When Political Sharks Smell Blood in Water
When a shark smells blood in the water, all its senses and instincts are thoroughly awakened. This well-honed predator instinctively senses that an injured prey is within striking distance. It is said that this well-developed predator can detect a drop of blood in a million litres of water. The shark can also detect infinitesimal changes in underwater vibrations.
The sharks are also able to pick out the slightest microscopic shift in undersea electric currents. But it is the smell of raw fresh blood that really gets these predators all worked up and ready for the kill. Once it detects a vulnerable prey, the predator swiftly shifts from the inert lethargic mode to an aggressively animated form. All the senses are telling the shark: it’s time to move in for the kill.
In the political world, there are as many sharks as there are politicians. Even in the best of political alliances, different players are always on lookout for ways and means to advance their careers by preying on their politically damaged erstwhile colleagues. The invertebrate, shy and weak-kneed political players wait under the wings and shadow of their Bigger Brothers. They hide behind the shadows always avoiding attracting attention to themselves.Often, their bigger political brothers take this self-emasculation as a permanent character trait.
The bigger brother assumes that the invertebrate, shy and weak-kneed politician loves playing second fiddle and dancing himself lame to someone else’s tune. The moment of truth dawns on the Bigger Brother the day something happens that appears to weaken and damage his political standing. When the apparently wounded lion limps back to the lair, he finds the hitherto weak and effeminate colleague is mysteriously pumped and full of testosterone.
Welcome to the political world that ODM finds itself in today. For a long time, the ODM party leader Raila Odinga has been the unassailable and de facto party presidential candidate. It was always assumed that Raila Odinga was a king just waiting to be crowned in a perfunctory party nomination process.
Even when the number two man in the Orange party, Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi spoke about his plans to compete with Raila for the party presidential ticket, everyone assumed this was just hot air from a politician craving to remain politically relevant. Then a few weeks ago Mudavadi started exhibiting signs that made members of Raila’s inner circle uncomfortable.
Alas, Musalia Mudavadi was dead serious about taking on Agwambo for the ODM ticket to State House. Something that had been assumed to be mere talk suddenly gained political life-threatening significance. But just what is that has given this apparently effeminate politician so much testosterone that he is genuinely not kidding about pursuing the ODM presidential ticket?
Since his political resuscitation by Raila Odinga in 2007, Musalia Mudavadi, the man who holds the record of being the shortest reigning Vice-President in the Republic of Kenya has walked under the overcast shadow of Raila Odinga.
Mudavadi always gave the impression that he enjoyed playing second fiddle to Raila. Then one Louis Moreno Ocampo came to town with a game changer. The game-changer was the day the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that four Kenyans—among them two prospective presidential candidates Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto—had a case to answer.
Conventional political wisdom seems to hold that there is a likelihood of a political backlash against Raila Odinga for his perceived role in the political tribulations Ruto and Uhuru find themselves in at The Hague. Never mind the fact that Raila, like President Kibaki or any other local politician, has no control over what happens or does not happen at The Hague.
Politics thrive around perceptions, not reality. And the perception among Ruto-Uhuru supporters is that Agwambo is the Nemesis who stoked the fires of Ocampo. Under such circumstances a political backlash with far-reaching consequences is often the next again. Possibly sensing this, Mudavadi has smelt blood. And suddenly the hitherto pliable political sidekick wants the centre stage for himself. His body language shows that he is no longer just feigning to want, but he actually is spoiling for a fight whose outcome he believes may be in his favour.
Now, there is an African saying that when a baby hippo walks behind his father carefully stepping on the elder’s footsteps, the young one is not doing so out of reverence. The young hippo is sizing up his father and the day the their two footsteps are equal in size, that is the day the young one will challenge his father in a duel. As a result of the prevailing political circumstances, the relationship between Mudavadi and Raila seems to have reached just that point where Mudavadi feels that his footsteps are equal to those of his current political godfather.
When the younger hippo challenges his elder in a duel, there is no turning back and the battle can end in either of two ways; one, younger hippo wins and takes over the territory or, two, the elder prevails and banishes the delinquent youth forever. And as Mudavadi makes his moves in ODM aiming for the top prize, here is something else about sharks: when swimming with the sharks and you smell blood in water, be careful that it is not your own.