By Chris Maina
“They still want us to cry after election”. I got this short text the other day as I pensively sat in a matatu back from ‘work’, or should I say ‘daily hassle’.
My friend was informing me about about reports spreading on social media that CORD leader Raila Odinga had acquired new ‘machines that will make Uhuru/Ruto convoy look like a child’s play.
He went ahead to inform me that he (Odinga) will be beginning a meet-the-people tour in the new toys. He will head to Kisii, then take a u-turn to Kisumu and Western provinces.
According to my friend; the reports showed that Odinga has a new fleet of 5 sleek SUV Mercedes Benz ML class custom-made with powerful in-built public address system. Let me believe the ‘reports’ for now.
Ostensibly, these assemblages are tools for 2017, when the CORD leader will again take head-on the ‘dynamic duo’ currently solving their personal challenges using the veneer of state-power. I will maintain here again: Uhuruto was a mistake! Yet they are raring to go 20 years!
Like many youths whom Odinga hopes to salvage from Kenya’s half a century of structured Â penury; and who wish him the best each single day, I find my master’s priorities (and the way the the public gets wind of them) very unsettling. When times change, tactics, strategies and tools too need to change.
The new SUVs – I swear in my time I have never been into a Benz , leave alone the ML class – are worthwhile for a former high ranking state official who recently suffered the foul repossession of government vehicles at his disposal. The new ‘sleek’ vehicles are good for Odinga. No doubt about their importance. But for 2017?
To supporters of the former premier who analyse political events beyond the brouhaha of public displays; something seems amiss in the path Odinga has taken to re-invent himself politically. However ingenious the CORD leader is, the road to 2017 will need new tactics, new alliances and new ‘tools’. Such tools may include bicycles and bodabodas and whatnot.
Enersto Che Guevara, after landing in DRC to help senior Kabila wrestle his country from colonialism noticed some things among continental Blackman which he found baffling. In his autobiography, he would call the year (1965) a ‘lost year’, lamenting the penchant of an African revolutionary to fall on alter of materialism.
As the rebels were fighting to depose a Western-backed corrupt government of Mobutu after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Che realised the self-indulgence among rebels’ top leadership, which trickled down in the rank and file.
Laurent Kabila (father to the current DRC president Joseph Kabila), then 25, and with poverty-stricken, sickly and poorly trained soldiers fighting an open guerilla was already riding in the streets of Dodoma in a Peugeot 504!
Kabila attended meetings in high-end hotels, met and cut deals with government insiders and while oblivious of the danger his double-dealing was putting the revolutionary war, Â Kabila was already a wealthy ‘revolutionary’. His soldiers, noticing his trends, became corrupt to the core, embezzling everything that could be turned into money, including medicine donated by the Cubans helping them fight the “Yankee imperialists”.
Che’s autobiography sums up his sojourn in Africa as ‘unmitigated disaster’. Â At the heart of this disaster was the allure of materialism, and the open flaunt of it by the revolutionaries to people still waiting to be salvaged from the bondage of wasted independence years.
In 2007, Odinga ‘acquired’ a hummer machine. That animal caused ripples in a campaign which remains the anti-climax of Odinga’s public vote searching strategy. Ooh, and we almost, almost won that election!
Between 2002 and 2013, Odinga has metamorphosed severally in matters material and financial that his former advisor Miguna Miguna dedicated swaths of pages into proving just how duplicitous he was. To people like Miguna who claimed to have sacrificed their careers to return home and join the ‘war’ against the country’s selfish and corrupt capitalists; a deeper knowledge of the ODM leader made him conclude that he was a democracy imposter.
In Kenya, the problem with radicals of the yesteryear has been what Winston Churchill, a British Prime minister once accused Chamberlain of: “. . .they decide to be undecided. . .they resolve only to be irresolute”. From Willy Mutunga, Martha Karua, Kiraitu Murungi and many others, it is increasingly frustrating to get their former radical streak.
To paraphrase Jakoyo Midiwo (himself another sycophantic yeoman): ‘they think the same, eat the same, steal the same – they are thieves’.
Those who ate during Moi are being vindicated, and their sins washed daily by the unquenchable thirst of the ‘newcomers’. It is highly probable that the man accused of theft in the next scandal is a former ‘second liberation’ veteran. The man whose millionaire child ‘raves’ in high-end westlands Pubs was probably in detention a decade ago.
This is not to say that these people should not be wealthy, but when a revolutionary (in our case a Moi-era radical) is filthy rich already with the revolutionary war not yet won, it makes one wonder about the status of the revolution. It may have been a hoax, after all.
So when I heard that Odinga had ‘acquired’ new toys that costs in their millions, I thought about all these. I though about Odinga’s poor voters – people like myself – who believe the man is the ‘only equalizer of the Moi-Kibaki-Uhuru tyranny’ – what our fate is. New limos, with no new ideas, can’t change our fate!
Chris Maina is a guest blogger with Kenya Today.