Raila, Being Luo and Kenyan Politics

21 Jan


Why does Raila and being a Luo in general get people worked up in such a frenzy such that many are now going into overdrive and hyperventilating because of disputed polling in a couple of counties out of the 47 the Cord coalition held successful and peaceful elections?

All this while the elephant in the house—the monumental failure by the Jubilee coalition, the only other serious contender challenging Cord—sits pretty; why?

The answer is very simple: throughout the history of mankind, great leaders have had the misfortune to attract both those who love them and those who hate them with equal fervor, if not worse.

Indeed, great as any leader can be, the each expect a great deal of hostility and opposition to what they do; however, the hate and vitriol directed at Raila is unprecedented in Kenya albeit comparable to other world leaders who have and continue to suffer the same fate.

President Barrack Obama of the United States, who is certain to rise to a level of greatness comparable to that of a few leaders before him such as Abraham Lincoln,  is so hated among many on his right of politics, they literally could kill him if they had the opportunity.

We, of course, know Lincoln himself was fallen by a bullet from a hater and part of a larger conspiracy of haters who did not want Lincoln to succeed in crushing the confederacy cause—a cause woven together primarily in its desire to keep blacks as slaves forever.

John F Kennedy, the most famous of all assassinated great leaders had so many haters and enemies, it will never be known under whose orders exactly was he gunned down but much as that may be the case, JFK, like Lincoln before him, had millions of people who loved and admired him than the few who hated or wanted him dead.

We, of course, cannot talk about great leaders who were loved by many but hated by a few who wanted him dead and their wicked wishes were satisfied with his assassination without mentioning the one and only Dr. Martin Luther King.

And these are only some of the examples from the United States; I can go on and recount for you similar cases in South America, Europe, Asia, and so on but no need to as that will result in writing a book.

The point is, Raila and us all must accept the reality with greatness also comes the price of being hated by those who can’t offer a single, rational reason why.

We are not here talking about hating leaders for their policies of which former President George Bush of the US and France’s

Rather, we are talking about irrational, visceral hate of leaders like Raila who those who know them beyond what is projected in the media, know they’re very humble, affable individuals who would not harm, let alone hate anyone.

Yet, their haters peddle all kinds of hatred and lies about them the unwary by propensity of human nature may be inclined and, in fact fall victim in perpetuating the lie.

Truth is, Raila is none of the evil things you hear his haters and opponents peddle.

That’s not to say he is perfect or that he suffers no frailties or weaknesses; he does for he’s human being like everyone else.

What matters is in comparison to his good qualities viz his weakness relative to all others vying for the presidency, Raila comes on top as the best qualified to lead our country after President Mwai Kibaki’s attempt.

And for those who don’t know the man very well and may have formed some distorted view of him due to the lies by his haters and enemies, here are some basic truths about the man:

Some Basic Truths About Mr. Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya:

  1. He is funny
  2. He is serious
  3. He is courageous
  4. He is cautionary and circumspect
  5. He is an original thinker and visionary
  6. He is always underestimated and second-guessed
  7. He is the object of hate and vitriol
  8. He has the gift of what has been described as “encyclopaedic” memory, yet
  9. He is as forgiving a politician as you are going to find anywhere
  10. He is humble
  11. He has suffered and endured the most physical and psychological pain for the sake of our country none of his opponents and enemies have
  12. He is a loving and caring father and husband
  13. He knows and readily admits his limitations as a human being
  14. His enemies claim he is “demi-god” worshiped by his admirers and supporters
  15. He is intelligent and a master strategist
  16. His advisers and strategists are dismissed as sycophants
  17. He is as honest a politician as you are going to find
  18. He has inspired a whole industry that shamelessly thrives on peddling lies and distortions about him
  19. He is clean and free of the worst of corruption that has plagued our country
  20. His corrupt opponents and others who benefit from corruption do not want him as president
  21. He is the most qualified of all those running for president to be elected as one.

I could go on but you get the picture this is a picture of a man one couldn’t ask for more to be our next leader in Kenya.

As for being a Luo, let’s just start with the basic proposition and truth and that is, for whatever reason, each community or tribe has for one reason or another, valid or not, built an image prone to general characterizations that may or may not be accurate but, as a general rule, general characterization can be lethal to an individual from the same community who may not have or share in those characterizations, especially the negative ones.

However, if such an individual overcomes the negative group generations and emerges as a leader at the top, he or she does all good by eradicating or at least equalizing such negative characterizations and, in fact, victimization on account of merely belonging to the so characterized group or community.

Thus, when for years and decades it was believed a Catholic will never be elected as president in the United States as president, JFK proved the country wrong by being elected despite being a Catholic.

As a result, officer seekers from all other denominations that were previously discriminated against saw that as an opening to venture into politics and they did so much so such that Mitt Romney, a Mormon, nearly became elected as president when conventional wisdom held he couldn’t even get past the nomination by the Republican Party so dominated by evangelicals who think Mormon is a cult, not a religion.

We all know about the centuries old held backward belief that a black man or woman for that matter, could not be elected president.

Well, our brother President Barrack Hussain Obama proved everyone who held that believe wrong and yesterday he was sworn for the second time as president of the United States, clearing the bar now for the first woman to be elected and that many hope to be the woman he trounced on the way in becoming the first black president, Hilary Clinton.

In Kenya, Raila must overcome not only being loathed by a few who really have no rational reason to do so other than perhaps the fact that he is a Luo, he also must overcome the stupidly held notion that Kenya can’t be led by a Luo—stupid because there is no rational reason why and any advanced such as because of their traditions and customs are stupid on their face.

This is something Raila is on the verge of doing, namely, overcoming this individual loathing of him as well the stereotypes about Luos and upon doing so, he, like JFK and Obama, he shall erase these invidious beliefs built on false notions of superiority when we were all created equally different not in any innate characteristic or trait peculiar to one group or another in natural ability to be or not to be what one can be.

As for the loathing of Luos in general and their share of stereotyping, this can be attributed either to ignorance or because of the manifestation of greater bravado and pride relative to other communities, which is often mistaken for a bad thing even where it’s not, and that’s generally the case, namely, the latter.

For more of this, please read Bravado and Pride of Luos: Fact or Myth?

Some excerpts:

As the psychologist said in the article, there is nothing wrong to express pride for oneself of one’s community; the problem is if one does it excessively.

What is excessive?

That’s the question but it’s not one which renders itself to a simple answer.

As in such questions, the answer depends on any number of factors and circumstances presented for evaluation.

The soccer fan at Nyayo Stadium with a jersey announcing he is from such and such village, is probably out-of-place.

It’s not villages that are in competition, but groups of villages, as represented by these teams therefore the promotion of one village over the others is in by itself the definition of anti-teamwork, which is necessarily counterintuitive and counterproductive, if displaying such messages intended to express oneness with the team, or support for it.

Now, on the larger question of bravado and pride, I find it a fascinating subject because it’s both a good thing but equally undesirable.

I come from a family of 10, with one mother, who is still around and we are thankful to God for that.

Our Mzee passed on a few years ago but if there is one thing he left in all of his children starting from our oldest now over 70 and retired to yours truly, who is the youngest, it’s never to chest-thumb or otherwise brag and none of us ever has and doubt ever will, as anyone who knows us will tell you.

There is greatness in being humble, but don’t be average either.

That was the lesson all of us learned from our Mzee who, having retired early as the head of the African Tribunal Court, went on to become a highly respected member of the community, besides becoming a staunch Adventist and elder of our SDA Church to the day he passed on.

I am glad I and my siblings learned this lesson and applied it in our lives as we grew up and hopefully have passed it on to our children (to say we have, is not to be humble so I can’t say we have or have not, or is it?).

But is being the opposite necessarily a bad thing?

In other words, isn’t there some utility in bravado and one proudly expressing oneself?

I think so, but only to some extent.

This, namely bravado and proudly expressing oneself and its appropriateness, in fact, becomes one of degree, but the question, as I posed above becomes, when is such expression excessive?

There are two extremes of this, as in many things, ranging from the most arrogant to the most humble.

Neither end is a desirable position to be, albeit for different reasons I address below.

Here in the US, there is a Radio Talk Show host by the name Rush Limbaugh, who someone once published a book he aptly titled, “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot.”

That book sold like hot cakes and its author, Al Franken, is now a United States Senator.

This Big Fat Idiot, Rush Limbaugh must win hands-down, the title, the World’s Most Arrogant Person, and all you have to do, is to listen to the various ways he introduces himself to know he takes the title hands down:

“Talent on Loan from God,” “Maha-Rushi” (from Maharishi, a great sage);     ”Serving humanity just by being here, and it doesn’t matter where here is,” “exuding knowledge and information with half my brain tied behind my back, just to make it fair” (this from a High School-drop-out), “Doctor of Democracy” and so on.

We all know Idi Amini and the titles he bestowed on himself in his foolish believe that would make him the super military general he was not but for his effort, he must be mentioned alongside this Big Fat Idiot Rush Limbaugh for he must be his runner-up.

These two are representative of the one extreme of self-expression but say what anyone can about the Big Fat Idiot Rush Limbaugh, he has a cult-like following among Republicans and even non-Republican listeners that have for decades made him the #1 Talk Show Host and a position he has maintained unchallenged all those years because he knows how to grab and keep his audience with endless rants and raves about Democrats and hubris.

So much such that when he brags about himself, these mindless listeners believe him and often acknowledge and remind him as much.

On the other end of the scale, there is extreme humbleness, which is a form of weakness and here, the perfect example is Jimmy Carter.

You cannot find in any country’s history, a president more humble than Jimmy Carter, yet, he was deemed a failure, even though he redeemed himself after leaving office to become the most popular president out of office in American history, right up there with the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, FDR and JFK Kennedy, men who in their own time, were humble in their own ways albeit to a much lesser extent than Jimmy Carter.

In between, these two extremes, there is a variety of self-expression and manifestation of assuredness and humility or lack thereof that ranges in degree from the acceptable to the unacceptable.

Where are the Luos in all of that? Is it as the article implied on the Limbaugh end or the Carter end, or neither?

In my view, this is necessarily a mischievous rap on Luos.

Luos have no more bravado and neither are they more openly expressive of their pride than any other tribe in Kenya.

This may be true among the younger generation of Luos but in time, as people move away from their enclaves and interact with others, some of the learned habits are unlearned and a blending of attitudes and mannerisms occur such that it makes no difference where one tribally or ethnically comes from but that does not mean there are not those left with their old habits and manners they are unable to shake.

I therefore reject this notion that bravado and expression of self-pride is the stable of Luos but would readily agree, if it’s a matter of propensity we are talking about, then there is amble anecdotal evidence to suggest its more likely than not a Luo would manifest bravado and more readily and comfortably show his or her pride than similarly situation folk from other tribes but only up-to a certain age.

End excerpt.

What all this boils down to is this:

First, there is no rational basis for people to hate Raila to the extent they do.

Second, we all must transcend above tribalism in choosing our leaders at the national level, ditto for negative ethnicity when doing so at the local level.

Third, painting with a broad brush is never a good idea and neither is it judging and condemning people merely by where they come from or who they are related to or associate with; the former people there is nothing anyone can do about, the latter may be for legitimate reasons the one condemning will do the same thing were they in their shoe, including friendship and loyalty.

Fourth, much as we expect the best in all of our leaders, we must also accept the fact and reality no one is perfect the wise thing to do is compare the strengths and weaknesses of those vying for office and elect those most or best qualified between and among those vying, taking into consideration we are not electing saints.

Fifth, always remember the ones shouting the most about Raila this, Raila that all evil and spewing hatred of him have nothing but ill-advised, tribal or selfish reasons for doing so that have nothing to do with the interests of our beloved country and must therefore be dismissed and shunned accordingly by those who love or care about the country.

It is my hope and prayer that the man will overcome all of that hate and schemes to “stop” him from being reelected as president and this time have him sworn as our next president to do the things he has promised to do as the transformative leader he is and must be by his own recognition and intent.

Above all, may there be peace and unity in the country after the elections.

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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Politics


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