Bullies have a certain cretinous way about them, or so decades of received pseudo-psychological wisdom would have us believe. According to some of our local legends, the man who crows the loudest down at the local is most likely the most henpecked at home. But until someone brave stands his ground and refuses to give ground to the bully, we may never know that he is a paper tiger and given the inevitable bandwagon effect that is bound to take place, the bully will find himself with an entourage of flunkies, brown-nosers, ass-kissers and sycophants of every shade - and shape.
When you listen to them, whether you believe them or not, you cannot help but be impressed by the totality of their loyalty, their fealty, their absolute devotion to Their Man. It comes as a quite a shock to realise that professional credentials mean nothing in the here and now if they cannot be dedicated to the success and survival of the one to whom one owes absolute obedience. It is easy now to understand how Gaius Julius Caesar must have felt betrayed when Brutus, Cato and the rest of them refused to give him their total devotion even after they appointed him dictator.
The bully need not have real power; all he needs is the illusion of power which can sometimes be a powerful sight to see. True power comes from legitimacy; it can only be wielded absolutely if the people have handed it to you without reservation. Therefore it is the rarest of things. Indeed, it can be argued that only Adolf Hitler came close to possessing true power which is why every fascist in the making admires the developed Germany of the 1930s but pretends to hate Hitler for the murderous things he had done though the two cannot be separated.
Kenyan bullies rarely, if ever, even enjoy the illusion of power. Their power is frequently purchased by a credit note deposited by their fathers. Some have broken free of the shackles of their family legacies; many are held hostage to ideals they do not espouse for privileges they did not ask for and might not want. They are victims of circumstances which they struggle to shape. And so they surround themselves with similar sons, not necessarily age-mates but definitely members of the same class. And if the bully has even a smidgen of intelligence, he will shape the minds of his cabal and they will swear fealty to him - mostly for selfish ends. But like ,an insidious virus, the fealty-for-selfish-reasons will morph without their realisation and they will find themselves foreswearing reason, logic and sense. They will become the pitbulls to their bully's master and they will maul one and all in his name.
Watching the pitbulls tells one a lot about their master. The more vicious they are in his defence the greater the likelihood that he is but a clay-footed statue, a bit of water and all will be mud. They will deploy their rhetorical and intellectual gifts in his service in order to hide the paucity of his capacity. They will focus on an enemy so that he can be seen to be a general at war. They will achieve little because in their world, every one is a threat and every threat will damn the rest of us to eternal hellfire. They fear the day a David to their Goliath will slingshot himself into the history books and send them and their bully-champion to the ashheap of history. They live in fear because the bully is always afraid.