For the sake of Kenya, I will shake the hand of my rivals, win or not

Azimio la Umoja Presidential candidate Raila Odinga when he arrived at Kasarani National Stadium for his final political rally on August 6, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The question we face today is: Who has a safe pair of hands to complete what we started on Saba Saba?

I want to begin by thanking fellow citizens for keeping the flames of freedom alive in our country. Thank you also for standing with me in the many years of struggle to liberate Kenya. Thank you for the battles we have fought together.

The journey has been long. But I have not fought alone or felt lonely. We have fought together.

By voting in Martha Wangari Karua as our next Deputy President, you will have a complete army to fight for you and our country.

That is something you won’t find on the other side. There are neither fighters nor the fighting spirit on the other side.

There is no known fight to make Kenya a better place that has been led by the people on the other side. The fighters for a better Kenya are on this side. 

 We are not simply running to win an election.  We are running to make Kenya a first-class global democracy and economy.  We are running to build a Kenya of hope and opportunity; a Kenya not of 45 individual tribes but one big Kenyan tribe.

Today, I am not declaring a celebration but to sound a battle cry. As the Christian Hymnals tell us; “the long, dark night is almost gone, and the morning soon will break.” 

Next Tuesday, all Azimio followers have to be at their polling stations by 6am and cast their vote. August 9 marks the 7th multi-party election in Kenya.

Historically, the number 7 is a symbol of completion and new beginnings. God rested on the 7th day after completing his work. Joshua went round the wall of Jericho 7 times for the wall to fall and pave way to a new beginning.

Pilgrims to Mecca walk around the Kaaba seven times to achieve healing and reconciliation with Allah.

On the 7th multiparty election on Tuesday, we will mark the year of completion and new beginnings.

I must also remind Kenyans that we started this struggle on Saba Saba Day; the 7th day of the 7th month of 1990.

On that day, we declared that the walls of dictatorship must fall. The walls of corruption must fall. And the walls of impunity, injustice and exclusion must fall.  On Tuesday, we complete what we started on Saba Saba Day. And destiny has appointed the 7th multiparty election as the date of this completion.

The question we face today is: Who has a safe pair of hands to complete what we started on Saba Saba?

Whose hands will dismantle the bandit economy of corruption? In whose hands are your families safe? When you look at your children, who do you feel will really make sure that you have the ability to give them the best that they deserve?

Who do you feel will ensure the unity of the country no matter the election results? Is it the man who shook the hand of his bitter rival and brought national reconciliation and healing or the hand of the warmonger who is a deviant and a convicted thief?

Which hand will you trust to deliver social protection for the poor?

The Auditor General tells us that Sh800 billion is stolen every year through corruption. The amount is twice the economy of two of our neighbours in East African Community.

Who do you feel is best qualified to dismantle this cartel of thieves?

Dear Kenyans, People have asked us how we will give Sh6,000 to poor families. But that is the wrong question.

The question we should be asking is how a few corrupt people got to be paid Sh800 billion every year from our budget. How did the government afford this? How did these people con us?

If we could afford to pay Sh800 billion to conmen, we can afford to pay a mere Sh6,000 to known and real Kenyans struggling with life. 

What these families need is a direct injection from government. These families need direct government funds to feed their children.

So, in the first 100 days, my government will begin paying Sh6,000 to families living below the poverty line.

And we will not stop until they reach a place where they can feed their children without our help. This is what we are calling social protection. 

As you go to the ballot on Tuesday, I want you to know that we as a country are at inflection point. Either something very good will happen, or something terrible will happen.

We have a choice of the Promised Land, but the Land of Bondage is also within sight. The pharaoh is refusing to let our people go.

We left the land of bondage on Saba Saba day in 1990. On that day, we declared this: “…Let my People Go…!

Today, I repeat the same declaration “… Let my People Go”. Free them from the bondage of thieves. Free them from the bondage of liars. And free them from the chain links of corruption.

We are soon entering Canaan and there are a few rules we will have to observe. In Canaan, we must embrace reconciliation. We cannot get to Canaan a divided nation that is half bitter and half happy. In my government, there will be no revenge. I pledge to be the President of all. I have made this decision because I did not choose my liberation cause. The liberation cause chose me.

And when I was tempted to run away from it, the cause always found me. This is why I always found a place in my heart to reconcile. I shook the hand of Mzee  Moi in March 2002, of President Kibaki in February 2008 and of my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta in March 2018.  

I want to assure Kenyans that I will continue with this handshake doctrine, the doctrine of unclenching the fist.

For the sake of Kenya, I will shake the hand of my rivals and pay the political price if I have to.

I will shake their hand if I win. And I will shake their hand if I don’t. And I will do it because I love Kenya more than I love Raila Amolo Odinga.

Dear Kenyans, make arrangements to vote on Tuesday. Let’s vote early. Let’s win early. I need the vote of each and every one of you reading me now. Choose your president yourself.

The writer is the Azimio-One Kenya presidential candidate