Raila has wisdom and creative optimism that Africa needs

Azimio leader Raila Odinga. [File, Standard]

The news of Raila Odinga’s candidature for the position of African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson presents a rare opportunity for the country and the continent to make a great leap forward. This column once wondered why Raila and President William Ruto could not embrace one another in brotherly love in the interest of the country. I maintained that in spite of the then raging post-election fallout, the saving grace was that the captain of the ship was hands-on and would not let anarchy reign.  

It’s therefore a happy moment for Kenyans if we can export one of the finest political talents to go help retool the African continent for the 21st century. The former prime minister will take a wealth of experience, vast personal network, continental goodwill to steer the African Union to new and greater heights.

There are those who are already speculating about the nexus of Raila’s AUC candidacy and the 2027 elections. When the government through President William Ruto unleashes the organisational and diplomatic arsenal to rally support for the former premier, it will not be out of any quid pro quo but because of the president’s magnanimity of spirit.

I make that assertion out of deep appreciation that the two are battle-hardened politicians and therefore the candidacy would not be an appeasement at all. The challenges confronting Africa are immense and profound. Climate change and the resultant humanitarian crisis. Hunger and starvation due to drought and flooding. Broken food systems due to fragmentation of otherwise arable land as a result of rapid and unplanned urbanisation. Rising crime rates across African cities in part due to unemployment, the difficulty of seamless trading due to barriers from colonial boundaries, unfair global financing architecture are some of the challenges just to mention but a few.

The Africa of wars, disease, famine and conflict is a phase that we must now confine to the unmarked graveyard of history’s discarded lies for we can birth forth a dawn of hope for Africa. That dawn of hope must see us replace the chorus of the gunfire across Africa with a symphony of peace and prosperity. The vast African resources can be utilised to provide three meals a day for African children, education for their minds and hearts and infrastructure for borderless trade. Africa must move radically from a conglomerate of unorganised clans and tribes which is a source of unrefined but precious raw materials for the metropoles into an empire of ingenuity, promise and action.

The African Union must now become the vanguard of pan-African nationalism that will see the continent put an end to the entrenched unequal exchange between Africa and the global North which has still mired pockets of the continent in poverty. President Ruto believes this work can be done and firm foundation can be established. In his elder brother Raila, he finds a diligent pan-African comrade who has the wisdom of age and the creative optimism that the continent greatly desires.

Raila’s charisma will give a big boost to the aggressive marketing that the president has done for the continent. He will be able to consolidate, if elected, the gains that AU has made since its transition in 2003. He will strengthen African resilience by streamlining the organs to better carry the aspirations of the future of Africa. It will be a travesty if I don’t congratulate the former prime minister for rejecting the counsel of some politicians from Luo Nyanza who were insisting that Baba must run in 2027. Majority of them know that they have always hid their incompetence in claiming to fight for Baba.

As a result, they have consistently dashed the hopes of the electorate and gleefully so. As the clock ticks towards the next election their time to be weighed on the scale is fast approaching. As brother Atwoli once remarked “there will be no escape root for them’’.

Mr Kidi is convenor of Inter-Parties Youth Forum. [email protected]