By C A Luanda Magere
State House invited the media to Mombasa State House for a presser at 3.30pm. After three hours of waiting, Kanze Dena waltzed in and told the gathering of eminent scribes that she wanted to inform them that President Trump had invited Uhuru to the US, and to update them about “ziara ya rais hapa pwani”. First of all, who in their right minds thinks a Trump invitation is a big announcement? For all intents and purposes, Trump is now the world’s foremost comedian, a man so mentally disturbed that you feel embarassed that the Secret Service lets him go near microphones. In any case, this sort of announcement could comfortably be sent to newsrooms as a statement (you know it costs the media money to send reporters to State House or beam an event live, so they shouldn’t go there to tuma salamu).
But we are neither too stupid nor too clever, so we know that this cannot be the real reason the media was called to Mombasa State House. Ok, admittedly, the place has a beautiful view of the sea, but I doubt the regime cares so much about the media’s marine optic nutrition. So the only explanation left is that, like several times in the last few weeks, State House was about to make a big announcement but chickened out. Which could only mean one thing; That while the technocrats and old money networks that sustain the Kikuyu hegemony would like to have this matter solved quickly so that the dragon is removed from contention, there is a distinct possibility that the man who should sign on the dotted line is too fearful to act. And that is a hostage situation.
This brings me to an observation I have made over the years. Among the three tribes that determine the destiny of the Kenyan Presidency with their high grade power play (the Luo, Kikuyu and Kalenjin), the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu will readily choose tribal interests and long term “safety” of the community, all the time, regardless of party and national interests. Half of Kikuyus voted for a Kanu candidate in 2002, yet they were not even Kanu members. In 2007, they voted for a PNU candidate while still in NARC or something like that. As long as the interests of the tribe are guaranteed, the party doesn’t matter. Kalenjins also readily vote for someone who safeguards the interests of their tribe, even if that person is the worst thing that can happen to the rest of the nation. By contrast, the Luo vote national interests all the time, and see themselves as representatives of all other tribes not represented on the ticket. This is why Luos will fuss over things like how you can vote someone with a case in an international court, or why a sizeable chunk of Luos can’t come to terms with the handshake (because Luo politics is not programmed to accept someone like Uhuru as good in any way).
The flip flopping by State House should however wake up both ODM and Luo leaders to a new reality. Which is that one game plan is no longer pragmatic in the coming succession. There may be two hostage takers currently; William Ruto and powerful Kikuyu money and security interests, each trying to stop the other. Caught in the middle, Uhuru may just be limping through in the hope that he can finish his term in peace and let nature resolve the rest. The only problem is, Raila’s game plan hinges on Uhuru retaining influence until the next transition, so that whatever deal he and Uhuru have made can reign supreme. Yet so far, there is nothing even remotely close to bold, that Uhuru has done, that the revolutionary Raila can show his millions of supporters across the country, to represent a new world order in the corridors of power. Not even a mere cabinet reshuffle. That is totally unacceptable.
My advice to the ODM ranks, and especially to the Luo Nation, is that the time may have come to activate more than one game plan. We may have to “create” rebel MPs who speak the opposite language. Some of our young MPs should actually follow Ruto around (while pocketing the beautiful brown envelopes that he showers on his praise choir) and declare support for him in 2022, to draw out the hand of those State House power peddlers who assume we are one predictable, unbreakable voting block, and that our political blueprint is just in one colour. The Luo electorate is very unforgiving, but these plastic rebels can return to the fold just before the next election and say “Baba is the one who sent us”. If we stir the water a bit, we may extract more benefits than if we remain faithful to a game plan that is anchored entirely on the ability of one man remaining powerful enough through his lame duck phase to reward us with whatever. Every day that passes makes the assessment more grim. Can Uhuru make bold decisions deep into his lame duck phase that he is clearly afraid of making now? Certainly not. So with today’s State House drama, we may have to up the ante.
Meanwhile, today is Jamaica’s Independence Day, and we Rastafarians will toast to the long life of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I and The Most Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey. For those waiting for new cabinets in Babylon, menya ciaku.