As America celebrated Martin Luther King Jnr Day - observed every third week of January -we were engrossed in our usual political shenanigans.
Luther King Jnr’s oratory was legendary. A civil rights activist in the true sense of the word, the utterances he made embraced the general welfare of Black people in the US. It was never about him; never about personalities and other mundane, banal issues. His belief in God made him stay focused.
While Luther King had the hallmarks of a great leader, it is inescapable that some of the qualifications for leadership in Kenya include lack of emotional intelligence, ability to spew invective, propensity to sow wild oats as well as engage in fisticuffs and shootouts at the slightest provocation.
Power to our version of leaders means whoring, boozing, brooking no challenge and demanding deity status through the intimidation of lesser mortals. It is near aberration to hear a Kenyan leader articulate a clear vision for the country.
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Of late, national discourse has been about lack of purpose and cohesiveness among elected leaders, particularly from the Jubilee side. For their divisive brand of politics, Kenyans are getting more divided; the exact opposite of what the March 9, 2018 handshake between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga sought to achieve.
Yet central to all the friction and misunderstanding is the name of Deputy President William Ruto and the 2022 succession politics. For some time, Ruto was convinced that while riding on an obscure gentleman’s agreement with Uhuru Kenyatta to marshal Central Kenya’s vote for him in 2022, he was a winner. The absurdity of that is astounding.
Ruto cannot possibly cherish the negative publicity being heaped on him. Somehow, he appears to have mellowed lately. At some point, he said he was ready to forgo a stab at the presidency to avoid Kenyans fighting over his candidature. He knows the forces ranged against him are so gargantuan; he gets hemmed in every passing day. The pressure on him must be crushing even though, publicly, he bears it stoically.The rapport between Ruto and Kenyatta is kaput. Those, like Raila and Atwoli who often took pokes at Ruto, ignore him today as though he is inconsequential. It is easy to see why in light of developments where loquacious leaders allied to the deputy president are running into hitherto unseen obstructions. The fires have already been lit around Ruto and closing in. He has the choice of escaping through that area in which the fire is not yet intense, or act macho; try to prove he is fireproof and die of asphyxiation
As Luther King Jnr once opined, “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness”, Ruto must take his pick. If he has an atom of self-respect left, he should call it quits. Should he unexpectedly do that, he will have pulled the rug from under those who have orchestrated the public humiliation he is undergoing.
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He will have stymied Jubilee’s plans and with it, disrupted the BBI train. Mounting a challenge on Jubilee and BBI while that confusion ensues, buoyed by public sympathy, could see him bounce back stronger and give the power barons a run for their money. And speaking of money, theirs may not be cleaner than they portray Ruto’s to be. After all, self-acclaimed anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon opined that property is theft.
It disabuses Ruto’s claim to national popularity when he hangs onto Jubilee when it is clear he is an unwanted guest by the power brokers who call the shots. Hanging on to Jubilee amidst all the attacks on his person shows Ruto has no viable option to salvage a crumbling dream; aspiring to the presidency.
Even if occupying the DPs office gives him a sense of security, it is merely transient. Being a DP is not worth all the character assassination and humiliation he endures. If anything, he will leave the office in 2022, assuming there are no spirited attempts to impeach him before then.
Many will scoff at the possibility of impeachment, but with the barracudas we have in parliament, anything goes if it helps feather their nests. Ruto should not wait until the smear campaign against him sweeps even the staunchest of his supporters to its side before doing the honourable thing, by which time it will be too late.
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He should remember that every cloud has a silver lining. The hecklers from Central who appear to push his agenda are in it for the exhilarating ride. They have no value or muscle if push comes to shove. Already, there are indications they are preparing to bolt.
Mr Chagema is a correspondent for The [email protected]