Boniface Mwangi poses in front of a graffiti mural. The activist has ignited a debate about who qualifies as a patriot. (Photo/ https://mpasho.co.ke)

Boniface Mwangi poses in front of a graffiti mural. The activist has ignited a debate about who qualifies as a patriot in Kenya. (Photo/ https://mpasho.co.ke)

On Sunday activist Boniface Mwangi posted a photo of a crippled beggar crawling on all fours in front of Kenya’s parliament building.

Then twitter went kaboom! A group of outraged twitter users pounced taking issue with Mwangi’s post. Leading the charge was Njeri Atieno Thorne, a local communications consultant, who accused Mwangi of selling out his country by fixating on its negative aspects.

Thorne wasn’t just angry about Mwangi’s latest photo but also about a TED Talk he recently gave in the US. Thorne all but accused Mwangi of being a misguided agent of western countries who want to see Kenya fail.

Those on Mwangi’s side (full disclosure: yours truly counts himself among this number) quickly came to his defense. Chief among them was local columnist and cartoonist Patrick Gathara.

Central to this twitter one-upmanship between Thorne and Gathara is the question: who is a patriot? Thorne thinks Mwangi is an unpatriotic sellout because he criticizes the way Kenya is run not just locally but on global platforms like TED. Gathara argues those same traits make Mwangi a patriot whose example should be followed by other Kenyans. My two cents on this is Gathara is absolutely right. Kenya needs more people like Boniface Mwangi.

Thorne wants a Kenya where every citizen is a head-down striver working to improve their lot while turning a blind eye to how their hard-earned money is stolen by a rapacious and soulless elite. This see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach only benefits those who are intent on Kenya remaining a dysfunctional kleptocracy. Mwangi offers a better alternative to achieving sustainable and equitable progress in Kenya. If that’s not patriotism then, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, such a thing never existed.