In a feature article appearing in the Nairobi Star, titled “Will the Alternative Voices in Luo Politics End Odinga Dominance,” its author, Samuel Otieno gives us a good doze of both history and current affairs related to efforts to curb or eliminate the influence of the Odinga family in Luo politics but he does not actually answer the question he poses even though he leaves enough tale tells to suggest he believes the current breed of “rebels” may succeed in ending the Odinga domination of Luo politics.
I take the opposite view, namely, neither those peddling “alternative voices” nor anyone from Nyanza is going to succeed in stopping Raila from being elected president either working individually or in concert with others from elsewhere and there are several reasons for my coming to this conclusion.
Before addressing those reasons, it is important to point out that there is a stark difference as between day and night why people wanted to get rid of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and current efforts to stop his son Raila Amolo Odinga from ascending to the presidency.
In the case of Jaramogi, he was simply seen as both a threat to Kenyatta’s henchmen and even to Kenyatta himself but the two men had a bond and friendship Kenyatta himself would reveal in his angry outburst in Kisumu following the riots that explains why Jaramogi was not eliminated altogether.
Given Jaramogi could not be eliminated as others would down the road, Plan B was conceived and that entailed not ending but severely curbing Jaramogi’s influence in Nyanza by way of pitting the affable and equally flamboyant Tom Mboya against Jaramogi.
What Tom Mboya did not know or knew but thought he would outsmart the schemers, was that Plan C called for his elimination after curbing Jaramogi’s influence or otherwise reducing him (Jaramogi) to ordinary mortal status in Nyanza.
In contrast, those bent on ending the “Odinga dynasty” by stopping Raila from ascending to the presidency are not doing so because Raila is a threat to the president and neither are they doing so because he is a threat to them in the region; he is neither for in the first place, Raila successfully run and beat the president at the polls in 2007, if there was any elimination to be, it would have occurred then or before but no one, even those who hate or can’t stand Kibaki would ever even think of Kibaki going to that extent; steal elections, yes, but elimination of Raila, no; not just because the man was largely responsible for Kibaki’s own ascendency to the presidency or because like the duo before them, the two men are friends but because that would simply be out of character and out of place, given that era of the politics of physical elimination is behind—or one would hope so.
The other reason why Raila is not a threat to Kibaki, is Kibaki is retiring from the scene and I would even venture to say here and confidently so that if one were to penetrate Kibaki’s heart and soul and inquire what his wish is as far as the succession politics go, he will find an honest answer that Kibaki would far much rather have Raila as our next president than even the boys from his neighborhood seeking the same office, if anything for the simple reason Raila is the most qualified of all the candidates seeking the office.
As for why Raila is not a threat to those from the Lake Region who wish to stop him from being elected as president, one must first assume or it must be the case that those individuals either singly or collectively have something going for them to bring them to parity with Raila such that it can be said there is something worth threatening other than Raila’s mere presence on the scene.
A lion taking a nap in the park is no threat to no one unless awoken.
Now, can one make the case that the anti-Raila Luos can form an unholy alliance with others from outside the region to stop Raila?
Sure. But making a case is not the same thing as bringing it to fruition.
Indeed, if there is one thing those behind curbing Jaramogi’s influence and those now bent on stopping Raila from becoming president have in common, it is that both were and are driven by reasons that were antithetical to the unity and progress of our country, in the case of those intent on getting rid of Jaramogi and both antithetical and disingenuous in the case of those bent on stopping Raila because nobody can seriously argue that the PM who represents a constituency in Nairobi is also a Member of Parliament for all constituencies from the Lake Region such that all those, in fact, holding those positions and portfolios as MPs and/or ministers or assistant ministers are irrelevant in the representation of their respective constituent interests.
This is a fallacy that has been and continues to be propagated by these individuals but someone must call them out on it.
Which brings me to reasons why I do not think these individuals masquerading as an “alternative voice” will succeed in their efforts to stop Raila from being elected as president.
First, it is one thing hearing an alternative voice but what difference does it make if both are saying the same thing?
Put differently, what has Raila said or done that is antithetical to Luo interests? Citing the litany of imagined and unproven “corruption” can only persuade the unwary and most uninitiated but not anyone who bothers to know what the facts are.
This new breed of anti-Odingas claim they have “relaunched the battle” to “deliver the Luos” from what they call “individualistic politics,” arguing that the current trend of politics in Luo Nyanza “make the MPs owe loyalty to one person and not the community that elected them”, and hence “see no need for competitive development.”
It would behoove these individuals to start from the basics.
If the MPs “owe loyalty to one person” and if that is the reason the individual MP has not effectively represented the interests of his or her constituents or otherwise not brought development in their respective constituencies, then common sense would dictate that one goes after having that MP defeated at the polls, or better yet, have the person run against him or her and defeat them at the polls.
That you cannot do so, or are incapable of doing so, don’t blame it on Raila or MP’s loyalty to him–or anyone else for that matter.
That may otherwise have been true in the past but in this new political dispensation even where the parties must have open and fair nomination processes, only those in search of short-cuts to power should be complaining they are being shut out of power when in reality they can’t convince even ordinary voters to vote for them because either they are inept and arrogant as leaders or they come across as one.
Second, in every known political society, there is always going to be a family or individual that dominates the politics of the area upende usipende.
In the United States, a country with over 312 million people, two presidents have come from the same family on more than one occasion and even as close as father and son.
Go to any country and deep in the village or hinterland and ask and you’ll be told who the local king or queen is politically speaking so those railing against the Odinga “dynasty” only fail to recognize, or do but pretend not to, the fact that you cannot campaign against a notion that is as fundamental and natural part of politics unless you are naïve enough to believe you can single handedly rewrite the rules of politics that have been in place from since the inception of politics itself centuries ago.
In fact, a very compelling and persuasive case can and must be made, and I personally believe this, that every one of these individuals trying to end the Odinga dynasty are themselves desperately hoping and praying they start one of their own forgetting that dynasties are not created, they simply happen.
A smarter thing to do, is to study why and how they happen, and if becoming one is one’s fancy, then follow the rules.
You are not going to rewrite the rules in the process of trying to create one and please do not pretend or try to fool anyone that you are not interested in creating a dynasty, or at least having power and influence for the sake of having it and nothing else.
Third, and relatedly, these individuals claim that they are “ready to face any consequences pertaining their struggle to deliver the Luos from the yokes of individualism, and that lack of freedom of choice and the community worship of the Odinga family” which they further claim “has dragged down the Luo community.”
There is a mouthful of fallacies, disingenuity, and warped logic in this assertion but let me just point out one: Unlike these individuals, Raila is the one who has suffered the most, including being tortured for his struggle to liberate Kenyans from the yoke of post-colonial tyranny so to now accuse him of inhibiting the liberty of Luos or yoking them is more than just being illogical; it’s be outright disingenuous and being intellectually dishonest.
Fourth, those leading in these efforts claim that the “[Luo] community risks further exclusion from the main Government should Raila fail to clinch the presidency in 2012 hence the need to integrate with other communities.”
Again, several fallacies and misconceptions in this assertion as well but let me point out one in the form of their own contradiction: By aiding and abetting those bent on stopping Raila from ascending to the presidency simply because he is Raila and a Luo, whoever these anti-Raila Luos succeed, if they do, in offering such aid leading to the schemer’s success would betray their blind loyalty and support faster than you can say MOU and were that to be the case, then they will be the ones going village to village, house to house throughout the Lake Region begging for forgiveness.
Fortunately, those villagers and others in all 47 counties, led by their leaders know better than reward shenanigans that would result in the election of someone other than on basis of their merit but on account of hate or dislike of another who deserves being elected both on the merits and as a matter of practical reality as informed by his own personal history and that of our country as a whole.
Indeed, many of these anti-Raila Luos can only say much of what they say against Raila in these fora and anywhere but in the face of the very voters who in some cases have already rejected them as leaders to begin with.
If they want to prove their leadership ability, then let them go in the villages and make their case constituency by constituency and if they succeed in doing so and get elected or have their candidates elected on anti-Raila platform, then so much the better for they shall have proven they are not opportunistic and all talk.
Fifth, one of those spearheading this group of anti-Raila Luos is quoted as saying, “[the] results of following one path has removed Luos from most educated, most developed to the bottom, competing with marginalized community in North Eastern Province.”
This is an unfortunate comment that needs no further comment other than to say pitting one community against another is the very definition of disunity and stagnation or reversal of forward progress in that area and let me also mention the obvious and that is, education excellence or exposure to same is not a monopoly of the Luos only; rather, our country can progress beyond where we are if there is excellence in education delivery and equal opportunity for all, not some.
Finally, but not least, these anti-Raila Luos accuse the Odinga family of “marginalizing Nyanza Residents to one party thereby eroding gains associated with multipartyism.”
This is another fallacy.
Maltipartysm is not the solution to problems faced in Nyanza or anywhere else in the country; rather, the problem is having a government designed to work jointly between the coalition partners to bring about development but has not done so because one side, namely, the PNU part of the coalition has done and continues to do what it can to prevent or at least frustrate the PM’s efforts to do his job for fear his success is further assurance of their eventual obliteration from political power and influence.
It is an understandable fear but my counsel is let everyone, including those scheming to stop Raila from being elected president take solace in the fact that, if there is someone who can be elected and govern our country without even as an itch to revenge against his foes and enemies, it is Raila for he has proven he can forgive even the worst of his tormentors.
Conversely, should our country be cursed with the presidency of any of the schemers, then one can only hope it’s at least someone with an idea what they want to do for the country and the ability to do so beyond just stopping Raila as all of them are wont to do.