I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I must admit I have not always been a fan of Prof Kivutha Kibwana. In fact, before he started receiving plaudits for his sterling work with universal healthcare and public participation in Makueni county, where he has been governor since 2013, I can’t say I thought much of him at all.
I’d be lying if I said that before a few months ago, when his achievements in Makueni began being reported, I had ever considered him presidential material.
I recall having seen the former law lecturer on the political scene at least since the late 1980s and early 90s, when he, along with others from the University of Nairobi and civil society in general, took on the one-party state of Kanu and President Moi. However, I can’t remember him having struck me as particularly charismatic.
In the heady days of 1997, when he was spokesman for the National Convention Executive Council, and one of the moving spirits behind the clarion call “No Reforms, No Elections”. But even then, I remember saying to someone that whenever I heard him speak, all I heard was whining or complaining.
But with time, people change, ideas mature, situations shift, perspectives evolve. And actually today, I will admit to jumping on the bandwagon and say I would consider Governor Kibwana as a serious contender for the presidency of Kenya. By the way, if you had told me just a decade and a half ago that I would have changed my tune about Kivutha Kibwana, I would laughed in your face.
Now I would even go so far as to say that if he could inspire an electoral revolution in 2022. That’s if he gathers enough like-minded people around him and gets them to run for office, and then builds the momentum he has in his county and social media into a national movement.
Sadly, if we are to go on previous experience in Kenya, with candidates who promise to upend the status quo and bring real and serious change to our lives, when the time to vote comes, most Kenyan voters will most likely vote for the usual suspects (pun semi-intended). Or, as my old editor Philip Ochieng once characterised them, “layabouts, idlers, thieves, ne’er-do-wells, conmen and illiterates.”
We seem as a people to be too easily mesmerised by the chancers, whom we normally vote for and appear to then love to complain bitterly about when, true to form, they end up eating us out of house and home through corruption. If this wasn’t true, we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are in.
Of course, if by some miracle most Kenyan voters decided that it was finally time for change in 2022, we would manage to send Governor Kibwana and his yet-to-be-assembled dream team of service and delivery legislators to the various bodies that govern the country. Then we would have to hope he didn’t get drunk on power an do a Magafuli on us.