By Onyinkwa Onyakundi
I have noted that the media’s analysis of ODM’s win at Kajiado Central is either muted, skewed or altogether a ridiculous spin that we shouldn’t read too much ODM or Raila into it. First, it is not being packaged ~ as it should ~ as an ODM win, but rather as a Jubilee loss.
Those who understand communication and propaganda know there is a big distinction between the two. Secondly, the arguments that it was just 500 votes, Jubilee had 2 candidates, it is a Jubilee stronghold, but they botched the nominations, Nkaiserry only half- heartedly campaigned for his perennial rival Tutui, and such other bull crap are all spurious because we donâ€™t get to hear them whenever ODM or CORD lose to Jubilee.
Here is what went down, and why:
Â The Jubilee government unleashed state resources, the power of incumbency, their very deep pockets, fuel guzzling S.U.Vs, choppers and just about everything else they could lay their hands on, was employed, but all in vain. The President, his Deputy, the CS internal security ~ who is barred by law from campaigning ~ and several top Jubilee leaders literally camped there promising the voters all manner of goodies.
They even played the emotional blackmail card by reminding the voters that they had appointed their son Nkaiserry into the cabinet and therefore deserved gratitude from them in the form of that seat. Their moneybags like Sonko went from house to house dishing out money, buying voters cards and generally flooding the place with cash. This went on for weeks on end and all the way up to polling day in the queues where several Jubilee operatives were arrested bribing voters, lakini wapi!
And if you honestly believe that the turnout was really 80% as the IEBC told us, then you are a very superstitious person. The worst dry spell in several decades has seen most Maasai men venture far off from their abodes in search of pasture, and there is absolutely no possibility of 8 out of every 10 of them turning up at a polling station to cast their vote in a by election. An 80% turn out in a by election even in the least nomadic communities has never been achieved in Kenya, and yes!
I am therefore suggesting that in addition to all that political campaign arsenal that Jubilee employed , they used the IEBC to either stuffÂ ballot boxes or cook figures in a desperate attempt to subvert the verdict of the voters, but it would appear that the Kajiado Central voters kept throwing numbers at them till they succumbed to the reality.
Why then ~ you may wonder ~ did all these efforts by Jubilee come to nought?
There are a number of people and factors that helped hand the ODM that seat, and they cannot all be discussed exhaustively without it running into Chapters. That is why it is prudent to focus on the most valuable player (M.V.P.) in the ODMâ€™s victory.
This, ironically, happens to be the person that ought to have been the M.V.P. in the opposite team. This is none other than William Ruto. This is why therefore, any so called political analyst who does not mention that the decision to have William Ruto lead the campaigns for Jubilee was the dumbest ever is either being crafty, or is absolutely clueless.
The Maasai are a very patriarchal society in which men are held in very high esteem. Women are often placed at par, or slightly above children. The social stratification of the Maasai community is however not determined solely by gender.
It relies very heavy on the age set system too. From birth, the Maa are socialized into according their elders the highest forms of reverence and respect. An elderly man is therefore often at the helm of the â€˜food chainâ€™. And when such an elderly man is one that has been considered the overall and outright political leader and voice of the community for decades upon decades, then he assumes a larger than life profile.
That is why the Maasai will never forgive William Ruto for the boyish insults and taunts he so repeatedly aimed at Mzee William Ole Ntimama, even calling him â€˜Vasco Da Gamaâ€™ not to long ago. Seeing as he also repeatedly and derogatorily refers to Prime Minister Raila Odinga as â€˜Yule jamaa wa vitedawiliâ€™, no Maasai brought up in the ways of the Maa would wish to listen to Ruto.Â
The two most emotive political issues that have played out within the Maasai community in the recent past are the Mau forest invasion and eviction saga, and the Narok County leadership wars and woes. At the centre of these two very emotive matters has been William Ruto who is not only an outsider, but also emerged as the villain working against the interests of the Maasai community.
And on both matters, it is ODM leader Raila Odinga that has taken the side of the Maasai community, first paying a huge political price to defend the Mau forest, and later to stand with the people and leaders of Narok County against corruption allegedly perpetuated by the very same Ruto in cahoots with the Narok County governor.
- William Ruto has been masquerading as the outright leader of pastoralist communities, and the â€˜go to personâ€™ for anyone that wished to access the massive collective â€˜Kamatusaâ€™ vote block. This perception has been tacitly propped up and perpetuated by the media and the less discerning of political commentators, but the reality on the ground has always been different, and also well within the knowledge of Rutoâ€™s political allies and opponents. That is why the TNA has consistently rubbished any attempts by URP to field a candidate in any by election in any of these communities, including Kajiado Central on this basis. That also explains Rutoâ€™sÂ ~ aware of the paper tiger he really is ~ hurried, opaque and clandestine endorsement of JAP amid vocal opposition to the move from the URP and his Kalenjin community, in the desperate hope of concealing his soft underbelly. In these circumstances, a smart political team would not have as its captain, such a â€˜burdenedâ€™ player.
- As soon as the Kajiado Central seat fell vacant, a turf war ensued between the TNA and the URP over who between them would field a candidate. Aware that he held no sway over the Maasai, Kajiado Central provided a perfect opportunity for the TNA to lay bare the fallacy that is Rutoâ€™s â€˜firm gripâ€™ on these pastoralist communities. Okay, of course they all desperately wanted to win that contest, but whichever way it swung TNA was going to pick up a few points. That is to say, in a certain sense, ODMâ€™s victory was also a TNA victory because URPâ€™s claim to the Maasai turf Â has now been deflated and will never feature whenever Jubilee discusses the fielding of candidates in Maasailand in future.
Â And it is not like whoever lured Ruto into this trap hadnâ€™t had all this figured out. In the run up to the last general elections, a Jubilee campaign rally at Kisii was deliberately scheduled to coincide with another in Taita Taveta in what I considered master stroke by their strategists. You see, Uhuru and Ruto had been campaigning and marketing themselves as an inseparable pair into they ran into hostility in Kisii from crowds that were willing to listen to Uhuru, but not Ruto.
The next time Uhuru turned up in Kisii alone some from the crowd he was addressing were heard asking where he had left the offensive baggage ~ Ruto ~ he had the last time heâ€™d been there. It turned out that Ruto had been sent to campaign in Taita Taveta. This is because while Ruto was â€˜persona non grataâ€™ in Kisii, Uhuru was â€˜persona non grataâ€™ in Taita Taveta, and it therefore made sense for each to turn up in the two places without the other. They should have kept Ruto away from Kajiado Central, but instead handed him a poisoned chalice.