By Jackson Omondi
Imagine life as a son of a former vice president of the Republic of Kenya, the opulence and prestige that comes with it, the sense of entitlement abound, the aura of I-am-better-than-you that we see in the offsprings of today’s political royalty and yet, Raila chose to buck that trend.
When his peers chose the high life, the young Raila chose a path less travelled. He took a curious path. A path that many folks in his age bracket considered too complicated and nerdy. It was a path that was not only dangerous but also daring. He had Kenya in his mind.
Having witnessed state intimidation by way of his father’s house arrest and getting a ten-year stint in detention that earned him the title of Kenya’s longest serving detainee, Raila Odinga is a man who has seen it all.
Not too many people can fully function minus ten years of productive life. It’s unfathomable! BUT somehow, the scion of Jaramogi Adonija Obadiah Ajuma Odinga has managed to defy the odds!
Not only did he manage to forgive and work with those who put him in detention, he also embraced and worked with those who stole his electoral victory in 2007 and laid the foundation for a better Kenya! This is a man who has dedicated his life to Kenya.
While his detractors love to throw kibera slums as a shillelagh to discredit his record, they forget that a man who has given ten years of his life for his country cannot be judged by a constituency. For a legendary figure like Raila, Lang’ata was just a springboard to the national political theater where he could really focus on his real constituency: Kenya!
He needed Lang’ata in order to have a seat at the national negotiating table so that he could make the case for Kenya. And to that end, he delivered the new constitutional dispensation with devolution to boot. Save for Jubilee’s gimmicks of stifling devolution , Kenyans will be better off because of devolution and they have Raila to thank for it.
It’s also important to remember that transformational figures like Raila are rare. Asking Raila to parade job numbers as lang’ata MP is like asking the imprisoned Mandela to show his development record. Better yet, it’s like asking Dr Martin Luther King to table his job numbers during the civil rights movement. These men’s constituencies and collective cause celebres was different from your average, round-the-mill leaders. Theirs was different, they had a bigger cause, a macro-political view.
Many leaders have graced the Kenyan political theater but very few can claim to have the same impact as the enigma. Furthermore, very few can say that they put country first and mean it.
This is why political pundits and status quo agitators spend sleepless nights trying to contain Raila. They wonder why the masses adore him. “How can peasants and peons relate to a billionaire ?” they wonder.
News flash: those peons know that he is the only man who had the chutzpah to serve hard time in detention because he believed in a more freer and fairer Kenya! Kenyans are politically hip enough to separate real from fake and they go with the enigma because they can relate to his cause. After all, the out-of-touch leaders often show them the middle finger while bragging about feasting on nyama choma.
The good news for Kenya is that help is just a few weeks away!