Sunday, July 21, 2013


Raila Omolo Odinga is perhaps the most famous Kenyan today. He has been in the trenches fighting for democracy, human rights and good governance for most of his adult life. He has the unaltered record of being the longest political detainee, having been incarcerated by both Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi. He is the son of Oginga Odinga, described as the doyen of opposition politics in the country. He served as Minister in the governments of Moi and Kibaki, and then as Prime Minister in the Grand Coalition, cobbled together following the 2007/2008 post election violence. If there is one man who contributed more than anyone else in the realization of the new constitution it is Raila Omolo Odinga.

It is therefore easy to understand why the man is now on a warpath after losing the 2012 elections. He tried thrice before to be president but failed. He did not make it in 1997 against Moi; he ceded the job to Kibaki in 2002; he did not make it to the presidency in 2007 and again failed to ascend to power in 2012. Like his father, Raila, is looking at retirement without achieving his lifetime goal of ruling Kenya. At 68 years old, he is - like some of us - on his twilight years. But he is angry and frustrated. Unfortunately, he is directing his anger and frustration at the wrong people.

Lately, he has been opposing anything and everythingUhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto - clear election victors in the last general elections - say or do. He has gone back to where he was twenty years ago: a political activist. He has abandoned his statesmanlike posture to engage in petty and useless activism that is likely to yield anarchy and ethnic hatred than peace and stability. The days of boycotts, threats and chest-stamping are long gone. Those days went with the exit of the one-party system of government in 1992. Also gone are the days of coups. Kenya can never be Egypt because Kenyans are peaceful people and respect the rule of law.

As Kenyans we are no longer prepared to follow prophets of doom. We have just too many things to  occupy our minds. We have widespread poverty and hunger in the country; unemployment is suffocating the youth. There are too many struggles for daily survival. We are still to win the war on corruption; and rampant illiteracy is preventing many of our people from claiming their rightful place in society. We have serious problems of divisions based on ethnicity, gender and religion. On top of all that we have a new system of governance, devolution, to nurture. We are up to our neck with challenges. We cannot therefore allow either distraction or destruction.

The best thing Raila can do is to accept defeat with grace, take his place as an ordinary Kenyan and move on with life. Time and again human beings have to lower their ego for the good of society. That time has come for Raila. If the former Prime Minister wants to enter the race again, five years from now, Kenyans would welcome him and assess him along with others.

For now, let us all avoid drama. Let us not play with fire. Let us give the Jubilee government an opportunity to implement its manifesto. If it fails to do so, Kenyans would judge it harshly come 2017.

And that is my say.