The first time I met Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta was back in November 2003 during the Kenya Consultative Group Meeting at Safari Park hosted by Hon. David Mwiraria, then Minister for Finance and Mr. Makhtar Diop, then World Bank Director for Kenya, Eritrea and Somalia. The two would after the morning session have me kicked out of the meeting but I had by then heard quite a bit of good stuff.
What actually happened was my attendance at this crucial donor meeting was arranged through the World Bank, Washington, DC office in my capacity as a representative of the Kenya Diaspora Network (KDN), an organization I and others were approached by the World Bank to form in efforts to organize Kenyans in the diaspora with a view to provide an avenue to contribute in our country’s economic growth beyond the disjointed and ineffective manner we do this to this day.
Some sharp eyed dude, and I believe it was PS Nalo, spotted me sitting somewhere in the audience–or either that he knew everyone in attendance, which I doubt as it was quite a sizable one but be that as it may have been, the gentleman sent someone to inquire from me who the heck I was to which I simply told him my name and that I was an observer from the World Bank.
Long story short, I was politely asked not to attend the afternoon session as this was “a very sensitive meeting only those invited by Mwiraria or Diop had permission to attend.”
I obliged but, before being kicked out, I had occasion to hear and observe a few things which many rarely get to do—and those have still kept me informed about our government to this day.
For those who follow my blog or have read one in which I mention this meeting, this is the same event where a then minister and then friend now pretending to vie for president gave some lame excuse for not giving yours truly a ride back to town as his own driver was held in traffic coming back to pick him up.
This is also the same event during lunch, yours truly sat next to the ever smiling former Attorney General Amos Wako and thought it might be a good opportunity to inquire what the good AG thought about some nuance regarding the dual citizenship provision in the then draft constitution.
Either the good AG was enjoying his lunch too much to the point he had no clue what I was talking about or he simply had no clue what that nuance was with the net effect being the same, namely, yours truly coming away with the impression here we are fighting for something our AG didn’t really care that much about to have or take a position respecting that nuance.
Ironically enough, I would years later during promulgation find myself standing next to the good AG as the PM was addressing the crowd at the Carnivore and was very tempted to ask the good AG if he still didn’t have a clue about the nuance involving dual citizenship but we were all in a jolly spirit and could not spoil the mood.
Anyway, I digress but back to UK, I had occasion as I mentioned above to be introduced to him by a friend I happened to have a chat with when UK walked by at the venue of the meeting at Safari Park, just before the meeting was gavelled to order.
It was a brief intro and chat with UK but I recall later that evening telling some friends at a usual hang-out that I had heard UK speak off-camera and told them to me, he sounded very articulate, knowledgeable, intelligent and, quite frankly, presidential material.
I said so because prior to that time, all I really knew about UK were all the stories I am sure many of you have heard about him from Boston days through others since he returned home.
As far as being president—or more precisely not being presidential material, my objection and opposition was as I am sure was the case with all other Kenyans who did not support the idea not just based on the fact that he was a Moi project, he was simply and factually not ready for the job–and some would argue that to be the case even to this day.
I took delight back then (2002) in trashing UK, Moi and Raila in favor of my preferred candidate then, my good friend and one of my political mentors Omogaka Simeon Nyachae.
The only thing I never did as I am incapable of doing so is spewing hate against any of them; including Raila who I have previously disclosed that I was as anti-him as anyone other than the haters.
I never understand why people hate so much.
Disagree and critique as I did back then, yes but not to the level of venomous hate and vitriol you see leveled against Raila by his haters on the Internet and elsewhere.
I digress again but, back to when I met UK at Safari Park and heard him speak one on one, I was impressed at how articulate he was and obviously concluded he was not the dumb bloke many have wrongly come to believe about him, even to this day.
The second time I met UK was years later during the referendum.
In fact, it was the day after the referendum when I met him in the company of his wife at a mutual friend’s home.
He was there with his wife and I happen to have been headed to the airport to leave for the US and had stopped by to say goodbye to my friend and told him so.
It was clear UK was just as excited about the referendum outcome and if he wasn’t, he had a poor manner of hiding the fact that he was not.
Indeed, as he hugged me goodbye he wondered out loud why I shouldn’t stay for the promulgation, which was to follow less than a month later on on August 27th I told him I had to leave but planned to return for the promulgation, which I did.
Fast forward to recently, some madman shared with another madman who doubles up as a moron a private and confidential email I sent to a handful of close friends and/or advisors of the PM, which the madman was copied.
In that email, I expressed something I had anyway publicly blogged about before and that is, it would be an interesting twist and irony if Raila, the son of our first Vice President would vie with UK, the son of our first president as his running mate.
When the aforementioned madman and moron published details of that email on the Internet, including the fact that I had suggested that UK be Raila’s running mate, I received an email from a relative, friend and supporter of Raila (and a few others) wondering if I had lost my mind; how could I possibly suggest that a “murderer” be Raila’s running mate?
I replied to them saying what I have said all along about these ICC cases.
If we are going to embrace the rule of law, then we must embrace all aspects of it—whether in favor or against our individual or even collective interests.
One fundamental tenet of the rule of law is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
I firmly believe in this notion.
Even where someone has been convicted, there is still a good chance the person is innocent albeit less probable than in the case where guilty persons walk, which is more frequent and actually favored by the rule of law than convicting an innocent person.
Thus, as I told my friend and have stated before, the now Ocampo-4 are actually presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This is also the reason why I maintain none of them should be barred from vying for any public office as a matter of law.
However, that position does not mean any one of them cannot remove themselves for consideration as both a matter of personal morality and practical considerations in view of the serious charges they face.
I did take issue with UK and Ruto when they started going around the country planting seeds of discord following the confirmation of charges against them but, given they have dramatically scaled back the rhetoric and they are now busy scheming other means to deal with the elephant in the room, I say that’s fine so long as whatever they do is not divisive or hate based.
They’ll still likely not succeed, anyway, given what is known.
Ruto, I have only met him face to face one time, which I have previously blogged about and this was during peak of 2007 elections.
Although I had seen Ruto around and in various places both before and after the elections, the one time I recall that created an impression was at Fairview Hotel in which I have previously blogged about in Who Is William Ruto Part IV as follows:
I actually had an occasion to meet Ruto and four of the Pentagon Five at the Fairview Hotel in Nairobi just before the elections in 07 and told a Kalenjin friend I was with immediately after the meeting that, looking at that table, and given Ruto’s discomfort with our presence, it was my conclusion that Ruto could not possibly be on that team for much long after the elections.
I based my assessment on what I observed with the four sitting at table and told my friend this: there was Ruto, looking at Ngilu, Mudavadi and Balala and visually Raila who was not present at the time; of the four, he was the most visibly annoyed with our briefly joining them (we were actually there to have an unrelated lunch at a table next to the gazebo table where they were seated so we did the obligatory hello as we were passing by and actually had a very good chat with all but Ruto who was mum).
Be as it may, we moved on to our table after the brief chat and there I told my friend what I observed and thought: knowing he was the youngest of the four sitting there and the fifth Pentagon member who was not present but in his mind, Ruto must have surely been thinking if each ruled as president at a minimum one term, that would translate to 25 years before his turn arrived, going by the politics of the oldest first; if each ruled for a maximum two terms, he was then looking at 50 years before his turn. If you factor in the opposition taking one or two of those terms, add at least five more years, which whichever way he looked at it, he couldn’t possibly wait that long.
For this reason, I told my friend Ruto would soon have to find a way to cut the line and this could not possibly happen in ODM. The only way he could not have been thinking about this, I told my friend, was if he was given a pacifier in the form of a premiership which Ruto now claims he was promised but not given, never mind the person who he claims promised him this could not have offered him this as he was himself the Prime Minister.
My assessment of Ruto back in December 2007 to my friend and others has turned out to quite the case and I am sure others saw the same thing as Ruto has for all practical purposes abandoned ODM and seeks another path to State House shorter than what chance he has through ODM. There is one little stumbling block in the way, however, and that is the ICC.
In Part II of this blog, I will update the immediately preceding conclusion with respect to Ruto and where I think things stand or should stand with him relative to Raila and ODM.
If you are wondering where I am otherwise headed with this blog, then you’ll have to read Part II to make sense of it all, if you have not figured it already..