Imagination a powerful tool, when did you last use yours?

Would the country have been better or worse off if Raila, Uhuru and Ruto had never joined politics?

In Summary

• It would not necessarily be a bad thing to think of a future without top politicians

DP William Ruto when he hosted President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga at his Karen residence in Nairobi.
DP William Ruto when he hosted President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga at his Karen residence in Nairobi.
Image: FILE

Have you ever imagined what might have happened if you had taken a different path from the one that set you off on the life you are now living?

For instance, if you had made different subject choices in high school or at college or university or even of jobs, careers, friends, relationships, whatever. Where would you be today, or more to the point, who might you be?

In my own life, there was a time I received a very serious offer to study nursing in the UK. I didn’t really want to, and young as I was at the time, I doubted I had the aptitude or the attitude.


Looking back, though, I wonder what might have been had I taken that path. I probably would have ended up remaining in the UK and working on the NHS. I would probably never have met most of the people who have had a great impact on my life in journalism or even socially in the last 30-odd years.

Of course, I would have met different people, but I wonder if I’d have had some of the same convictions I now have, and would I have ended up remaining in the UK? Would I still be working for the NHS, or would I have joined some outfit like MSF and travelled the world’s hotspots?

Would I have returned to Kenya and worked in the public service, felt undervalued like many did and gotten myself a Green card to go and work in the US, again like so many Kenyan nurses did in the 90s. And what would that have meant for me and the people in my life? 

Since I am not Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1998 film, 'Sliding Doors', I suppose I’ll never know.

Imagine if, for instance, Raila Odinga had eschewed politics and stayed at the Kenya Bureau of Standards until he retired or otherwise left to join the family business, East Africa Spectre Ltd.

He would never have been detained. Tinga Tinga would have remained a tractor or a slogan on a T-shirt. There might never have been an ODM or a BBI or a “handshake”. The Kenyan political map would have looked very different.

Now imagine if Mwai Kibaki had remained in academia instead of running off to join the newly formed Kanu as executive officer in 1960 at the behest of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga?


Again, Kenya’s political history might have been very different, especially if you are from the school of thought that believes it was Kibaki’s brilliance as an economist that saw Kenya through a decade and a bit of economic success from 1969 to 1980.

Imagine if a young William Ruto had not responded to the siren call of the Kanu Youth League under Dr Julia Ojiambo and had chosen to continue his studies in botany and zoology?

Might he now be one of the country’s best-known scientists? Where would the so-called Tangatanga mob be? Would anyone speak of such a thing as “the hustler nation”? 

Think what life might have been like had Uhuru Kenyatta decided politics was not for him, and had stuck with the horticulture business he began in his 20s.

Who would be Kenya’s president and deputy today? Would the country have been better off or worse off? I guess we could never really know as we’ve never tried to be a Kenya without any of the names I’ve dropped above. But just spend a little time imagining what could have been.

It might help you imagine what a future without them would be like and help you make very different choices for yourself and your country over the next few years, and that would not necessarily be a bad thing, now. Or would it?

Edited by T Jalio