A national hero, despite you…

For the benefit of those who have the outstanding talent for jumping to conclusions for no other reason than perceived ethnicity, let me state upfront: I am NOT a Railamaniac, I did not vote for him, neither was he my preferred candidate had I been able to vote. I do not believe every word proceeding from his mouth is divine revelation, neither do I believe he is covered by a cloak of infallibility for all his deeds. Now feel free to read on.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga DOES NOT have a pair of horns, a pointed tail and a forked tongue! He does not exude fire and brimstone from his nose and mouth. He is NOT Lucifer – in fact he is not even one of the minor demons. He is not a malevolent force that must be cast out with loud prayers, foul language and ethnic scare-mongering! He is a mortal man, replete with human weaknesses as any of us are – but also endowed with talents and skills as any of us are.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga DID NOT conspire with his foreign masters to institute the Kenya cases at the International Criminal Court at the Hague: that honour goes to the Waki Commission, the Cabinet and the National Assembly – that is the unassailable fact and no amount of spin-doctory, however efficacious, can change that historical fact.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga DID NOT evict the squatters from the Mau Forest, that was a decision of Cabinet endorsed by Parliament. No amount of disinformation and misinformation, however ingenuous, can change that fact.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga is not any more power-hungry than any other politician that has sought office, including the highest office in the land. That is a label that attached to him by frequency of repeat by his opponents, and the gullibility of their followers and the Kenyan public at large.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga is no more avaricious than any other private sector entrepreneur, or any other political leader, in our crony-capitalist system. That ‘greedy’ has become one of his most enduring titles is not a reflection of objective fact, but testimony to the power of efficiently prosecuted propaganda.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga has achieved a lot in his life, and that it is accepted as fact that he has done ‘nothing’ with his years in politics is testament to the undiscerning minds of those that accept this fact as gospel truth – rather than a confirmation of its veracity.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga has indeed since 1992 been the Member of Parliament of an area that includes a very large slum with high levels of poverty. But the poverty in Kibera is no higher than the poverty in any other urban slum – and a huge number of rural constituencies. To blame this on him personally is an amazing twist of logic, especially considering no other Member of Parliament is similarly adjudged.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga has never to the best of my knowledge given cause to believe he is a vengeful and vindictive individual – that he has been so successfully labelled as such is attributable to the personal fears and nightmares of those that detained, tortured and exiled him. Indeed he has shown rare capacity to work with his ‘mortal’ enemies.

But of these sins, the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga is guilty: he, like every other leading politician has manipulated ethnicity to advance their ambition; he, like every other person in government, is culpable for the squandering of public resources, even if only by failure of adequate oversight; he like every other contestant in the just concluded elections has employed scare tactics, misinformation, disinformation and personal attacks against his opponents – either directly or through his surrogates and proxies. If he were even remotely guilty of the many legally-defined serious offences he has been accused of, and given the powerful people arraigned against him throughout his recent political career, Rt Hon Raila Amolo Odinga would be in jail – not contesting the presidency or the outcomes of the elections for the same!

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga is a man that stood and fought when lesser men turned tail and fled, or submissively acquiesced to great evil for personal benefit and/or political advancement. Was he unique in this? Of course not – there were many others that showed equal passion and fearlessness: Paul Muite, Gitobu Imanyara, Koigi wa Wamwere, Chibule wa Tsuma, Mashengu wa Mwachofi, George Anyona, Wanyiri Kihoro, John Khaminwa, Gibson Kamau Kuria, Davinder Singh Lamba, Peter Anyang’ Nyongo, Ms Martha Njoka nee Karua …. too many to name! This is the distinguished company in which he is counted.

But lo! This is forgotten history! Rt Hon Raila Odinga is the Devil’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in this corner of the earth! He has been liberally abused, derided and diminished by men whose greatest distinction is having been cogs in the machinery of a Police State that severely oppressed and brutalised Kenyans. He has been liberally insulted by snotty-nosed young whelps that were not even an idea when he and others suffered great tribulations that we may earn the right to insult them! He has become a by-word for the vilest lies, misinformation and disinformation.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, the Right Honourable Raila Amollo Odinga had equal right to contest the presidency, and an inalienable right to challenge the outcome of that contest in the Supreme Court of Kenya as provided for in our electoral laws. He is under no legal obligation whatsoever to concede if he has cause to believe that the contest was not free, fair, transparent, credible and in accordance with applicable laws. If contestants were never intended to challenge electoral outcomes, the law would not have made provision for such challenges – to concede would have been mandatory! By all means let us express our opinions on the folly or wisdom of the choice he has made, but shame on you and shame on you again if in your retarded mind you believe this gives you the right to insult him and the millions of fellow citizens that believed he was the right choice!

In conclusion, I quote Donald Rabala whom I am made to understand first authored these words. Whereas I do not agree with all his sentiments, it is a befitting third-party swansong for a remarkable man who has run a long race well, and whom history will show made a valuable contribution to the rise and rise of the Nation of Kenya:

One day, you will remember Raila Amolo Odinga. A leader who fought for multi-partism and democracy. A leader who accepted the pain of torture and detention. Without him, there would be no TNA, URP, FORD, ODM and the likes.

One day you will remember Raila Amolo Odinga. The only Luo leader who endorsed a Kikuyu president and through him, the Rainbow Coalition was formed. Kibaki, a Kikuyu, became president. And when the time to return the favour came, the people from the mountains turned their faces against him. They called him a dictator and a tribalist. Yet, he had once supported one of their own….

One day you will remember Raila Amolo Odinga. A leader determined to save the Mau forest. And when he condemned illegal harvesting of trees by settlers in the forests, he was called a betrayer by the people from the valley. To them, Raila Amolo Odinga was supposed to sit back and watch forests burn, since the people from the valley had voted for him in 2007.

One day you will remember Raila Amolo Odinga. A leader whose presidential votes were stolen by someone he once endorsed to be president. But he humbled himself, almost looking like the looser, and worked with the then president, just to prevent further bloodshed. It was like a woman who has been tortured by her husband. She runs away from home and comes back later, because of her love for her confused children and forgiveness for her husband.

You will not remember him now, because right now, he’s a dictator, betrayer and a tribalist to you. But a day is coming when the whole nation will remember Raila Amolo Odinga….the best president….we never had…..

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14 thoughts on “A national hero, despite you…

  1. gitts says:

    I’ve read a lot of words praising Raila. I agree he did play his tole in the road to Kenya see democracy and as you rightly stare he was one among many. In 1997 he ran for president which was after his incarceration, I don’t remember him being painted as such a hero then. I grew up in the 90s and followed the politics and remember others in the struggle like Shikuku, Rubia, Orengo etc who even after 1997 were still fighting the Moi regime while Odinga was cooperating with KANU. That IMO was selling out for his own interests.
    As for the latest happenings, he is within his rights to contest the election results legally. Now us his problem rooted in the process itself or the outcome which was unfavourable to him. His choice of words that the election was tainted helps to paint him as sore loser because other observers both local and foreign gave the IEBC a thumbs up. Challenges and weaknesses in the system are there and the chairman accepted but to go so far as to compare this to 2007 is pushing it.

    He also failed in PR whereas Uhuru began with a tribute to the fallen policemen Raila did not neither did he acknowledge the hard work the IEBC did under tremendous pressure. It was all about him and his gripes. He even complained about media with SK Macharia right next to him. He didn’t have to concede but he chose a bad approach, it was an opportunity to be a statesman but he missed it by attacking the IEBC too much.

    • fredokono says:

      Brother Gituma,

      Thank you for taking time to read and make such a detailed comment. I do not hold brief for the Rt Hon Raila Odinga, so I do not seek to defend him for any specific acts of omission or commission. My motivation for writingf this piece was sorrow at how readily, for political purposes and expediency, we as a nation and as individuals find it so easy to distort history, to malign individuals, and to diminish legitimate achievements and contributions.

      You will note from the piece that I acknowledge the contribution of others in the struggle against the KANU Police State – I do not in any way suggest that it was Rt Hon Raila Odinga’s sole doing! That Rt Hon Raila Odinga joined KANU is a matter of historical record – a record that will also show that HE Excellency Mwai Kibaki, Hon Kalonzo Musyoka, Hon Kenyatta, Hon Ruto, Hon Musalia Mudavadi, and many others were also in that party – most of them at the height of its dictatorship and misdeeds; many in fact as active participants in the perpetuation of those acts and deeds. Rt Hon Raila Odinga is on record explaining why he joined KANU when he did – and whether or not we believe him is a matter for each us; in your case, you obviously do not believe his explanation – and that is as valid as any other opinion on the matter!

      As to his motivations for instituting the action before the Supreme Court, that again his stated reasons for doing so is all we have – and we can each then form our own independent opinion. That he is a ‘habitual sore loser’ is a label that his political opponents have used liberally – as is indeed their right to – but one cannot in all honesty be labelled a habitual sore loser on the basis of two events. And one of those, the 2007 elections, were handily discredited. Incidentally, many that rejected the opinion of the external observers last time would now have us accept the opinion of those observers as unchallengeable gospel truth on the legitimacy of those elections!

      As for the statement he made on the press, SK Macharia was not standing by his side as a representative of the press. SK Macharia was a declared supporter of Raila Odinga, NOT Royal Media. And if indeed the media had reached agreement not to report complaints from the contestants, Royal Media was bound by that commitment – immaterial of what the political preferences of its owner(s) was.

      Rt Hon Raila Odinga would have indeed done well to acknowledge the sacrifice of the Police Officers and the efforts of IEBC.

      Fred

  2. Enock O Mohol says:

    I am not frequent reader of blogs but yours was sent to me by a dear Kenya Asian friend who now lives in the US and so I have now read your blogs on this very captivating topic. I can only say I wish there were more Kenyans, writing and talking like you. I am a luo and yet the truth is that neither RAO or UK knows I exist. To each of them I am just statistics. one of the 40 million Kenyans that they intended to be their presidental. God forbid it, but it would be interesting to hear the things people were to say today about RAO if God were to call him ”home”!
    Long live this great country and God raise more patriots like FO
    EOM

    • fredokono says:

      Brother Enock,

      Thank you for your kind words, and for finding the time to read and post a comment.

      I reached adulthood in the mid and late eighties, when the struggle for Kenya’s soul was at its most fierce and desperate. As an idealistic young man (as young people tend to be) these are the heroes and heroines that inspired me – and Raila Odinga stood tall amongst them. He like, the others, has since made mistakes, sometimes gravely disappointed us, but also continued to inspire us.

      It grieves me and many others who remember these heroes that they have been reduced and reviled, their contribution derided and their sacrifice dismissed at the altar of the politics of power and expediency . Like you, it saddens me that his contribution and that of others will only be recognised, probably with the shedding of torrents of crocodile tears and the pronouncement of meaningless platitudes, when he is lain in a box, cold and unmoving.

      It is incumbent upon us who still dare to remember those that shined a light in those dark days to remind the nation that we do not have to vote for the man – indeed he fought that we may have the right to reject him and others at the ballot box; but we do not have to insult, deride, diminish and ridicule either he or his family; or his contribution to where the nation is today

      Fred

  3. Naftali. says:

    I like RAO alot….As a man he is talismanic and great. And with a good legacy. I hate it when i see people pour vitriol on his name because in essence abuse is the quote of a weak warrior. More of his achievements include the new constitution that has actually enabled us to have a peaceful election with very legal and good judiciary to cope with the aftermath without having to result to chaos we witnessed in 2007. On your article you have forgotten to mention the father of democracy who to mean was Mr. Kenneth Stanley Matiba, ably aided by Martin Shikuku. They did what a great democrat does. If you dont like the system walk out on it and highlight its inadequacies in a champion manner. What am i driving to? Over time Raila has lost a few steps, that to me have stained his crystal ball. Allow me to expound. In 1997 Raila ran for presidency and was beaten by Moi, by then standards of course we all know elections were never free and fair, and the common enemy was the then KANU government. After some flirtations with the court he finally decided to join Moi in the government. We all know that government was terribly corrupt, dont we? Why did he join the government then and he was a champion of a fight against such a system? That was a bad move and of course it eroded his credibility albeit only a bit. In 2002 when Uhuru Kenyatta was proposed to Kenyans by Moi he walked out which was the right thing to do. Together they formed the Rainbow Alliance with Kibaki, which was such a brilliant vessel to unite the country. Shame on Kibaki, when he filled the whole cockpit with his henchmen and you knew that ship was doomed. RAO started showing signs of discord first through the much talked about MOU, and later by voting NO to a badly assembled constitution then. That was a great fight that we are reaping fruits from today. Come 2007, and he was again on the ballot with ODM. Hard campaigns, elections bungled results, Post Election Violence and reconciliation. Again he decided to join the government. As a great statesman he should have been on the forefront in calling for peace and calmness as they tried to sort the election mess, which to me was pretty big and undemocratic. Did he? I need evidence. His call was not peace and we dont need to go into that, because thats water under the bridge now. Why did he join a system that was clearly poor and bad? Another bad piece of advice. When he became the P.M. he was the leader of the government business. As a leader one thing you do is to show maximum responsibility to all the actions of your troops. His part of the coalition was not devoid of scandals. The other part had bigger scandals though, but wasnt RAO supposed to rise above the other part of the coalition? On my side i dont think RAO should take the blame on the MAU evictions, because that was the right thing to do, and honestly Ruto used it as a political card. Come pre-run 2013. RAO made a succession of errors that have proved costly. His kingpins were only to benefit more from him than he was from them. F. Bett, Kosgeys were supposed to do better i R.V, they sat down and watched as Ruto gained an unreasonable near cult status there. Did that help? No, with an average of 6 to 8% votes going to him, no. To them the idea was being a senior member of ODM was going to win them a post either way, of what help was that to Raila? To me the only person who delivered to him was Kalonzo, and considering the great fight he has put up, it tells you with a better effort from the rest U.K. didnt stand a chance. Wetangula’s vote was fragmented, and i know Luhya are pretty liberal and unpredictable, but the mood was generally CORD…Did Wetangula do enough? He could have silenced Mudavadi’s voice a little better. Outcome – Jubilee strongholds remained intact with heavy voter turnout while CORD strongholds barring Luo Nyanza and Ukambani were pretty fragmented( apart from Busia as well). That was a result of a badly organised campaign, assumption of many factors, misleading reports and misplaced expectations. Overlooking Mutahi Ngunyi’s tyranny of numbers instead of dissecting what truth that might hold was a big omission. I didnt believe about numbers and tyrannism considering its a very crude statistical approach but the messenger could not be ignored.( remember the way Troy was destroyed by Greece, had someone just gone against the gods and said they want to burn the horse and shoot the dead bodies again, Troy wouldnt have fallen) Another thing is RAO is a great man when on his stride, but when you put some other spanners to work, the whole image is blurred. By that i mean he should have projected himself as the lean and humorous RAO we are used to, and put people like Muthama, Orengo, Nyongo on the backstage. The other people he needed on front stage were Kalonzo, a younger leader in R.V and Coast. That would have enhanced his overall public appeal to a youngish and revolutionary combination. He almost milked too much on reforms, which is not Kenyans first dream when you talk about government. When presenting his petition speech he should have consulted a PR first. A P.R would have in effect told him to aknowledge the challenges IEBC has faced, to aknowledge that CORD was going through the election results and will give a statement on the situation. That would have been neat than the way he came across. Politics is about perceptions. He started a great war in democracy, but he mixed it with omenous leadership. Is there something like a flawed genius? I think Raila comes across as one, a brilliant democrat who has some uncanny undoings, and most people around him don’t guide him because they are busy riding on his great legacy. He reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright ( the great Architect) who while insanely talented, always had people around him giving him wrong information for their self service. I like Raila alot. I wish he was 51 because right now time is not on his side. Kenya needs him alot. Thats my take.

    • fredokono says:

      Dear Naftali,

      Thank you for reading and offering such a comprehensive analysis! Indeed he has had his brilliant moments and he has also had his failures; like any human being, he has never been all good or all bad. He has offered various explanations and justifications for some of his actions – like joining KANU – but we must each decide whether or not they are reasonable and believable.

      He has run a good race in his service to the nation, but because he is still an active participant in the events of the day, it is difficult to get people who will make an objective evaluation of his contribution – especially amongst those that have supported his opponents. That is the nature of Kenya’s politics – you never ever acknowledge the good that your opponent has wrought!

      In time, with the dissipation of partisan passions and the decline of ethnic paranoia, maybe, just maybe, his contribution will be objective assessed and reported.

      Thank you once again for reading and commenting.

      Fred

  4. I totally agree Mr. Okono

  5. Lucy says:

    wow- a very sober discussion!!! thank you all for your engagement and taking time to pen some thots we have had in mind or have argued them out in different forums- but never get to write them down. esp you Fred and Nafthali- Sober arguments on both sides. Asanteni
    Lucy, TZ

  6. Newton G says:

    A good piece Mr. Okono;
    We do appreciate the PM for his invaluable work in shaping the Kenyan we all live in today and of course not single handed but with many other Kenyans who we will forever remember. I would however echo the remarks by Naftali above to an almost 100%

    on my view too; he has had a challenge in fighting a consistent battle towards liberating Kenya by being in company with the so called the ‘status quo’, He is characterized by so many mixed signals and an unpredictable approach in pursuing his agenda more so when we think of who he has courted in the last decade..
    Another thing that has made people to fail to overwhelmingly accept his bid is that his strategist make his bid appear like he is seeking the presidency as a destination rather than a continuation of a journey he has been on, equally they make it appear as a sympathetic appeal to reward his past sacrifice and this two are too lowly valued to guarantee him the position. I will forever be grateful to him and other heroes like Matiba, Koigi, the Late Shikuku as much as will forever be grateful to our freedom fighters. May we equally be able to realize our role in nation Building and take an active role so that the future will be brighter through our pursuit.
    Newton.

    • fredokono says:

      Dear Newton,

      Thank you for reading and taking time to make a comment.

      There are those that would assert that the Rt Hon Raila Odinga has been relentlessly consistent in his positions and principles. He may have changed parties and fellow-travellers, but has he changed the things he has worked for or campaigned on: a new Constitution, devolved Government, greater accountability, equity in resource distribution, etc. Has his ‘political platform’ actually ever changed?

      He is often accused of having sold out in his dalliance with KANU, but as I have pointed out repeatedly President Kibaki, Vice-President Musyoka, President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President-elect William Ruto, and Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi were all high-ranking officials of KANU at various times; some of them during KANU’s most tyrannical years. They have all courted and formed alliances with the most villainous and crooked elements from the KANU era! Indeed President-elect Uhuru was the chosen successor of the KANU oligarchy in 2002, and Deputy President-elect Ruto was part of the infamous Youth for KANU92 lobby group and thereafter part of the KANU succession plan in 2002. This is not a sin that is unique to Raila Odinga, and his portion of it is indeed insignificant compared!

      Brother Newton, it is not Rt Hon Odinga’s strategists that have made his quest for the presidency look like an end in itself – it is his political opponents that have done so, effectively saddling him with the title ‘power hungry’! His failure has been in not being able to successfully challenge and repudiate this.

      But I do entirely agree that the task of nation building is incumbent upon all of us as citizens; and we should never abdicate our individual roles and responsibilities.

      Fred

  7. mkenya halisi says:

    I beg to differ with some of your thoughts and perhaps with the swansong of Rabala.

    By quoting Rabala in full you negate your sober view of Raila the man..good and bad..

    It is my firm belief that as a true politician…with only equivalent greed for the Top Seat he backed Kibaki because that was the only game in town. He knew he could not launch his own campaign and win. Used to the perks of Ministerial office he would be loath to lose them by being left out of what was becoming a virulent anti-Moi vote. His joining NAK to form Narc allowed him to remain in Govt. It was not because he had exceptional Nation building agenda. A nation builder would do what Kuffuor did in Ghana…exhort his preferred candidate to concede and thus save the country terrible bloodshed…

    Country before self. That is a nationalist. Raila is a giant in our National politics but unfortunately in my book he will NEVER be a NATIONALIST. When I needed him to save Kenya he precipitated and encouraged the burning and looting…he lost the goodwill he had gained through immense personal sacrifice.

    Indeed I am glad he is not my President.

    • fredokono says:

      Mkenya Halisi,

      Thank you for reading and making such a detailed comment!

      You most definitely have a strong aversion to Rt Hon Raila Odinga, as it is your right to. I do not hold brief for Mr Odinga, and it is thus not my place to repudiate what you say, but I shall most definitely express my own subjective opinion! My opinion of the man is contained in my piece above, as is Donald Rabala’s which I have taken care to attribute. I do not see how quoting an alternative view negates my view, especially when I have clearly attributed it.

      Whether Raila Odinga ‘precipitated and encouraged the burning and looting’, seems to be a question that each person answers dependent on their position in our great national political divide. The accusation has been made and equally denied – only a credible judicial process can determine the issue, but to the best of my knowledge there is no such process in progress or even contemplated.

      As to his motives for supporting the Kibaki candidature in 2002, only Raila Odinga can tell us why he did so – and he has indeed done so at several fora. The rest of us can only speculate as to whether that was indeed the true reason. Again, it is a question for which one will receive diametrically opposed answers, depending on their interlocutors’ political preferences: the Railamaniacs saying one thing, the Raila-haters saying another, and the objective observer totally baffled by the unreasoning partisan passions of the two!

      I disagree that one’s commitment to the nation should be determined by whether or not they concede an election. Indeed commitment to the nation may require that we reject election results that do not reflect the will of the people, or that were achieved through a process that was not free, fair, transparent, accountable and in keeping with the requisite laws. Failure to concede an election, or rejection of the results of an election, does not in and of themselves make one any less patriotic.

      As to whether Rt Hon Raila Odinga is a nationalist, that again is a matter of personal opinion – there are those that passionately believe he suffered for the nation, not for self, and that like so many others he could have chosen the path of compliance and sycophancy – which in fact provided immense rewards! For these people he is a nationalist. And then there are those like yourself that believe he was motivated by nothing but personal gain – and for these people he is nothing but a selfish self-seeker. Sadly, objectivity is often clouded by partisan passions in our toxic highly polarised political environment. And as you are glad he is not your president, there are also millions of registered voters that are in mourning that he is not their president!

      Fred

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