Shun divisive politics, unite Kenyans instead

Philip Etale


In the ancient days, the Pharisees and the Sadducees had divergent views on life after death. They always differed on the doctrine of death and after life.

In the holy book, Apostle Thomas refused to believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected and that he had appeared to other apostles at the time. He demanded to see and feel the wounds that Jesus had sustained by being nailed on the cross.

The holy books teach us a lot about believing, peace and love. On March 9, 2018, when the country was on the brink of the abyss, President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition Leader Raila Odinga chose to save the country from death.

The death of Kenya would have meant continued and endless chaos, violence with countless loss of lives and wanton destruction of property, just in the name of ‘power’.

It is said that sometimes when two men sit over a cup of tea, wisdom oozes out and good ideas are conceived. That is perhaps what led to the two leaders — erstwhile political opponents — to think and decide to put aside their differences for the sake of Kenya.

Being scions of the first president and first vice president of the Republic of Kenya, Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga knew very well that the failure to unite Kenya and have Kenyans speak with one voice and read from the same script as children of the same father (Kenya) would lead to the blame being put squarely on them, not their fathers.

By meeting at the time when there were heightened political temperatures following the acrimonious general election whose presidential results were disputed and later nullified by the Supreme Court following a petition, the handshake between Uhuru and Raila was well deserved.

Sharply divided

Kenya was going to the dogs and everyone was speaking at each other, not to one another. Literally, the country was sharply divided right down the middle and the unhealthy talk of secession had started gaining ground.

The swearing-in of Raila on January 30, 2018 made things worse, and the tension was high. The “Kitaeleweka” and “Watajua Hawajui” talk was the only language Raila’s supporters understood.

The “Kumira Kumira” slogan of October 26, 2017 that was used to rally President Kenyatta’s supporters to vote in the repeat presidential election had been swallowed by the song of “tumechoka na teargas, tunataka bomb”. Most parts of Nairobi and opposition strongholds smelt of death. There was smoke and dust all over and investors had run away, leading to the collapse of the Kenya shilling against the dollar.

Kenya was not Kenya anymore. Something needed to be done. And only the wisdom of Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta could have saved the situation. And, indeed, it did.

Now, it is almost a year since the famous handshake and the country is relatively calm and the economy picking up.

Tourists have been flocking into the country and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, thanks to the handshake. However, the continuing political bickering and politics of a general election that is about 1,450 days away is not healthy for the country.

Expressed interest

Some politicians are expressing doubts on what the handshake is meant to achieve. Some claim it is a knife being sharpened to chop off the meat from the mouth of Deputy President William Ruto, who has expressed interest in vying for the presidency in 2022, while others feel it is about Raila positioning himself for another tab at the presidency in 2022.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The political temperatures being heightened by the political class and returning Kenyans to election mood is all work of doubting Thomases.

They have refused to believe that indeed there will come a time when the interests of the nation will be greater than that of any individual. The unity of Kenya is of much more importance than anyone else’s ambition or dream.

When the country is put into election mood all the time, chances of its progression diminish. If all leaders will unite, put aside their ambitions and wait for the right time to politic and work for the people, Kenya will ready itself to compete with other third world countries that are determined to grow.

I believe that leaders should be working hard to instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.

My plea to our leaders this year is to think positively, shun politics of backwardness and make the people think and hope. Hope, unity and growth is what Kenyans need today, politics is what they will need tomorrow.


Mr Etale is the Director of Communications, ODM Party