Peeling Back the Mask: Raila can speak for himself

By Robin Toskin

The stormed that Miguna Miguna’s Peeling Back The mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya raised this week has served to reinforce my long held view that Kenyans do not deserve good leaders because of their disdain for those who challenge their demi-gods.

I am lucky to have read Intellectuals and Power: A conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze in which the latter tells Faucault: “You were the first to teach us something absolutely fundamental: the indignity of speaking for others.”

Deleuze says: “We have to appreciate the theoretical fact that only those directly concerned can speak in a practical way on their own behalf.”

Of course that is not to say we should not comment. Rather, we should not exonerate those mentioned for the simple reason we were not there.

Or who else was in the presidential suite at Lillian Towers on May 19, 2009 when Raila Odinga, Prof Anyang Nyong’o, James Orengo, Caroli Omondi and Miguna - the person making the allegations, met?

Bitter Miguna may be, but what if he turns out to be the girl in that folktale who told her sister that “I saw brother in-law swallow food together with plates and the utensils came from the anus?” Of course she was dismissed contemptuously until hell broke loose.

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Attacks on Miguna brings into question our tolerance, a clear reflection just as Deleuze wondered how it is that people whose interests are not being served can strictly support the existing power structure.

If, like former US President Thomas Jefferson said, we should have a wise and frugal Government, which shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned, then as he said elsewhere, we should fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion.

Somehow, reactions Miguna’s hair-raising interrogation of Raila Odinga’s reform credentials in his memoirs exposes many a Kenyan’s folly of elevating the PM to a deity.

Yet as Jefferson opines, we should: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”

Attacking Miguna’s speech mannerisms and presentation and not the substance (claims) only serves to show there is more than meets the eye.

For instance, Miguna alleges that on May 19, 2009 at a presidential suite in Lillian Towers, when writing about the maize scandal, that: “I have disturbing information, which I believe to be credible – and some of it has been reported in the media already – that it was Caroli who issued verbal instructions to the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) to order the maize, even to enhance its price and then told the Managing Director of the National Cereals Board of Kenya (NCPB) to release the maize to the domestic market despite serious reports of its contamination. Sir, reliable reports indicate that Caroli telephoned Misoi, the NCPB Managing Director, from our office line…”

That Raila responded: “Is that true Caroli? Did you call them from our office line?” Raila interjected again, looking at Caroli with anxiety written all over his face.”

Right there, says Miguna, “I knew that both Raila and Caroli were privy to those “interventions”, otherwise, he wouldn’t and shouldn’t have cared where the calls emanated from. Whether Caroli used the office line or his mobile line or Caroli’s grandmother’s mobile phone didn’t matter, really.”

The rebuttals from Sarah Elderkin, ODM’s media consultant, should have attacked this damaging statements, which expose Raila as a fraud in claiming reformist tag instead of telling the public how deeply sad she is, “that a man (Miguna) with a good brain should be tortured and destroyed by emotions he cannot control, so that he ends up a victim at the mercy of his own self-destructive inner turmoil.”

Question: Suppose Miguna were to take up Ali Mwakwere’s mien and gentility, would what he says be taken seriously?

In an article published in a newspaper on May 19, 2011, Elderkin incredibly described Miguna as, “an intelligent, well-read, well-prepared, honest, stalwart, upright, hardworking and supremely committed to what is good, proper, right and just. I also know he is impatient and highly vocal about anything that contravenes these values, and that he does not suffer fools gladly.” Wow! The values!

But fast forward in 2012, when Project Raila, who if the current poll ratings are true, promises destination State House, the intellectual – as Deleuze points out - is rejected and persecuted at the precise moment when the facts become incontrovertible, when it is forbidden to say that the emperor has no clothes!

Sadly, most of us are gripped with the fear of telling the emperor he is naked.

Isn’t it better that we stand and cry at the ruins of the homestead of a courageous person than make merry at the home of the coward while spewing vitriol?

I will not speak for others because it is undignified.

Rather, I will heed the folktale my grandmother told me of the ogre, which on hearing there was a parent who would only marry off her daughter to a man who has no anus, turned up and went away with the beauty! You know the ending.

The writer is the Sports Editor, Convergence at Standard Group

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