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What if Raila Odinga was a Kikuyu?
By Wesley Kipng'enoh | Updated Jan 31, 2018 at 09:54 EAT
Raila Odinga takes his oath
  • Raila Odinga finally took oath as people's president at Uhuru Park grounds on January 30
  • NASA principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula were absent from the ceremony

Raila Odinga was ‘sworn in’ yesterday. Finally.

I am still looking for a country that is iron sheet flat with no controversy: The western world, Zimbabwe, even the gentle Rwanda. The fact is, Kenya has broken all the roads to glory when it comes to political intolerance, political competitions and gimmicks. Fuelled by ‘my tribe’ and ‘my people’ rhetoric, we are a nation of dangerous clowns and comic hypocrites.

We have for too long laced our minds with the vice of tribe; manicured our hearts with greed and inked our mortality with apathy.

It is easy to understand why politicians use tribe to woo votes, but it is much more complicated to understand why one man has been a victim of political tides and coalitions.

At one point we thought it was Jaramogi’s fault because he had a critical fall out with the founding father the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. But we were naïve on this one.

Anyway, together with Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila stood at the altar of Holy Family Basilica in the August 2016 during the memorial of Mzee Kenyatta and publicly confessed of how close their two families were. So we let that pass.

Then we had second thoughts: Perhaps it’s Raila’s fault. Second liberation for who? We asked. Then the post-colonial constitution in 2010 dawned and we began to understand. Like yeah, devolution? Isn’t too bad.

In 2002, as Daniel Moi retired, and Uhuru was initiated into national politics, Raila vowed to support Kibaki in a profound turn of events. The phrase “Kibaki tosha” uttered by Raila changed the ball game, giving Kibaki the votes and support he needed to get to state house. The beautiful Kenya we once had. See what happened there, we simply sailed through that election more happily than any other political event in Kenyan history. (Well besides the night our flag was hoisted at Uhuru gardens in ‘63).

Here’s the bummer though. In 2007, Raila (remember how he introduced the hammer automobile with Livondo) lost in a controversial election that sparked violence in the country. People were taken to The Hague to answer charges of crimes against humanity. The whole thing swirled into political drama and monkey dance that led to a political coalition which would eventually give Kenya her fourth President or so the analysts asserted.

But seriously what would be different if Raila was ….say Luhya, or Somali…nooo wait or Kikuyu from Murang’a? What would be different?

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I mean Kikuyu would be perfect for him. He would ace the hell out of mundu wa nyumba. In hamlets and streets we would fondly call him kababa to outdo the kamwana vibe, if you know what I mean.

Has tribe been unfair to Raila? Another way to ask that question would be, has tribe disfavoured him? The correct answer is with us. Ask yourself this: Is there a job you feel you deserved but never got it thanks to your tribe, race or religion? If the answer is yes, then we are with kababa on this. If the answer is no, then you have no idea what you are talking about. Or tell us where that is we talk about them more, because that’s the Kenya we want. There is a Raila Odinga in all of us. Period.

If Raila was called Raira Wa Njuguna, he would probably be a wealthy man with multi-billion companies (I mean he likely still is and media would focus on wealth). Would he be in the opposition? I cannot tell. But assuming he would be, what teargas would have been dropped at University way during the anti-IEBC protest? Shisha flavour?

We would have seen regional politics come to Nairobi for a show down. We would throw words such as Muranga versus Kiambu on the newspaper headlines. I don’t know how the citizenry would react to the news of the swearing in ceremony. Would it have gotten this far?

My community’s needs under the bus

But the notion of representing a community in Kenya comes with unwarranted sense of power and influence to it. Sometimes it’s used to anyone’s advantage and works almost effectively when politicians create a perception of a “lesser tribe”. I mean sometimes there’s that feeling in this country of being a lesser tribe, (remember the Luo lives matter thing?) but politicians religiously abuse it for political mileage.

They will ride on it and at the end, important issues that would have been raised by those communities are quickly bottled away by selfish political figure heads. We go back to political discussions and forget all about them. In Kenya when imperative issues land on a political dais, trust me, they vaporize with their irrational words.

There are primes of examples to that. We “tibim” more and address real issues less; we “tuko pamoja” more and address injustices less. We the citizens feed on their words, we dine on it and yawn to its poison every single morning. Yet we are the majority. In the wisdom of the guy Chebukati called Abram Lilgolin, “The Lord prefers commoners. That is why he created so many of them.” We deserve to have a good country as common wananchi.

Kenyan politics driven by tribe

Second. If Raila was Kikuyu, in 2007 perhaps he would have come out on top (less controversially) and would have been the president then. We would have whooshed past the elections like Usain Bolt on steroids. But we did not, because our politics is driven by an abstract noun called tribe.

Third: Fast forward to 2017 elections, there would be no case at the Supreme Court. Take that to the bank, dig a tunnel and rob it. Sure thing. He would have probably been promised some goodies. He would try to be adamant but his people would hold night meetings and threaten to disown him.

In unsuspected conclusion, let the Raila in you fight. If you feel like something that rightly belongs to you fair and square, has been snatched or cleverly taken because you are supposedly from the wrong tribe, race or religion or whichever background. Stand up. Ask important questions.

I mean Raila is Luo (yes you guessed it right) today, that’s good for him, Uhuru is Kikuyu (you are on a roll today). You are who you are, and that’s good for you. But let’s all strive to be a Kenyan more, today. That’s best for all of us. 

Final thing: this is by no means meant to offend anyone or any community, it’s a reflection of a real world. (In my flimsy defence).


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