A lot of ink – not unlike blood – has been spilt over the man with the same name twice. I refer to the irascible Miguna Miguna. Readers of this column will recall I am no fan of Mr Miguna. That doesn’t mean I hate him, or support his forcible exile.
I certainly can’t fathom why the Kenyan state would purport – yes, purport – to strip an indigenous Kenyan of his citizenship. So, let me make this very clear. Miguna has the unqualified and unchallengeable right to return to Kenya any day of the week. He has the same legally unalterable right to leave Kenya if he so chooses. The courts have pronounced themselves on this matter.
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As a legal matter, Miguna’s right to Kenyan citizenship – whether or not he holds another citizenship – is an open and shut case. That man is a Kenyan through and through. I don’t want to hear any legal mumbo jumbo. Or some legal diarrhea born of impotent legalese and servile circumlocution. Let’s flush that one down the toilet – and leave it there. But Miguna’s problems are not really legal. His tribulations are political. Which begs the question – can politics trump the law? The answer is yes and no. Yes because politics is a servant of the law. No because the rule of law should restrain politics. This is a conundrum because the law is an ass – an idiot.
The rule of law
You will notice I made a distinction between the “law” and the “rule of law.” The law is subject to political whims but the rule of law isn’t. The legislature makes the law but the courts say what the rule of law is. In Miguna’scase, the courts have told us what the rule of law is – and the state should obey it. This is the question – why has the state thumped its nose at the rule of law? I have a theory. But I am sure that neither the state, nor Miguna, will be tap-dancing to my interpretation. I don’t care. My take is that both Miguna and the state want the stalemate to continue.
In perverse logic, both Miguna and the state benefit from the standoff. The state wants to teach him a lesson. I wasn’t born yesterday. I have lived longer than a day. I can smell a rat in Beijing. Let’s start with the rambunctious Miguna. The man lets it all hang out. Heempties whatever is in his head every time he opens his beak. His ego is gargantuan. He’s never met an argument he didn’t want to contradict. In fact, I’ve been waiting for Miguna to denounce himself. This is clear – and is the nub of this whole thing – Miguna wants to be a political martyr so he can inherit Raila Odinga in Luo country.
Miguna senses – rightly or wrongly – that only he can fill Raila’s shoes in Luo Nyanza should the son of Jaramogi retire from politics. He then fancies that he would use that lofty perch to ascend to national leadership.
He believes he can’t be the top dog unless he first “kills” the king, or makes the king anoint him. That’s why on January 30 Anno Domini 2018, Miguna took the legal risk of participating in the “swearing in” of Raila as the “People’s President.” He knew the political moment, and seized it. This was his first step towards either “killing” the king, or making the king anoint him. But the gods haven’t smiled, or been amused.
When the whole thing aborted, Miguna pivoted. Hedecided that the only way to keep hope alive is to play the martyr. In this, the state has foolishly aided and abetted him.
Raila tried to prevail on the state to let Miguna back. But the Kenyan state has too much testosterone. It’s been throwing useless and pointless tantrums to keep Migunaat bay. On his part, Miguna has gladly obliged. His unfathomable invective against Raila – the only person who has truly tried to help him – is part of the calculation. He’s now determined to “kill” the king since the king won’t anoint him. He has become a latter-day Don Quixote – a laughing stock.
I don’t know whether Miguna can, or will, inherit Raila. Many lunatics have risen to power in history. I mean look at Donald Trump. However, I know this – it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for Miguna, or anyone else, to inherit Agwambo. As for the Kenyan state, this is my advice – Miguna is better on the inside pissing out than on the outside pissing in. Let him back – he will neuter himself in a nanosecond.
- Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua.