Why Raila should be president before he exits the stage


Raila Odinga. Photo: Courtesy.

I am a Suba. But my friend Odhiambo Kaumah insists I am a Luo-Abasuba. Now, politically Suba is an obvious Raila’s hotbed of votes. And most of us Subas think like Luos. That’s, we think we are Luos. Our politics, language, culture, interests and identity are, typically, Luo. We have been assimilated beyond redeemability. Something I have blamed on the historical goof by our forefathers but which is a story for another day.

Today I wish only to state why I think the right Hon. Raila Amollo Odinga should be president– before he finally exits the stage.

I stay with an uncle and sometimes we get down to discussing politics. And each time, he cannot hide his bitterness and hate. He thinks that some single ethnic hegemony is to blame for all the maladies in this country. That everyone that traces their pedigree to that ethnic group is not to be friended or trusted with anything. A jaundiced assertion which I think is largely untrue.

My lecturer taught me something about prejudice and the dangers of it. So whenever I discourse with my uncle who never had the privilege of meeting a lecturer, I become his “lecturer.”

Yet, it does not escape me for a moment that the problem with Kenyans is not academic. Some writer has argued– quite wrongly in my opinion– that one cannot claim to be educated if they can’t shed off their tribal skin. I know of highly educated Kenyans who would wish death on a whole tribe for mere political reasons. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? That’s Kenya for you. Because it’s true.

Back to why I think Raila should be president. Foremost, Raila played a significant role in opposing the dictatorial regimes of yester-years. He stuck his neck for the expansion of the democratic space. He risked his life and comfort for the common good of the citizenry.

Even as we take cognizance of the facts that: one, he didn’t fight alone and that other people might have paid more dearly; two, a country does not owe a liberation fighter a presidency, we should remember that among his fellow politicos who took part in the second liberation, he is the only one who commands national fanatical following and has remained relevant to-date. So we might want to give him the presidency as a farewell gift. After all, he (and others) bequeathed us the liberties we now enjoy.

As I had made mention of earlier, a lot of people in this country are not happy with what appears to be an ethnic hegemony in public governance. There has been overt favouritism in the manner in which the national cake is shared– often-times to the advantage of one person in a population of over 43 peoples. So that some people feel as though they are not proper citizens. This is what fans the bitterness.

And since Raila is the most popular ‘outsider’, methinks giving him the presidency would help erase the bitterness of the past injustices and give this country a chance to bond again. For now, he might be the best personage to offer an alternative presidency in which a majority of Kenyans will feel to rightly ‘own’, and in whose regime the greater Kenyan populace may have a sense to properly belong.

Again, although a tired line now, Raila has seen his victories stolen almost twice. I say ‘almost’ because while I am sure about the 2007 win, I have my reservations about 2013. Be that as it may, he accepted to be the weakling to save the country. Otherwise you know he might have– had he resolved to– taken the presidency no matter the price.

By ceding the presidency almost twice, he demystified that a country is greater than an individual. A person who suspends his personal interests for the greater common good of the people is fit to be president.

Even as I uphold my reservations about the outcome of the 2013 elections, I admired how Raila conducted himself after the Supreme Court ruling which upheld Kenyatta’s win. In agreement, President Obama wrote in a letter addressed to the former Prime Minister, dated April 3, 2013 and I quote inter alia, “Through your words and your actions, you affirmed the importance of the rule of law and constitutional order and helped ensure a better future for Kenyans”.

Raila’s role in the democratization of Kenya, Africa and the world cannot be gainsaid. His selfless support for constitutionalism including his contribution to the making and final promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 serves to show his unwavering resolve to making Kenya a democratic model.

He has also been engaged in many national and international forums lecturing and giving public speeches on the need for a democratic society. He has been UN and AU special envoy and election observer to many countries. These coupled with his vast experience in domestic politics and progressive leadership make him an unrivalled statesman. It is good to have him around and would be a blessing to taste the aura of his presidency.

Those who were born yesterday know about Raila only as a perennial opposer of government. Even when he was prime minister, he always kept whining of ‘I was not consulted.’ To borrow from my former student leader at Moi University Mwamburi Mwang’ombe, sometimes you support people’s political candidature so that they know how tall an order it is to be a leader when they get into office. Since he’s kept on in the opposition all the years (even when in government), critics may take him for a puerile attention seeker.

So, the fairest way to judge him is by giving him the full CEOship of the country. It would be interesting to see a president oppose his own government.

All said, Raila is to Kenya (ns) what Martin Luther King Jr was to the Negrohood. A paragon of true service to one’s country.


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