RE: Raila Odinga’s “handlers” or Chief of Staff need to step up their vigilance – over the Principal.
By Dorcas Sarkozy
Just to be clear, when RAO sneezes, Kenyans collectively catch a cold.
When he yawns, we all feel sleepy – or bored – depending on the situation.
Raila Amolo Odinga is not an enigma because he set out to become one. He is the singular force that he is and/or has been made out to be simply because of his very nature; because of the trajectory of his life.
No other politician or public personality currently alive in Kenya has the heft or reputation – good and/or bad – to compel the country’s intelligence and law enforcement apparatus to dedicate resources – time, money, personnel and “goodwill” – to track their whereabouts.
His return from the US brought Nairobi to a standstill.
Pictures/images of his whereabouts and his being set idle tongues wagging and “news” reporters, TV hosts, “analysts” and “slay queens” rushing to breathlessly form an opinion or pant “breaking news!”
Contrastingly, there are other politicians and/or public personalities who “eat meat” and hang out with wanna-be actors, actresses, “rappers”, “dabbers” and “slay people” without the national “oooh” and “aaaah”, hand-wringing, self-flagellation or rumination that follows a Raila sneeze or yawn.
Kenya’s collective anger was annoyingly short-lived after their leader was photographed cavorting with a socialite/party planner somewhere in the Middle East even as the country was grieving the loss of 28 fellows citizens who were gunned down by extremists in Mandera.
They ho-hummed as images of their leaders eating meat were juxtaposed alongside those of millions facing drought and famine – mainly due to the incompetence of this very leaders eating meat and picking their teeth.
It is this marked divergence and contrast in gravitas, indeed expectation between RAO and others that his handlers and/or those around him have not only taken advantage of, but have failed to appreciate and “handle” accordingly.
He cannot do it all.
In the book “Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency”, Chris Whipple writes about the critical role various American Chiefs of Staff (CoS) played as gatekeepers to the presidents listed below. And while these men owed their loyalty to the man occupying the White House, their conduct, judgement and execution of their duties as CoS reflected, arguably, their reverence of the office (of the presidency) rather than the man
– Bush 1 had James Baker aka “Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove”.
– Bush 2 had Josh Bolten and Andrew Card.
– Clinton had Erskine Bowles, Leon Panetta and John Podesta.
– Obama had Rahm Emmanuel (AND Michelle Obama) – the latter a force of nature that even the current POTUS gives wide berth – reluctantly!
– Donald Trump has – well, Donald Trump and CoS de jour!
These individuals controlled who got close to the president and made sure that whatever image (of the president) got out into the public domain were reviewed for probity and suitability beforehand.
Of course, every so often, as it happened with Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, even these powerful and savvy political operatives cannot avert all (negative) eventualities.
And when that happens, there is usually hell to pay!
Bill Clinton was impeached because his handlers did not rein in his lack of self-control.
The recent pictures of Raila and a lady identified as “Sasha Seraphne Mbote” of “talktosasha” doing the obligatory rounds on social media is a case in point.
I could get all technical and picky but will try and keep it simple:
To reiterate, RAO’s inhale/exhale pattern and bat of eyelids are watched by all and sundry – whether he is in Kenya, Zanzibar, UK or here in the US. He has held sway over Kenya’s socio-political and economic discourse like few other politicians have.
So given the import AND impact of Raila in Kenya’s daily discourse, why would his handlers allow someone, anyone to capture such compromising images of him and a woman who is not Mama Ida?
The fact that no one on RAO’s PR and/or security team found it necessary to step in and manage the sequence of events that resulted in the pictures now being parodied on social media is, in my opinion, a searing indictment on their collective competence.
Absolutely unacceptable – especially given the talent pool of media savvy public relations operatives the man can choose from.
Barack Obama’s official photographer Pete Souza’s book “Obama: An Intimate Portrait” is #5 on Amazon’s most read/sold chart. Pete’s job was to take pictures of the president and offer them to the media or as a counter-narrative if outlets less-than-friendly to Mr. Obama (FOX News and other right-wing outlet) posted unflattering or compromising images (of Obama).
Along with First Lady Michelle and life-long Chicagoan Valerie Jarrett, Rahm Emmanuel formed a protective shield around Barack Obama that was virtually impenetrable AND created the most scandal-free administration in (modern) US history.
RAO is an elder statesman of global repute who has also been at the forefront of the fight for a better Kenya and Africa.