I saw this story on the Standard Online and the first thing that came to mind was, really?
The world’s poorest president? Is there such a thing? Who could it be?
Several other questions also came to mind such as, is it that possible or is this some kind of a joke? Isn’t the use of poorest and president together oxymoronic? And so on.
To cure my curiosity, I went straight to where one can find quick answers for questions like this, Wikipedia, and there I found the following entries about this president:
His mother’s family was composed of very poor Italian immigrants from Piemonte. His mother was born in Carmelo, where her parents, growers of vines, bought five acres in Colonia Estrella to cultivate vineyards. His father was a small farmer that was in bankruptcy shortly before his death in 1940, when Mujica was five.
That explains it, I said.
But, there was more,
His ‘folksy’ speaking style and manner is credited as part of his growing popularity since the late 1990s, especially among rural and poor sectors of the population.He has been variously described as an “antipolitician”[ and a man who “speaks the language of the people” while also receiving criticism for untimely or inappropriate remarks.
Then I thought, there is at least one thing he has in common with Obama and Raila: a man who speaks the language of the people, folksy style!
Is making untimely or inappropriate remarks something else he has in common with both of these gentlemen?
Sure; but what politician hasn’t made remarks that are untimely or inappropriate? I wondered.
None so I dug deeper into Wikipedia to see if I can find more similarities with this obviously admirable leader.
Then I found this one; it was actually right there at the beginning as I was hastily reading through the entries to find why this man could hold such an honorable title, or is it?
More on that later but, for now, here is what else I found as I was trying to find if there are any similarities with either of these leaders I was trying to compare him to, namely, Obama and Raila:
In the early 1960s, he joined the newly formed Tupamaros movement, an armed political group inspired by the Cuban revolution. He participated in the 1969 brief takeover of Pando, a town close to Montevideo, and was later convicted by a military tribunal under the government of Jorge Pacheco Areco, who had suspended certain constitutional guarantees. Mujica was captured by the authorities on four occasions, and he was among those political prisoners who escaped Punta Carretas Prison in 1971. He was eventually re-apprehended in 1972, and was shot by the police six times. After the military coup in 1973, he was transferred to a military prison where he served 14 years.
Viola!; this man is no doubt more Raila than Obama, even though all three men are admirable leaders in their own right but its the simpleness, unorthodox, down to earth and ability to relate to ordinary folk qualities of this president that peaked my interest as I wondered if this is not exactly the kind of person we need in Kenya as our next leader.
Put aside for a moment the Minimum Qualities and Skills Our Next President In Kenya Must Possess, isn’t someone like this by definition going to be a leader who can truly break with the past and take the country in a new direction where leadership of all levels is not obsessed with either amassing the most wealth or dreaming about it at the expense of actually doing anything to help ordinary folk?
That being the case, who among those vying for the presidency now in Kenya fits that bill?
Is there any doubt that’s none other than Raila?
The answer has to be and must be in the affirmative if the one answering were to be honest.
When I saw this man driving himself in this beat up and old Volkswagen, with no security detail within site and actually almost all by himself in some not to great looking place, I immediately thought about one of President Obama’s motorcade, see link at end of this blog.
Definitely one thing this president doesn’t have in common with Obama.
What about Raila; what’s his motorcade like?
A quick check finds the following:
Well, not exactly a Volkswagen but the commonality is there and more: one car among a mass of people.
Add one more on the similarities column comparing this poorest president of the world with Obama and Raila.
And then it downed on me; Raila is a simple, down to earth leader who relates and understands the common needs of ordinary Kenyans and much like this poorest president of the world who donates 87% of his salary to charitable causes, Raila is no doubt the one who comes closest in comparison to him when it comes to charitable contribution and helping the needy among those vying for president in Kenya.
I can hear someone breaking glass over my saying this but it’s true as anyone who actually knows what the Odingas do for individuals they have helped over the decades but not necessarily for public show.
Perhaps they need to make that known but there is no question if you ask ordinary Kenyans who among those vying is the most compassionate and unselfish when it comes to caring about our country and its people, that choice will be hands down Raila.
He will also likely be the least wealthiest president when he completes his term as president, if Kenyans give him the nod again; he may not rank as the poorest president or even very close to this real holder of that title, but he embodies values that will surely put him as as close to him more than any of those vying ever would, other than those who have no chance.
The point being, let Kenyans choose someone to lead us who cares more about the common needs of the ordinary Kenyan than enriching himself or his cronies.
It’ll be a repetition to say that person is none other than Raila Amolo Odinga.