Deputy President, William Ruto, is the big paradox in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s second term hopes and dreams. He embodies what Jubilee needs and what it does not. Feeling fairly comfortable in his local orbit of Central Kenya, the President needs his deputy to lock in the Kalenjin vote, while both also collect every other vote that they possibly could.
Tragically, the DP scares away votes with equal ease as he attracts them. This is both within and without his Kalenjin community. He is the Gordian Knot in which Jubilee’s presidential fate seems to be strongly tied.
If anything is loathsome in the character of the Jubilee campaign so far, it is what some see as the DP’s stormy superiority. Even in his backyard, he is accused of unchecked ambition, overflowing ego and offensive management of power. Politics, of course, goes with some ego, ambition and a level of storm. If not, you become ordinary.
You are boring. Chairman Mao Tse Tung of China famously said that politics is war. And war, he said, is continuation of politics by other means. The ideal politician must, therefore, kick up a storm once in a while.
Regardless, you must choose your stormy moments and focus carefully. Sun Tzu, another famous Chinese, advised all those who would go to war to choose their fights carefully. Know whom you are fighting and why. Know your options in the fight.
Win the battle before you even get into it. Does the DP seem to ignore these fundamentals in political warfare? Another cardinal rule when you are going into combat is that you must first make as many friends as possible. Build viable alliances. Minimise the warfronts.
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Has the DP opened up too many warfronts? In Mt Kenya, a legion of elite politicians is baying for his political blood. They believe he has signed their political death warrants and, soon, he will sign their political death certificates. It is the same in Rift Valley. If he has not heard already, they are saying he should forget about 2022. Both in little kiosks that I visit in Gorokocho and in locker rooms I am privileged to patronise, the talk is the same.
First, that he is pulling down his boss. Second, that 2022 is a wild dream. In Emanyulia there is the story of the ogre who told a stubborn grandmother, “Ignore what the people say at your own risk and cost.” In his eagerness to succeed his boss, the DP seems to have forgotten about the need for strategic calmness, alliance building and playing his cards close to the chest. He is an open wild book. His dreams of 2022 drive him to rub just about everybody the wrong way.
In Herodic style, he seems keen that every potential opponent is politically neutralised. He must remain the undisputed alpha male. Accordingly, as the Biblical Prophet Jeremiah would say, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted, because they are no more (Jer. 31:15).”
Our people say the child who says in the hearing of the snake that they will have a snake for lunch will never reach lunchtime. The snake simply will not allow him. The negative energy the DP attracts, for himself and for his boss, hinges in the flouting of this African wisdom.
He might have to change tack, not even in the interest of 2022, but for August 2017. The writing is on the wall everywhere, from Bomet to Busia and from Emanyulia to Eldoret. The DP’s caustic style could throw him and his boss into the dustbin of political history.
In Emanyulia, people are unhappy that he addresses them like little children. He has mocked them and called them “insect eaters.” He says they “blindly follow the man of riddles.” These may sound like good light jokes. Yet the people find them disrespectful and offensive. In a recent natter with my fellow villagers, one elder said to me, “Dreamer of dreams, should you see the son of Surgoi, tell him we are not happy. Those who ask to eat from our pot should do so with humility.
Our riddles are the fountains of our wisdom and philosophy. In them, our world is preserved and transmitted to future generations. Through them, we send and receive our deepest messages. Those who ridicule these vessels scorn our very essence. It is wrong for him to despise us while also asking to eat from our pot. You cannot say you like us but despise our ways. Take to him this riddle.”
“Those who talk about our sons should also do so with some respect. Our people say if you do not respect my kernels, you do not respect me. How does a man expect me to embrace him when he insults my virility in my presence? He should come here to seduce, and not abuse.”
Such are the riddles the village has asked me to carry to those in power. Besides, they have told me to tell the DP that football is not just about fun. It is about profound lessons in life. It teaches us about authority, respecting rules, teamwork, hard work and resilience, focus on our goals, commitment to individual roles, and skill diversity.
“Those who don’t know about these things are lone rangers. And the lone ranger is an arrogant man,” one elder said, “He is the galloping calf that will end up in the ditch.” “Strong words, heavy words,” I said. And I was told, “Yes, Son of Emanyulia. These are strong words and heavy words. But they are loaded with the truth. Carry them carefully and convey them to those who must hear them.”
- The writer is Publishing Editor and Communications Expert