There is an uncanny resemblance between a goatskin and the map of Kenya. You may recall Christmases of days gone by, when our fathers slaughtered the festive goat. A day after the feasting, the skin was spreadeagled in the sun to dry, held to the ground by sharpened sticks. This process allowed it to dry out without folding and also made it easy to scrape off the meat, ligaments and fat.
Now let us analogously assume Kenya is this goatskin and various forces are pulling it apart, with two main players – President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga – wanting not a part, but all of it. In place of the beacons that would use to pin the sides they are holding down, they have their lieutenants and are urging them not to relax their grip.
Your guess is right – although the skin is not elastic, with enough force it can be torn apart. Sadly, that is where we are today. A promising, wonderful and beautiful country is at risk of going up in smoke induced by political fires. One cannot fault the two leaders' ambitions for power. Uhuru, of course, argues that he won the impugned August 8 election and that he feels like the student who scored highly but has to sit a fresh exam for reasons outside his control.
He equates himself to one who loses a big case on a technicality! He is a furious man and he said as much. In his own words, he is also human. In his view, the ballot papers cast and forms filled and signed by the requisite officials should have been taken to Kasarani Stadium and manually recounted. However, the view of the court was that the process was faulty and, therefore, with both sets of papers being the by-product, cannot be credible.
Raila on the other hand argues the result was skewed through computer algorithms achieved via hacking and wants the servers opened. He argues that he won and that the Supreme Court ruling vindicated him. His problem is that he can't stand the same set of referees, linesmen and match commisaire overseeing the new match.
In fact, because his side for some reason sees Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) CEO Ezra Chiloba as the grand master of the intrigues they believed were played against the National Super Alliance, they want him out of Anniversary Towers.
As Raila puts Chiloba in the crosshairs, Uhuru also seems to have done the same, albeit at a litmus-test level, Chief Justice David Maraga on the chopping block for re-election to exact his revenge. Yes, Raila has a problem with IEBC, except that he seems soft on chairman Wafula Chebukati. But Uhuru and his team seem happy with them.
On the flipside, Raila is ecstatic about the Supreme Court ruling and sees Maraga as some form of legendary figure and moral icon. Uhuru has made it clear what he thinks of Maraga but we need not repeat it here! Constitutionally, we must have a fresh election as ordered by the court.
Uhuru and his team have declared they shall be there (even if he is the only participating candidate!) while Raila has clarified a boycott is not an option but rather there will be no election if his nine demands, including removal of the IEBC officials they said were culpable for the fiasco that the Supreme Court is yet to explain in detail. There is a sense of foreboding because there is only one way to stop an election and it is nasty - your guess is as good as mine.
At one point, it appeared as if in this tug-of-war for the goatskin, Raila would take a knife and slice it down the middle. That was discernible when secession talks cropped up. But as PLO Lumumba would say, it was an idea dead on arrival. As things stand, there is a possibility that religious leaders and the international community may have to step in and negotiate a middle-ground, especially as we are now left with a month and a day to the October 17 repeat poll.
It may even require Uhuru and Raila meeting for Kenya's sake. If not, we shall have an election, then another petition, followed by a series of constitutional interpretations and crises. Then Jubilee will resort to its numerical superiority in Senate and the National Assembly to remove legal obstacles standing in its way. The rest will follow the ignominious script we have known all these years. Pray for Kenya.
Mr Tanui is Deputy Editorial Director and Managing Editor, The Standard. [email protected]
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