I am on record stating that Kenya should be at most a 3-party state, meaning, we should have no more than 3 registered political parties in the country. This is because I believe having more parties simply entrenches tribalism or otherwise encourages continued division in the country along the unhealthy, counterproductive and undesirable tribal, ethnic and status lines. I intend to blog more about this in the near future.
For now, a few things can be said about this so called G47 or Third Force group, that claims it represents 80% of Kenyans living outside of the country who belong to “organized global associations” and one of the things that can be said is you have to treat with suspicion any group that makes such a claim of representation of the Diaspora because having 80% of “organized global associations” is a staggering feat, that is just not possible, if at all.
The fact is, there is no group out there representing more than a tiny fraction of Kenyans living abroad, let alone even tinier fraction of “organized global associations.” This group is therefore trying to pull a fast one on us.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong to attempt to form an umbrella organization that represents the interests of, and is representative of Kenyans living abroad; indeed, this is what I and about 15 other Kenyans were invited a few years ago by the World Bank to, and in fact, formed the Kenya Diaspora Network (KDN). Ideal and as non-partisan and neutral this group was, it not uncharacteristically succumbed to the same old Kenyan politics forcing some of us to abandon it and ultimately its failure to reach these ideal objectives.
The Kenya Community Abroad (KCA) was initially formed also for the same purpose, namely, representing the interests all Kenyans in the Diaspora. As one of KCA’s early members who was actively involved in the organization’s activities in its formative years until I left for reasons I don’t have to get to here, I know and appreciate the need for such organization.
However, having ideals such as those under which KCA or KDN was formed and those this G47 or Third Force group espouses is one thing, bringing them to fruition in a non-partisan, non-aligned manner, which is totally necessary if such grand ideals are to be realized, is quite another thing. I am not even sure whether this G47 or Third Force is non-partisan or non-aligned but reading just their Press Release on Ikolomani by-elections, I do not have any doubts it is as partisan as any is in Kenya.
The prospects of this group’s success in fielding a presidential candidate and/or the success of its preferred candidate is therefore no different, worse or better than that of the hundreds of parties we have registered or even active in Kenyan politics.
That being the case, I would repeat my position Kenya does not need more parties but strengthening of 2 or 3 of those we already have in existence and working within them to bring about the necessary changes both in the parties and the country as a whole through the political process.
I do not buy the propaganda that none of the parties we currently have in Kenya can produce an effective, reform driven president; a number of them have and can and neither do I buy the propaganda that all leaders in the country are not worth electing president.
I think we can all agree that our country has not met its development objectives and progress due to poor management, corruption and apathy for the general welfare of ordinary Kenyans. I think we can all also agree in order to turn things around, we have to have new management at the top come next year’s elections.
Where I and others differ with those who claim that no current leader can be elected president to spearhead in efforts to turn the country around, is the incongruousness self-evident in this proposition. Those making this claim of no current leader should be elected president have been and continue to make the case that we should get rid of everyone in government and bring in new people. They also at times talk about getting rid of “old” people in government or that we don’t need “old” people running for president which they essentially define in such a manner to include Raila among the “old” people because he is in reality the only person they are obsessed to “blocking” from becoming president.
Their rationale for a solution makes no sense at all. Essentially what they are saying from a business perspective is, you have a large company, say Safaricom that is poorly performing and not profitable at all because of poor management, rampant embezzlement, poor morale and shafting of shareholders.
As a solution to turn this company around and make it profitable again, you propose that you get rid of all management and bring in a new crop of senior managers, including a CEO who have never run a large company and further require that none of these new managers or CEO can be “old” which you essentially define to be anyone over 50 years old.
This is absurd and anyone who knows anything about business will tell you so. Much as it makes no sense to rational and objective minds to propose such a solution, it can only make sense to those proposing it for reasons that have nothing to do with a genuine desire to turn the company around other than creating an easy pathway if not entry through the backdoor to senior management for themselves which in turn will surely sink the company even more than it has by the time they take over.
Prudent business advice or common sense would tell you what you need in a situation like this is, yes, a new CEO and senior management but one with proven success and experience running a company of this size; getting rid of poorly performing employees and managers, sending the embezzlers packing and off to jail and doing a top to bottom analysis of the company to identify ways to make it profitable again.
We need precisely the same solution if we are to turn out country around and point it in the direction of economic growth and prosperity, namely, electing a president with proven success and experience running a country; overhauling the entire government workforce and retraining or otherwise getting rid of non-performing civil servants and personnel, definitely taking head on and having heads rolling for those engaged in corruption and doing a top to bottom analysis of the country to determine, and implementing whatever else is needed to put the country on track to meet its development objectives as outlined under Vision 2030 and more.
My point is, Kenyans living abroad are as divided as Kenyans living inside Kenya and to the extent one can succeed in uniting them, the better just the same as uniting Kenyans at home. However, I just don’t think this can be accomplished by essentially forming another partisan party or organization such as this G47 or Third Force appears to be and neither is it a good or desirable idea to have yet another party in Kenya in any case.
The next president of Kenya is going to come from among the household names of today in the country and among them, it is my humble submission that only Raila espouses and has proven he believes in, and can more believably deliver the progressive ideals expressed by this G47 or Third Force group, among others and therefore I encourage the group to at least work with Raila in his presidential bid.
If on the other hand this group believes it has what it takes to field its own candidate, then by all means let it do so or if it believes someone other than RAO among those who have expressed interest in seeking the office is better suited to be elected president, then let the group make the case for that person and Kenyans will decide come election day.
It is not true that USD7000 per night was spent on a presidential suite for the PM on his recent visit to New York. It amazes but does not surprise me people are still making this baseless and false claim even after the PM’s office has provided documentation to show the correct amount spent on the PM’s accommodation which is nowhere even close to this made up amount.
As pointed out in my earlier blog on this non-issue, there is nothing extravagant or corrupt about what was spent on the PM’s visit to New York or any other trips he has made for that matter. It is nonetheless a classic fallacy to set-up a false premise ending up with a conclusion that does not follow, especially when accomplished by someone with an ax to grind.
Thus, for example in this case, the fallacy goes as has been peddled here and elsewhere by the PM’s haters: The government spent “huge” amounts of money on Raila’s trip to New York therefore Raila must be extravagant, corrupt and does not care about the people suffering in Kibera and the rest of the country.
In reality, any amount of money spent on a prime minister’s or a president’s visit to a foreign country is by definition going to be “huge” relatively speaking. It does not therefore follow that any prime minister or president who undertakes such a trip at such “huge” expense is “extravagant,” “corrupt,” or does not care about the suffering of his or her country.
The sole question to be asked for purposes of accountability is as I stated in my earlier blog on this whether the amount spent for the PM’s accommodation is reasonable and commensurate with that spent by someone holding the same office, i.e., a prime minister and clearly the answer in this case is yes the amount was quite reasonable and appropriate for our PM.
Again, as the PM stated and I agree with him, we do not expect him to say in some dingy backstreet hotel while in official or even private visits
Talking about extravagance and wasteful government spending, the PM’s trips cannot be compared to Kalonzo Musyoka’s on his so called lobbying which everyone including Kalonzo agrees was such a waste of tax payer’s money. Those mentioning expenditures on the PM’s trips in the same breath as those of Kalonzo are disingenuous at best and malicious at worst to the extent they know and appreciate the distinction but yet carelessly lump the same together and condemn them both as extravagant and wasteful government spending, in efforts to sully the PM’s good name.
In fact, it was unwise and wrong for the media and everyone else to have jumped on this fake story without knowing these facts just because LM Kutuny lobbed the charge in Parliament.
As stated in my earlier blog, Kuttuny and the like questioning the Prime Minister’s travel expenses are disingenuous because they are doing this simply for cheap publicity gained from smearing the PM and not because they care about “extravagant” expenditure of public funds.
The PM should not even be expected to answer these types of questions in Parliament; rather, MPs should direct these questions to the appropriate offices that coordinate the PM’s travels. I realize and appreciate we are into the new political dispensation in the country but a line of discipline must be maintained at all levels, especially for the presidency and the PM’s office which must be held in high respect and dignity.
Subjecting the PM to questions of this type during his Q&A in Parliament in my view is inappropriate, uncalled for, and serve only to provide an opportunity for shameless characters like Kutuny to embarrass the PM even by just asking the questions for they leave a false impression that even countering with facts does not completely erase.
The Speaker should remind Kutuny and the like they have a right and privilege to speak in Parliament without fear of being hauled to court for defamation and slander but that’s a right they must not abuse as Kuttuny has obviously done in this and other instances.
Kutuny and the like questioning the Prime Minister’s travel expenses are disingenuous because they are doing this simply for cheap publicity gained from smearing the PM and not because they care about “extravagant” expenditure of public funds. If I were the PM, I would not even answer these types of questions but would rather have these MPs direct their questions to the appropriate offices that coordinate the PM’s travels. I realize and appreciate we are into the new political dispensation in the country but a line of discipline must be maintained at all levels, especially for the presidency and the PM’s office such which must be held in high respect and dignity. Subjecting the PM to questions of this type in my view is uncalled for and inappropriate.
To be sure, the public does have the right to know how the government generally spends its money but there are certain genuine government expenditures that only need to be queried and MPs advised privately if they have to just because by their nature it’s almost impossible to explain to the general public in a manner they would appreciate its rationale and appropriateness. Which hotel and how much is paid for the PM to stay is one of them.
However, as to the question of whether or not expenditure for such stay is “extravagant” or not, no member of parliament has credibility to speak to this question when they are paid and accept the insane salaries and benefits compared to the rest of the world, especially more so those who have nothing to show for what they have accomplished as MPs other than running their mouths or otherwise self-engaged in publicity seeking antics.
If these publicity seeking MPs must know where and how much the PM spends on his official travels, the right and only question they should ask is whether the PM’s official travel and accommodation expenditure is commensurate with that spent by someone holding an office comparable to his in other comparable countries and if the answer is “yes” as is of course the case with the PM’s official travels here, then the inquiry should and must end there and there because it would be demeaning of the office itself to demand that its holder stay in some dingy cheap hotel just so he does not appear to be “extravagant” if he stays in precisely the same place other comparable office holders stay.
On the other hand, the government has the responsibility to spend public money wisely. When Kalonzo Musyoka engages in the so called lobbying efforts on a mission with clearly no public interest and only for the ill-conceived benefit of a handful of PEV suspects, expenditure of public funds for such trips is completely inappropriate and the public has the right to be outraged and demand answers and accountability.
In contrast, all of the PM’s official travels have been singly and collectively in the public interest as he has either represented and continues to represent our country in important international meetings and conferences in which we must have representation at the PM or presidential level or he has and continues to seek and bring home the beacon, so to speak.
In business, there is a maxim in order to make money, you have to spend money. In government, the government must do the same thing if it has to bring about any prosperity for its people; in order to bring economic prosperity, including attracting investment, the government must spend money and as in business, the question is not how much is spent rather whether how much is spent is worth it, given the gains or minuses.
By this measure which is the only measure that should matter, the PM’s trips are well worth beyond the money spent such that if the PM were to be entitled to monetary bonus payment, his bonus would be right up there comparable to the best among the best of C.E.O.s of private companies.
Regarding specific expenditures on the PM’s hotel accommodation, like any other foreign leader, the PM’s foreign travel and accommodation is carefully planned both by the Kenya government and the country to be visited, taking into consideration a number of factors, including security and protocol.
When the PM travels to the United States, for example, he can only but stay in certain places of accommodation approved by the Secret Service which is responsible and takes over his security upon arrival in the United States.
The PM does not chose where he stays and neither does he negotiate how much he pays for his stay; this is the responsibility of those charged with planning his trips but staying at the Waldorf or in its presidential suite is nothing uncommon for visiting prime ministers and presidents in New York; that’s the preferred place of stay for the reasons stated above.
The PM cannot stay in some backstreet hotel and expect to conduct business there with government and/or business leaders staying at the Waldorf suites and that’s even assuming the Secret Service allows him to stay there, which they cannot. You are in Rome, you do as the Romans do; in order to project the right image and gain the confidence of those you expect to deal with, you had better conform to their expectation and so should they conversely.
Having said that, it is important to put things in perspective by noting the following regarding the PM’s stay at the Waldorf Astoria in New York: The cheapest decent hotel in New York on any given night is $300 per person per night. This is certainly an “extravagant” amount to spend for a hotel room for an ordinary Kenyan, given our per capita income of a mere $315.
Would the average Kenyan be better off if we were to cram the PM and his entire entourage into this one room in New York at $300 per night? Would the country have better schools, better hospitals and everything else if we did so? Would the average Kenyan even begin to understand the justification, rationale and purpose of expenditures such as the PM’s travel? Does Kutuny and the like really even care about the public even understanding this at all?
My point is, let’s focus on issues that really matter starting from eliminating corruption, wasteful, bloated government spending and finding ways to bring about economic prosperity, which the PM is commendably spearheading as it is.
The PM’s official travels and related expenses are necessary for our country to remain relevant in the increasingly interconnected global village besides directly engaging parties who as a result agree to offer instruments of economic development and prosperity that we badly need as has been the case with each of the PM’s official visits abroad and elsewhere.
Thus, examined objectively, no one can disagree that the PM’s trips and expenditures are well worth it, given the PM’s success with them so those bent on using the PM’s legitimate travel and related expenses to smear him ought to be ashamed but again they may have no shame when it comes to Raila which is a shame in by itself nonetheless.
While pursuing my undergraduate degree in Government and Politics (GVPT) as a returning student at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland in the early 90s, I had the privilege to study leadership as a student of the world renowned leadership expert Dr. James MacGregor Burns. I was one of a handful of students selected for this class sponsored by the Academy of Leadership, which was then housed at UMCP.
I also had the privilege while at UMCP to work for the great late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy as a Congressional Intern in my last year of studies at UMCP through the GVPT Capitol Hill Honors Program before venturing on to law school.
As I embark on writing this blog on leadership, I have dusted off my notes from these experiences and added what I have learned and observed since then about leadership in both Africa and here in the US in the hopes I can provide a comprehensive and analytic basis we all as Kenyans can use to choose our national leaders chief among them being the president.
Before I dig into this concept of leadership and how to apply it in Kenyan context, let me state the uncontroverted and obvious upfront:
(1)There is a correlation between leadership and the development of a nation.
(2)Almost all that ails Kenya and Africa for that matter is directly linkable to bad leadership.
(3)Kenyan and African leaders, save for Nkrumah and Mandela have largely failed their citizenry.
(4)The failure of Kenyan/African leadership is not due to lack of information or resources.
(5)The continent of Africa has in it individuals who can rise to greatness in leadership anytime.
The term “leadership” is one that is used across the globe and in all languages and cultures and perhaps the most if not the only common concept all peoples of the world commonly have in mind from time immemorial when thinking and deciding about how to govern their affairs.
Yet, as Dr. Burns describes it, “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.”
To be sure, leadership is a subject that has been studied for centuries and many scholars have tried to define what it is exactly but none has had lasting acceptance. Analyzing these studies is beyond the scope of this piece but I have drawn from these studies qualities, attributes and skills (QAS) I believe are essential and a must have for the person we elect as our next president and these are:
Honesty, Trustfulness and Integrity
Firm Educational Foundation and Wisdom
Experience and Exposure
Inspiration, Vision and Self-Confidence
It is my belief applying these QAS to select our next president will result in the election of the most apt and suitable president at this time in our history.
For those who were around and followed closely the lead-up to the 2002 elections, the country was in great hunger for change and a new president who was to transform the country.
As history would have it, that transformation has yet to take place and the next elections of 2007 in fact, set us backwards even more than where we were as country in 2002. That was then, this is now. Tomorrow, awaits and the question is, what shall it be? What kind of future lies ahead, given our past?
What we need in Kenya now more than ever before is a transformational leader to finally transform the country for good.
According to Dr. Burns, a transformational leader changes the lives of people by changing perceptions, values, and aspirations of the people – all while working for the greater good of the country. The timing could not be better as our current president is retiring and therefore we’ll have a new president come next elections of 2012, which we assume and hope will be held as scheduled.
A person with the cumulative five qualities, attributes and skills I list above which I analyze in more detail below has more than what is needed and necessary to be a transformational leader in Kenya:
1. Religious Conviction
Kenya is a heavily religious country therefore it goes without saying our leader must be a religious person and by this I do not mean one who occasionally makes technical appearances in Church but one who actually practices his faith to some greater and acceptable degree of regularity. It does not matter whether the individual is Christian, Muslim, Hindu or a follower of any of the traditional African religions; it’s enough that he or she follows and adheres to one.
This is a critical attribute to have because at the core of most religions are values that if followed guide us all to a better life both inwardly and otherwise. A number of leaders have fallen short of greatness because they simply have not taken religion seriously or have failed to incorporate it’s core values in their decision making process while on the other hand, those who have, have attained greatness much to their individual satisfaction and betterment of those who have benefited from their leadership.
Again, being a religious person does not mean merely proclaiming to be one or making technical appearances at places of worship or having a quid pro quo with religious pretenders and opportunists but being a religious person has to be professing a faith and living by, and applying its teaching as can be deduced from how one lives and conducts his or her private and public life.
Can one who has hitherto never stepped or seen the inside of a church, temple or mosque suddenly convert from paganism and claim this quality of religious conviction at the eleventh hour? Of course; one can do so but the likelihood such a conversion being genuine is very low so the best that can be under this circumstances is to let the electorate decide the issue of whether or not such conversion is genuine or merely a con job.
Having religious convictions is critical because makes one more likely than not to be, among other things, compassionate, which is an absolute must have attribute for a transformative leader.
This is particularly critical at this time in our history because our country has suffered tremendously and most of our citizenry live in conditions of abject poverty or otherwise in shameful poor conditions 46 year after our independence because our leadership has failed to address their plight not because of lack of resources but because of lack of compassion coupled with greed and corruption which has in a fetal combination denied a vast majority of the populace the kind of livelihood they should have by now which they do not have their hard work notwithstanding.
This is a practice we must put to an end by demanding that our next president be a person who is not only compassionate and has shown that he cares about the welfare of our people but also one who has a plan to do so.
Having religious conviction comes with it also the expectation the individual has corresponding moral uprightness and by this I mean one who has and lives a model life in all aspects of his or her life, has and takes care of a family and takes care of himself or herself health-wise to make sure he is there and will be there for his family and the country as a whole which in essence becomes his or her larger family and otherwise tends to the needs of the country as a parent would to his or her children.
This, perhaps, is one of the most important, if not the most important of all qualities our next president must have. But there is more.
2. Honesty and Integrity
Besides being an upright and moral person, our next leader must also be an honest person with high integrity which combined, form the pillars of good leadership and governance.
Dr. Burns points out that a transformational leader sets a personal example of high ethical standards which instills a sense of trust and respect among his or her followers. On the other hand, trust is an inherent part of presidential leadership therefore all these characteristics must be present and required of the person we elect to be our next president.
Indeed, our constitution lays out in Chapter 6, the standard of conduct and behavior expected of those entrusted with holding public office. These qualities and attributes, however, must be demanded of our next president before being elected and assuming office.
Maintaining them while in office is, of course, a must.
Having these qualities and attributes will give us a good measure of how our next president will deal with one of the vices that has bedeviled our country for decades and that is corruption which is practiced deep and wide in government.
To have a shot at getting rid of this vice or at least minimizing it greatly, it is imperative that we have a president whose honesty and integrity is impeccable and beyond reproach, which by definition means they are clean of the vice of corruption to begin with.
This in turn will put them in a far much better and desirable position to fight the vice when they assume office as president.
We therefore must know of our next president whether he or she is a person of good moral character, an honest person and a person with high integrity.
Needless to say, however, no one who has been engaged in proven corruption should ever hold that office or any other public office and neither should anyone who has conducted himself or herself in any other proven or provable dishonest manner be even considered to hold such office, let alone being elected to one.
Having honesty and integrity also means our next president must conduct the affairs of his office in an open and transparent manner subject to legitimate national security interests.
Transparency is intricately linked to accountability which has been wanting in our country since independence.
Leaders from the top down have acted with impunity because they believe they are not accountable to anyone, including the public in whose behalf they are supposed to act.
This obviously has to come to a halting end therefore the next president must show by proven record that he is transparent and accountable to those who have elected him or her to office.
3. Firm Academic Foundation and Wisdom
Dr. Burns teaches that a transformational leader must provide intellectual stimulation by questioning assumptions and asking for creative responses from those he relies on for advice in decision making. This in turn motivates his or her advisors to think out of the box and work independently to find solutions to both common and complex problems.
While it does not follow that an educated and intelligent person is automatically a good and desirable leader, being educated and intelligent is a good indicator the person can be counted on to make sound judgments and decisions upon being presented with an issue or issues and information.
The decision and judgment need not always be right but it cannot be dumb.
Leaders are often presented with competing solutions with success or failure depending on choosing the right one. While theoretically anyone can toss a coin and reach an identical decision or judgment as one reached after careful examination of facts and information, we can’t afford to have that done on as many times a president has to make decisions and judgments.
Rather, you need the president to make informed decisions upon careful analysis and get it right as close as to all times as possible and this can only be accomplished by one having the capacity to grasp the issues and apply their intelligence to the information given to reach the right decision.
On the other hand, it is not necessary that the president have the highest form of education in any field of study or otherwise be the Philosopher Kings Plato envisioned in his Republic.
Rather, it is enough the individual has at least a bachelor’s degree which speaks not necessarily to academic excellence but an indication of the individual’s hard work and determination, which in by itself is a requirement for a good leader, namely, ability to apply oneself determinately to achieve an objective.
As will be further discussed below, wisdom gained through experience would also count as an aspect of one’s overall education and intellectual capacity.
4. Experience and Exposure
In his Crucibles of Leadership,” author Robert Thomas notes the following:
“Accomplished leaders say that experience is their best teacher. They learned their most meaningful and important leadership lessons — lessons that they’ve integrated into their own leadership style—through crucibles. These were critical events and experiences, times of testing and trial, failure more often than grand success, that grabbed them by the lapels and demanded to know ‘What do you stand for?’ and ‘What are you going to do?’ A situation arose that did not respect age, gender, generation, nationality, talent, or charisma; all it asked was that the person step up and be someone or do something they’d never been or done before. Id.
Experience therefore absolutely matters and the more one has, the better.
Our constitution requires that in order to serve as Chief Justice, one has to have at least 15 years’ experience as a judge or 15 years’ distinguished experience in the legal field in addition to the requisite academic qualification of possession of at least a law degree among other qualifications.
The president by analogy must therefore be held by someone with at least 15 years’ experience in a distinguished leadership capacity.
In addition to having local experience, it behooves our next president to have experience dealing with international affairs.
A person who is well traveled and has interacted with other world leaders is likely to be more successful handling any number of international issues he or she has to deal with as president. The more exposure one has with these types of interactions, the better he or she will be equipped to execute tasks touching on international affairs.
Having a solid academic background, intelligence and a good doze of wisdom gained through experience is a good indicator the individual will be comfortable in his or her shoes and therefore less likely to regard those around him or his or her opponents with suspicion because of inferiority complex that is bound to arise if one is otherwise less academically and intellectually positioned relative to all others, especially those he or she deems to be a threat to his or her political life.
We are all too familiar with regular persecution of UON students and graduates simply because they were perceived to be a threat to the ruling clique. Fortunately, this is slowly becoming a thing of the past as more and more Kenyans are fully informed and engaged.
The cautionary insurance, however, is not to let the guard down and elect those who may ultimately end up feeling threatened by others merely because of the latter’s superior academic background or claim to superior knowledge thus rendering them targets of persecution or elimination.
This is not to say the leader must have equal or superior academic background and knowledge to or over all others but simply enough of both to be comfortable in their own skin with those who might even have more of same than she or he.
Similarly, we must select a president who is not afraid to let those who by design or accident emerge as good or even better leaders than they. This phenomena is inevitable but is often met with resistance, sometimes deadly resistance in Africa but we don’t need such leaders.
Instead, we need a tolerant, comfortable in their shoes leader who welcomes the opposition as a healthy part of democracy, provided, of course, the opposition also abides by common acceptable rules and practices of being in the opposition, chief among which is respect for the office itself.
In other words, we must not elect a contender who sees his or her opponent or opponents as political enemies who must be destroyed by all means other than by ideology and/or issues.
Conversely, the electorate must be wary of contenders for the high office driven only by a desire to get there by any means, including utilization of the most wicked and common denominators such as tribalism and negative ethnicity.
Both must be rejected and have a candidate who rises above all of that and demonstrably so to be elected as our next president.
5. Inspiration, Vision and Self-Confidence
A transformational leader according to Dr. Burns must have the ability to provide inspirational motivation. This is done through the articulation of a vision, creation of optimism, and making sense of the environmental changes.
As noted above, Kenya needs an inspirational leader now more than ever before in our history. This is significantly because even though we have had dark periods in our history since independence, nothing compares to the stain from 2007 and early 2008 post-election violence (PEV) which remains literally visible as thousands of internally displaced persons remain in camps while not a single person has yet to be held accountable for the violence.
No one knows how the Ocampo Six cases will end. However, what we can all agree on is, no matter how the Ocampo Six cases progress or end, there has to be closure to PEV one way or another and the sooner the better.
Thus, we must demand and elect a president committed to bringing finality to this tragic chapter in our history and, to this end, the next president has to have uniting the country as his or her No. 1 priority upon being sworn as president.
There is no question tribalism and ethnicity loom large in our country’s psyche and have been and continue to be key in these bursts of violence but in choosing our next president, we must rise above this curse from colonial rule and demand and elect a person who transcends tribalism and negative ethnicity and who can inspire others to do same.
A key measure of one with ability to transcend tribalism and ethnicity and inspire others to do same while uniting the country is whether the individual is humble, respects others, has a proven record of compromise in the most difficult of circumstances, shows or has shown he or she is capable of admitting mistakes or wrongdoing, is in touch with or otherwise shows an understanding of the needs and aspirations of ordinary Kenyans, and has shown he or she is not afraid to tackle people’s problems even in the face of great adversity or at the cost of political and personal sacrifice.
Being inspirational in ending the vices that plague our country, including corruption, tribalism and negative ethnicity, is just but one aspect of inspirational ability we must demand of our next president; the other aspect is ability to inspire the nation to be engaged in bringing about other fundamental changes in our way of life.
The next president thus must have a clear vision as to how to bring about these fundamental changes, which should include in the least, transparency, accountability, improved and sustainable economic welfare, housing, health and education and by that I don’t mean merely pointing out what needs to be significantly changed for the better is, but providing a road map clearly laying down his or her plans to achieve these goals, how long it’ll take and how to pay for them.
This then, becomes one measure of success upon which the person elected on such promise can be held accountable on his or her re-election bid, if not sooner by recall.
Finally, but not least, even though we need and must have an inspirational leader, we must also distinguish those who are inspirational for all the wrong reasons. Hitler was very effective in manipulating people’s emotions to create so much hatred for other human beings to the points they allowed him to commit the abominable atrocities he unbelievably committed.
It is unlikely the world would ever see another Hitler but runners-up and would be’s are abound so we must be vigilant as against them to the extent they may wish, as noted above, to appeal to the most wicked common denominators among many a Kenyan and that is tribalism and negative ethnicity which can and has often easily been boiled to levels of unimaginable hatred and violence. We can and must do better.
Indeed, appeals to motion of this type, simply have no place in society neither do they solve but add to the the monumental problems and tasks ahead for the country.
In fact, the absence of this negative emotion will go a long way in ending tribalism and negative ethnicity in our country so Kenyans must reject those leaders who appeal to the people’s emotions along these tribal and ethnic considerations instead of having the country focusing on substantive issues and other things that unite but not divide us.
The foregoing comprises the basic and minimum qualities, attributes and skills I believe are essential and must be demanded of our next president. They are by no means exhaustive but they are the foundation and core upon which others evolve. I have not, for example, included the inner qualities such as fairness, impartiality, character, strength, and ability to recognize one’s limitations which go without saying as being essential and part and parcel of good leadership. I am in the final analysis confident if we elect a president with these basic qualities, attributes and skills, we will transform our country forever and for the better.
There are a number of predictions out there about December 21, 2012 (next Saturday!) being the end of the world as we know it. Some say the ancient Mayan calendar points to this this doomsday and specifically pick December 21, 2012 as the exact date because that’s the date the calendar comes to an end. Others talk of a Nostradamus doomsday of 2012. Is all this talk even necessary, let alone being something to think or worry about? Not really.
To be sure, from a Christian point of view, the end of the world is essentially the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This expectation is core in my Seventh Day Adventist faith and is firmly grounded in the Bible:
Jesus clearly foretold of his return: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Mathew 16:27 (KJV).
Yet he added that no one knew of the day and hour of his return, not the angels, not even he himself: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Mathew 24:36 (KJV).
Hence, strictly from this point of view, it is unwise to speculate about the date, place and manner of the Second Advent or the end of the world for that matter.
On the other hand, one of my favorite Bible verses from childhood to this day which I can still recite, one among many, anyway is “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3 (KJV).
This verse reiterates the Second Advent and explains why it’ll happen.
The question is, what are we supposed to do in the final days of the earth’s history, whenever that is? The Bible describes those who await Jesus’ return with these words: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelations 14:12 (KJV).
As one Adventist has put it, “The last generation doesn’t wait with fear, apprehension, or uncertainty, but with hope, faith, love, and action.” Alexis A Goring, in the Adventist World.
I say the same thing and add, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Luke 6:31 (BBE) or just be good and love everyone and you’ll be just fine.
Now, if the world does come to an end this Saturday as those predicting this say, at least they won’t be be around to say “I told you so!”
I am sometimes accused by some of being a “die-hard Railaist” but I think those who say so mean I am a die-hard Kenyan because that’s who I am first and foremost. I love our country and want the best for it and my strong and passionate support for Raila in his presidential bid is part of that because I strongly believe he has earned and has the vision and drive needed to fix many of the maladies in our country and put it on the right track forward.
I do not support Raila blindly as a “die-hard Railaist” which is what those who lob that charge basically intend to convey; rather, I support Raila because, after studying his leadership qualities and style and having observed the man in how he applies those qualities and skills, and further given his vision for the country, as compared to all who have expressed interest in the presidency, Raila is the right person to take over the presidency in our country at this time in our history and even more importantly he has a better chance above all others running for the office of not only leading but uniting the country after what we have gone through.
This is why I strongly and passionately support the Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga for President 2012.
I speak with authority on Raila’s qualities and electability as president because I was once his most avid critic prior to the elections of 2002 when those who know me know I was supporting Hon. Simeon Nyachae and his then presidential bid.
I therefore have an excellent vantage point to view the pros and cons of Raila as any who has been in my position can be.
For example, I will admit when I was on the other side of Raila, half of my railings against him were simply based on false propaganda that I unwittingly accepted and regurgitated without digesting and I see the same thing all over with Raila’s current critics and opponents here and on the ground. These avid critics have bought hook, line and sinker all the garbage, propaganda, lies and distortions from those bent on “blocking” Raila from becoming president as their one and only main agenda other than preserving corruption and impunity.
But it’s not too late for these critics to really come to grips and understand who this man Raila is and his ability to thrive against all odds. Raila is a rare politician and this is something many a folk in Kenya don’t realize or understand.
For my part, my coming to grips and understanding who Raila really is happened a long time ago but rapidly.
When Raila declared at Uhuru Park “Kibaki Tosha” everyone including yours truly knew everything was over for all other candidates save for some kind of serious miracle.
I soon thereafter took the time to understand Raila and what he stands for and came to realize the man is indeed an enigma in Kenyan politics as the title of his biography by Boladefi Badejo aptly captures.
In sum, having subjected Raila to scrutiny before as his critic and knowing everything there is to possibly know now about the man and his character, I and most observers have concluded he is the right person to lead our country from this point on, his critics notwithstanding.
I can go on and detail several other reasons backing up this conclusion but no time for that so let me highlight just one that I thinks captures the essence of all reasons why Raila is the man for the presidency this time around:
In 2007, the objective was to have Raila elected as a transition president, meaning he was to transition the country from the old to the new, in every respect, including ushering in a new constitution.
Although he was elected on this and other grounds, he was not sworn as president for obvious reasons.
Yet, even with his one hand tied in the back, Raila has managed to deliver on some of his campaign promises, chief among this being his working closely with President Kibaki to have the new constitution passed, saving the Mau forest, and most recently, forcing Kibaki to rescind his inappropriate and unconstitutional appointment of pivotal constitutional officers which led to the clean, lawful and unprecedented nomination today of Dr. Willy Mutunga as Chief Justice with lawyer Nancy Baraza, his deputy, an outcome all Kenyans must surely be proud of.
Much of Raila’s vision, however, remains unimplemented because he is obviously not president and what he does as Prime Minister is so hampered and circumscribed it is virtually impossible for him to implement the vision; he is doing the best but reality is the forces of impunity and status quo have thus far succeeded in thwarting a number of his efforts but being the fighter he is, he continues to fight own to the end.
In other words, because Raila was not sworn as president and given the vision he still has for the country, 2012 is basically 2007 all over for him–obviously cast in light of PEV and all that has happened since and even with all that, the country should and ought to give him the opportunity she gave him but was denied by others to do what he said he wanted to do for the county if elected president in 2007 that has not been done but needs to be done with his providing the guidance and leadership.
Yes, we went through an ugly period of time after the last general elections but every cloud has a silver ling and if all of us Kenyans have not learnt to forgive and love one another and value and respect our diverse ethnic and tribe affiliations, then that’s sad indeed but in terms of where we go from here, unifying the country has to be at the top of the list and there is no one better suited for this than Raila.
This is so because Raila has suffered and endured personally in his fight for reform but has since forgiven and even worked with those responsible for his suffering, including our former president himself.
Indeed, when Raila joined Moi and merged NDP with KANU in 1998, I was one of his harshest critics for that move as I could not understand how one could possibly break bread with his tormentor and antagonist. I thought RAO was abandoning his principles and what he suffered for but I should have known then what I do now that is, Raila is a visionary and very forgiving and certainly not a vindictive man; he is clearly a man on a mission and God sent I believe.
I have elsewhere on my other blogs noted how I thought before coming to America that Oloitiptip coined the maxim “If you can’t beat them, you join them” because I first heard that expression from him but this concept would become ever so clear to me when Raila’s joining Moi and KANU was explained to me to be an effort to reach an end objective he had sought all along and that is freeing the country from the yoke of corruption, impunity and general backward retrogression in progress and if that meant working with his tormentors, so be it.
When Moi pulled a fast one on him and his party by reneging on his (Moi’s) agreement to at least allow a fair and democratic selection process for a KANU candidate for president and instead dictated that candidate to be UK, Raila rightly walked out of KANU and his declaration of “Kibaki Tosha” not only sunk Moi and his UK project, it paved the way for the third generation transformation of the country underway.
All in all, these are just but some of the examples of how his experiences have shaped him as a leader and a better one at that; he is the same visionary Raila today and if he has changed in any way, it is for the better to the extent he has learned you cannot take anything for granted in politics, especially knowing you can win an election but not get sworn as president or that the very friends dining at your table today will tomorrow call you some of the nastiest names and wish for your downfall or will otherwise bite you several times in the back, and more.
I submit to you Raila will be a better candidate in 2012 than he was in 2007 for all these reasons and in spite of what happened post 07 precisely because dealing with all that as he has had to in response has made him a better leader.
Given as a whole the mission upon which Raila embarked to seek the change in the country going back to the 80s remains intact and given much of what he campaigned on in 2007 remain largely unaccomplished through no fault of his, Raila will make the case and I and others are confident the country will give him the opportunity to finally deliver on his mission and vision.
The honor and privilege to be so elected would surely be worth the struggles, suffering and calamities the man has met along the way.
The following is my response to an individual who raised a number of issues and allegations he thought explain the rift between Raila and Ruto. In this individual’s view, Ruto and Raila are both to blame but the individual makes a number of allegations why he thinks Raila is to be blamed more than Ruto for the rift. I show in my response that the individual is mistaken; Ruto, not Raila is far more responsible for the rift than anything Raila has said or done to cause the rift but I have elsewhere including here on this blog extended an olive branch in behalf of Raila and ODM for Ruto to seek amends with Raila and return to ODM where his political future is brighter and more certain and assured than any dalliances he might have with Uhuru or anyone else would ever lead to.
My response to the individual:
You have raised a number of issues that I do believe are sincere and not merely an effort to malign Raila. So, let me in the same spirit try to respond them one by one and hopefully you may see things differently as to these issues; at least enough to give the man a break for he has not acted with malice as you seem to suggest. I posted the other day a response to someone who believes Raila should resign as PM because in the view of this individual, Raila “omitted” to do something he did not name.
In that response, I posited that if this individual were to point out to Raila what it is he has omitted to do as PM which he has authority to do and has otherwise not been impeded by his distractors in the coalition government, then I am sure Raila will take note, apologize and get to whatever that issue is and were that to be the case, I further posited that the individual should forgive that omission and let the PM do his job, not demand for his resignation which does not make sense there being no ground to resign as it were.
You have a similar but different beef with Raila. While yours is not based on omission as this individual’s but commission, you both and like minded non-Raila supporters will be thrilled beyond expectation if Raila were to give his quest to lead the nation as president and retire to his farm in Bondo. The rest and majority of the country, however, will not be as thrilled because they are so looking forward to his taking the helm of leadership and finally deliver on the promise they elected him in 2007.
Now, as to the specific issues you raise, let me address them this way:
You say, regarding problems between Raila and Ruto, “I heap a bigger share on Raila though Ruto too contributed.”
I commend you for this observation because it shows you are at least somewhat objective. I say Ruto, however, has a bigger share of the blame if anything for being disloyal. I can go on and on on this point alone but let me not but only add that, were Ruto to remain loyal as a Raila supporter, if he ever was (I maintain he was never a loyal supporter), none of the issues you raise or he has with Raila could not have been amicably resolved within the family of ODM. He was or became disloyal and others would say even extremely selfish and that is the genesis of his problems with Raila and ODM, not the issues you raise below I am about to show you why they are not real issues.
You say, “Ruto campaigned with vigor for Raila in the last election…”
Ruto’s campaigning with vigor for Raila is a non-issue and here is why: When Ruto failed to convince his mentor, Moi, to support him as a KANU presidential candidate for 2007, Ruto sought greener pastures in ODM, which overwhelmingly chose Raila is its flag bearer for the 2007 presidential election. Having lost the nomination to Raila, Ruto had two choices: Support Raila in his bid for the presidency or quit the party for yet other greener pastures. He chose to support Raila. Having chosen to support Raila in his bid for the presidency, it was expected of him and all others in the party to campaign with vigor for Raila. That’s part of what is called party loyalty.
You say, “I don’t know of anybody else who can match what he did for Raila, not even Mudavadi and that explains why he is very bitter with Raila.”
Ruto himself admitted in the Waki Report that Kalenjins were ready to vote en masse for anyone other than Kibaki and long before Ruto joined ODM, Raila had made inroads in the region to the point it was a foregone conclusion he will carry it; Ruto came along for the ride to victory therefore he cannot possibly make the case he did more for Raila than anyone else in 2007 and neither should you.
You say, “He spend alot of money and time to campaign for ODM and her presidential candidate and as we all know it ended up where everybody knows.”
How much of this money is the fruit of the various scandals he has been accused of? How much of that came from ODM? How much of that was spent for his own reelection? Is this not crying crocodile tears?
You say, “Once he was safely in government, [Raila] chose to work and surround himself with his tribesmen (Orengo, Nyongo, Kwajwang and some MPs) ignoring those who helped him in the campaigns (Pentagon).”
I miss your point: are you saying Raila should have shunned these individuals because they are his “tribesmen?” Also, who exactly did Raila ignore at the Pentagon who helped him in the campaigns?
You say, “He became inaccessible to those who fought for him and it is at this point where the rains started falling.”
Please name names, who, when and where. I am fairly certain none of that list would include Ruto or any representative from the region with a need for access. You, of course, will agree access to a person of Raila’s stature is not and cannot be easy; the man is so popular and in demand everyone wants to have access but unfortunately that’s just not possible, if he has to do his job effectively so unless you have evidence that Raila denied access to Ruto or any representative from the region, then I am afraid this remains a charge with no proof.
You say, “Akina Ruto started complaining, but instead of listening to them, he unleashed his foot soldiers (Olago, Miguna, Olweny etc) to undermine them (he saw an opportunity to get rid of his opponents within ODM) and this is where the pentagon died!!”
In fact, Raila heard and listened to Ruto’s whining and complaining to the point it became annoying, especially when Ruto started being openly disloyal and disrespectful of Raila and ODM. Raila did not send “foot soldiers” to undermine Ruto; rather, Ruto undermined himself by being shortsighted and allowing himself to be misled by people who could care less what happens to his political future, once they are done with him and that’s where he finds himself today and thus my appeal for him to come off his high horses and find a way to return to ODM which has much, much better prospects for him than anywhere else.
As for the Pentagon, the fact is this was an electioneering instrument; it ceased to exist on the day Raila signed the coalition government agreement. All pentagon members, including Ruto became part of the coalition government. There were no elections to run until the next circle so your attributing the “death” of the Pentagon to Ruto’s whining is actually factually incorrect and even if that were not the case, the death of an organization or structure due to his whining and complaining without basis in fact is not something Ruto should be proud of.
You say, “at this point, I think somebody must have been mis-advising him because he developed a very thick skin to criticisms from his supporters…”
First of all I assume you meant to claim that Raila developed a “thin” not “thick” skin and that being your charge, I and most people who have observed Raila for years will beg to differ and can tell you Raila is perhaps one individual with the thickest skins in Kenyan politics other than a number of fallen heroes including his own father. Indeed, he is so thick skinned, he has let Ruto stay in ODM to this day while he could have had him thrown out a long time ago, if he was that thin skinned.
You say, “this is where he could have arrested the dissent that was building up but instead of talking to the Kalenjin leaders (Ruto) he fueled it by trying bypass the elected leaders to work with losers (akina Sirma and Bett) which backfired badly!!”
This charge is really an insult not only of Honorable Musa Sirma but the entire Kalenjin community. Ruto having become ridiculously silly and obstinate in his political antics, Raila had every right to find other leaders to work with in the region to further their interests Ruto obviously did not care about even as he was going around falsely claiming otherwise. I can go on and on here about the lies Ruto has told the people of Rift Valley about Raila in efforts to alienate them from him but that will take the whole day I don’t have the time for that other than to say, the Kalenjins are wiser than simply following Ruto when they see he is leading them to a bottomless abyss. Sirma, Langat, Bett, Ntimama and other leaders from the region who have stayed with Raila despite great pressure from Ruto’s lies are not “losers.” Quite the contrary, they are winners and will in the end save the region from Ruto’s efforts to sink it with him, if he does not reverse course quick and be saved as well.
You say,”Then came the calls (Ruto leading) for those who were arrested (most of them Kalenjins) to be released, and this is where another problem came up!!! it needed tact to navigate the situation as all being held at that time was his supporters but the PM also did the unexpected!! he called for those arrested to be jailed!!”
You are either ignorant of the facts surrounding this issue or you have deliberately told a bold lie. Raila, as ODM Chairman, led, not Ruto, efforts to obtain amnesty for most of the individuals arrested following the violence on the factual basis they were just demonstrators, not killers and rapists and other criminals who committed criminal offenses even you would agree belong in jail. Please review the Waki Report and familiarize yourself with the facts and issues in this complex saga that is still unfolding. This report will also show you how wrong in the rest of your charges against Raila on PEV that I need not therefore respond to.
You say, “Then came the Mau!! here the PM failed miserably!! he was given a hot potato (bait) by his co-principal and he swallowed it line hook and sinker!! and this is one of those things which make me doubt the intelligence of the PM and his advisors!!”
The Mau issue is yet another one of those false issues Ruto cleverly but wrongly manufactured along the way in his crusade against Raila that not only is hypocritical and pathetic but perhaps the single most important evidence of Ruto’s character flaw. To exploit an issue of such environmental and national significance for shortsighted political gain is abominable. Again, this is one of those issues I can spend a whole day analyzing, edifying and otherwise showing how Raila has been all right about it and Ruto and a few others completely culpably wrong but no need to; most people who know better than follow lies and distortions know the truth but if you care to fully understand why Raila has taken the stance he has in the national interest, just Google it and learn.
Perhaps, to put an exclamation point to this, let me answer the you ask,”why would you want to do something like that without looking at the politics involved? didn’t he remembered Kibaki handing over titles to the same people in 2005 during the referendum? and was it not Kibaki now telling him to lead eviction of the same people?”
The answer: As he has proven over and over, Raila puts country first and politics second in addressing questions and national significance. This is what a leader does. A political opportunist, on the other hand, puts politics first, country second, which is what you would have wanted Raila to do by your questions. Raila is beyond that and would not let politics dictate what he does when national interests are at stake. Had Raila ceded to Ruto’s lies and distortions in the fight to save the Mau forest, all Kenyans would have lost in a manner we could not possibly recover.
Thank God Raila won the battle and the Mau forest is saved for all to benefit.
BTW, do you stop to think if Raila is being blamed for things he has not done or has no control over, what do you think would happen to him if he abdicated on his responsibility to lead the fight against the destruction of the Mau forest when all the dozens of rivers and five lakes the forest feed dried up and there was no more water in the country from these sources? Do you now get what Raila has to deal with? This is what makes him a true leader the country needs at this point in our history and is the reason I believe he will be so elected.
You say, “Now, did you expected Ruto to keep quite when all that was happening?
Yes. Ruto should have kept quiet and enjoyed the coattails of Raila’s victory at the elections rather than creating these phony issues, which have done nothing but adding to the distructions Raila has to deal with in addition to managing the affairs of the country as PM.
You say, “I think you can go ahead and deny all that but, the fact is, Raila failed the Kalenjins who voted for him almost to a man and he failed them big time!!”
I have not denied anything you have said; I have instead refuted everything you have alleged here.
You say, “there are better ways of doing things than the way the PM did without causing the fallout that followed his actions…”
There is nothing Raila could have done more than he has done and continues to do to prevent Ruto from engaging in the antics he is given it’s all about Ruto and if you call this a “fall-out” it’s a fallout without consquence to Raila’s likely election as our next president. Again, I as many others I know in ODM extend a welcome mart for Ruto to return to the party and if you follow any of my postings, I for one I have long since forgiven him for all his misdeeds pain he has caused the party. I think it was Indira Gandhi who said you cannot shake a hand with a clenched fist. ODM’s hand is wide open and extended the question is, is Ruto’s open or is it a clenched fist. I hope the former.
You say, “now I want you to go ahead and mention the things you believe Ruto did to Raila to an extend that he chose to bypassed him and worked with akina Sirma.”
He lies about Raila too much. By constantly lying to the people of Rift Valley, he showed contempt for them (hopefully not anymore). He has not once told the truth about his relationship with Raila since he decided for whatever reason to go against Raila and ODM. He was disloyal to Raila long before he even joined the party. He wrongly believes Raila owes him political patronage beyond what he received. He has not once cared about building the party from the day Raila entered into a coalition government agreement with Kibaki. He has since, in fact, worked to destroy the party but failed.
Again, all these notwithstanding, I still encourage him to return to ODM for his own benefit and the party will resume working with him to deliver on the promise given to his constituents that has so far been made difficult, if not impossible to achieve because of his antics.