“Haaaaayaaaa!” This invocation can only mean one thing: that the opposition leader Raila Odinga aka Baba is in the offing and he seems to be just about everywhere: Kisumu, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru… He will conclude a tour in Kiambu county by weekend, before the Monday rally that he has promised will herald a season of “mass action” countrywide.
Predictably, everyone has become an expert on civil disobedience and there is a particular anxiety about the brand that Baba calls “mass action”. In the popular street lingo, the latter is mouthed as “mass akson.” That sounds like a hacksaw, which is rather apt given its penetrating effect on the masses. Put simply, when the masses are mobilised to display their “akson,” all bets are off.
But that’s not my problem. Since freedom of association is enshrined in our katiba—the same safeguard that Azimio MPs and senators invoked to cross parliamentary aisle consigning them from opposition to government side—Baba is similarly at liberty to associate with ordinary Kenyans.
After all, the same Constitution vests all sovereign power with the people of Kenya, an affirming attribute after the erosion of all other powers that Baba would have invoked were systematically whittled away.
First off, was the spectacle that declared Kenya Kwanza (KK) a parliamentary majority, despite evidence to the contrary—and their counting remains a mystery. This was followed by systematic defections of its MPs and senators. Now KK control both Parliament and the Senate so they stand a chance at directing House business for the next five years.
Then came the efforts to fold some Azimio affiliates into the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) behemoth. Put simply, KK’s power consolidation to the exclusion of everyone else has sealed all avenues for dissent, the life-blood of democracy.
The only organised response has come from Baba’s one-man orchestra, marked by his mono-syllabic roar: Haaaayaaaa!” He has declared March 20 a public holiday, because he could, and many government hawks are quacking in their boots, seeking to know if this decision has been gazetted.
Well, if you ask what a gazette notice looks like, ordinary Kenyans will tell you they don’t know what a public holiday looks like, for they work all year without a break. Neither do they need to take a break to hear what Baba has to say; he goes to their place of work.
Still, it appears the idea of marshalling the people, something that many have been chiding Baba for neglecting since his so-called handshake with former Prezzo UK has aroused mass anxiety that seems to spur Baba on.
For if he went about his business with the sort of contempt displayed when Riggy G spits about “hii mzee ya kitendawili,” this clamour would have died a natural death.
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Even the epithet has gained new meaning this week, as Baba declared himself a “sacrificial lamb,” offering more vitendawili, even though he lacks the meekness of a lamb, or even the magnanimity to “sacrifice” his political ambitions for anything or anyone else.
The push-pull over the March 20 public holiday calls to mind another Baba move, which took place about five years ago, when he was “sworn-in” as the People’s President, with some of Prezzo Bill Ruto’s current inner circle standing in solemn witness.
Among them was David Ndii, now presidential advisor on economic affairs. Ndii would know that while Baba does not need any budgetary “facilitation” to run his March 20 programme—it is alleged some tax dodgers fund him—countrywide rabsha would disrupt the economy and scuttle tax collection. This is what they call a perfect storm. Haaaaaayaaaaaa.