By Billow Khalid
The country’s political eagles are gathering for a single mission – to stop Prime Minister Raila Odinga from becoming Kenya’s fourth President (The Standard On Sunday, June 3).
Tell us, with all due intellectual honesty, why stop him? Would Raila’s presidency be a major risk for 40 million Kenyans and their future? Definitely not. What is even more worrying about the entire operation is its lack of ideology, ethos of naked self-interests and divisive, callous negative ethnicity.
Even anti-Obama US ‘birthers’ have not engaged in petty, stop Obama machinations. Political coalitions without fundamental philosophical, social and economic underpinnings and loyalties are rarely sustainable as evidenced by the meltdown of every other political party, simply described as ‘vehicles’.
Almost as Nelson Mandela, it is not exaggeration to say that Prime Minister Raila Odinga is a poster politician in Kenya and in Africa. There is high probability that Kenya’s fourth president will emerge from one of these big five: Raila, Vice-President Kilonzo Musyoka, DPMs Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi and Eldoret North MP William Ruto.
These are all outstanding, highly experienced and well-resourced individuals. We are proud to have them at this moment in our nation’s history. Yet for a number of neutral reasons, Raila is first among equals.
First, just like Uhuru, Raila has a brand name. He is the son of a great man and a hero of the country’s struggle for independence and social justice; Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, our first Vice-President.
As far back as on August 14, 1961, in a Mombasa rally, Jaramogi declared: “The (colonial) authorities say if they release Kenyatta, it would be the end of everything. We say holidays of all holidays in the history of Kenya for Kenyatta is out”.
Second and most importantly, we all know how much individually Raila and his family suffered inside and outside prison in the 1980s, together with others, for the sake of freedom, justice and prosperity for all Kenyans. Kibaki Tosha of 2002 was simply the culmination of years of hard work. As they say, the rest is history. Since then ‘a hundred flowers finally bloomed’.
Third, Raila hails from a close-knit community and a populace region that historically felt unjust isolation and exclusion from mainstream politics and development because of primordial politics. Finally, he is an incumbent Prime Minister, the only second the country has had ever since Jomo Kenyatta.
At 68, Raila is within the ideal age bracket for president. A country requires a kind of coach, strategic manager, a sort of Abedi Pele, with outstanding history of “goal scoring”, courage, nationalism, inspiration and integrity. Not, as Mudavadi put it, the individualised sportsmanship brilliance of Lionel Messi (25) and Didier Drogba (34).
It takes a great leader to bring the best out of every body, build a nation to last, help ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things for themselves and make hopelessness a history. Getting the best outcomes through others. I am not sure whether Messi is up there.
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