KINGMAKER

The Moi Factor in 2022 elections

In Kenya, we have had three such kingmakers with two from the same family.

In Summary

• Perhaps the most storied kingmaker in our country’s history going simply by the dynamics involved is none other than Raila.

• There hasn’t been a kingmaker since 2002 worth noting but time is ripe for one to emerge for 2022 with the question being, who will it be?

President Uhuru Kenyatta and retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home
President Uhuru Kenyatta and retired President Daniel Moi at his Kabarak home
Image: COURTESY

Since Richard Nevil, Earl of Warwick (d.1471) was credited with elevating Edward IV to the throne in England, the phenomenon — a person of power or influence playing a pivotal role in a royal or political succession — became a calling in by itself and thus the common reference to king making or kingmaker epithet.

In Kenya, we have had three such kingmakers with two from the same family. Can you name them? If you named former Attorney General Charles Njonjo, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son Raila Odinga, then give yourself an A. If you also included Tom Mboya, then an A+ is apt.

 

Indeed, notwithstanding the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s political activities prior to 1960, his ascension to the presidency was largely to the credit of Tom Mboya and Jaramogi, with the latter bearing the most credit because he was offered power but declined, deferring to Kenyatta.

This single, unselfish act of kindness, pragmatism and nationalism all wrapped in one is what then rattled Kenyatta was referring to on October 25, 1969, when he publicly announced he was sparing Jaramogi arrest following the riots in Kisumu on that day but he didn’t spare the opposition doyen insults as he unloaded in anger.

Kenyatta also didn’t spare Jaramogi arrest, after all, as he soon thereafter had him arrested and detained without trial.

It’s exactly what the Swahili saying “asante ya punda ni mateke” (the gratitude of a donkey is a kick) means. We have had such gratitude expressed politically over the years and probably will through the end of time, but the key is knowing how to evade or survive the kicks, especially the fatal ones.

For his part, how or why Njonjo — the closest we ever had as an aristocrat — is referred to as kingmaker is known to all who follow Kenyan politics. Suffice it to say, we would most likely never have had a Moi presidency were it not for Njonjo.

The man, his brains and clever, strategic use of his position as Attorney General to help then Vice President Daniel Moi weather the storm of opposition against his ascendancy to the presidency — of a kind William Ruto has yet to see — elevated Njonjo to a kingmaker ,only to receive his good share of asante ya punda a few years later from the same man he was pivotal in making President.

Perhaps the most storied kingmaker in our country’s history going simply by the dynamics involved is none other than Raila.

 

In 2002, nearly all Kenyans save for a few had only one and only one thing in mind politically and that was ridding the country of then retiring President Moi along with Uhuru his chosen successor.

Moi, for his part, was counting on his usual tactics of dividing the opposition and emerging as winner in each presidential election, of course, with the requisite rigging.

No amount of rigging would have overcome what became an unstoppable force created with Raila’s declaration of “Kibaki tosha.”

Mwai Kibaki would, of course, waste no time but deliver his version of mateke ya punda on Raila by first ripping his MoU with him and, when Raila won the presidential poll in 2007, making sure he didn’t see the inside of State House as President.

There hasn’t been a kingmaker since 2002 worth noting but time is ripe for one to emerge for 2022 with the question being, who will it be?

Though not technically accurate, one would be tempted to say that would have to be Uhuru but it’s not entirely clear the person he wants to be his successor

Which leaves room for a kingmaker to emerge and that will be none other than the professor of politics himself, yes, the octogenarian retired President Moi.

If your question is why or how, the simple answer is you will know.


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