Sometimes in the early 1980s an intelligent and ambitious young man made his debut in to Kenya’s political arena. Within no time, he was causing shockwaves across the political divide due to his extraordinary charisma and charm. This young man was none other than Raila Amolo Odinga – the scion of Kenya’s first Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.And Raila did not just shine faster than expected; the younger Odinga either by chance or by design would eventually replace his ageing father as the political kingpin of the expansive Luo Nyanza.
But perhaps more interesting is the fearlessness with which the young opposition loyalist criticized the Moi government; something not so common in the Kenya political scene at the time due to the ruthlessness of the KANU government in cracking down critics.
Of course Raila’s outspokenness did not go unpunished. He would soon be detained for a long time and become a guest of the state countless times. This however just made him more popular.
By the time the clamor for multiparty democracy gained momentum in 1990, Raila had become a darling of many Kenyans, more so the younger generation who saw him as the father of the struggle.
It is this enigma of multiparty politics that many of us came to know as we grew up and taught ourselves the art and science of the game. We knew of a different Raila from the one we know today. Personally, I was greatly moved by his decision to shelf presidential ambitions for sake of national unity by supporting Mwai Kibaki’s bid in 2002. Either, the manner in which he fought graft in the NARC government – which he was part of himself – was commendable.
Therefore, even long before he announced his presidential candidature for the 2007 election, I had already swore to support him. (Though I was barely old enough to vote)
As expected, supporting Raila in Central Kenya was suicidal and immediately the village nicknamed me ODM. After all, that was Kibaki’s backyard.
Lucky enough, I was not the only one with this opinion. I remember reading a weekly column -Last Word on Sunday – written by Mutahi Ngunyi in the Sunday Nation and I can vividly recall how the controversial political analyst idolized Baba as the revolutionary who would spearhead the Third Liberation; the youth revolution that Kenyans longed for.
However, a few days to the election, Mutahi Ngunyi had foreseen Raila’s imminent loss. He thus wrote this in his column: ‘Kibaki would lose the election, Raila would not win and that is how Kibaki would become the President!’
Today, several years later, the same Ngunyi has now become Agwambo’s biggest foe ever. He is disappointed. If you are in doubt, check a twitter handle by the username @MutahiNgunyi.
Back then, majority of the Kenyan top political class did not disagree either. Jakom’s outfit – Orange Democratic Movement – attracted who is who among the political class. Its top organ, The Pentagon, constituted of men who had won the hearts of their people from the respective regions they came from. William Ruto, Najib Balala, Musalia Mudavadi and Joe Nyagah all chose to be in the right side of history. But that is as far as the story goes.
The disputed 2007 election narrative is not alien to any one of us. Raila Odinga had won the election but was unable to take power. Mwai Kibaki had indeed out maneuvered him.
But it is the PEV that actually brought exposed Baba. It was the moment of truth. The real Agwambo came out. To the surprise of everyone, Baba was a wolf who had been hiding in a sheep’s skin all through. The man cared less for Wanjiku. It is this dawning reality that changed my perception of the man from Bondo forever. I discovered the truth and many of his compatriots did so too. They soon left him. Raila was simply a turncoat revolutionary. He had abandoned the cause.
His stint as Prime Minister even proved more how big a hypocrite Raila was. To date, he is accused of overseeing some of the biggest corruption scandals yet. For the five years he was in government, he is accused of spearheading massive looting of public coffers not to mention ensuring that he sacrificed his former 2007 teammates to the ICC for the sake of his own neck.
No wonder, President Uhuru Kenyatta beat him hands down in the 2013 polls.
Mark my word, his ship is set to sink even further come 2017. The man has outgrown his purpose. At this rate, he will actually retire in disgrace.
Honestly speaking, it is now not rocket science for all to see how crucial it had been for the former Lang’ata MP to call it a day in 2007- his heyday – when many of us still believed in him. Maybe that way he would have become a respected African statesman but as things stand now, the guy will go down as one of the biggest political failures in the history of our continent.
Alvan Kinyua is a Kenyan communications enthusiast, digital strategist/blogger, socio-political analyst and avid writer. He blogs on topical issues.