By Dikembe Disembe
Erudite! That’s all I can say of Field Marshal (Gen) Ababu Namwamba, Member of the Orange Democratic Movement party – the largest political party in Kenya. A ‘potentate’ for the Secretary General’s vacant slot. A tried and tested trooper. An intellectual-politician, a protege of that great Czech Republic’s father: Vaclav Havel.
Ababu deserves no introduction to the CORD base. He introduced himself to the nation long time ago. He has captivated the masses ever since. Those who love to read and write must have come across those scintillating opinion jesters by Mr Namwamba. He is an ardent debater; a social justice champion.
He won his first seat in the 2007 elections. Apart from the Canadian attorney Miguna Miguna, Ababu is the only other known entity to have ruthlessly taken on former (retired) President Mwai Kibaki head-on at a time ODM needed such show-offs.
We saw him take on the PNU narcissistic political machine – anarchists who celebrated the triumph of impunity at a time the country was burning.
He didn’t reap much; he never got the flag, until towards the end of the Grand Coalition government. But, he made it known that ODM would have its term, in him.
If sticking a neck for one’s boss deserves accolades, Namwamba has done so, several times. Yet, despite all these, there is the reality of the forth-coming ODM party elections.
Ababu may be deeply wounded!
My crystal balls tell me that Dr Agnes Zani will be the next ODM Secretary General. Democracy can be extremely humiliating!
It is in political defeat that true democrats are sifted from chaffs of political opportunists. It is at the end of the forth-coming polls that Ababu may finally say; ‘Hail ODM, In thee I believe!’
So, Generali Ababu, answer me, what if ODM delegates elect Dr Zani?
Will it be that they looked at your ‘track record’ and after combing it, found you inadequate for the next phase of ODM leadership? What will be the ‘meaning’ of your defeat? Will it be that they just ‘prefered another candidate’? Will it show that your loyalty to the ideals of the Orange movement is still fluidy?
I predict your defeat to forestall the questions that those of us who may wish to see you replace that Go Brutland scholar of public health will be asking. I write to you to foreshadow the outcome. I send this missive to tell you that your defeat will make or break you.
What will your defeat mean in the larger context of ODM politics beyond the NDC? What will your admirers say? Your critics and potential opponents?
Will this be the end of a ‘general’ and the beginning of ‘dissident-with-a-cause’? Or will you confound the country as Luo MPs and other leaders have done: accept (party wishes) and move on (within the party)? Loyalty will be on trial!
I saw the other day one of your supporters claim loudly that if you lose then that will be the end of him with ODM. You only said, “vox populi vox dei”, the voice of the people is the voice of God! What did you mean? Which people did you have in mind? Your supporters who may form a very small fraction of the ‘delegates’ or may not be delegates at all; or the voice of the delegates? Which group were in your mind?
Which voice will be God’s? Those who shall reject you?
You, Mr Namwamba, is a good student of Robert Greene and his 48 Laws of power. Greene is a Machiavellian per excellence. You know, am sure, that loyalty has a prize; and a sell-by date, right? So, will you unleash one of the 48 Laws, or, will you remain a true democrat: accept defeat, and like John MCain said that night Obama floored him and the Republican Party, “. . .today, we were down, tomorrow we begin again”?
Mr Namwamba, which coat will you adorn when the delegates pass a sorry vote on you? You know, there are choices; and consequences too. Somebody told me your constituency is half Luo and half Luhya (whatever that means) and that your political survival as MP has been on that reality. That you are not a Luhya leader per se. That your political survival is very much dependent on your loyalties, which will be tested for the first time this month. Right?
You see, you are not like any of these other politicians. You failure to clinch the seat will be played in the national media like they did to Kethi Kilonzo. This is because you are not a luhya MP; you are, and has always been, a national MP. If Otieno Kajwang’ is floored, that will not be a story; if Elizabeth Ongoro is floored, that will not be news but you, Twafiq, yours will boomerang!
Your rejection will be televised live. It will be framed for the ethnic Luhya mass. It will be framed in such a manner that your loyalties to Raila Odinga will be seen Â ‘not to have been appreciated’. Â I hope you know the mainstream media policy towards your boss: negative publicity sells!
You will give fodder to sinking politicians who bolted out of Raila Odinga kraal to renew their dwindling fortunes by taking new jabs at your boss. The proverbial ‘Luhya unity’ calls will increase in crescendo. You will be a rallying call by those who have perfected the art of blaming their failures on Raila Odinga.
Your goose is already cooked, brother.
Will you tick? Will you quip the rejection by the delegates (though the media will say it’s Raila Odinga who rejected you). In John Ruganda’s polemic tone, “If their political system is to make us meekly carry our crosses and turn us into soulless robots,mine is to purge my specimen of their timidity and make them scream at the top of their voices that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”
Mr Namwamba, are you going to finally ‘purge your specimen’? It has been done before, donge? Ruto did it and he is now the Deputy President! Sometimes it has backfired dangerously; I mean in Messy’s Amani Coalition. Donge?
The country is waiting, Mr Namwamba, to see if you truly believe in democracy; in fair competition; in not only winning, but also losing. Remember, the horrid human tragedies of this country have been caused by politicians who don’t accept losing elections.
Here at home, it is as if losing is not part of democracy. That’s what offended you in 2007 with Kibaki, right? That’s why you referred to Kibaki as ‘Honorable Member for Othaya,’ and swore your allegiance to Odinga – the winner of that election.
When this month ends, it will be your turn, General Namwamba, to be at the stable. We here whom you’ve inspired, wait in the shadows to temper our young democratic Â ideals as represented by the man whom democracy may soon outweigh.
If you win, Mr Namwamba, yours will be the joy in victory. I wish you luck as I wait for your defeat. In all scenarios, remember; the ‘credit belongs to the man in the arena’.
Dikembe Disembe comments on matters politics and ethnicity in Kenya.