After he was arraigned in court for assaulting a female legislator, the Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim’s lawyer claimed the MP is mentally unstable. Is the legislator mentally stable? Could he be simply stupid? The MP was, until the sad incident, thought to be one of the sober minds in the house and in particular from NFD. He appeared to be addressing substantial issues in the 12th parliament. From calling for the suspension of the new education curriculum to opposing the recent Fuel tax hike, he at least, appeared to see the bigger picture and addressed issues affecting NFD in particular and the nation in general. So this disqualifies him from the ‘stupid’ classification. So if he is not stupid is he mentally unstable? Yesterday he shocked the nation when he attacked his women Rep. It was, as reported, an unprovoked attack as there is nothing until now to suggest that he had any justifications to attack Fatuma Gedi, the female legislator. This is as culturally unprecedented as it is shockingly shameful. Attacking a person is as criminal as it gets but a physical attack on a female is next to blasphemy. It is enough opprobrium to end a male’s career and stature in the Somali culture. Women are the most powerful and some times dangerous in this society. Even a false claim against a male causes untold damage. It is also worth noting that, Members of Parliament are by and large role models with a considerable following. There are many who see them as role models to emulate. Therefore, this dishonourable action by the legislator has several levels of naked shame. A male attacking a female, a member of parliament elected by thousands resorting to a public attack and in this case an old man assaulting a woman his daughters’ age. It is the lowest a male from this community could stoop whatever the circumstances. Yes, the world has changed,as the people living in it, and the change has an impact on culture. The changing civilization trends will have an effect on society’s norms and therefore culture but there are things set in stone. This is one of them according to the feelings of the majority. Knowing all these, Rashid could not restrain himself from attacking the young female legislator and without any provocation. Therefore we can safely say the MP has a huge question mark on his mental status. Let me park this here.
As the nation reels in shock, there is one thing missing from our national conversation. While our nation, in general is a traumatized nation, partly due to the colonial collective torture and partly because of the neo-colonial social and economic mismanagement of the administrative unit we call Kenya, public faces of the nation exhibit trauma more than the common man and woman on the street. Members of parliament are particularly wallowing in trauma covered in suits. This is the most dangerous kind of trauma because these men and women have their fingers on our nation’s equivalent nuclear bomb. MPs are carrying the nation’s trauma on their individual shoulders and it is not been addressed. Trauma plays a role in their greed and some times shameful behaviour, their insatiable appetite for ever increasing salaries, their corruption, their inability to relate to and deal with their constituents’ socio-economic problems, their extraordinary lack of decorum on many social matters and more.
Just one example to demonstrate the madness of our members of parliament, in last week’s budget, treasury has allocated 327 billion to the security docket. This includes a whopping 122 Billion to Defense. Is the country at war? This is when the whole 47 counties in the nation were allocated just 310 billion. When the much hyped Universal Health Care (UHC), one of the President’s four flagship programs was allocated a paltry shillings 48.7 billion. This was after 7.8 billion was taken from sports and social development programs. This is madness. Health Care means much more than the availability of medicines and personnel. There is no way a country will achieve UHC if the social well-being of its citizens is not supported through budgetary allocations. Defense was allocated nearly 4 times more than the all important Health docket, the parent ministry which we are told will deliver UHC. Why does treasury prioritize defense and not health and education? despite all these anomalies the MPs will pass the budget without a doubt because besides their lack of micro and macroeconomic knowledge, and despite the fact that our budget actually BUDGETS for corruption which they have a huge stake in, their mental stability is questionable. If this is not addressed urgently, the progress of our already precarious nation and its stability will be at stake.
Traumatized Members of Parliament are not only a danger to their colleagues but to their constituents too. The health and safety of the constituents is at stake if as of many members of the otherwise august house are suffering behind the curtains with mental issues. Mental instability, as we all know, carries a social stigma (it should not but it does) therefore people, particularly those in the limelight will find difficult to seek help. This is the right time to address mental health in general and for people holding positions of trust in particular.
Now, coming back to my first point, Rashid Kassim’s goose is cooked either way. If the court refers him to a psychiatrist and is found to be mentally unstable, it will be difficult to convince the nation that he can continue to represent Wajir East Constituency, an important constituency in the County, in the August house. If on the other hand he is found to be mentally stable and therefore culpable of the shameful crime, he will rightly be put behind bars and his seat declared vacant. In this event, it would have been befitting if the people of Wajir voted a woman in his place in the ensuing by-election. This would in a little way go to appease the female population he demeaned by punching them in the face. The face of a woman is a no-go zone in physical attacks. Even our religion gives a stern warning against striking a woman, particularly on the face.