I was saddened to read a story in today’s Standard Online about former MP Philemena Chelagat Mutai and her tribulations since before and after the Moi regime. I was particularly moved reading how the former MP is quoted as saying,”When things got too much, I decided to reach out to the Prime Minister and I am so happy he acted quickly to help save my life.”
Politics aside, I was just moved by the human story in this: while she is not alone in suffering in the country, Hon. Mutai is practically alone in suffering this much and for this long simply because she was among a small number of politicians who stood their ground against the Moi regime and KANU at a time even fewer politicians dared never to even try.
Conversely, had she played ball and lined her pockets with what was likely to be the reward, especially coming from Eldoret as she does, P Mutai probably will be at the top in the country in every respect and probably running for president herself.
What a sad irony in by itself.
Indeed, Hon. P Mutai’s saying she is happy the Prime Minister “acted quickly” to “save her life” says a lot not just about this unheralded hero of reforms in Kenya and RAO, the caring PM but it also says a lot about the state of our country where those who have been at the forefront in fighting corruption and impunity, such as Ms. Mutai have essentially been left to suffer the consequences of their unselfish, determined and nationalistic actions while the beneficiaries of the very corruption and high-handedness they fought are riding high and ebullient, even to this day.
Fortunately, the gallant efforts by Mutai and others are finally albeit slowly but surely coming to fruition as manifested in the passage of the new Constitution, and onwards now to implementation of the reforms they fought for in ensuring justice and equality of opportunity for all Kenyans.
To be sure, not all Kenyans have forgotten about these gallant efforts by Mutai and others, however.
By coming to Mutai’s rescue, the story confirms Raila as not just being the compassionate person he is–unlike false accusations to the contrary by some elements aghast about his success and prospects to be president, but the story also confirms that there are those jailed by Moi and who suffered immensely like Raila who would come to the aid of a fellow fighter and compatriot just as Raila has done, as soon as he found out, in this case after Mutai reached out to him for help.
Raila puts it best in saying about Mutai, “She has been with us in the liberation struggle. I was saddened to hear she has been sick and we decided to bring her here for specialised observation. We are trying to reach out and assist people who participated in making Kenya what it is today.” Emphasis mine.
I know the Dean of Raila Bashers and his understudies are fumigating and are about to blast away as to how this is “opportunistic” about Raila and blah blah blah but let them do so; they can’t help it.
The gallant politician herself, her family, her friends and people of good will from across the country, who read or hear about the story, know otherwise and that’s all that really matters about this.
By reaching out to Raila, Mutai did not do so in a vacuum or oblivious of the political implications of such a reach-out but she is sending a clear message about the same at the same time and that is, when it comes to addressing real problems faced by Kenyans, ethnicity, tribalism and politics do not matter and if reaching out to the Prime Minister is seen as an endorsement of him as opposed to Ruto or the other presidential contenders, who she could have easily reached out to as well, if she wanted to make the opposite point, then count her on the side of being practical and true to her reformist self for she has more in common with RAO on this than the rest.
Looking at it from another perspective, this story, in many ways, is the story of Kenya today: even as we prepare to enjoy the fruits of the new reforms, let’s not forget those who have made it possible.
There are many who are barely alive today who have been victims of simply agitating for reforms and change of direction in Kenya.
The least we can do for them, is to at least say “Thank You!” to them.
I would, indeed, propose that Parliament passes a law to provide for such a recognition, coupled with a lawful kitu kidogo.
Electing Raila as president, of course, will be the highest reward one can get for their suffering and struggle for the liberation of our country from the yoke of imperial rule and corruption and I hope he is so rewarded, among other reasons, come 2012.
On a lighter note, I could not but laugh out aloud right after reading the sad but moving Mutai quote above when reading about the one and only Charles Mugane Njonjo (CMN) and his branding of Mutai and six other MPs back in the day as the “Bearded Seven Sisters.”
I remember when he said this, even though I don’t think it was funny then.
Say what you may about CMN but he was just brilliant, even as he was being brutal.
I will some-day blog about when I first saw him in action from up in the gallery in Parliament during the 1984 inquiry into his activities. Needless to say, I was impressed and I don’t know anyone who saw or read what CMN had to say during that time, who was not.
Anyway, I am still laughing for I know Churchill and others are funny but even they would have been hard-put to come up with the “Bearded Seven Sisters” line when describing a group that clearly included Mutai, which was basically a derogatory reference to her as a woman (bearded), and a derogatory of the bearded men as being undesirable communists.
(CMN, I saw him at a hotel I was staying in Nairobi early this year and had to wish him a happy 80th, which he was quietly celebrating there that day with his close family and friends).
Kenya has had colourful politicians, some like CMN will remain equally loved, hated, admired, feared and despised looking back for just being who they are and they have no equal in this regard.
Some, like Hon. P Mutai have rapidly risen to higher political office, only to be forced down to the very bottom below even where they started in life because of their struggle to liberate Kenyans from abusive and brutal rule and have been languishing barely above it simply for being who they are and they, too, have no equal in that regard.
They may yet again arise to even greater heights, God willing.
Indeed, asked if she would rejoin politics, Mutai said: “When I leave hospital, I will shop for a political party that can accommodate my ideologies.”
ODM is home to at least one of the “Bearded Seven” and is led by your other fellow compatriot in the struggle for liberation.
ODM is therefore the way to go, Mheshimiwa.