The following is my response to an avid and virulent Luo Raila distractor who posted his diatribe on various online Kenyan blogs; it’s a small book but it addresses what I call the Small Luo Problem (SLP), which in a nutshell is a small section of the Luo community which is anti-Raila for one reason or another that has nothing to do with his leadership or ability:
I was inclined not to read your posting after reading your opening fourth sentence where you say “Even if Raila was indeed the best candidate for president, which he isn’t in a looooooong shot, he still wouldn’t pull this one off” (emphasis mine) but I did anyway just to confirm what I had concluded after reading that sentence and that is (1) you cannot be objective; if you were an objective person, and even at worst a biased objective person as to Raila, you would have simply said, “which he is not in a long shot” instead of the heavily loaded phrase you chose to use I have quoted above (2) the use of the contracted negative auxiliary verb “isn’t” is not appropriate in any serious writing and (3) your first 3 sentences said all you needed to say for me to conclude you cannot be speaking from an informed, substantive and objective point of view, even if you are speaking as one opposed to Raila’s ascendency to the presidency of the Republic of Kenya.
To advance from where we have been and are, Kenyans must rise above both ethnic and person based politics, among other things. You are a Luo, RAO is a Luo but you are nonetheless engaged in ethnic politics because you are using your ethnicity to score a personal vendetta against Raila. This is my conclusion but let me go further and demonstrate this with your own words:
You say “[Raila] is too controversial and too divisive for the country…”
What evidence have you tabled to support your contention Raila is “too controversial and too divisive?” According to the most recent polling data from Kenya, as reported by the Standard Online Edition, Raila leads by far among those who have even a 2% chance of being elected; the closest person to him being Uhuru who is a distant second at 18%. And this is so even after the likes of you have been engaged in sleepless onslaught against him; is your assertion that Raila is “too controversial and too divisive” therefore not just that: an assertion without factual basis? Please do not answer; it’s a rhetorical question for the answer is obvious.
You say, “and any conceivable elevation of Raila to the presidency in Kenya just spells disaster for way too many people and interests.”
What disaster? Which people and what interests? Will you and those of you who are so vehemently opposed to Raila becoming president simply because he is Raila, be so dejected when he is re-elected again as president to the point you can describe it a disaster for you? Are these the “people” you are referring to? Will among those so dejected include masters of corruption and impunity? Are these the “interests” you are referring to? Please do not answer; these are rhetorical questions for the answers are obvious.
FN. Unless based on scientific and reliable polling, be wary of anyone who says “the people” have said this, or done that or have this in mind; it’s vintage appeal by trickery.
You say “It [electing Raila as president] is not a chance I as a voter or the country would be willing to take.”
First, speaking for yourself, then don’t take that chance; go ahead and vote for your preferred candidate who you have interestingly not told us in your diatribe who he or she is, let alone why. As for the “country” not taking a chance on Raila, and in case you do not know, this is why we have elections; the “country” will have the opportunity to elect a new president which is not a chance act, but a deliberate act informed or otherwise. I and others like minded prefer to await their verdict than your wishful thinking.
You say “[Raila] has burned practically all bridges any politician could possible burn and stand a realistic chance of being elected to a national office and in this instance, he is done!”
The only bridges that have been burned are bridges linking the likes of you with him. Those bridges can burn to ashes but Raila’s highway to the people is intact; some pot-holes here and there (this is Kenya after all we are talking about) but intact nonetheless as the above referenced survey shows. Raila can only make the highway better and smoother by fixing as many of those pot-holes as possible and I use “fixing” here to mean “repair.” So, Raila is not done as you obviously desperately wish; he is just getting started!
You say “[t]he political arithmetic simply does NOT favor Raila Odinga for president, call it tribally instigated or whatever, Kenyans are tired of the political theatrics and gamesmanships surrounding Raila and come 2012, the message will be delivered home, LOUD and CLEAR.”
Once again, according to the survey referenced above, you are in the minority on this view. As for which message will be delivered home “LOUD” and “CLEAR,” we shall find out after the elections shall we not?
You say “[n]obody wins without GEMA and Rift Valley, more than 50% of the country lives here, so does anyone in their right mind believe at this stage of the game that Raila Odinga has any meaningful votes in these regions? Add 60% of Eastern going against Raila, at least 50% in Kisii against Raila, and other splits around the country and you have a loser of epic proportions.”
This is, of course, the tribal and ethnic card you and like minded hope and pray stops Raila on his way to State House. Kenyans of the new Kenya have fortunately resolved to move beyond negative ethnicity and tribalism as we build the new country we almost all were happy to see reborn on August 27, 2010. There is guarded optimism that just as the elections of 2002 brought to a crushing end to the Moi era, the elections of 2012 will bring to an end ukabila as the sole determinative factor in presidential elections.
Are there vestiges of this disease that will remain with us for a long time to come? Sure; there are those who will still not vote for Raila solely because he is a Luo; Uhuru solely because he is a Kikuyu; Martha Karua solely because she is Kikuyu; Ruto solely because he is a Kalenjin and so on but it is up-to the candidates themselves to make the case why they should be elected president. The winner in my view will be the one who makes a good and strong enough case why they should be elected president for he or she will garner enough votes to win, tribalists notwithstanding. So, in my optimistic view and conclusion, you and like minded will be left languishing in the old where the politics of personal vendettas and tribalism thrive.
You say “[Raila’s] party has imploded…”
The Orange Democratic Movement is alive and well Ruto and Company’s exit notwithstanding. If you build a home and lose a portion of it through acts of God or man; you rebuild and move on. How much you rebuild depends on the damage done; if the foundation is shaken, then you may have to rebuild from scratch. If the foundation is not shaken, then you need only do necessary repairs to rebuild as the foundation is firm. ODM’s foundation is firm and to the extent the party needs to rebuild given Ruto’s shenanigans, minor repairs may be necessary. So, contrary to your wishful thinking, ODM has not “imploded.”
You say, as President Abraham Lincoln put it, “ a House divided against itself cannot stand”, so where is Odinga’s base? Name one Odinga affiliation (party of otherwise) over the last 15 years, or 10 or even 5 which is still standing today.
You have really outdone yourself here; Lincoln was addressing the sin of slavery in the speech you have quoted him above. In more context, this is what he said
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE CONVENTION: If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifty year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting and end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crises shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.
In other words, Lincoln was imploring his constituents to vote for him on his anti-slavery platform while assuring them his election will strengthen, not divide the Union, which came to pass with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 ending slavery. How then do you come from this to demanding to know where Raila’s base is? Would you not be better of demanding same without invoking the grandeur of Lincoln and his quest to both maintain the Union while bringing an end to slavery? BTW, of what relevance is an answer to this question to someone like you who has already declared you are neither Raila’s base nor supporter? If you must have an answer, how happy are you going to be when I tell you Raila’s base is Kenya? Yes, Kenya; not Luoland, Kissiland, Kalenjinland, Kambaland, Kikuyuland, or any other single or combined lands but the whole Kenyaland! Are you happy now knowing the answer or depressed?
You say “[a]nything this man [Raila] touches just goes under, the closest he came to the presidency we saw what happened, the country almost collapsed.
First, and fyi in case you were in another planet, the closest Raila came to the presidency was garnering a majority of votes cast for president in 2007 but was not sworn as president. Second, the country did not almost collapse; the country almost went into civil war because Raila won election as president but was not sworn as one. We avoided a civil war because Raila compromised with Kibaki to establish the coalition government we have today. That is the definition of a leader; doing what is right for the country not for himself which Raila has proven over and over he does and that is why I support him and believe he will be re-elected as president in 2012.
You say “I don’t know what it is about him [Raila], whether he is cursed but man, just about everything this man comes into contact with disintegrates and I sure as hell don’t want the same fate to my country as that of the many who can trace their demise back to Raila.”
This sounds like a personal vendetta to me; did Raila fail to give you a ride along Uhuru highway or something? Raila just concluded a successful official trip to the United States where he headlined an event and therefore was in contact with world business and political leaders; I have not heard of any of them having “disintegrated.” On the same trip, the Right Honorable Raila Odinga was in contact and addressed a diverse and enthusiastic group of Kenyans in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles; I have not heard of any of them having “disintegrated.” Do you know something Kenyans and the world does not know about Raila and “everything” he comes in contact with “disintegrating?” Or are you excluding humans from “everything?” If so, can you name what things have “disintegrated” after coming into contact with Raila? While you are at it, can you name the many who have “demised” because of Raila? Please do answer as these are not rhetorical questions.
You say, [n]ow to the specifics, Raila is NOT a reformist- he is a demagogue per excellence, name ONE reform agenda traceable directly to Raila, ONE!
The new Constitution.
You say , “[t]here is NO depth, substance or reach in Raila’s leadership no less than in all these so called leaders whom we need to sweep off the stage next year.”
You are obviously entitled to state your opinion; may I ask you after you sweep off the stage everyone in leadership now as you appear to suggest, who will you have as replacements? In a posting on my blog, I said the following in response to another posting:
There is a reason why job postings require experience of some kind and level of skill unless the job requires no skill or experience. Every political contender in all political societies going back to the ancient Greek society which started it all has had one or more characteristics a voter may deem undesirable or “baggage” but it is not perfection that is sought in good governance and politics, or age, or being a novice but in quantum possession of a combined good and bad native to all mortals but separated from the rest in the ultimate superiority in tested and proven leadership and visionary ability and qualities.
This is what we have to look to as we prepare to retire Kibaki and install his successor and in my book and a majority of Kenyans, Raila possesses the latter set of qualities and ability over and above everyone running or the same office and thus the reason I support him for president.
I proudly say this as a reformed anti-Railaist (2002) who since that time gave him another look and concluded he is the man.
I am sure you have heard or know the idiom do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Please apply it in all circumstances, including the underlying logic in your sweeping call to get off the stage all current leaders.
You say Raila is a deck of cards, a veneer that is blessed with a good gift of gab and affability not to mention a great family name.
I commend you for saying at least one good thing about Raila which never fall from the lips, or emanate from the fingers of other virulent distractors of Raila.
You say, “I am a big fan of the old man Jaramogi Oginga Odinga even though his politics may have also been the wrong fit for Kenya.”
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s politics were not “wrong fit” for Kenya. For one, the politics gave us one Jomo Kenyatta, unless you are of the view Kenyatta was a “wrong fit” for Kenya.
You say, [b]e that as it may, the son [Raila] took that which was bequeathed to him and has turned it into scorn.
What Jaramogi bequathed to his son Raila or the family for that matter and what he or Jaramogi’s family has done or not done with it is none of our business.
If by bequathing you mean intangibles such as name, fame, instillation of character values, philosophy, ideology, etc, then almost everyone save for those with your like thinking and motives will disagree with you. I, for one, remember giving an introductory speech at a function in Silver Spring, Maryland where Raila was a featured guest during the campaigns for 07 and I remember concluding that speech in directly speaking to Raila and telling him how proud his father, Jaramogi, would have been, especially on that day, which was Father’s Day, to know his son was on his way to State House as president. So, unlike you, I and many others know Raila has and continues to make his father happy and he ultimately in my view will carry his father’s mantle all the way to the presidency. He deserves nothing less.
You say, “I was pleasantly surprised when a group of “Luo Professionals” just recently opened up in a meeting with Uhuru to say they are just as tired of the “politics of one man”; finally the sons and daughters of this great community that sired the world’s most powerful man are willing to break the yokes of political bondage that has stagnated so many of them and to them I say, Hallelujah, join the free world. Free at last, Free at Last Thank God Almighty you will be free at last!”
Again, you unnecessarily invoke the grandeur and imagery of great American leaders with misplaced use. When Dr. Martin Luther King gave his passionate and compelling historic speech about his dream of an America where African Americans were free at last, he did not have your group of “Luo Professionals” in mind and neither did you have him in your mind when you paid homage to Uhuru, who I have actually met on a number of occasions and like as a person.
The rest of your diatribe is either a repeat of the above or not worth responding to so I close by imploring you to step back and ask yourself, if you don’t already know, why you are so virulently anti-Raila. If it is for personal reasons, I hope you find peace with it; if it’s on policy, I hope you articulate such. It cannot be what you have railed in your diatribe for none of that stands up to scrutiny such as the one I have provided here.
Peace, Love and Unity.
Samuel N. Omwenga, Esq,