REBRANDED

Handshake isn't a revolving fund

Those who claimed the former Prime Minister was damaged goods after the 2017 contentious presidential election are contending with a rebranded Raila.

In Summary

• The March 2018 amity between the advocate of liberation politics, Raila, and President Uhuru Kenyatta was a reconciliation pact and put out post-2017 election fires.

• The ODM leader has allowed critics free time to fumble. They are looking for a black snake on a dark night.

Handshake
Handshake

The post-handshake Raila Odinga is a new brand - unpredictable, and even harder to pin down any more on controversial, partisan issues.

The enigma has mastered the art of timing. This is how it should be in politics: A day makes a whole lot of difference.

Talk less - do more. Don't react - set the agenda. Light a candle and months will flood your space.

 

The conversation around the handshake is a fine example of agenda-settling. The subject has been turned upside down, without pinning it down to one meaning. Some think it's a development fund.   

 

The March 2018 amity between the advocate of liberation politics, Raila, and President Uhuru Kenyatta was a reconciliation pact and put out post-2017 election fires. It's marketed as the vaccine for future post-election misadventures.     

Raila is not talking much anymore about the handshake. His composure offends those who make fodder of his public statements. And if he keeps studious silence in the face of aspersions, he will disorient those who think he is their competitor in the 2022 succession presidential election.      

The ODM leader has allowed critics free time to fumble. They are looking for a black snake on a dark night. They are dancing lame before the main dance for which the competitors are unknown.     

You become a superstar when you dance alone. You dance around shadows when you compete against yourself. You even invite your shadows to join the rhumba. There is no rhythm. There is no style. There is no tune. There is no checkmate. You see only you, and then wonder whether you are the only sane one.    

Take, for example, a politician whose talking point is, 'Yule Jamaa'. Or the claim sons of peasants should evict dynasts.      

Sons of peasants have been on a campaign rampage, without a plan for a better post-2022 Kenya for the peasantry. Peasants want safe water. Peasants want food security, but multi-purpose dam projects are stalled.      

 

Peasants want a safer, secure environment, but conservation of the Mau Forest is embroiled in endless politics.

Pastoralists in the Maasai plains have no water, even as protected settlers undermine their water tower. There can be no water in the plains if there is no snow on the mountains.    

Politics of the Mau Forest undermined Raila's relations with the Kalenjin community during the coalition government. But his environmental messages then, as now, are real and brutal.    

 Rain, they claimed, comes from the sky. Destruction of water towers, they said, has nothing to do with unreliable rainfall patterns. We failed the environmental literacy test, now we are paying the cost.      

Those who claimed the former Prime Minister was damaged goods after the 2017 contentious presidential election are contending with a rebranded Raila. This one is sharp, precise, energetic, international, accessible, accommodating, patriotic, development-conscious, and diplomatic, a networked smooth operator. This is not the rough rider of 2007 and 2013 general elections.    

 

For his critics, 2022 General Election is approaching faster than they can imagine. For Raila, it is still eons away.  "Let us focus on development and the fight against corruption".   
 

These messages rankle those who think of 'the handshake' as a development fund. Or those who claim the fight against corruption targets certain political interests. That it's a plot to stop them from raising money to finance the 2022 General Election.          

Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale spoke for these people in Matungu, early this month. He claimed other regions are not getting anything from the handshake. Another coast MP, parroting Khalwale's misinformation, claimed the Coast has not seen any dividends from the amity.    

The two have in mind the rehabilitation of Kisumu port - a Kenya Ports Authority project. The revival of the KPA facility exploits renewed regional commercial interests. The Blue Economy has nothing to do with the handshake or region.

It is exploiting the geographical location of  Kisumu on Lake Victoria - the heartland of Eastern Africa.  More than 10 counties are enjoined in the hope of a revived port.

There is the right and the wrong side of history: The right side is marked peace, inclusion, and prosperity. The wrong side is marked plunder, blunder, hate, exclusion, and business-as-usual. The choice is ours as citizens of a struggling country.

Okech Kendo is a communications consultant and university lecturer.