By D S
“The poor lighting in detention for nine years damaged my eyes. You often see them watering. It’s all in my fight for what I believe is right for this country, Kenya”– Raila Odinga
One of the most powerful moments of Monday’s Presidential Debate between the in absentia President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was when the latter explained why he suffered from what looks like a mild case of epiphora (watery eyes) and photophobia (sensitivity to harsh light).
To paraphrase the former PM, the torture and harsh interrogation he endured during detention by the Moi regime affected his health – including his eyes.
Well, that single statement was a game changer especially among the the youth who were only born after end of mulolongo voting system (post 1988). The statement was deep and got them reflecting and that is why Statehouse spammed media houses with reasons why Uhuru skipped the debate in order to avoid deeper analysis of the Raila’s statements.
Back to the debate, the aforementioned moment simultaneously captured the yin and yang that is Raila Amolo Odinga while also discombobulating his hapless detractors:
Without a doubt, RAO has been the face of Kenya’s fight for multi-partyism and democracy oftentimes against the very people who end(ed) up overseeing (and benefitting from) the fruits of his pain and suffering! And along the way, Raila and his family have paid a huge personal price – as embodied by the medical condition he alluded to during the debate.
They can love him or hate him, but even RAO’s critics cannot deny the fact that none of the candidates currently running for president can hold a candle to the sacrifices Raila has made, not for personal gains or that of his family or friends, but for the country writ large.
Not President Uhuru Kenyatta who was born into, and continues to eat the fruits of massive wealth accumulated unfairly by his father Jomo Kenyatta.
Not any one of the deputy presidential candidates or the other candidates running for an assortment of political office this election cycle.
None – Period!
I’d argue that based on his contribution to the evolution of Kenya, Raila has earned a lot of goodwill and gratitude from fair-minded Kenyans; much more than President Kenyatta, former VP Kalonzo and definitely more than the former Youth For KANU (YK92) errand boy William Ruto.
Is Raila “perfect”?
Of course not and frankly the notion that any one of God’s creation is “perfect” – as RAO is derisively characterized by supporters of a party (Jubilee) who have a penchant for attending “prayer rallies” – is just silly and speaks to their hypocrisy, ignorance, sycophancy and Railaphobia.
Fortunately, the one thing his haters cannot take away from him is his herculean contribution to the very space these same people take for granted.
It thus boggles the mind when someone less than 24months removed from answering crimes-against-humanity charges; a man whose family has a history of abusing and misusing the country’s resources through corruption and grand malfeasance pines that answering to the people whose resources he has engorged is a “waste of time”!
Unlike the proven servant/leader that Raila has shown himself to be, Kenyatta is a child of privilege who was sponsored into politics and into his current position by his dad’s No. 2 and mentor – Moi – and godfather – Kibaki.
Instead of taking umbrage to being called out for the arrogance and flippancy embodied in his failure to appear before a country whose money he, along with his family and friends, have wasted and in some cases, pocketed, the least Uhuru Kenyatta can do is thank Raila Odinga for his service to the country the two are campaigning to lead.