Why Raila has been the gravity of presidential politics for aeons
SEE ALSO :Uhuru's tax gamble that enraged KenyansSome [men and women] are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” The first is partially true – he was born of Jaramogi. But that’s not the sole source of his political prowess. The second is the kernel of the man – he’s achieved greatness. The last is spurious as applied to him – no one has thrust greatness upon him. If anything, the state has toiled mightily to deny him greatness. There are others with his pedigree who didn’t – couldn’t – rise to the challenge. Let’s walk down memory lane. No person should’ve survived the torment Raila and his family have endured. He was detained for nearly a decade for fighting for political liberalisation. He’s one of Kenya’s longest serving detainees. He endured torture and maltreatment in detention not to mention the psychological trauma of being away from his young family. His spouse Ida – and their kids – were persecuted endlessly by the state. She was even fired from her job as a teacher for being his spouse – and a champion of rights herself. That would’ve been enough to send most people to an insane asylum. Or break their political will and turn them into state sycophants. It didn’t work on Raila.
SEE ALSO :Raila runs into protest against taxUpon his release, Raila picked up the baton where he left it. When his father passed away, there was a civil war in the opposition about who would succeed Jaramogi. It wasn’t obvious that Raila was the chosen one. In fact, a battle royale ensued where the late Michael Kijana Wamalwa challenged Raila for opposition supremacy. Paul Muite, then an ascendant politician with a presidential mien, also staked his claim to the pinnacle of opposition politics. James Orengo, then a political wunderkind, looked poised to become top dog. Kenneth Matiba was briefly in the picture. There were many second-tier candidates who could’ve scaled the mountaintop. But none did – leaving Raila to soldier to the top. The pinnacle of Kenyan opposition politics is like a thin ice rink. You are always skating on thin ice given our toxic and tribal politics and the proclivity of the state to buy and sell elites, often with taxpayer money and public property. That’s why Kanu ruled for so long – by dividing and conquering the opposition using skullduggery, corruption, and tribal manipulation. But it was Raila who pulled off one of the most stunning chess moves in Kenya’s political history. He joined Kanu by merging his NDP with the cockerel.