Now picture this. You meet the woman of your dreams. You are captivated by her. You approach her, you throw in a few lines and she is ensnared. She says yes. Then you date her, pay her rent for that month, volubly praise her beauty and all her delightful qualities keeping flaws out of the debate. You make such a passionate case that she is even too flattered to say, “aki thanks!” After some time you are both in love, you propose to her, investing two months’ salary on a leviathan-sized ring. She is in tears and shouts yes. You plan a wedding to end all weddings. Buy all the requisites even importing one or two items on the request of ‘the apple of your eye.’ Come wedding day, all goes according to plan, vows are read and both of you concur. The thing is solemnized before God and family and the knot is tied. All the while there was a ‘private investor’ working behind the scenes on the same aim. Come the wedding night, the aforementioned character who is also the ex-boyfriend of the lady comes into the marital home when the husband steps out to shop for candles, lotion and ‘protection.’ He plays his chess pieces like a seasoned professional and convinces the bride to elope with him. Mr. X returns home bristling with excitement to have the first bite at the conjugal cherry only to get a vacuous reception. All his phone calls to his bride are interrupted by a ‘number busy’ error code. ‘Torrents’ as used in this context is not a popular movie downloading site but the amount of tears that wet this gentleman’s pillow that night. This piece has been the script of a few high grossing soap operas and skits over the years but sometimes fact is more excruciating and surreal compared to fiction. People have witnessed this scene first hand and left crest-fallen. In Kenya this has been the tragic-comical political ode to one Raila Odinga depending on which side of the political divide you are positioned.
But the story goes even further. Historically, the region currently known as Kenya consisted of slightly more than 42 neighbouring nation-states. Each had its leader. Then came silk, the Bible, some rum lubricating the path for British Imperialism. Circa 1960, colonialism is crumbling all over Africa. The colonial Governor plans for a smooth transition. This succinctly put is to hand over power to Jaramogi Odinga who seems a level-headed, venerable leader of the day and not one of the marauding band ‘Mau-Mau’ who had given the white man so much grief. He in nationalist sentiment; flatly turns down the offer declaring, “No Uhuru without Kenyatta.” He receives much condemnation — even from fellow African members of the LEGCO, for “embracing detainees whom the government considered to be dangerous criminals”. The statement hardened the feelings of the Europeans in the LEGCO and outside, who began calling Jaramogi a communist lackey. Unlikely was the rebuttal from Dr. Julius Kiano and Hon. Jeremiah Nyaga both from the ambient of Kenyatta’s home turf. “Jomo Kenyatta and the Mau Mau rebellion brought nothing but misery to thousands of GEMA communities for six years and another six years in hardship in secret oath-taking and subversion,” they opined. Kenyatta eventually got released, formed government with Jaramogi as his Deputy. In due course, karma came full circle. They had a bitter fall out culminating in a vicious public clash, Jaramogi left government seething at betrayal to form an opposition party and eventually was detained for trumped-up treason and subversive charges in a de-facto one-party state. Regrettable ungratefulness. Fast forward to modern times, same swamp with similar mindset in the alligators therein. Now we have the progeny of the two titans gunning for national leadership, one being already an incumbent following in his father’s footsteps and the other a former Prime Minister.
Let me delve into the grouse of this piece for fear of being labeled a lopsided history lecturer. We are all victims of failed governance in this country. Corruption is at an all-time high and heavy taxation is not even bringing us to half a point GDP improvement. This situation should not prevail indefinitely as we will collectively be wiped out as a populace by the time we turn a corner. But the greatest of the ills bedeviling this nation and which will ultimately shred our national fabric to pieces is tribalism and ethnic parochialism cum imperialism. Even the enlightened and young professionals, the hope of this generation practice it with ruthless abandon.
The first among a raft of postulated solutions to this unfortunate conundrum is a rotational presidency, first among the remaining three of big 5 who have not put a guy in the ‘house on the hill’ yet while keeping an eye for the best of the rest. It is always a boon to anybody when you feel that with hard work, perseverance, smart enterprise and sacrificial toil you can aspire to greatness. I propose we start now so as not to afflict our progeny with the unnecessarily preposterous burden of ending such a vile and utterly pointless vice as ethnicity coupled with interminable external debt. Consequent to this move many more Kenyans will start feeling more valued and precious. The only two tribes practically existent are the haves and have-nots or in DSTV parlance premium subscribers and the mass market. But in the shackled Kenyan psyche we have 42 others to add to these.
The first beneficiary I propose should be the guy many in this country call BABA (father). Some prefer ‘Jamaa ya vitendawili’, others the clown who wants to defend the kraal with a gun that has only one bullet, et-al. But hate him or love him Raila Odinga is an enigma, a colossus in the Kenyan landscape and a national hero. Choosing him will be such a calculated and no doubt sagacious move dealing the death knell to ethnic vendetta and stigmatization against a certain section of this republic. It cannot be gainsaid; we are still draped in the archaic darkness of tribal politics. Every dawning day, I sympathize with my friends from one side of the ethnic divide who are usually either deservedly or by no fault of their own the target of animosity as a consequence of their tribal kingpins thanks to war provoking, wreckless, half-witted and inebriated pronouncements. The depth of these people’s putrid sycophancy knows neither limits nor regard for their constituents whom they endanger with each blast of senseless sentiment into a microphone. They are relegated to mere militia. This nation also has deep-seated historical injustices which we cannot paper-over and must try to remedy.
I know I will gain many allies and mint new foes in equal measure with this pronouncement but I still stand by it. I have a conscience and astuteness too exorbitant to ever be purchased so no one can dare call me a hired political minion. People have done worse things in this country. We have elected drug barons to regional and national leadership as true testament to moral decadence and socio-economic deification of miscreants while prostituting ourselves for pecuniary gain in the name of poverty. Throw in the dyed-in-wool, academic-certificate manufacturing, apocalyptically denounced false – prophets alias ‘men of the cloth.’ I wonder how asinine or desperate one has to be to be influenced by such deviants, thought devout but in actual sense are far less righteous than the unworthy sinner called yourself. This is a reproachable dereliction of one’s mental faculty which I will surely harangue such in a future post.
A vote for Raila will institutionalize meritocracy. Don’t you feel kind of odd when you have a struggling company trying to win tenders but are piped to the cherry by someone with minimal qualifications who concocts a company just to while having the bid ‘cooked’ for them? Doesn’t it rip out your very soul when you hear that someone took 60 million of your taxes to a mythical quarry in the dead of the darkest night to pay some ghost workers? That is the current state of doing business with the government in Kenya. We all enjoy a reward for our toil and sacrifice even if misdirected let alone focused, determined effort or achievement. Just as when ancient Greece under Solon and Cleisthenes introduced the philosophy of Democracy as an option to the prehistoric monarchy, feudalism, parochialism and stone-age man dictatorship. Many years later the Spartan King Leonidas single-handedly put up a last stand with only 300 men to defend the most feasible entry point by the megalithic Persian army led by King Xerxes into the rest of Greece and all manifestation of freedom and free enterprise. He valiantly defended these values held dear at Thermopylae. If God gave us freedom of choice, who is man to defecate on these values by instituting a narrow-minded ogre known as monarchy. This man has earned the right to be our president.
Crowning this man president will be payment of a debt of gratitude. He has been unfairly imprisoned, clobbered, chastised, tear-gassed among others for advocating for the rights which we currently enjoy. He with colleagues made the push that turned Kenya from a dejure one-party state to a full-fledged democracy. He has been consistent in advocating for the rights of all Kenyan citizens. He has sacrificed political ambition before, heeding to Kenyans pleas to declare ‘Kibaki tosha’ and help remove a repressive and kleptocratic regime that overstayed its welcome. He campaigned for a crocked Kibaki when he was down and out, has braved whistles and castigation for naively agreeing to an MOU with a post that was not enshrined in the constitution. He has won an election, been rigged out, given a raw deal as ‘ceremonial’ Prime Minister, won again but rigged out on the basis of two million members of the electorate who only voted for his only viable rival presidential candidate and no one else. He suffered from the rash rulling of a time-barred Supreme court who curtly brushed his evidence aside. He has been bad-mouthed by a supposed arbiter who was the IEBC Chair as a ‘perennial loser who is a cry baby not able to stomach defeat.’ I think this is his chance. If not for any other reason, just try him out to get him out of our collective system and consciences. Moses died before reaching Canaan. However, let us not allow this great son of this soil to go aground before sitting on the presidential seat.
By having this man as president we will have proved to have weaned ourselves from the cyclical, self-destructive and detrimental dementia of tribalism to issue-based politics. Compared to Tanzania we look like cattle without a herder who inadvertently let our brains go out with the dung. Their Seminal policy after independence has proved beneficial. For Instance, take the Post-election Violence in 2007. He never called for the killing, rape and displacement of anyone. He only had a natural spontaneous reaction to having his bride stolen on the wedding night. Facts always trump myths. Fables are fleeting and volatile like ethylene vapour but the truth like the rocky outcrop of an escarpment will always prevail and retain structural integrity as testament to what is, was and will always be a fact. He has been accused of violence, a myth that was clinically dispelled by the ICC. It is self-effacing to assume you have monopoly over intelligence or maybe sound leadership abilities just based on your geographical genesis. Just give the man benefit of doubt. At least choose a leader who practices what he preaches. Peace and prosperity.
Despite many bottle-necks, the period most democratic reform and economic development was attained in this land uncannily coincided with the time he was in Government and later Prime Minister. A few talk about failures of ‘Nusu-mkate’, but those are the guys with a bigoted mindset and predominantly that same ‘nusu-mkate’ between their ears. They fail to see the pressures this man was under swimming against the tide of a forced co-principal hell-bent on ensuring his failure. He did not do too shabbily under those inhumane conditions.
He has proved to be one of the cleaner political operators. Despite the filth associated with politics, this one here has kept his head above the murk. He is yet to be implicated or dragged to court for a mega scandal. He has a clean moral rap sheet declaring time and again he is as white as fleece.
When one system fails institute another. When you have a ruler who leads a decrepit government so inept as to cry about corruption in the opposition ranks instead of using his authority to arrest perpetrators. A pretender statesman who trades insults with the opposition while he is president instead of taking cues and finding solutions lost me at ‘mugoroci’. When did the consummate statesman Barrack Obama ever trade insults with the Republicans throughout his 8 years in power yet he has our blood? To add insult to injury a guy who publically gloats about ‘kula nyama wengine wakimeza mate’ yet the jurisdiction he presides has neither mechanisms nor foresight to deal with the cyclical yet predictable phenomena like famine & cattle rustling but insists on depending on divine providence and rain-fed agriculture, we have the classic case of a failed system. To paraphrase Miguna Miguna if it quacks, walks and looks like a duck then it is one. Why put this guy through the rigmarole of serving a lame-duck presidency when we have a more experienced, humane, able and no doubt popular man ready to take charge?
We will not hear the end of the pride associated with our lake side kinsmen if their man ascends to state house, but so what? First Oliech then Obama, then Odinga… jamaneni? But we are a resilient people. We can deal with it. From diversity stems our strength, heritage and coagulant as Kenyans.
All in all know that the only driver of your destiny is yourself. Problems are to humans as rotting is to corpses. We cannot eradicate all social ills, but national inclusivity and a spirit of brotherhood will make our afflictions more palatable. Vote with your conscience my brother. Tribalism is a Cancer.