By Mark Bichachi
What we are all missing to take cognisance of in this nation, is Raila Odinga’s fighting style; he is what is known in wrestling as a grappler; a position he loves assuming, especially when he seems to be losing.
In this technique, the wrestler loves to lure you into a winning stance over them and they then take the opportunity to force you into a submission move. And when they do, be sure you will tap out. Raila is a grappler, be careful when you are about to win against him.
In fact, I dare say there is no stronger position for him than to be at the bottom of the canvas, with limited options for that is when he shines.
From 1997 we know that Raila gets what he wants every time there is a negotiation. Negotiations are Raila’s wrestling moves. Any time a politician negotiates with Raila, the Opposition chief wins.
In fact, any politician who has secured a win over Raila and taken him head-on, has always ended on the mat, thinking they have a killer blow, only to find themselves chocking out at a stranglehold suddenly thrown at them.
Let’s us look at his negotiations from 1997; after the election Raila did a move that shocked Kenyans, he joined Kanu. A partnership between him and Moi was one of the most unlikely scenarios of the time, and it seemed Kanu had won. Kanu had swallowed whole what seemed to be its biggest pain on the side.
A few years later when Kanu was preparing for the first Uhuru bid for presidency, the negotiation with Raila unraveled, he stepped out and declared Kibaki Tosha. And that sealed the fate of Kanu. In 2002, Raila had a negotiated agreement with Narc. As a coalition government, each party was expected to build the nation together. Raila stepped out and ran the Orange campaign to defeat the referendum of 2005.
This platform allowed him to run for president in 2007. Raila had at this point entered into two negotiations, one in 1998, the other in 2002 and a third was to follow in the disputed election of 2007. In this election Kibaki calculated that bringing on board Kalonzo as Vice-President would have sealed the deal. There was no other position to give.
But once again we had underestimated the wiles, the mystery and the trickery that defines the persona and the institution that is Raila. In a choke-hold of the infamy that is now called the PEV, we were forced to amend our constitution and soon enough we had a government of national unity with Raila coming out on top and in the coalition government.
After his loss in the 2013 election, we expected that his political career would fizzle out of the Kenyan political landscape. But he found a way to survive; he became the whistle blower in chief. He remained relevant by ensuring he kept the Jubilee government on its toes. This gave him a platform to run again in 2017.
The 2017 election led to a scenario where once again Raila lost. In a strange twist of fate, NGO Coordination Board led by Fazul Mohamed’s raid on Africog saw Raila filing a petition. The petition was largely expected to be a spectacular failure. Jubilee was sure of an emphatic win. But like a good wrestler, Raila, while on the mat, found a hold and the Supreme Court declared a rematch.
The more Raila seems to be losing the closer he is to his brand of victory.
Mr Bichachi is a Communication Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org