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Opinion: Raila Odinga should seek inclusivity, not secession

By Gathenya Njaramba | December 31st 2017 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Raila Amolo Odinga

As we close the year 2017 and welcome 2018 tonight, I humbly request the indulgence of the one and only Raila Amolo Odinga (RAO).

When a video clip of RAO and his friends having a good time and letting loose leaked early last week, there was quite a huge debate and social media had a ball. I doubt there would have been more than just a cursory look if it was his arch-rival in such a clip.

No single politician has had a firm control of our country’s political heartbeat than RAO in the last two decades. When Baba sneezes, the whole nation catches a political cold. Actually, when RAO sneezes it is news. When RAO does not sneeze, it is even bigger news.

RAO has not only bestrode our political landscape like a colossus, but has also greatly shaped Kenya’s nascent democracy. Indeed, Kenya dances to his political tune whether she likes it or not. Even his harshest critics, secretly admire his charm, his way with the crowd, his quick smile and his signature phrases. Kenya would probably not be what she is today if the Enigma had not exerted his efforts and sacrificed so much, in person and professionally.

In his political career, Agwambo has unleashed what author Hitendra Wadhwa would call ‘The Wrath of a Great Leader’ and nobody can argue that it has not been for the good of the nation. The freedom we enjoy today, the new constitutional order, devolution and the fear among public officials tempted to steal national resources can all be attributed to the man Kenyans call Baba. Kenya is better because RAO took the hard road while other politicians prefer the easy highway.

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Now, after this year’s electoral cycle, RAO finds himself in a unique position where he must make the right call to secure his legacy once and for all.

While ‘the people’ deeply love him, ‘the system’ is heavily stacked against his ambition of occupying the big house on the hill. That is why thousands of common wananchi are ready to die or be injured on his political journey to Canaan. But ‘the system’ is seemingly scared of a RAO presidency.

That said, how does RAO reinvigorate himself after President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for his second and last term, effectively pushing the next presidential election to 2022? Will swearing himself in as the people’s president do him good or bad? How does Baba convince his multitude of supporters that the journey to Canaan is still on? How does RAO keep together his NASA co-principals who also have personal ambitions and are constantly looking at their biological clock?

Answers to these four questions will largely define what Kenyans will remember Raila for. My two cents advice to RAO would be to keep his supporters out of harm’s way even as he pushes for electoral reforms. He should deliberately avoid situations where his supporters are clobbered by the police.

This is largely because his supporters are angry and bitter that after such a bloody contest, Baba has not secured State House. Would it be prudent to keep them this bitter even as the 2022 political battle approaches?

Bitterness would only fuel hatred and as Martin Luther King Jnr once said, hate causes a man to call what is beautiful ugly and what is ugly beautiful.

Already, there is talk of dismembering Kenya into the ‘People’s Republic of Kenya’ and the ‘Central Republic of Kenya.’ Would RAO be proud of such a situation? As he pushes for electoral justice, the former prime minister would do Kenya good by constantly seeking inclusivity rather than backing proponents of secession.

This would set him apart from self-seeking leaders who have routinely let down the nation in her greatest hour of need. History will judge RAO harshly should seeds of separatism means or bids be launched in his name.

Nations that have seceded have never been the same again considering the human death toll and the bitterness associated with the process. All said and done, RAO will make the final call and as usual, Kenya is holding her breath. Baba what say you? The people love you, protect that dearly. Happy New Year!



Raila Odinga inclusivity secession
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