Wednesday, October 3, 2007

We do not worship Hon. Raila Odinga, but we like his resume: sentiments of a Kenyan visionary

• Do I support Raila? YES
• Am I a Luo? NO
• Is Raila a visionary leader? YES
• Is Raila a god? NO
• Are there many supporting Raila just because he is a Luo? YES
• Are there many against Raila just because he is a Luo? YES
• Is Raila the answer to all the Kenyan Problems? NO
• Can Raila help lead Kenya towards justice and prosperity for all? YES
• Is Raila better than Kibaki? YET TO BE DETERMINED (but, I believe so)
• Is Raila better than Moi? YES - anybody is better than Moi (even Kalembe Ndile is better than Moi!)
• Has Raila proven himself as a freedom fighter, astute politician, and a capable leader, qualified to lead Kenya? ABSOLUTELY YES

Although some of the questions and answers above may seem silly and pedestrian, they are meant to show that some of us are objective supporters of a Raila presidency. We are not just some dogged loyalists driven by irrational euphoria galvanized in inveterate tribalism. You must understand that some of us are the same patriotic Kenyans who survived Moi and feverishly supported Kibaki in the last elections. So, we are not just some ignorant worshippers kneeling relentlessly at the Raila shrine. We have valid reasons, motivated by patriotism, Kenyan pride and dear love for country.

Despite the overwhelming tribal influence which stifles and precludes progressive national politics in Kenya, some of us appreciate Raila Odinga because we have the ability to separate the patriot from the politician; it is not that difficult. Firstly, all Kenyans know what the man has been through. Raila has been fighting for better governance, political suffrage and justice for all long before it was fashionable to do so. The man lost many years in detention while the rest of us sat by and allowed Moi and his cronies to cast him as a radical determined to ruin Kenya. As Raila languished in jail, most of us, including some of the current politicians, continued to support Moi as he did everything in his power to tribalize, impoverish, plunder and corrupt our dear country.

Secondly, Kibaki would never have been president if it wasn't for Raila. It was Raila who destroyed Moi's dreams of a Uhuru Kenyatta presidency in 2002. Whereas the other politicians remained in total disarray as Moi impetuously imposed Uhuru on the people, Raila took charge. Raila formed a rebellious coalition within KANU and delivered a severe body blow to Moi. Moreover, he handed the Kenyan presidency to Kibaki on a silver platter. He crisscrossed the country popularizing and campaigning for Kibaki. Even in Central province, Kikuyu men and women were singing Raila's praises: "Raila ni Jamba!" (Raila is a warrior!) Let's not forget that Luos, Kambas, Kalenjins, Luhyas, and many others voted for Kibaki because of Raila. It was their belief in Raila - the man, the patriot, the freedom fighter, the visionary - which gave value to a Kibaki presidency.

Thirdly, there is no doubt that the present Kenyan constitution is lacking. It is foolish to assume that any country can deliver to the citizenry when the supreme law of the land is flawed and ineffective. Progressive-minded Kenyans appreciate this simple fact. They proved it when they sided with Raila as the Orange swallowed the Banana by refusing to support a constitution that gave too much power to the Executive. Kenyans wanted the Bomas Draft, which was drafted by Kenyans for Kenyans. Once again, Raila Odinga stood on the right side of the issue with the common Kenyan.

Mwai Kibaki, on the other hand, is just an OK president. I say this because Moi was so deplorable that by default Kibaki, or anyone else for that matter, was destined to fare much better. However, Kibaki is not a great leader. A good economic manager he may be, but a transformational leader he is not. Sure, Kenya's GDP growth had risen, but so has inflation. The Nairobi Stock Exchange has delivered higher returns, but many Kenyans continue to be marginalized as the country quickly evolves into a plutocracy where most of the national wealth is controlled by a chosen few, namely the Mount Kenya Mafia. The trickle-down effects of Kenya's growing economy are debatable, but there is no denying that the best economic opportunities have been allocated to specific sons of Mumbi.

What's more infuriating is Kibaki's newly blossomed love affair with Moi. One of Kibaki's leading priorities should have been to recover what Moi and his cronies stole from Kenya. To turn a blind eye to Moi's plunder is to debase the dignity of every Kenyan. A gruesome crime was perpetrated against the Kenyan people: large amounts of money were stolen, public institutions bled to death and many sentenced to crippling poverty under Moi's government. During Moi's twenty four year rule, Kenya experienced a devastation that is tantamount to economic genocide. Kibaki knows this, and that is why his government commissioned an investigation whose results they now refuse to acknowledge or act upon. Wake up Kibaki... Moi is a spent cartridge! Not to mention that John Githongo - a true patriot - is still hiding in exile for exposing government corruption at its worst.

It is pure hogwash to argue that Moi must be respected and left alone to enjoy his ill-gotten wealth for the sake of national unity. Whose unity? And who are the beneficiaries of this unity? No one person is bigger or more important than the whole citizenry, not even Moi. It is wrong, immoral, unjust and myopic for Kibaki to relent on this fight. For him to embrace Moi is to validate thievery and plunder. And we wonder why certain elements within the society are so eager to grab an AK-47 to rob and kill; how can they refrain from using a Kalashnikov to facilitate their ominous acts when the leader of the nation is allowing the greatest kind of injustice to go unpunished?

The facts are naked and simple: Raila has a long history of being right. He suffered for justice, he defeated Moi, he made Kibaki president, and he supports the right constitution for Kenya. Some of you may ask: and how does this make the size of my ugali bigger today? The answer is simple. It doesn't. But what I know is that of all the current leaders, only Raila has the tools and skills needed to unite Kenyans across tribal barriers. The man understands what Kenya is suffering from. He understands that many Kenyans lack a national identity, thus default to tribe. He understands why many Kenyans have embraced a defeatist attitude that allows them to wallow in the "comfort" of mediocrity and low expectations. He understands
that Kenyans have zilch faith or trust in their elected officials. Whereas many are recommending Panadol to cure brain tumour, he is urging for the right remedy - radical surgery. What we need in Kenya is the Raila Answer; a new and prorressive national mind-set.

If you listen to Raila speak or read his writings, you will discover that his rhetoric is not based on populist propaganda. His vision for Kenya is founded on a profound wisdom that advocates for national pride and love for country. I dare say that when you are completely proud to be a Kenyan and you are willing to fight for liberty, uphold justice for all and create prosperity for all Kenyans, then, and only then, will your ugali get bigger.

Since Raila has been right many times before, if anything, let's give him a chance to prove himself as the next president of Kenya!

George Kyalo Mutua

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