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President has learnt belatedly he can’t rule with sheathed sword

By Michael Ndonye | June 5th 2020

President Uhuru’s Jubilee has been ‘fumigating’ its house in the last few weeks. Raila’s ODM, Moses Wetangula’s Ford-Kenya and other political parties supporting BBI and the handshake are also putting their ‘political houses’ in president’s order.

It has dawned on Uhuru that if he can’t stand a fight in politics, he doesn’t deserve the presidency. Like his predecessors Jomo Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki, Uhuru has found reprieve in brandishing the sword of power, and he has found the eureka moment of his presidency.

In a 2001 sports comedy film, Shaolin Soccer, five Shaolin monks reunite to form a soccer team after their master died. A former soccer star, Mr Fung is their coach. Before their Shaolin master died, he made them swear not to use Kung Fu to fight anyone but to advance peace. After training with Fung, they signed to play their test match with a band of thugs who came to the football pitch with hidden machetes, hammers and all sorts of weapons.

When the whistle blew, the other side didn’t bother with the ball; they went for the Shaolin monks and beat them senseless. The monks didn’t fight back, though. Their coach, Fung, was extremely disappointed. He flung a red card on the face of the team captain Stephen Chow saying, “this is a test game if you can’t stand that, you don’t deserve to play soccer.”

Chow responded: “We came here for a game not for war!” Then Fung held him by the collar shouting, “this game is war, you’ve got to learn that”. Immediately, the Shaolin Soccer team awakened their Kung Fu and grounded their opponents—the secret they used until they won the world championship.

History has taught us that the presidency is a position of war, and the earlier one discovers that, the better. Note there is only one sword; an instrument of power and authority that is handed only to the president. The president is handed the sword along with the constitution which is supposed to regulate the way the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces works.

Since 2013, media and citizens have time and again advised Uhuru to unsheathe the sword and take charge of his government. However, those new to the throne are determined to rule without lifting their swords—they want to beat their sword into ploughshares. History has taught us that any president who sheathes their swords of power lives to regret it.

When Jomo Kenyatta became president, it was all pomp and song and drum about a newly birthed nation. All over a sudden, inside squabbles were building, but the sword of power rescued his government. Moi took over in 1978, following Jomo’s death. He flagged peace, love and unity as he went about building gabions alongside civilians. He ran almost too late after his government was nearly overthrown in 1982.

In 2002, a ‘gentle’ man Kibaki became president. Until 2005, he lay flat, and every mad man could abuse the presidency with reckless abandon. His cronies looted public coffers and misused power and blamed it on his docility. He later brandished his sword of power and ‘slew’ his kingmakers, prompting opposition formations that crusaded against him to exit.

Uhuru took the presidency in 2013 and walked in civilian candour; gifting everyone with myrrh, gold and frankincense—the goodies of political public relations. He thought his predecessors were wrong. Two years to the end of his presidency, he is brandishing his sword like a samurai warrior.

Uhuru could have taken a cue from Kwekwe, a song that was doing the rounds on social media before he deleted his Twitter account. This controversial song must be interpreted in the context of the current political situation. Reportedly performed in 1997 to Moi by a combined choir of school children in Machakos, the song offers useful advice to the president.

It first teaches that wheat and tare cannot grow together in government—at least not in Kenya. The tare should be weeded out of the president’s farm before it chokes his agenda. It seems Uhuru heeded this call when he decided, even amid coronavirus, to clean Jubilee.

Moreover, Kwekwe advises the president to keep only those loyal to his government. This is a pearl of political wisdom. That whoever is not content should be allowed to leave and seek power elsewhere. Politicians who cannot support the president’s agenda should go and be government watchdogs.

Dr Ndonye is a Political Economist of Media and Communication

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