By Dikembe Disembe
What’s so Â ‘mysterious’ in Raila’s US tour?
A few months to the last general elections, the media in Kenya blurred the line that separated Raila Odinga’s candidature for the presidency of the country and a persistent western ‘stooge’ frame crafted by the Jubilee Alliance. He, Raila, did not recover from it. And he lost the presidency.
Reading most papers then, it was easy to pick, in the same paragraph, or in successive paragraphs, frames of ODM/CORD as being so cosier with the West to a point that it didn’t matter what the facts were: who, between the persons of the two leading candidates and their coalitions, actually depended on western intellect, tactics and professionals.
Perceptions endure. Once again, there’s a new attempt to potray Odinga in that western-stooge frame. With it, no matter how much the people love him and adore him and want him on top, it won’t happen.
What am I talking about?
In an opinion piece today in one of the local dailies, Rasnah Warah observes Â the ascendancy of the Hindu jingoist Nenandra Modi as the new Prime Minister of India as another triumph of Â a new kind of ‘nationalism’, the sort which propelled the ruling Jubilee Alliance to power.
“Perhaps, Modi’s victory is a sign of the times. In many countries experiencing economic decline or social upheaval, voters are choosing leaders who appeal to people’s xenophobia”.
She adds, “when times are hard, people begin to view nationalism in terms of race, religion, tribe or clan. Fascist leaders find a ready audience among young frustrated populations hungry for change. Value systems get distorted”.
Does Warah’s argument ring a bell?
Soon after being indicted at the International Criminal Court, candidates Uhuru and Ruto obnoxiously preyed on ‘their’ people’s Â xenophobia.
The anti-west rhetoric, complete with an existential threat in the form of a ‘colonial court’ that had to be defeated, appealed to a ‘digital generation’ which had no qualms in swirling in their own despondency.
In the 2013 elections, xenophobia peaked. It Â criminalised swathes of citizens using every known cultural artefact, be it the foreskin, or historical happenstance, be it 1969 Â or 1982 or 2007. From G-7 to Jubilee alliance, whole ethnic sandboxes were herded into voting blocs using the most dangerous emotional mix: fear and hatred.
How was this possible? The hypodermic needle of the media. Two years of conspiracy journalism overwhelmed the people. Did Raila Odinga fix Uhuru and Ruto? The media hypothesised. Did the West want Raila to be President? The media hypothesised? Choices have consequences. The choice of who? and who? what consequences? sanctions?
Every single word that certain ambassadors uttered were either on behalf of A or against B. The media hypothesised. The media connected the dots and gave the picture of things. They didn’t tell the people what to think, in deed, the media in Kenya told the people what to think about – and people thought about what the media wanted people to think about.
Raila lost the media, lost the IEBC and lost the Supreme Court. “We want peace”, “accept and move on”.
Soon after, we saw attempts to make him ‘lose the people’, or appear so. Then Raila left the country.
In his two months in the US, the media has again propped the very issues which occupied the minds of the people when discussing the candidature of Odinga. Is he for real? Is he being ‘sponsored’ by the West? Is he using university students to topple the government? Does the West want to end Jubilee rule before its five year term? Why are they evacuating their tourists? Conspiracy! Conspiracy! Conspiracy!
This media voodooism, where a cause-and-effect scenario is created for almost everything happening, really sells, because it bastardizes everything. Sadly, as Rasnah observes, it distorts society’s value systems.
In Kenya, its already happening. Today, we no longer agree on anything. We see ‘hidden hands’ in everything. Our politics is such that no policy decision, however normal, is for any good.
Waiguru sacks Rugut and hires Githinji? “Oh, that’s kikuyus filling the public service with their people”, “Yeah, we told you Kalenjins”, “Oh, Ruto this….”, “Oh, yeah, oh”. Raila in Boston? “Oh, he is planning how to topple the government”, “yeah, he shouldn’t have attended that…that’s for Kibaki…former presidents”, “yeah, I knew there is something sinister”, “yeah, mystery”, “blah blah blah”.
We’ve got so many ‘Ohs’ and ‘yeahs’ we can’t live a day in heaven.
Everything is a mystery! Who were the Ruto fixers in government? mystery! Who bombed Westgate? Mystery! Who shot Maina Njenga and killed five others? Mystery! Why was Rugut sacked? Mystery! Why was Githinji hired? Mystery! Why is IEBC ‘secretly’ registering voters? Mystery! What did Raila go to do in Boston? attend a leadership lecture? No! Mystery.