THE BEST OF MUTAHI NGUNYI PART TWO: Is Raila Odinga a turncoat revolutionary?

Is Raila Odinga a turncoat revolutionary?


15th June, 2008

The tragedy of the last election is not that we killed – this is how nations are made. The tragedy is that we continue to miss the point.Let me begin with the question of amnesty. The person who needs “amnesty” the most is President Kibaki because, under his leadership, our peaceful country was pushed to the brink  of a civil war.

For this, he committed a downright sin of omission. On their part, the ODM “boys” in custody committed the sin of commission through mayhem.

Like a spider web

Either way, both the president and the “boys” sinned. But as they say, the law is like a spider web: it catches the small flies and avoids the big birds. In our case, we want to fry the helpless “boys” and pretend that the “biggies” are innocent.

This is a lie, and we cannot bring national healing like this. Forgiveness should be unconditional and inclusive. If we grant President Kibaki “amnesty” for his sins of omission, we have to grant amnesty to the “boys” for their sins of commission. The alternative is to deny both of them.

What about Prime Minister Raila Odinga? Has he committed no sins in this charade? Mr Odinga is like Moses in the Holy Bible.

He has a calling, a mission and motive. Unlike Moses, however, he took a shortcut.

We sent him with this message to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” But when he got to Pharaoh’s palace, the man abandoned his mission. Instead of liberating the people, he agreed to share power with “Pharaoh”.

Can you imagine if Moses had agreed to become Prime Minister to Pharaoh on a 50-50 basis? I submit that Mr Odinga has done the unimaginable. And that is why he was booed by his Kisumu crowds in March.

Political ‘rogues’

In my view, “Pharaoh” is not President Kibaki alone. Pharaoh is a fellowship of economic and political “rogues”.

Mr Odinga was the people’s messenger to this fellowship. He was the symbol of struggle for the poor and downtrodden. But when he was given 50 per cent shares in the House of Pharaoh, the man became a turn-coat revolutionary.

And now he is telling us that opposition is bad. For a man who spent his entire adult life in opposition, this does not add up!

There is one more thing: once they made him Prime Minister, Mr Odinga abandoned the pursuit of portfolio balance and 50-50 power-sharing in the civil service. And his reasoning was that half a loaf of bread is better than nothing.

I do not disagree with that. My only problem is that the half-loaf was all eaten by the political bigwigs in ODM. The “boys” in custody and their sad mothers were given zero. Allow me to elaborate.

Immediately the power-sharing deal was sealed, the peace talks collapsed.

Now there is some professor, whose name we constantly forget, chairing the talks. The politicians have even asked him to go back to Nigeria or wherever he came from.

Yet this eminent professor is meant to cut a historic economic deal for the poor, listed at Agenda 4 of the peace talks.

And so I ask the question: If the politicians are not interested in this poverty agenda, should we replace them with Mungiki and other pro-poor groups at the Serena talks?

Should these groups take over and negotiate directly with the professor on behalf of the poor?

Economic frustration

I am not being flippant, but if the poor lose faith in our politics, we are in deep trouble. They will express their economic frustration through armed groups like Mungiki. In fact, we currently have around 25 armed groups operating country-wide.

What is more: the security men in our homes, and the house girls who cook our meals, are all connected to these Mungiki-type networks.

They come from Kibera, Kawangware, Mathare, and so on. And if one of their siblings or children is not a Mungiki-type, a friend who visits him definitely is. My point? We are not even safe in our homes; we should be afraid – very afraid.

Poverty crisis

This brings me back to Mr Odinga. Although he is becoming a “turn-coat”, he is the man to handle the poverty crisis.

Two things can be done. One, he should implement radical land reforms. A good starting point is what Lands Minister James Orengo is doing.

To the poor, this man has the “Moses magic” – he will liberate them from their landlessness. To the landed rich, he is a disaster, of course. But they are deluded.

The question is not whether their extensive land will be claimed by the poor. The question is when. And their best bet is to do the reforms with Mr Orengo ahead of the storm.

Two, Mr Odinga has no choice but to talk with Mungiki. My thinking is inspired by my late father, a former Mau Mau fighter.

On a jolly day, we would discuss the war and what inspired them as youths. But almost always, he drew parallels between Mau Mau and Mungiki. I often disagreed.

Leadership failure

And to this, he would accuse me of being romantic about Mau Mau. To him, Mungiki, like Mau Mau, is a response to leadership failure in the tribe.

That is why their first enemy was the conservative rich wazees in the tribe and then the colonial master in that order.

Like Mungiki therefore, they were looking for leadership, identity and a decent livelihood. They cried for inspiration, not condemnation.

Can Mr Odinga provide inspiration to Mungiki, the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) and the other protest movements? I think he can. And if he fails to, God will raise another Moses. Do I hear an ‘Amen!” from Mr William Ruto?

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