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February 23, 2019

Raila and school burning: The Link

Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga

Last week my social media was on fire as some folks demanded I write a column about whether there is a connection between Raila Odinga and the ongoing destruction of schools through fire. Of course the risk is when I do this some will see it as a vendetta against the former Prime Minister. For the record I have no vendetta against Kenya’s opposition leader. I just got to know him well enough to know that Kenya would do very badly if he was President. This I will never shy away from saying.

 As regards the connection between him and the school fires I thought it was so obvious no one needed to point it out. Raila believes in the ideology that the end justifies the means. This includes using means that can degenerate into violence, to cause change.

 It started in 1982 when there was an attempted coup where hundreds of innocent Kenyans died or got injured while property worth millions was destroyed, all in an attempt to ‘replace the corrupt and dictatorial government of President Daniel Arap Moi’ (as explained in ‘Raila Odinga-The Flame of Freedom’ pg 239). Raila has never explained his role in the coup and in the book he makes the rather ominous statement that he awaits a time when freedom of speech is not as shackled as it is now, to tell his story. At least he lived to tell this story.

 In the years that followed Raila built his reputation as a radical who never shied away from taking the war to his opponents. The political history of Nyanza is a testament of his prowess in this.

 In 2008 Raila called for mass action because he did not agree with the presidential results. Violence, death and destruction like Kenyans had never experienced before followed this call. Outside this violence Raila Odinga would have been the Official Leader of The Opposition post 2007; because of it he ended up as a co-principal to President Kibaki, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya. No one has ever been held accountable for what happened in 2008.

 Early this year Raila called for street demonstrations because he does not agree with how the IEBC is structured. Young men and women went to the streets carrying stones, to confront armed policemen. Buildings were destroyed, vehicles burnt, innocent Kenyans mugged and economic activities interrupted. At least three Kenyans died. But Cord got their way and the government established a process on the IEBC. No one was held responsible for the violence or destruction.

 Students in high school have been following this doyen of opposition politics, reading about his exploits, and watching him on Tv. They have seen him and his supporters get away with holding demonstrations where people throw stones at the police, burn vehicles, destroy buildings and injure innocent members of the public. Raila’s cause somehow always progresses while no one is held responsible for the destruction.

Now we are acting shocked that teenagers are burning up their own schools because they have been stopped from watching Tv; or torching their dormitories because they do not want to do exams. These young boys and girls have watched a few thousand people cause rampage and force an entire government to negotiate on something they want. A precedent has been set. When one is not happy with something just destroy something. You will be heard and nothing will happen to you. Our children are unhappy with policy changes on how schools will run so they are destroying something!

Meanwhile Cord is supporting their demands that the changes the children do not want be reversed. Reinforcing the precedent.


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