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Stop whining about the non-issues and take up position Raila vacated

By Alexander Chagema | Published Thu, August 9th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 8th 2018 at 23:55 GMT +3

Whoever hid the treasure called ‘Luhya unity’ did a good job. Seventeen years after I first heard about the hunt for the treasure, it has not been found. The Luhya unity mystery is in the same league with the mystery around the Bermuda Triangle. But following the recent discovery of what truly causes the disappearance of ships and planes over the Bermuda Triangle, it is likely that a similar feat will be achieved in finding Luhya unity.

Scientists have identified the culprit in the Bermuda Triangle mystery as ‘rogue waves’. From a layman’s point of view, these are waves, as high as 100ft that converge on a ship from at least three directions, exerting more pressure than ships have been designed to bear.

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The only way out then is for the unfortunate ship to go under. Before this latest discovery, there were tales about ‘electronic fogs’ that caused equipment to malfunction, leading to their disappearances and the ‘methane gas’ theory that suggested when the gas trapped on the ocean bed erupted, it lowered water density and caused ships to sink.

‘Scientists’ probing the Luhya unity mystery have not been so lucky. While the ‘rogue waves’ theory in the Bermuda Triangle sounds probable, the Luhya scientists seem stuck on theories akin to those of ‘methane gas’ and ‘electronic fog’. They have long since merged their obsolete theories into one and called it the ‘Raila factor’. To them, Raila is the malignant factor that has hampered the search for Luhya unity.

Malignant factor

The newest hotshot ‘scientist’ on the block is Rashid Echesa. If he isn’t a quack, he is the veritable Luhya unity’s black hole. Through deed and word, Echesa comes through as one who lacks the temperament, guile, political intelligence, foresight and character to bring Luhyas together. He projects the image of impulsiveness; unmeasured in his pronouncements. Obviously he has never heard of the caution not to burn one’s bridges. Who knows, it might be necessary to cross those bridges at a later date.

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While the law and the dictates of common sense require Cabinet secretaries to be apolitical because of the nature of their jobs, Echesa would rather indulge, and his favourite pastime is throwing invective at his mentor-turned-foe Raila Odinga. It is unfortunate that a Cabinet secretary would demean himself in public by using derogatory, even tribal slants such as ‘wajaluo’, to demonise a community, yet his differences are with just one person. At what point did the collective ‘wajaluo’ take away the Senate minority leadership role from Moses Wetang’ula?

It is trite to continually blame others for our inadequacies and shortcomings. By deciding to work with the Jubilee administration, Raila left a vacancy in the opposition ranks that should have been taken up pronto, but it has not happened and all we get are recriminations. The growing narrative of a moribund opposition in Kenya vindicates the allegory by some citizens that Raila Odinga is Kenya’s epitome of the opposition struggle.

Yawning space

That narrative serves to confirm that politicians who have over time projected themselves as champions of citizens’ rights have indeed been flower girls. Simply put, they lack the spine. Wasn’t Raila’s abdication of the opposition kingpin’s role a golden opportunity for someone else to inveigle himself in the yawning space? Where is the self-proclaimed opposition leader Ekuru Aukot, the sole challenger of Uhuru in the repeat October 2017 elections?

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Having tried so hard to prove he was indeed an ‘equal opposition principal’ and shown he was averse to Raila being called ‘leader of the opposition’, why is Wetang’ula so upset instead of proving his mettle? Why has the amiable, non-vitriolic Musalia Mudavadi chosen to be philosophical? Are these gentlemen timid, unsure of themselves without Raila to hold their hands? Do they only feel strong under the wings of Raila? I believe not.

As rightly put, a functional opposition is not about running street battles with the police. Our body politic is designed in such a way that in terms of generating real change, the opposition is hamstrung. And because, as Niccolo Machiavelli put it: “Politics have no relation to morals”, those outside the Jubilee ambit should stop philosophising.

The only effective weapon at the opposition’s disposal is its voice; a voice it must use to shout about ills in society and create such din around the Government that it must be listened to.

The opposition must be full of bravado and drama just to make the Government aware that someone is watching it, and to occasionally draw the attention of our international friends when the Government goes overboard. We need all the Nelson Chamisas, Kizza Besigyes and Stella Nyanzis we can possibly put together. But behind such deliberate ruckus, there must be an ideology.

I put my hope of resuscitating Kenya’s opposition on Musalia Mudavadi. Sir, you can and should do it. Get your kinsmen to understand that while they are busy jostling over some restrictive, hegemonic phantom called Luhya unity, others are seeing the bigger picture.

Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The Standard. [email protected]

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