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January 21, 2019

PHILIP ETALE: We need hope not further divisions

President Mwai Kibaki hoists the new Constitution at Uhuru Park on August 27, 2010. /FILE
President Mwai Kibaki hoists the new Constitution at Uhuru Park on August 27, 2010. /FILE

In the ancient days, the Pharisees and the Sadducees had divergent views on life after death. They always differed on the doctrine of death and afterlife. In the Holy book, Apostle Thomas refused to believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected and that he had appeared to the other disciples until he could see and feel the wounds inflicted on Him on the cross.

The Holy Books teach us a lot about believing, peace and love. On March 9, 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga chose to save the country from the brink of the abyss. Kenya’s death would have meant endless violence, loss of life and wanton destruction of property just in the name of ‘power’.

It is said that sometimes when two men sit over a cup of tea, wisdom oozes out and good ideas are conceived. That is perhaps what the two leaders, erstwhile political opponents, thought and decided to put aside their differences for the sake of Kenya.

Being scions of the republic’s first President and first Vice President, Kenyatta and Odinga knew very well that the blame would fall squarely on them and not their fathers if they failed to unite Kenyans.

Kenya was going to the dogs and everyone was speaking at each other, not to one another. The country was divided right down the middle and the unhealthy talk of secession had started to gain ground. The swearing-in of Odinga on January 30 as the ‘People’s President’ made matters worse and heightened tension. Talk of Kitaeleweka and Watajua Hawajui was the only language Odinga’s supporters understood.

The Kumira Kumira slogan of October 26, 2017, that was used to rally Kenyatta’s supporters to vote in the repeat presidential election had been swallowed by the song of Tumechoka na teargas, tunataka bomb.

Most parts of Nairobi and opposition strongholds smelt death. There was smoke and dust all over and investors had run away, leading to the collapse of the shilling against the dollar.

Kenya was not Kenya anymore. Something needed to be done. And only the wisdom of Odinga and Kenyatta could save the situation. And indeed, it did.

It is almost a year since the handshake and the country is relatively calm and the economy picking up creditably. Tourists have been flocking into the country and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. However, the continuing political bickering and politics of a general election that is 1,450 days away is killing this climax.

Some politicians are expressing doubts over what the handshake is meant to achieve. Some claim it is a knife being sharpened to chop off the meat from the mouth of the Deputy President William Ruto, who wants to run for president in 2022. Others feel it is about Odinga positioning himself for another stab at the presidency in 2022.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The political temperatures being heightened by the political class and returning Kenyans to election mode are all the work of doubting Thomases. They have refused to believe that indeed there will come a time when the interests of the nation will be greater than that of any individual. The unity of Kenya is of more importance than anyone else’s ambition.

When the country is in election mode all the time, chances of its progress diminish. If all leaders will unite, put aside their ambitions and wait for the right time to politick and work for the people, Kenya will ready itself to compete with other Third World countries that are determined to grow.

Leaders should be working hard to instil in their people hope for success and belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals. My plea this year is to think positively, shun backward politics and make the people think and hope. Hope, unity and growth are what Kenyans need today, politics is what they will need tomorrow.

Director of Communications, ODM


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