Of Karua, Orengo and Alice in Wonderland

Siaya Governor James Orengo and Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua during a past event. [Mbugua Kibera, Standard]

Between mingling with kith and kin in this festive season, I have been keeping the company of Winston Spencer Churchill (1874–1965). I have also cavorted with Lewis Carroll (1832–1898), with his Alice in Wonderland.

Emanyulia is my inviolable literary fortress. While it boasts of no great works, it is what Yasnaya Polyana was to the great Leo Tolstoy of Anna Karenina and War and Peace fame. Tolstoy spent precious time in Yasnaya, creating great literature. I spend mine in Emanyulia, admiring him and other greats. Some people must create. Others must admire.

Churchill’s The Second World War is an eponymic historical literary tome. It was fashioned by one of the central actors in the 1939–1945 global human disaster. This great work contributed significantly to Sir Winston’s 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature. The citation lauded Churchill, “for his mastery of historical and biographical description, as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.”

Underscore “exalted human values”. In the chapter titled “Peace at its zenith, 1922–1939, Sir Winston recalls Stanley Baldwin's tenure at Number 10 Downing Street, and his iconic exit. He writes, “He became the ruling force in British politics between 1922 and 1937 when, loaded with honours and enshrined in public esteem, he laid down his heavy task and retired in dignity and silence to his Worcestershire home.” 

It is difficult not to admire great men who have led their nations and gone into dignified retirement. It is written of such rare men in the Wisdom of Sirach (44:1) “Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.” 

I intend to lend Churchill’s book to President Uhuru Kenyatta, when I find him. Separately, Lewis Carroll, in The Looking Glass, and in Alice in Wonderland, explores the meaning of growth and maturity. At some point, childhood must end. Harsh realities and the rules that govern adulthood must take over. Growing up is a struggle to understand these rules. Or you must forever dwell in wonderland.

Is Martha Karua the latter-day Alice in Wonderland? Alice denies that William Ruto is the President of Kenya. She spews bile on national television, at Ruto and the Kenya Kwanza government. It is her democratic right. When she says that Ruto is not the President, however, that does not alter the facts. 

The losing Azimio presidential running mate in last year’s election must swallow her phlegm or remain bitter for the next four years. Sneering politicians who are permanently angry are unattractive to electorates throughout world history. That is with the exception of the Third Reich Fuhrer, whom Sir Winston writes of. The German strongman decided that the path to power would be through aggressive and furious messaging. It worked. But it also plunged the world into six years of disaster. Karua may wish to consider coming across as a more amiable political personality.

Elsewhere, Siaya Governor James Orengo has now ring-fenced Luo Nyanza as an exclusively ODM zone. He has appointed one MP as the commander of a latter-day Jeshi La Mzee. Dissenters beware. We are back to Alice in Wonderland, in the world of opposites. It is a bizarre universe. Those who fought for freedom from political party dictatorship under Kanu have morphed into dictators in parties that stopped Kanu. 

In the 1980s and in the ‘90s, Kanu politicians zoned off parts of the country as their exclusive enclaves. Wilson Leitich of Nakuru declared that anyone who flashed the two-finger multiparty salute would have their fingers cut off. William Ntimamah asked some Igbo people to lie down like envelopes, once in Maasailand. The clarion call is now on, for Raila Odinga. Strange world. Cross well into 2024, and watch this space. 

-Dr Muluka is a strategic communications