How Raila Odinga can help supporters heal after loss

ODM leader Raila Odinga addressing supporters during a past rally in Nanyuki, Laikipia County. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Maybe it is my circles, but I keep bumping into droves of Raila Odinga and Azimio supporters yet to come to terms with the fact that things went the other way.

Life may seem to have moved on swiftly yet the truth is people are paining silently; mourning rather if I'm to put it more aptly and you can understand why.  

Among them are people who have supported Raila since 1997 when he first ran for the presidency. To be honest, a good number of them had given up along the way, his political manoeuvres kept rekindling their hope before crashing it over and over again.

However, his 5th attempt seemed different. To many, he had hacked into the so-called “system” or “deep state” with the incumbent president on his side.

To them, there was no way they could accept a fifth humiliation at the ballot. ‘If you see him on the ballot, just know he has an assurance of it.’ They consoled and re-energised themselves in the same vein. These people have been taunted for supporting a candidate who keeps losing, so they needed this win to silence their enemies. It never came.

If you are a supporter of a team that never wins, maybe you will understand their pain.

In the same group of broken supporters are people voting for him for the first time. Most from communities that had been politically conditioned to hate him thus their choice of Raila came at a great cost, politically and socially.

However, they were ready to lead the way in the path of healing from a poisoned past full of hateful stereotypes. For them too, you can understand their pain.

Raila must thus come out straight and speak to his supporters. He must assure them the ideals he has spent a lifetime fighting and for which he has to endure great suffering, have not been lost.  

He needs to thank those who have supported him all these years and have had to endure his loss with him. He must acknowledge his online gang, some he has never set face on. Names like Naomi Wathira, Belive Kinuthia, Abuga Makori, Ngendo Murugu, Abraham Mutai and many others come to mind when I think of his Twitter gang. He had more on Facebook and millions on the ground.  

If I were him, I would embark on thanksgiving town hall meetings where participants will be subjected to a robust discussion about the future of the country and their role. Raila must quickly identify and nurture heirs to his dreams as envisioned in his party objectives and in several manifestos that he has never had a chance to execute.

If I were him, after that I would actually make that symbolic trip to Bondo. To spice it up, I would walk to the PSV stage and hop into a bus plying the Nairobi-Bondo route and complete the journey on a motorbike. Then I will wave goodbye at the gate and disappear for months behind the gates of Opoda farm.

-The writer is an anchor at Radio Maisha