This will be a bitter pill to many Cord and Raila Odinga supporters to swallow, but it is something that must be dispensed: President Uhuru Kenyatta deserves some peace and quiet to govern.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a blind supporter of the President; never been and never will be. I have in the past - and will continue in the future - to point out any of his government’s transgressions whenever and wherever they occur. I’ve done that many times before. And it is what a genuine critic does and any government deserves.
For instance, I recently – and very loudly – rebuked the President on his misguided Mpeketoni jingoistic speech. I also excruciated him on the decision to pay the Anglo Leasing scum bugs.
Nor am I suggesting that Mr. Kenyatta’s administration shouldn’t be criticised, scrutinised and held to account. To even imply that as my intention would be incorrigibly malicious. There are very few Kenyan columnists writing today who are as consistently critical of the Jubilee government as yours truly.
Out of 20 articles I’ve published this year, eleven of them have been critiques of the Jubilee administration. That’s 55 per cent!
My column in The Star newspaper is accessible to everyone. All one needs is an internet connection and the Google search engine.
Why in the world, then, am I being accused of blindly supporting Uhuru?
And why shouldn’t I write critical articles about Mr. Odinga who happens to be the leader of the opposition in Kenya, remains a dominant political figure, and continues to be an active politician? Are my critics implying that Mr. Odinga is somehow above reproach?
Why are some people suggesting that I shouldn’t be writing about Raila merely on account that I used to be his adviser and that I once supported him – and that I had published some opinions in support of him and others against his opponents?
What is so unique about my current position that hasn’t happened before? Would the word “fall out” have any meaning if it didn’t describe the relationship of two people who were once very close and are no longer seeing eye-to-eye? Would the word “betrayal” have meaning if it wasn’t a description of a person’s feeling of treachery by his former friend and comrade?
Wasn’t Jaramogi Oginga Odinga at one time considered the most vocal Jomo Kenyatta sycophant? At the height of the struggle against colonialism and in response to the colonial government calling Kenyatta a “Leader unto Darkness;” didn’t Jaramogi publicly call Jomo Kenyatta his “Second God?”
That is something that would never have crossed my mind even at the height of my pro-Raila exuberance. I challenge my critics to produce any of my past articles where I did so! Yet Jaramogi fell out with Kenyatta barely three years after independence, published a stinging memoir against Kenyatta and opposed Jomo and his government – and remained his most bitter critic throughout the old man’s life.
How come our pseudo intellectuals have never attacked Jaramogi for doing precisely what I’m being accused of inflicting on his son, Raila?
When Raila spectacularly fell out with Moi in 2002 and led the Rainbow rebellion against him, they had hardly cohabited for three years. Where were my critics then?
Thereafter, Raila shouted “Kibaki Tosha” in order to cripple his compatriots in the Rainbow Alliance like George Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka and a man he had signed an MoU with, Simeon Nyachae. Yet, barely three years into his marriage of convenience with Mwai Kibaki, Raila had turned against the old man and nearly ran him out of town in the 2005 national referendum.
How about Malcolm X’s reaction to his discovery of The Honourable Elijah Mohammed’s treachery? Did he disappear quietly? No, he published one of the most explosive memoirs of all times and unleashed a relentless campaign against Elijah Mohammed.
Would our pseudo intellectuals call Malcolm X all the filthy names they have hurled on me?
I know that rabid Raila supporters hate my guts and the sting of my pen. Unfortunately, the sooner they got used to them, the better, because I will not stop until Raila retires from active politics.
Uhuru is more democratic than Raila
However, unlike Mr. Odinga whose cyber cesspool mafia and urban jungle goons react to my column by trying to assassinate me – through physical assault and pseudo-intellectual attacks – Mr. Kenyatta’s supporters hardly respond to my criticisms with vitriol. Uhuru’s people tried once or twice to scandalise me – legitimately - when I was Raila’s adviser. I was then a true foe. Yet, even at that time - I would learn later - the viper was being fed toads by Mr. Odinga.
Vile and malicious propaganda have been spread against me for three years now that Mr. Kenyatta had paid me Sh45 million to publish my memoirs, Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya. I honestly wish he had done so; at least I would have been justly crucified. I also would have had good use for the money.
Other miscreants have also taken to constantly asking me to find something useful to do – “get a job,” they shout; or “why can’t Uhuru give you a job?” – They persistently sneer at me as if there is an occupation more serious, honourable and emotionally rewarding than writing.
These obnoxious cyber and urban terrorists know that some of the world’s most celebrated thinkers and philosophers have also been writers: Plato, Aristotle, Niccoló Machiavelli, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Amilcar Cabral, Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah – name them.
That’s why they want to shut me up. They are desperate to clip my wings and deny my readers the little inspiration I give them in the midst of our national culture of mediocrity, ignorance and cynicism.
These celebrated thinkers aren’t remembered decades, centuries and millennia after their deaths because of the amount of wealth they had accumulated through theft or looting of public resources. They aren’t celebrated because of how big and splendid their mansions had been. They aren’t celebrated because of how much raw power they wielded. These thinkers, philosophers and writers are celebrated because they have inspired millions of people and generations after their deaths by the depth and breadth of their thoughts and the significance of their insights. They constantly challenged society by pointing out the existing shortcomings.
Those are my mentors and heroes. It is their individual and collective legacies that inspire me; not the malicious drivel cowardly spewed anonymously in the Internet!
I’ve earned – and continue to earn - a modest livelihood practicing law in both Canada and Kenya. Can’t I just practice law and write without being constantly harassed by Mr. Odinga’s sycophants?
Very few have honestly and openly written about the type of country we would have had had Mr. Odinga won the 2013 elections. Would many of us been able to live peacefully in Kenya? If some of Raila supporters are all over the Internet attacking and threatening me ferociously like they have been doing for three years now, are we able to imagine what havoc they would have unleashed on the country if Raila was president? Wouldn’t my column have been forcefully shut down and the media intimidated or beaten into silence?
Mr. Odinga’s supporters continue to run amok despite the fact that they are desperate to see their deity in State House. One would think that they should be trying to be courteous to everyone in order to woo votes. However, wisdom is obviously a rare commodity in the political household of Baba wa Taifa!
The President must appease Luos and embrace the entire country
This is why President Uhuru Kenyatta must not give up on Luos. Mr. Odinga was actually right in one of his Saba Saba declarations: we are at a defining moment of our history. We are staring into the precipice of ethnic conflagration. Tribalism, corruption and insecurity have become untenable. For the first time since the reintroduction of multiparty politics, the opposition has been neutralised but not yet defeated, hence they can bark but they cannot effectively influence national policy.
Raila is tired and deflated but not yet vanquished. The Jubilee government – although young and cocky – is shaken. With the on-going ICC cases, it is also internationally vulnerable. The situation is complicated by the continuing terrorist attacks – whether perpetrated by Al-Shabaab, copy-cat opportunists or staged by nefarious elements within government.
The shilling and money markets are threatened. The economy is wobbling. Public confidence and sense of security is precarious. In addition, we are truly at our lowest ebb of national discourse. We are yelling at each other, abusing and threatening one another instead of cogently discussing the most intractable problems facing us with a view to finding lasting solutions. The country is teetering at the brink of collapse.
Therefore, this isn’t the time for cheap politics and posturing, especially from the President and his administration. This is the time for him to show leadership and statesmanship. It is at a time like this when a visionary leader ventures beyond his base and embraces the entire country.
President Kenyatta must leave the cosiness of Nairobi, Central, Rift Valley and Coast regions (yes, they are still regions) and traverse the entire country. He must listen to the cries and complaints of his citizens. He must also identify and fix weaknesses within his administration – whether these are personnel-based or institutional.
He cannot do that through guided tours and staged photo-ops.
Kenyans, especially Luos – Raila’s core support base – and other people or communities with genuine grievances about historical neglect, victimisation and sabotage by each successive government, must now be appeased. I use the word appeased deliberately.
Now that Raila Odinga is facing his inevitable retirement and Uhuru is clearly set to recapture the presidency one more time in 2017 (baring some unforeseen circumstance), the President must unveil development blueprints for all communities, but especially for the Luo, in order to demonstrate that he means well and would serve their best interests even if one of them does not rise to the pinnacle of power.
Both the President and the Deputy President must realise that of all Kenyan communities, the two most volatile and that must be genuinely appeased if we are going to have lasting peace in Kenya are the Kalenjin and the Luo. Let no one mislead the Jubilee administration into ignoring these paragons of peace but potential volcanic eruptions if offended. I’m being pragmatic; not politically-correct.
The Luos also must appreciate that power and success cannot be judged only on account that one of them becomes president. The Jews are very tiny in number (compared to the demographically dominant groups) in Canada, the United States and many parts of Europe, yet through industry, diligence and strategic thinking and positioning, they are now the engine of those societies; vital to the management of financial services, banking, infrastructure, the arts, entrepreneurship, investment, media, intellectual, social, economic and political discourses.
We can – and must – learn from them!