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February 21, 2019

Raila fights for a better Kenya

Opposition leader Raila Odinga./FILE
Opposition leader Raila Odinga./FILE

Quotable quotes capture fundamental truths, profound thinking, compassion, passion, refined emotionsand zeal to change the human condition. Such quotes open up right-thinking minds to the human condition.

The quotes are often universal and futuristic, even though they ride on context. South Africa’s freedom icon Nelson Mandela, United States civil rights advocate Martin Luther King Jr, and the founder of the non-violent protest movement Mahatma Gandhi — are all architects of timeless quotes.

The contradictions of their worlds made these sages zealous about changing the human condition. Freethinkers — which Gandhi, Mandela, and King were — believe a better world is possible.

Here is a quote, which speaks to Kenyans, from a nondescript thinker. “Mental slavery is the worst form of slavery. It gives you the illusion of freedom, makes you trust, love and defend your oppressor, while making an enemy of those who are trying to free you or open your eyes.”

Miss Fiyah’s quote exposes suffocating prejudices. Consider the relationship between Raila Odinga and Kenyans who think of themselves as tribally and politically correct. These Kenyans have been conditioned to consider Raila as an enemy instead of a patriot, who wants a just Kenya.

That democracy is still struggling seven years into the supposedly liberating constitutional dispensation of 2010, indicts the power clique. That reformers are still talking about challenges that inspired the change movement 30 years ago shows stunted growth of the institutions of public governance.

A captured electoral commission disguised as independent, an intimidated Judiciary, a rogue police force, a muzzled Legislature and a compliant Press are not the building blocks of democracy. This is Raila’s loaded message.

That 75 per cent of Kenyans are complaining of exclusion from the ‘eating centre’ 54 years after Independence, shows failing leadership. There is no better subject for a national dialogue than that which gives practical meaning to the National Anthem. Justice is the shield and defender Kenya needs to survive the ethnic hubris of the power clique. And, there can be no peace for the government if there is no justice for the masses.

Instead of promoting democracy, the power clique is investing in nation-killing prejudices. The prejudices are cultivated by an officialdom that uses the masses as shields for their perpetuation.

The gullible masses have been conditioned to believe the people talking of third and final liberations, social transformation, integrity in public office, and equity are their enemies. This is the mental slavery Miss Fiyah had in mind. The challenge is greater when the brainwashing is given tribal and clan hues by architects of electoral anarchy. Deploying the corrupting power of money in elections is the icing on this cocktail of confusion. Impunity is the impenetrable cornerstone of this confusion.

Mistaking liberators for enemies is the greatest challenge to the change movement.

Raila has dedicated four decades of his exemplary political career to this public cause. He is among the few who challenged the capricious dictatorship of the Daniel Moi’s Kanu regime of the 1980s. He could collaborate, but he chose sacrifice for a noble cause.

Raila is also the consistent force behind the struggle for multiparty politics, expansion of democratic space and electoral justice. He has been many times a victim of this cause. Many have joined his side over the years, but fled when opportunities for self-aggrandizement beckoned.

Raila’s consistency is the motif of Kenya’s unfulfilled struggle for democracy and electoral justice. The issues are not about Raila, as some have been conditioned to believe. It is about a better Kenya. The liberator is not the enemy.

Failure to reason is the fault line Kenya needs to avoid. Talking helps, fighting destroys. The disenchanted are not asking for love: They are calling for humility and tolerance. And a Happy New Year.

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