When former Subukia MP Koigi Wamwere ran for president on a bitterness and sacrifice platform in 1997, he lost so badly he grew the gangrene of sour grapes. There is a history behind this.
The Kenyatta and Moi regimes always found Koigi eligible for detention. The Moi regime, for example, accused Koigi of possessing weapons, which the former MP knew nothing about.
Excuses were always generated to book him into jail during the politics of the stick and the carrot. Koigi was patriotic in an age when hero worship was a ticket to state favours. An age when personal whims enriched the loyal and impoverished the defiant.
Public land was the preferred carrot for the good boys and girls of the Kenyatta and the Moi eras. Some residents of Kitale acquired prime land in Rift Valley this way. They worshipped the god of patronage. Some lost land this way: they went to the wrong shrines.
Koigi was forced into exile after it was claimed the man from Subukia was ‘intending’ to overthrow the Moi regime. Koigi was among the few who had the audacity to speak to power on bad governance, land grabbing and abuse of human rights.
Koigi’s family settled in the Rift, after they were induced out of their ancestral home in Central. The man’s family sacrificed during the Mau Mau war of independence. After Independence, the children of the Mau Mau were sacrificed at the altar of power.
Koigi’s mother together with other suffering mothers of political detainees, tasted the pain of dictatorship when they staged a nude protest around Freedom Corner, in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park.
Days into the protest, which was a traditional curse to the Moi regime, the mothers were driven into the nearby All Saints’ Cathedral. This would be the beginning of the end of the Nyayo Era.
Koigi suffered for issues larger than self-gain. The man sported Rastafarian-Mungiki hair, as a badge of protest. He sacrificed to demystify the 24-year rule of President Daniel Moi. But sacrifice alone did not earn Koigi any votes in the 1997 general election. His competitors, like former President Mwai Kibaki, who had enjoyed the good and endured the bad of the Kenyatta and Moi regimes, fared much better.
National Super Alliance presidential aspirant Kalonzo Musyoka, too, has sacrificed. The former Vice President sacrificed his presidential ambition in the 2002 general election so opposition leader Kibaki could realise his dream. Kibaki appointed Kalonzo his VP after the 2007 general election, to reward him for throwing the opposition under the bus.
Kibaki sacrificed Kalonzo again in 2013, when he preferred Uhuru Kenyatta over the former Mwingi North MP as his successor. Uhuru sacrificed his presidential ambition in 2007, when the opposition leader supported Kibaki’s reelection.
Kalonzo also sacrificed his presidential ambition in 2013 to support Raila Odinga’s bid on the Cord ticket.
Raila sacrificed his freedom many times over. He was detained without trial for nine years for challenging the Moi regime. He also sacrificed his presidential ambition in 2002. He gave Kibaki a chance after the former Othaya MP lost in the 1992 and 1997 elections.
Raila also sacrificed his bungled presidential ‘win’ in 2007 to save the country from ethnic-inspired post-election violence. Raila’s 2007 sacrifice is memorable. Others would not have let go until the last person in the room put out the lights. Such is Raila’s valour in the politics of sacrifice.
Ballot 2017 presidential aspirants have made assorted sacrifices. Some have sacrificed their lives and families to champion bigger causes. Some have sacrificed their freedoms to speak for Kenya when the country needed voices of reason. Some have sacrificed their time, careers, and resources to work for a better country.
Some have sacrificed their morality and conscience in a way that undermines the national interest. Some have sacrificed the national interest for personal gain. Some have sacrificed the common good for self-gain. But sacrifice alone will not be the ticket to the presidency in 2017.