Radicalised supporters of the National Super Alliance can be irrational and unforgiving. Their fixed-mind definition of cowardice does not consider different shades of spinelessness.
To know right and refuse to do what is right is cowardice. To undermine free and fair elections by compromising electoral and security agencies is cowardice. To place hurdles on the way of rivals is cowardice.
It is fear of the unknown that leads people to take away power. Bribing people to support wrong is cowardice. Falling for propaganda when the truth is abroad is cowardice. The local political landscape then, teems with different shades of cowards.
‘Nasarites’ do not understand the folly of calling people cowards on account of one event. Branding three NASA principals as cowards for missing the January 30 swearing-in of Raila Odinga as the People’s President is lazy logic.
Nasarites do not understand cowardice is not terminal. They do not tell caution from cowardice. People fail and learn from their mistakes. Someone who has not made a mistake has not been trying hard enough. Mistakes are alternative ways to right.
Bennis Warren tells us in Managing People is Like Herding Cats that, “All successful leaders learn to embrace error and to learn from it. They make it clear to those they lead that there is no failure, only mistakes that give us feedback and tell us what to do next.”
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a coward as “a person who is not brave and too eager to avoid danger, difficulty or pain.” The Latin equivalence, ‘cauda’ means tail.
The meaning echoes a scared puppy, which tucks its tail between its legs when a lion roars miles away. You do not have to walk into trouble to prove you are not a coward. You do not have to fight all the time to prove you have guts. Retreating when occasion demands may be strategic.
Musalia Mudavadi may have lost some clout with radicalised NASA supporters for skipping the swearing-in. But the supporters should know the event was shrouded in controversy, given its countless versions. What if Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetang’ula missed the event so they would fight for Raila if the power clique were rogue enough to throw the country off the cliff?
Radicalised Nasarites cannot deny the sacrifice Mudavadi made for the opposition up to the August 8 presidential election. He founded NASA, which galvanised change forces around Raila. Mudavadi had an idea of a united opposition, and got people to buy into the vision. He translated the vision into action, as NASA presidential campaign manager.
By January 30, Mudavadi had occupied the hearts of radical supporters of Raila. This was the second time he was coming close to living the prophecy of the legendary Elijah Masinde. The prophet predicted leadership would come to ingo via the Kavirondo.
Giving Wetang’ula a shoulder to cry on, on a tribal turf, is beneath Mudavadi’s clout. Wetang’ula, who ran for Bungoma Senate when his co-principals were eying the presidential ball, is crying about ‘minority leadership’. He is chasing rabbits when there are antelopes.
Mudavadi had the opportunity to board the Jubilee gravy train, but he did not. He did not contest for a parliamentary seat, Senate, or Nairobi county governor when he had the chance. He had faith NASA would form government and NASA principals would honour their coalition accord. He held on to the promise of being chief minister if NASA won.
He accompanied Baba on the incomplete, torturous trek to Canaan, while insisting on his name being on the presidential ballot. He gave up his presidential ambition for Raila to run. This was not cowardice. It was hope that change was possible. His other weaknesses such as advancing and retreating at critical moments aside — to err is human — Mudavadi is an asset in any formation.
The mistreatment of Miguna Miguna at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last week, in the presence of Raila, was ominous. Coming after the ceasefire handshake, it shows there is an opportunity for alternative leadership.