By Rashid Wanjala
I hereby endorse the candidature of Seth Odongo (Dikembe Disembe) for the post of ODM Publicity and Information Secretary. He is definitely going to be the answer to the rightwing Jubilee’s Machel Waikenda, the Itumbis and others; and he will definitely silence the likes of the rudderless Moses Kuria and the turncoat Ngunjiri Wambugu, or whoever the Jubilee will procure in the future.
ODM needs a rejuvenation, and Dikembe is definitely the leader whose speeches, writings and vision will assuage the souls of the ODM youths, who have for a long time felt alienated by the top echelons of the party.
There’s definitely that emerging voter constituency that were so young when ODM was formed, and which Seth belongs to, and he will be able to present the party to them in a language that they understand. He has been doing that ever since he joined the voting age.
This is a youth who has campaigned among the new Kenyan voters and won an election in a stiff University Students body election. He has been in the trenches in the murky college politics as a student leader, and he is to me the modern day James Orengo, Solomon Muruli, Karl Marx all rolled into one, albeit in a digital version.
ODM; this is your opportunity, you can take it or you can squander it. If you are doing okay, and aren’t desperate then you can ignore the emerging generation under the pretext that they aren’t delegates- rules that can be amended to include a clause saying, “those contestants born after (say)1990 don’t have to be delegates” otherwise how would they have become delegates as single celled organisms that hadn’t formed.
This is a moment for ODM to re-position itself as a new party, the beginning of the process for Raila, or whoever the party will endorse as the Presidential candidate to surround himself with a new team who undertands the changing voting demographics in Kenya.
More importantly, ODM needs very young people to be seen in its rank and file. At least, this forthcoming elections should bring new faces outside the current politicians angling for different posts.
The TNA and Jubilee agenda in 2013 was driven by Johnson Sakaja and Machel Waikenda, guys born in the 80s. Everyone knows how and where that story ended. They put a sparkling show and used new publicity tools and pacified their peers in newsrooms and colleges that CORD was condemned as an ‘analogue’ outfit. This story should not be repeated.
ODM has to find a way of responding to that reality by inviting and and embracing the ’90s generation like Seth Odongo of the touchscreen generation, but who at a young age has immense exposure and understanding of current, global and local issues, that has impressed me. You need to read his writings, follow his political updates and how his agemates respond!
It is one thing to support a party led by a visionary like Raila Odinga, but its another thing to fathom a party that isn’t willing to tailor its rules to accommodate the new and emerging membership that is expected to comprise the bulk of the 2017 voting demographics. A demographic who knows people like Dikembe more than they know the party constitution or current party officials.
The young folks in ODM are watching keenly to see how the emerging constituency shall be reflected in the ODM lineup. From what I see, how the party handles Dikembe’s candidature will speak directly to them. We have seen the party make blunders that have been about sidelining the youth by the old guard, but we have been watching, and like a woman in an abusive marriage, been hoping that our leader will someday ignore any counsel of those around him who see this young group as merely Facebook or twitter ‘noise makers’.
That door of opportunity shall in due course be closing, depending on how certain things are done in the foreseeable future. We aren’t crucified in an ODM cross. Pliz use this election to make it easy for us to market the Odinga and ODM brand beyond Luo Nyanza and among a group that ODM did nothing to solicit their votes.
For the record, elections in the 21st century will be about publicity, information and technology. That’s how big money is floored in polls. That’s how Barack Obama won.
It is out of all these considerations that I find the expressed candidature of Seth Odongo (Dikembe Disembe) very attractive to a party I love, and for which I worked for late in the night trying to explain party policy to its faithful. And so Seth will enable us work smarter for the party, rather than work hard. He has the wherewithal to streamline, reinvigorate and rejuvenate the party communication machinery.
Rashid Wanjala is a barrister in Canada and founder blogger with Kenya Today.