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Why Uhuru should let State House contest just play out

Deputy President William Ruto, President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga hold hands during the launch of the BBI report at BOMAS of Kenya. [File, Standard]

Now that it is clear there are two main camps in the August 9 presidential race, I am also clear about how I purpose to vote.

This is regardless of whether I vote for one of the camps, or neither.

Put differently, I know whom I do not intend to vote for. Yet all this remains tentative. Tomorrow is full of surprises.

Circumstances change our minds, even inside the polling booths. Political vicissitudes make for fickleness of decisions. 

As President Uhuru Kenyatta says, I have only one vote. And with it, the right to decide whom to give it to.

Unlike my President, however, I have elected not to go public on my choice. Unlike him, I have also elected not to invest my emotions in these things.

I have been around long enough to know there will be tomorrow. As Ngugi wa Thiong’o says at the end of the painful experience of Mumbi and Gikonyo in the novel A Grain of Wheat, “We have children to look after and houses to sweep.”  

Life will go on beyond this election, no matter who wins, or loses. There are going to be drums of tears, however, seeing the sheer numbers of aspirants and the emotional involvement.

Only one person can win each of the seats. The rest will be tears, especially when your emotions are disturbingly tangled in these things.

And President Uhuru leads the way in emotional investment in the presidential race. The nasty exchanges with his deputy are unfortunate.

The Presidency symbolises national unity, as I read in the Constitution of Kenya (2010). The very fabric of Kenya’s national unity is in tatters, rent by those who should protect it. 

Deputy President William Ruto and his nemesis, Raila Odinga, like the president, have also invested raw emotions in the competition. There is a saying that you must emotionally connect with the audience.

This, however, is different from coming within inches of bursting a vein because of personalised anger in political competition. Such crushing anger becomes infectious.

When the great ancient Greek orator Cicero was done speaking, the people said, “How well he spoke!” But when Demosthenes had spoken, they said, “Let us march!”

I am more comfortable staying with Cicero than I am marching with Demosthenes. Cicero gives me the opportunity to turn through my mind what he says. Demosthenes is a demagogue.

He stirs feeble minds to irrational action, by the sheer force of passion. When he is done, they march to disaster.

It should not be like that with elections. Ideas should be floated and debated – perhaps with some passion, but still rationally. 

I have not understood the rationale in the president’s declaration that the season of politics is now here. That he is just about to jump into the ring. I thought he had exhausted his rings?

I understand that his time is up. As a symbol of national unity, his biggest concern should be to leave behind a functional country.

Regardless of his electoral preferences, he has a bigger obligation to the country beyond electoral victories. He must disentangle his emotions from toxic competitions. 

He needs to step back and let things play out however they will, provided that they are within the law.  

They have said in Gothic literature that physicians, confectioners and servants in the great houses will be judged by what they have done.

However, great people will be judged by what they are. President Uhuru will hopefully elect to be judged by what he is, rather than what he has done – and especially what he does in this electoral season.

As for me and my house, we have elected a peaceful democratic path. Just like we have done before, we are likely to vote for different candidates for the various seats.

Yet we will not burst a vein for that. We will walk to the polling stations together, stand behind each other in the queues, vote differently, and come back home to carry on with our life.

His Excellency the President could borrow a leaf from us. 

Dr Barrack Muluka is a strategic communications advisor. www.barrackmuluka.co.ke