How times change. Looking at the political travails facing Miguna Miguna, one can’t help but drive a contrast, even if on the fringes, with the birth pains of Kenya’s multi-party democracy.
The labour of course borne by the larger Odinga clan among other notable and indeed respectable names in Kenya’s political history. In Miguna, I see Raila Odinga of the 1980s, a thorn in the flesh of the state.
A marked man, hated by all and sundry except his supporters, just like Miguna is now. As a 14 or 15 year-old teen, I remember wearing my favourite blue jeans jacket, emblazoned on the back with a huge ‘Ford Juu’ sign skilfully stencilled using black shoe polish. At the time Raila was my hero.
True to the ideals he stood by and fought for – expanding Kenya’s political space and associated freedoms – Raila soon became the father of Kenya’s second liberation. But today I cannot recognise the Raila of the 1980s or the 1990s in the present day politician.
Are we therefore not hypocrites in dismissing Miguna’s dissenting views? We know that some of what he stands for is merited in the political space.
At least let’s acknowledge that this activism is what we all expected when we were shouting for freedom of expression, and not even 20 years ago.
For some of us who saw the rise of multi-party democracy, we need to hear dissenting voices to remind us that the dream is still alive, despite what we see or hear, and in spite of our individual politics. It is the only thing we can acknowledge.
The voices of those courageous enough to stand up for what they believe in, in the face of the moneyed or privileged but powerful few, hell bent on ensuring a stunted growth of our second liberation baby.
Let’s not even start on the sorry state of the current opposition, which is no state at all. With the kind of feckless politics of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila with the Building Bridges Initiative, God help us all, if we do not nurture younger, more spirited voices than Miguna.
May they rise even more to champion for what we the majority fear to say and demand – yet we are ready to criticize in the privacy of our tinted goggles – the few who stand up in the light of day to shine even if it means humiliation, embarrassment and sometimes death.
We may not agree with Miguna’s politics but let’s not celebrate his predicament. His persona non-grata status symbolises the intellectual prison that has got us all dimwitted by the current political sideshows and pettiness among the rank and file of our politicians.
This while our national coffers are being drained by the pipe. Let us all reflect on the past, present and future of our democracy, and then critically rehash this conversation.
I am sure we will have different views on how we perceive this man Miguna.
Alfred Otieno, Communications consultant