Monday, February 18, 2008



By Jerry Okungu

If I were Raila Odinga, I wound have second thoughts about the political situation in Kenya. I would rethink being the president of this country at this point in time. Hard as it may be, I would ask myself whether it is really worth the trouble to continue contesting the presidency.

I know many people would call me all sorts of names. My friends and followers would call me a coward, a Judas; a Moses who led the children of Israel from Egypt but abandoned them in the wilderness without a Joshua.

My enemies would call me a coward and a quitter who could not stand the political heat; that I was made of lesser metal and that was why I caved in, in moments of crisis. They would even advance the theory that I was the author of the mayhem and after realizing that the fire I had lit was out of control, I quit!

If I were Raila Odinga, I would quit contesting the presidency because that office is now tainted with innocent blood flowing freely without control. Women, children, the old and young have died and been displaced for no fault of their own. More are still going through the same tragedy with each passing day. Women and children have been turned into orphans and widows with a hopeless future.

Because of the same presidency, the national economy has ground to a halt. The national transport system, tourism, manufacturing and farming activities have shut down. Urban life has become living hell. Supply lines have shut down. Refugee camps are swelling with internally displaced persons. Parents as a terrified as their children. Goons have taken over our cities and highways. The provincial administration and the police departments have collapsed. There is no government any more. The few security officers left are guarding ministers, the President and a few close powerful people. Powerful politicians opposed to the government have hired their own security systems. The rest of the citizens without the means must die senseless deaths.

If they can pluck innocent travelers from our transport systems and hack them to death on account of their identity cards, there surely is no hiding place. If they can waylay Mugabe Were at his gate and murder him in cold blood; it means none of us is safe.

If I were Raila Odinga, I would rethink inheriting a lawless society. I would rethink running a country like Somalia where every warlord has his own militia. Yes, Kenya has become the new Somalia. Militias are every where in Kibera, Mathare Valley, Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kuresoi, Molo, Mt. Elgon, Mombasa, Homa Bay, Busia and Kakamega.

Militias have become their own bosses. They are dictating terms for politicians. That is why pleas by Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga, Graca Machel and Kofi Annan to stop the violence are falling on deaf ears. That is why peace messages by Bethuel Kiplagat, General Opande and General Sumbeiyo are falling on deaf ears.

Media messages bombarding us on our television screens go unheeded. Marauding youths are not even watching our TV channels. They are too busy to listen to the radio or read newspapers which are not there anyway. They are busy barricading and manning roadblocks on a twenty-four hour shift. They are drunk with innocent blood and loot from their victims.

The only media messages reaching Kenyans are from NTV, KTN, Citizen TV, Daily Nation, the Standard and K24 that have made it their duty to recycle violent scenes time and time again for maximum pain. In the media category, K24 has beaten them all by excelling in exploiting our basic instincts. Footages of children in refugee camps, hacked victims in hospital beds, blazing churches and houses with helpless refugees fleeing their homes have been their specialty. Even if the footages are two weeks old, they must be selectively brought to us day and night for maximum impact! Is it any wonder that reprisal killings and attacks are not abating?

If I were Raila Odinga, I would shelve my claim to the presidency for the good of my country. I would bid my time and let bloodletting subside. I would wait until opportunistic civil society groups and church leaders that have started streaming into peace meetings scavenging for donor handouts shouted themselves horse. Then and only after then would I start reconstructing my political career. Because right now, the air is polluted and nobody is listening to any body.

If I were Raila Odinga, I would call a public rally but if General Ali denied me a license, I would call a press conference and tell the world that I was pulling out of the presidential race because I would not occupy a State House that has been tainted with the blood of innocent children of Kenya. I would tell Kenyans and the world that given a choice between the survival of my country and the presidency, I would choose my country.

I would tell the world I was not ready to be the president of Kenya at the cost of one thousand lives lost, thousands of refugees and billions of shillings in lost business opportunities.

I would tell the world that I would direct my energies in rebuilding the destroyed cities and livelihoods of Kenyans in Kuresoi, Molo, Mombasa, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Busia Burnt Forest, Mt. Elgon, Eldoret, Kericho, Kisumu, Naivasha, Mathare Valley and Kibera slums. I would tell the world that because of the tragic end to our peaceful elections, I had found the presidency less attractive; at least for now.

Then I would settle in Parliament as leader of the opposition to give this government hell for five years.