Allow me to express my reluctant congratulations to Raila Amollo Odinga. I congratulate him for the successful execution of an almost brilliant political scheme. The reason my praise is reluctant is because the scheme was obvious.
What Raila managed last week is called political conjuring. He executed a magic trick he learnt from Mzee Moi called ‘Creative chaos’. The former President used this trick anytime he felt cornered or when his political capital was depreciating.
He would create a crisis then become the ‘hero’ who would come swooping in, to resolve it. Here is how he did it. Moi would instruct his ministers to institute an unpopular policy directive; for instance on curbing the matatu menace. Immediately, the matatus would go on strike. Then he would be the one to resolve it, to the relief and gratitude of the republic.
Now, Raila’s sharp political nose smelt an opportunity: the doctors’ strike. As expected, he joined the cause and added his voice to the struggle. This he did in broad daylight. But in darkness he was doing something else covertly.
He moved swiftly while the doctors and the public were looking the other way. He watched silently as the Council of Governors took the doctors to court. Coincidentally, Jack Ranguma the ODM governor of Kisumu chairs the governors’ health committee.
The case filed by the Council of Governors against KMPDU officials in court is the one that led them to being arrested and jailed. In other words, had Raila’s ally, Governor Ranguma not supported this case or had Raila spoken up against it, the doctors would never have been in the dock. Plain and simple.
At this point a ‘benevolent and concerned’ ODM supplied lawyers including James Orengo, to ‘fight’ for the release of the doctors. Praise be to Baba! This scheme was executed with surgical precision!
To quote poet and author Ben Okri, “magicians and politicians have much in common; they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing”. And Raila is a great magician; no one has realised yet, that it was his man who put the doctors in jail. It has not appeared in any newspaper, television or radio station. No connection to Ranguma or Raila has been made. Abracadabra! In addition to the political capital and messiah status that the doctors’ release afforded Baba, there were more benefits.
The scheme was like ‘a buy one get two free’ offer. First, become the saviour of the doctors and give the government a bloody nose. Raila knows there isn’t a more potent image of resistance than a clenched fist in handcuffs. And when that fist belongs to a life-saver in an unblemished, white lab coat, it is game, set and match. These images painted the picture of a heavy-handed government, with its iron fist mercilessly pounding at the softest part of the country’s belly; the noble doctors.
Secondly, he made his colleagues in the Opposition look detached from the plight of ordinary Kenyans. Why didn’t ‘Raila the magnificent’ share the stage with Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula?
In any event, Raila’s schemes would not work if Jubilee was awake. Things went as far as they did because what Jubilee does is indifferent and does not take Raila seriously. If they had Mzee Moi’s acumen, the strike would not have seen its second week, let alone the 70th day. Or is the government executing a scheme of their own? Why the lethargic reaction to an urgent situation? This doesn’t add up.
So I congratulate Raila. But in the back of my mind, I’m concerned for his career as a conjurer. Someday, his tricks may work against him, including the possibility that he could be falling for an elaborate trick laid out by government.
His audience is beginning to see through his political illusions. They now know how the magic works and they will boo the magician off the stage. Just like Raila was booed by chants of “No politics!” while addressing the doctors at Uhuru Park. The victims he is ‘saving’ saw through the political opportunism in an otherwise perfectly executed trick. A good magician must not underestimate the intelligence of his audience. The greatest magic trick, after all, is telling the truth when everyone expects you to lie.