Important life lessons all of us should learn from Ruto, Raila

From left: James Orengo, Martha Karua, William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi, and Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

I do not particularly care for politics but I sure have gleaned some lessons from the just-concluded general election.

Probably the biggest lesson I have learned is the power of consistency. President-elect William Ruto set his eyes on the price and went for it. He put in all the necessary effort, traversing the width and breadth of this country to sell his bottom-up agenda.

No amount of insults and name-calling, backstabbing or even blackmail got him to deviate from his goal. He got up every day and went to work to achieve his end result – the presidency. He was tenacious. He was focused. He was unapologetic. And the universe rewarded his efforts.

My takeaway from this is that if you want something, you must see or hear no evil. You must not allow anything to make you deviate from your course but keep on going until you achieve your desired results. So many people in Dr Ruto’s shoes would have been discouraged and thrown in the towel. But not him. His tenacity and consistency were unparalleled.

This is not to say the road to his success was easy. Far from it. Nothing comes easy, especially if it is good. Perhaps only Ruto and those close to him know the heavy price they had to pay to get to the finish line, given the great odds that were stacked against them. But he stuck it out and eventually carried the day despite the stiff competition offered by his main opponent, Raila Odinga.

The Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance flagbearer also had valuable lessons to teach. More than anyone else in our country’s history, Raila’s attempt to clinch the presidency is unmatched. He has made all of five stabs for the top seat, and it did not matter that he lost every single attempt. This, however, did not discourage him. Instead, he went for the prize with more zeal each time, never allowing his failed attempts to hold him down.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. [Samson Wire,  Standard]

I daresay losing is not easy. We all want to succeed at what we set out to achieve. Raila, therefore, is a special man, a rare kind at that, to never lose hope. Gunning for the presidency takes a whole lot of time, energy and resources among other things I cannot begin to imagine. To keep coming back, again and again, must say something about the ODM leader. He truly embodies the maxim of never say die. Despite the fact that the stars were not aligned in his favour, Raila has shown all of us never to give up no matter what.

In this league is the Voi MP-elect Khamis Chome, who trounced 10 other competitors to be declared winner. But it is not the high number of contestants for the Voi seat that caught my attention. Rather, it is the fact that Mr Khamis first plunged into politics way back in 1997.

Since then, he has thrown his hat in the ring, in 2002, 2007, and 2013, only taking a break in 2017 because of a personal tragedy. In all these instances he was beaten, but this did not deter him. And so this year, Mr Khamis again tried his luck, this time walking away with the prize. This is a man with an indefatigable spirit; one who we all can learn something priceless from.

Then there are those who life has given a second chance at leadership. In this list are the likes of Danson Mungatana, Boni Khalwale, Julius Malombe, Issa Timamy, and Benjamin Cheboi. These leaders have been in the political cold, some for as many as 15 years. But clearly, they still harboured hopes of getting back into the fold. And they did.

This, for me, shows that losing something does not mean the end of the road. It could be that you have lost that job you held so dear, a treasured friend, or your hard-earned money. Whatever life takes away from you it can give it back again. This should give someone hope to forge ahead, knowing it is not over until it is. And when you get a chance to go at it again, give it your all.

The 2022 elections have also produced the highest number of women leaders in our country’s history. Governors-elect Susan Kihika, Gladys Wanga, Wavinya Ndeti, Kawira Mwangaza and Fatuma Achani beat their male competitors to bag their county’s top seats. There are also scores of women who bagged the MP and MCA seats. These women have shown us that it can be done. They put up a good fight and carried the day. They utilised the 24 hours we all have to make it count.

Governors-elect Susan Kihika. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Our girls must be encouraged to put in the required effort for whatever they want to achieve. They must neither listen to those who tell them they are second best nor wait in line to be handed what someone else thinks is good for them. Instead, they must decide to go out and get it for themselves. Hard work pays, and for these elected leaders, the victory must be sweeter than if they were simply nominated.

Finally, I am more convinced than ever that I would never accept IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati’s job, not for any amount on offer. I shudder to think about what he has gone through to deliver his mandate. As he announced the winner of this year’s presidential election, he talked of intimidation, physical attacks as well as profiling that he and other staff of the commission had endured, with others being arbitrarily arrested.

One IEBC officer, Daniel Musyoka, even lost his life in the course of duty while another had his leg amputated following a gunshot attack. Mr Chebukati and his staff members are special men and women who deserve accolades. When our country’s election history is written, their names will surely be immortalised for their selfless service.

We need to make the jobs of these gallant Kenyans easier by, as much as possible, following the Elections Act and allowing them to do their work without any fear. Those seeking elective offices must also prepare themselves psychologically that the election can go either way. Let us encourage the spirit of conceding when one is defeated. This way, we will live to fight another day.