By Muchiri Mwathi
April 8 2013
Dear Mr. Okungu,
Your article, REFLECTING ON RAILA'S LEGACY was candidly honest. I was uncomfortable with the heavy parallel's you drew between Raila and Jesus Christ. I know you appreciate that faith is a deeply personal matter. I don't think that Jesus Christ should be compared to any mortal. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr - nobody fits the bill.
Incidentally, I think this is one mistake Raila has made early in his reflections, or strategy for a comeback. His meet-the-people tour of Kisumu was loaded with comparison of himself to Jesus Christ. That might have been music to his base, but to rest us who admire the man's courage and hail him as a hero - in the same league with James Orengo, Gitobu Imanyara, John Khaminwa, Paul Muite, the late Martin Shikuku - the real heroes of the democracy we enjoy today, but who hesitate to go along with him because of the unknown element about what he would do if he became president, we get more apprehensive about what appears to be his entitlement belief.
I was convinced, upto early Feb, that there was no way Uhuru would defeat Raila. I think, really that Raila would have taken at least half of the Kalenjin votes, but he destroyed his chances. By taking on Ruto at a very low level - calling him thief, he [Raila] alienated himself from the Kalenjin. Because you know in Kenya, when you claim that Raila has not developed Kibera, the Luo take it to mean that you are castigating the whole of them, that they are not development conscious. When Raila, in his analogies, talks about a snake in the house on the hill and talks about how they will suppress it - you hold the head, and you hold the tail, I will hold the mouth (to paralyze the snake?) the Kikuyus take it that if he can do that to Mwai Kibaki, he can do it to the whole lot of them. When Raila's kitendawili talks of a madman who took off his clothes and then fell asleep barabarani, the kikuyus take it he is not only demeaning Uhuru, he is demeaning the whole lot of them.
So, when Raila took on Ruto as a thief, the whole Kalenjin community saw itself in the dock. I am pretty convinced that the Kalenjin, in their hearts, prefer Raila far more than Uhuru. They have issues with the Kikuyus, which remain unresolved. But Raila did not conduct himself as a statesman in their eyes. He was sucked into petty name calling - the league of Kajwang and Muthama.
If you remember Kibaki's campaigns in 2007, he never attacked Raila at a personal level, or malign the Luo. I don't think he [Kibaki] garnered a lot of support across the country in 2007. His campaign lacked focus, was uninspiring, uncordinated - but you can't take it away from him, that he was a statesman, harbouring no ill-will towards communities opposed to him. That is what Raila misses. He shouldn't conduct himself as another politician. He must cultivate the image of a statesman.
Can he make a successful comeback? Seems to be a tall order. In 5 years time, there will a new crop of voters who know nothing about his heroism. Secondly, I bet that his chief allies - Nyong'o, Midiwo, Kajwang, and possibly Orengo will fall at the ballot in 2017. That will greatly weaken his candidature if he decides to contest. Thirdly, if the Jubilee coalition holds, and if Uhuru and Ruto overcome their woes at the Hague, it will be a very tall order to defeat them. I am sure you saw from the registration figures that the Kalenjin did not come out in big mumbers to register. The highest Kalenjin county [Kericho] had 82% of projected figure (Nakuru, 93.1% is mixed, more Kikuyu. Compare that with Kiambu, 113%. If the Kalenjin turn in massive registration in 2017, it will be virtually impossible to beat Uhuruto ticket, if the stick together. Of course they will again count on support from sections of Kisii, Maasai, Pokot, NE, and hopefully then, Turkana.
Seems to me Raila's comeback might run into very strong head-winds.
Back to where I started. I found your article to be candid, honest.
NB- Views expressed here are personal to the author and do not inj any way reflect the views of Africa News Online- Editor