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Raila Odinga is our Mandela – Prof Makau Mutua

SUNY Distinguished Professor Makau Mutua speaks during Spice FM's 'The Situation Room' show, February 21, 2022. [Courtesy]

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) chair Prof Makau Mutua believes Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga is the best fit to lead this country.

Speaking at Spice FM this morning, Prof Mutua said Raila had demonstrated love for the country in the past and still does through his public and private actions.

“Difficult moments call for people have been tried and tested, and who have delivered. People who have stood in the breach for the country and who have served selflessly and who do not seek something for themselves,” said Mutua.

“People who in their public and private lives demonstrate a love for the country. I know Raila has tried to move this country forward. Mr Odinga is our Mandela,” he added.

Mutua has continually insisted he sees no other competitor for Raila in the upcoming General Election, due to the fact the former Premier’s Handshake with President Uhuru induced a feeling of peace.

“Raila has walked the talk. Sacrifice is very important. Raila loves people more than he loves himself. He produced (delivered) as prime minister. Some of the ideas that are being implemented today started with him, including some steps to cut corruption,” he said.

He said Raila was responsible for realising the walk towards freedom, adding some of the State Projects under the current regime were ideas started by him, including some steps to eliminate corruption.

“Raila led us to the 2010 constitution. He led the country to get its most-effective President, Mr Kibaki when he said Kibaki Tosha. Part of the peace that we enjoyed today is because of the Handshake.”

Mutua said the Raila-Uhuru handshake was good for the country, considering the country had been fractured along ethnic lines for a long time.

“These two individuals have historical significance. It’s always a good thing when people on opposite ends of the scale come together for the sake of the country.

We live in a country fractured along ethnic lines. One of the biggest fault lines is between the Luo and Kikuyu. When those two communities work together, good things happen,” said Prof Mutua.

Prof Mutua noted the Kenyan electorate was broken and did not make the right choices in the past. He urged voters to always look at an aspirant’s political history before electing them into office. He said most of the problems we have now are because we elected people with tainted records.

“Sometimes the electorate does not vote based upon the desirable qualities partly because of several issues: Ethnicity and bias for example. Always look at what people have done for the country objectively. Look at the leading candidates and the party platforms being advanced. Does this person want to create a country of empathy? Do they want to fight corruption?” wondered Prof Mutua.

ODM leader Raila Odinga with Prof. Makau Mutua, Kalonzo Musyoka and Wavinya Ndeti during the opening of Kitui Villa Hotel. [Dennis Kavisu, Standard]

The Professor was also dismissive of some slogans from the political elite, case in point – the wheelbarrow. He argues the tool, being fronted by DP Ruto, is ‘stone age’ in nature.

“Don’t look at empty language. Slogans do not mean much.  The wheelbarrow is a pre-industrial stone age implement. How can that be an aspiration? It’s a tool for slave labour. Hustler has quadruple meanings,” he said.

On the other hand, Mutua says Raila’s Azimio targets to create a society of equal opportunity and inclusion.

Raila record in government

Quizzed on Raila’s record in Government as Prime Minister, Mutua explained the ODM leader only did what was within his powers, even though he had disagreements with then-President Mwai Kibaki.

“The instruments of the state of power are not exercised on paper. As Prime Minister, Raila’s office was subordinate to the President’s. Mr Odinga could only do things the President allowed him to. However, in areas where he was permitted to do something, he did it very well. Mr Odinga did not use the Prime Minister’s office to steal from the public.

The KHRC chair believes the Kenyans are still not in a position to call themselves ‘free’ due to the poor living standards which have been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prof Mutua says the country’s history of suffering, police brutality, violence, suffering and the cruelty of life, in general, drove him to form the Human Rights Commission.

“I remember growing up in the village and seeing hungry people. There were fewer things. No access to utilities that we take for granted. I was thinking about the things we did not have. We were trying to create a society of possibility. Where individuals could realise their human potential. That was the dream,” said Mutua. 

Mutua says bringing the Commission to Kenya after its formation in the US was one of the best moves the county ever made, however, he feels its existence is being taken for granted.

“Sometimes it’s a two-step forward and one step back proposition. Since 1991, after the doors were forced open by the “second liberators”, that was a great moment of hope.  Freedom comes one small inch by one small inch, it doesn’t come in miles. To transform a culture of autocracy, dictatorship and deprivation is difficult. I would give us a difficult THREE,” said Mutua.