matiangiIn Robert Greene’s ‘The 48 Laws of Power’, law number 1 is ‘Never Outshine The Master’. 

Education cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i is guilty as charged, whether by design or not.

The famed law goes on to state, ”Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite–inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.”

The no-nonsense CS has received lots of praise for the way he has transformed the education ministry. For nearly a decade, national examinations would leak and fall into the hands of monied students.

The past two years saw a leakage of epic proportions. If I were to put a number on it, about 70% of candidates had advance questions in at least one subject. Whatsapp was the preferred tool of information (read screenshot) exchange.

When Matiang’i was brought in to clean up the ministry, he did exactly that. This year, we have had no leakage or rumours or leakages in both KCPE and KCSE exams. He sealed all the loopholes that allowed the ‘cartels’ to operate.

On top of that, he showed us how to run a ministry efficiently by releasing the KCPE results one month earlier than usual.


It is these deeds that have got Kenyans talking of a Matiang’i presidency. It is an incredibly long shot (probably longer than Donald Trump’s at the beginning), considering how our politics are structured.

But it is this kind of talk that can get any master uncomfortable. Matiang’i’s successes are not been mentioned as Uhuru/Jubilee’s successes but merely as Matiang’i’s. Compare that to Waiguru’s corruption or the Mafya House scandal that are widely seen as Uhuru or Jubilee’s corruption.

While we commend Matiang’i for a job well done, are the 2 masters feeling threatened?

Historically, Kenyan presidents have not surrounded themselves with performers. In fact, individuals whose stars started shining like Tom Mboya and JM Kariuki were eliminated by the regimes of the day, allegedly.

On the other hand, individuals like Biwott, Kalonzo and Mudavadi have always found themselves close to power… Lame duck individuals only interested in pleasing and massaging the egos of the president of the day.

In Matiang’i’s case, it can be argued that Uhuru needs him and others like him to salvage what is left of his legacy, but what about 2022? Will Ruto feel the same way? Should the CS listen to the voices and hint at an interest in politics, will Ruto’s buddy Uhuru Kenyatta still have him in his cabinet?

Well, time will tell.

In the meantime, here’s a hypothetical opinion poll.