By Dikembe Disembe
Otieno Kajwang’ comes to mind easily when two past events are recalled; the ‘bado mapambano’ song and his immortal words just before the supreme court sat down early in March to solve one of Africa’s most infamous cases – Raila Odinga Vs IEBC & others.
“Looking at Oraroâ€™s submission, reality will dawn on Kenyans when our lawyers will start proving how some 703,019 Votes were rigged in the Supreme Court. It will be shocking when Telephone Conversation (Admissible), Bank Accounts, Death threats, et al. shall be laid bare in front of all Kenyans.Our Opponents forgot they were communicating in open GPRS Protocols â€“ The digital team forgot to secure their communications channel!Â In the next ten or so days be prepared for massive resignations, embarrassment and reality checks, this will affect top government officials, journalists, some commissioners, media houses etc â€“ after the submissions you will understand why Obama Compared Kenya to Syria. To Our supporters stay Calm and maintain peace as we release the Jocker Card and wait for a re-run.. #PEACE”. Kajwang’ jested.
‘Ten days or so’ came and passed by. No telephone conversation, bank accounts and death threats were presented as evidence, leave alone passing the threshold of admissibility.
There was no ‘massive resignations, embarrassments or reality checks’. No top government officials, journalists, (some) commissioners and media houses were affected. Zilch.
The only ‘Jocker Card’ I saw was the sterling performance of Africog’s lawyer – advocate Kethi Kilonzo.
While it is left for this generation’s own conjecture to understand why Obama compared Kenya to Syria, much of Â the judicial apocalypse of the Jubilee Alliance win as prophesied by Â Otieno Kajwang’ never came to pass. Just to be redundant, Uhuru Kenyatta’s win was ‘unanimously’ confirmed by the Supreme Court of (comrade) Willy Mutunga as ‘free, fair, transparent and credible’.
Later on 9th April, he would be sworn to begin his first of the two terms as his Deputy, William Ruto, waits closer in the line.
Kajwang’ himself would briefly sneak out of the Supreme Court, in the course of the hearings, to be sworn in as Homa Bay County duly elected Senator.
When Odinga left the Supreme Court empty handed, and we were urged from all corners (the church, the media, the police, the victors, private sector, COTU) to accept and move on; the biggest lesson for the future was given enduring expression recently by, interestingly, Willy Mutunga himself: “Let the politicians deal with the shit”
Never forget those words, Mutunga was painfully truthful. The next series of Â electoral ‘shits’ will have to be dealt with by ‘politicians’.
The question here is: Are ODM politicians ready?
Reading through the dailies the other day, the conclusion is that a section of the party is ready; or, at least, seem to be awake to the urgency of now, and the magnitude of ths ‘shit’ ahead.
I have seen some, like youthful Ndhiwa MP Neto Aghostino quote Dr King, “the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present”. I have read somewhere Namwamba seeking solace in Robert Green’s 48 Laws of Power. Senator Ongoro, Governor Joho, Governor Kidero, MPs Obura, Junnet, and Mbadi have equivocally stated the future they want for the party we all love.
But there seems to be those still holding to the last gasps of a fading political pathology which often expresses itself in the ‘wan wan wan verses the gin gin gin’. . .the “us” vs “them”.
Kajwang’ is one such politician. He still lives in that eerie past which elevated Ngunjiri Wambugu and Rachel Shebesh in ODM rank and file higher than Robert Alai and Millie Odhiambo.
He sees Suba MP John Mbadi as an emblem of the ‘gin gin gin‘. The other day, Kajwang’ claimed that Mbadi shouldn’t imagine of being ODM Secretary General. Like they usually do, he invoked the party tribal Jocker Card: Mbadi is a Luo (often) wittily expressed as ‘Mbadi comes from Nyanza’.
The Luo tag within ODM is not new. Those of us who have been closer to the party than the party has been to us know it quite well. It is the first safe hub for those who want party positions, or goodies, to be dished to them for ‘free’, or without competition because they are ‘outsiders’.
Every Luo, save for those Miguna refers to as ‘Raila groupies’ sooner or later realise that to be a good Luo in ODM, your contribution ends at subscription and voting. The rest is above and beyond your comprehension.
I saw it a lot during the last general elections. To be heard as young ‘unknown’ ODM youth with no godfather or prior connection to the powers that be; you had to start from the scariest of places. At Orange House, I remember the magnanimity of none but the two KK group watchmen who manned the gates!
Raila Odinga Centre was a no go zone! I’d rather not mention names but the experiences of the last election taught me to believe more in your ideas than the people who shouted ‘youths and democracy’ around and about.
Ideas? where does a young Luo get ideas for the party? Tell that to the birds! Giniwasekao with or without you.
Why Kajwang’s empty opposition to Mbadi irks is because of this experience. The relegation of the Luo in ODM. The gnashed voices which tell you; ”no, you already have Baba”.
Initially, it would be like this: “No, you have Baba, and Nyong’o is the Secretary General”.
If Mbadi, despite his historical loyalty to the party, his contribution in parliament (in the name of the party) and his record at building bipartisanship and reaching out to ‘other side’ is only seen as ‘another LUO’ in ODM when he shows signs of ambition, where is your future? Mine? Ours? Where is the place of the ambitious, young Luo in ODM?
They will tell you, ‘ODM is not for Luos’. Try joining TNA like Onyango Oloo and you are ruined.
Those who see this community muting as inevitable turn to the next safe haven: “I’m Suba, not Luo”. Because the future is unpredictable, it only calls for intelligence.
And yet, alas, it is when the future is unpredictable that ugliest questions must be asked. Questions like: Can you grow in the party without being a Raila groupie? Whatever Miguna means?
Third, can only Â Raila groupies deliver? You see, Odinga may be keen on having a party with the so called ‘national face’. That has been his life in politics. But we have seen it in the past. . .having ODM with a national face is not a guarantee that the party will beat Jubilee or TNA or any outfit in the future that only shows the ‘national anus’.
This is what Odinga must confront. Forget the party body parts. Whether face or anus, the stupid question for the future is: can the party deal with the ‘shit’? Can the party machine soon to be formed win an election?
The skillful mutation of Luo voices often backfire, with inexorable and costly consequences. You saw it during nominations. Rather than just oppose for the sake of heterogeneity, why not pick the brains? Political perceptions are build over time and can be changed overnight. The brains put working strategies on the table. These strategies go for the numbers. The shit is hidden in numbers!
As February 2014 nears, it should not matter whether both the party leader and the party headquarter cleaner is a Luo or Ogiek. What should matter is: Can that formation win an election? Can it deal with the shit? Can it produce a Jocker Card that will ’embarrass’ top state officials, journalists, IEBC commissioners and the media?
Can it? Can it? Can it? That’s the question. Period.
So, Mr Kajwang’, youthful John Mbadi need not sing your bado mapambano song to be ODM Secretary General. In fact, I dare say, the party needs another song – may be a rap, hiphop Â or Genge.
Dikembe Disembe comments on politics, higher education and ethnicity in Kenya.Â