Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Raila vs. Moi: our soothsayer looks into her crystal ball a second time

The year is two thousand and eight. All is quiet and peaceful on the dark January night. Suddenly, a haunting scream pierces the dense darkness. It is Moi screaming at the top of his voice.

An aide runs across to the bedroom to check on the former president. Thank God, it is only a bad dream. "Mzee…mzee…" The aide calls out as he tries in vain to stir the former president out of his nightmare.

But Moi is completely possessed and he starts screaming uncontrollably: "Raila, Raila, Raila!"

"Mzee… please wake up." The aide respectfully shakes the old man by the shoulder. Just like the three previous nights, Moi is having another of his disturbing Raila nightmares.

The aide shakes Moi harder and finally the former president snaps out of his scary dream. His face is covered in sweat and his lips are trembling. Tightly clutching on to his rungu, he stares at the aide like a zombie; he looks around the room and then turns back to his aide, "Who is the president of Kenya?" he asks in a hoarse, loud whisper.

The aide takes a few steps backwards. Clearly, the poor fellow dislikes the question, or is it the answer that he is being forced to deliver which terrifies him? He hesitates.

"Who is the president of Kenya?" Moi demands angrily.

"Ah…mzee, you already know it is Raila Odinga!" The man replies meekly.

"Oh no, not Raila, oh no, not Raila!" the former president agonizes in excruciating pain. Moi's worst nightmare is now a living reality...

If such a scenario seems exaggerated and overdramatized to you, it is not far-fetched! At the moment, Raila stands a chance at becoming the fourth president of the Republic of Kenya. I admit that President Kibaki presents a tough and credible challenge, but Tinga has never had a better opportunity. Moi realizes the likelihood of a Raila presidency and the old man is horrified!

A few days ago, the former president came out boldly and not only declared his support for Kibaki, but also promised to deliver the Rift Valley vote. He declared that Raila and Kalonzo were nothing more than tribal chiefs seeking to divide the country. But we know Moi. We have experienced Moi. And Kenya is lucky to have survived his twenty four year presidency, which was characterized by economic plunder, massive corruption, runaway inflation, tribal divisions, staggering unemployment, thieving government officials, great injustice and of course tribal clashes and ethnic cleansing.

Obviously Moi, just like any other private citizen, has the constitutional right to support whichever presidential candidate he chooses, but that's where his political influence must stop. Moi has lost his political credibility; his bad history invalidates any vision he might have had for our dear country. So now we must ask: why is Moi supporting Kibaki? It is hypocritical to pretend as human beings that we all don't have our own agendas - some self-serving and some for the common good - but Moi is a career politician, and that fact alone demands that Kenyans question and scrutinize his agenda.

It beats logic that today Moi considers Kibaki the best thing for Kenya. After all, Kibaki served Moi as vice president for ten years. But as we all know, Moi sacked Kibaki unceremoniously and replaced him with political charlatans. After the repeal of the contentious Section 2A of the Constitution, the two men remained on opposite sides of Kenyan politics. During the last elections, Moi campaigned feverishly against Kibaki and tried to impose Uhuru Kenyatta on Kenyans. Even during the Orange and Banana phenomenon, Moi stood against Kibaki. But after all that political history, it is perplexing that today Moi wants us to believe he has new-found love for Kibaki!

What Moi doesn't realize is the fact that in only five years, Kibaki has accomplished what he failed to do in twenty four. Kibaki's minor successes validate Moi's abysmal failure as Kenyan longest serving president. It is a pity that Kibaki's back is against the wall and is now left with no option but to reach out to his predecessor, who can only (and will) hurt him politically.

In my opinion, Moi doesn't believe in Kibaki as much as he fears Raila. In his wildest dreams, the former president never imagined that one day Kenyans across tribe would consider electing Raila the president of Kenya. Moi is a terrified man suffering from what I call RP - Raila Paranoia - and he wants to take the rest of us down with him. Moi knows that Raila can change Kenyan politics forever. Moi understands that Raila can right many of the wrongs perpetrated on the citizenry during his Nyayo error.

Raila is his own man; he is not susceptible to Moi's manipulation. He proved it by defying Moi during the last elections and made it worse when he killed the old man's dreams of a Uhuru Kenyatta presidency. When Raila quit Moi's "dream" team, he took with him Kalonzo, Kamotho, Siatoti and many others. Moi also understands that it is via Raila that Kibaki found his way to State House. Moi knows that Raila connects with the masses and has the ability and charisma to lead and influence the citizenry. Moi hates things that he can't control. This explains why a Raila presidency is simply unacceptable to him and has him shaking in his pants.

As we all know, Raila suffered long imprisonment and detention without trial during Moi's dictatorship. To justify Raila's unjust incarceration, Moi and his cronies vilified the man and demonized him. They sold Raila as a "radical" to the Kenyan people and, unfortunately, some among us bought the message and still cast Raila unfairly. Time, change and events have proven Raila right and in the process have greatly diminished Moi in the eyes of Kenyans.

In summary, we must respect Moi for who he is, but we must not fear the man. We must not have high expectations of the man for he is big on rhetoric, weak on strategy and terrible on performance. We cannot sacrifice the greater good of the country in order to honor Moi and make him feel special. Kenyans are not stupid. We are smart people, capable of rising and making our country a great place for every Kenyan man, woman and child. What we do not need are stumbling blocks to impede our progress and change our course. Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo are all men capable of presenting their mandates to the people based on their visions, skills and ability. Let us judge each man based on their character, deeds, and vision. Moi must allow the Kenyan people to decide freely without any undue duress from him.

When it comes to Raila Odinga, we must all refrain from unbridled emotion and start applying the right logic. Sure, the man is a maverick and a nonconformist. Maybe he is a boisterous politician, but certainly he is not a radical who wants to hurt Kenya. And if you find yourself screaming and shaking in the middle of the night on account of a Raila presidency, then shake it off; maybe have a glass of cold water and go back to sleep. Leave "Raila Paranoia" to Moi, as we must focus on building our dear country not only for us but also for posterity. Kenya must be all it can be.

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