bare-knuckle, immoderate and outrightly filthy outing.
Mr Miguna accused Ms Passaris of using her looks to lure voters and then reached into his rich vocabulary for a bagful of choice words. Among other things, he called her “Mama Supuu, a flower girl, a bimbo and a socialite.”
All the while, the Adopt-A-Light founder, in a high-pitched voice that seemed to be no match to Mr Miguna’s deep baritone, relentlessly threatened to sue him.
“She is selling beauty,” Mr Miguna insisted, animatedly. “She thinks beauty gives you credibility and integrity to go for leadership. Esther Passaris is nothing but a flower girl.”
In response, Ms Passaris said she hoped her opponent had “enough money to pay everyone that will sue him” and “good enough furniture so that we can auction him”.
In an unofficial amateur video that captured the behind-the-scenes drama that ensued while the show was on a commercial break, Mr Miguna was seen taunting Ms Passaris, saying: “Esther is so beautiful everyone wants to rape her.”
The statement was understood to be an allusion to a previous allegation by Ms Passaris against a local bank chief executive whom she accused of sexual harassment.
Though trying hard to put up a brave face, Ms Passaris was clearly embarrassed and humiliated. “You are so sick!” she interjected, but Mr Miguna taunted on: “Esther, nobody wants you. You think you are beautiful but you are not. It is just colour (referring to Passaris’s light skin). Without colour, you are nothing!”
She then called Mr Miguna a racist but he said he was not.
“I am telling you the truth,” he said. “You have absolutely zero. You are not beautiful. You have nothing going for you.”
On Thursday, Mr Miguna said the rape comment was a “sarcastic response to an unfounded allegation against me”.
He said: “I have never stated that it is okay to rape a woman.
“I have been heckled previously on that show by Bishop (Margaret) Wanjiru, but does that mean that I cannot give my response?”
The International Federation of Women Lawyers asked the Media Council of Kenya to take legal action against Mr Koinange for allowing Mr Miguna to “sexually assault” Ms Passaris on live TV.
In a press release, Fida-Kenya chairperson Josephine Mong’are condemned Mr Miguna’s comments against Ms Passaris as violence against women’s rights.
Nairobi Govenor Evans Kidero also wrote to the media council to compalin about the show, saying the host allowed Mr Miguna to call him a thief on live TV and therefore failed to uphold his journalistic duties.