I do not see the wisdom of ridiculing Mzee Moi, his son Gideon and Kanu. Kanu is a pallid shadow of its former self and you can capture the reasons in one word, hubris.
If former President Moi can fit into Prof Ali Mazrui’s prism of a great man who made great mistakes at the apogee of his career, his greatest mistake was to allow political hubris to define Kanu in its heyday.
This highhanded hubris eventually ran down the independence party, to the extent that it has been near impossible for it to rediscover its lost glory. The last straw was the Uhuru Project June-December 2002. At the start of the project, I wrote in the pages of this newspaper that the independence party had eventually found the poisoned chalice that would mess it up. The party drank of the chalice, despite wise counsel. It is still paying the price.
I cannot, however, think of a good reason I would want to ridicule Gideon Moi of Kanu if he extended a warm hand of political friendliness to me. If I did not want it, I would find a refined way of declining without crushing him.
I think it is wrong for Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang’ to humiliate him and Kanu. The fact that someone is enfeebled is no license to humiliate him or her. You are likely to attract social empathy, yourself, if you should be gracious in glory. Moreover, we have seen giant companies acquiring tiny ones, the world over. Something just does not make things add up when we become highhanded in victory. The sin of humiliating the fellow on the ground ranks very high in the classical placing of sins. Read about the hubris in Roman and Greek literature and history.
Beyond this, our people say that if one person bathes in the morning and another one bathes in the evening, both have taken a bath that day. I have written fairly elaborately about the Kenyan nation under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Moi. I am afraid I have not said very many good things about the Kanu era. This does not mean that there were none. But as I have always insisted, their hagiographers can pick up the pen where I pen off.
Mzee Moi will, however, be always remembered for stepping down from power when the law demanded that he steps down. He did not engage in unending gerrymandering about the election date and assorted devices.
It is also true that he handed a peaceful country to the next person. Kenyans were said to be the happiest and most optimistic people in the world in January 2003. If we have not lived up to the expectations of that moment, we must ask ourselves what wisdom there was in the mud that we flung at Moi’s motorcade at Uhuru Park on the day he handed over the instruments of power.
We ridiculed him in our inauguration address and sent the people around him away in tears. This should never happen to another retiring head of State. It should not happen to President Kibaki, despite his real and imagined flaws while he has been in power. Hubris has its price.
If I did not know this, I would be tempted to hoot at Musalia Mudavadi in the wake of his latest political debacle in this week’s by-elections. But Mudavadi is not even someone to be ridiculed; he is someone to be consoled.
Three things that require consolation can be said of him. First, he has completely failed to understand the Abaluhya people. Second, that he surrounds himself with people who are an unmitigated liability to him. Third, and arising from the foregoing, he excels in making suicidal political decisions at very critical moments. This is not something to laugh about; it is something to sympathise about.
The Abaluhya people do not follow their leaders blindly. That is why they are the only community that has voted out two sitting vice-presidents – Musalia Mudavadi and Moody Awori. You cannot hoodwink them with handouts and miscellaneous political sweeteners. They vote for what they believe in.
Second, their faithfulness to what they believe in is direct. To this extent, our leaders in Luhya-land follow us. We do not follow them. That was why Mudavadi followed the Luhya people into the Liberal Democratic Party in 2005 and on to the Orange Democratic Party (ODM). It is absurd that he actually believed that they would follow him out of ODM when he decided to decamp.