Has Raila dug himself into another deeper hole by changing his call for National dialogue into one for a referendum?
What will it take him to climb out of this new hole?
Are his followers finally getting weary of his never ending tactics of his quest for power grab by all means,that finally end in tasteless anti-climaxes?
Now that Kenya has gone Chinese in everything,here is an old Chinese proverb that may interest one,Mr. Raila Odinga; ”Ch’i ‘hu nan hsia pei’;
”He who rides a tiger is afraid to
It translates to the saying that when a person embarks on a dangerous
venture,like Raila’s call and ultimatum for National Dialogue, it is safer to see it through to the end than get off mid-stream.
In its literal sense it explains that whereas one might be able to get on the back of a tiger and ride it
safely, it is nearly impossible to get off it without harming yourself by getting devoured by the tiger as soon as you disembark and fall within the reach of the tiger’s mauling jaws and claws.
This proverb was meant to advise people to be careful in the choices they make, and ensure that they choose paths that have multiple outlets rather than only one to avoid
entrapping themselves within a situation because of a lack of alternatives.
One Chinese writer explains that sometimes a title, position, status, or persona one has built over the years may be choking him, but the person refuses to relinquish it; or a technique one has used severally may be ineffective, but because they have devoted their lives to it, they refuse to change it.
The proverb essentially warns against someone putting themselves in a situation where they cannot chose a different path even when the one they are on is destroying them.
This proverb explains the predicament Raila Odinga
found himself on yesterday at the much advertised and hyped Saba saba Rally.
It is easy to blame the massive police presence on the low turnout for this much hyped rally,but media accounts of town dwellers relocating to their native homelands probably tell a different story:that the call for this Saba saba rally only helped to instil fear among Kenyans and the ensuing uncertainity only helped erode CORD’s cause in its committment to solve the current problems and challenges facing Kenya.
Kenyans are conscious of the problems facing our nation,but they don’t agree on taking up arms against each other as means of solving them in what has now been popularised by CORD as ‘Mass action’.
During the rally when the leaders took to the stage shortly after
their arrival at 3.40pm, there was high expectation that they would declare their intentions immediately.
However, the master of ceremony, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, surprised the crowd when he said there was going to be a declaration and not a ‘March to the State House’.
This appeared to disappoint the people who had been waiting for the leaders as they listened to
invigorating and rebelious reggae tunes, fiery speeches by men and women representing the people.
MPs and senators,though only a few turned up, also worked up the people.
By the time the leaders of ODM, Wiper and Ford Kenya arrived in their matching white shirts inscribed “Okoa Kenya” and “One People One
Nation,” every call of Cord was greeted with”State House!”.
A forest of hands pointed towards the government house on the hill.
The crowds could tell that State house was only a short distance from Uhuru Park,and they seemed not to understand the delay into calling them to march up to the front door,and place their demands for dialogue,or whatever they seem to have planned to do when they get to State house.
The leaders change of tune from demanding a national dialogue to calling for a faraway referandum seemed not to match up to crowds expectations.
The thirteen resolutions for the new “Okoa Kenya” push for change did not exactly sound like a “revolution”.
This was not helped by the 21 CORD governors who gave the rally a wide berth,and majority of coalition’s MPs and Senators who also did not attend,considering that only about a total of 20 MPs and Senators accompanied Raila to the venue.
Considering that the rally was held on a normal working day,it is easy to explain the MPs,Senators,Governors and other rally attendants absence by saying that they were working in their respective offices.
But Raila himself had declared the day a public holiday for his rank and file in the CORD Coalition;why didn’t they take up his call to abandon their duty stations and attend the rally?
The calls for ‘National Dialogue’ on insecurity, IEBC, corruption and ethnicity are a powerful organizing strategy for a politician in his position.
It is the kind of call that the Kenyan public finds insanely popular because Kenya genuinely has a problem in these areas.
It is also the kind of call that worries a government, again because of the legitimacy of the issues raised.
It is just the kind of agenda an opposition leader needs to re engineer his political career.
However calling for national dialogue on these issues, and then giving a ‘Saba Saba’ day ultimatum for the
government to respond to you, is exactly what the proverb above explains as the danger of taking a
path that has only one exit.
If I was still Raila Odinga’s advisor on political issues I would have
seriously urged caution on the issue of an ultimatum, especially in a country as divided as Kenya is today.
Calling for public demonstrations on a day with the kind of history ‘Saba Saba’ has, was literally playing
First, a quick look through at all the issues Raila raises.
Insecurity is an issue we will not stop
struggling with soon.
In fact in August 2012,before even going for elections to vote in the current government, we had what some media houses claimed as one of the worst incidences of violence since 2007, in Tana River.
Then we had the Baragoi incident in November of the same year.
Terrorism in Kenya, which is really a
global phenomenon, includes incidences like the one that affected Hon Yusuf Hassan in December 2012.
Raila was Prime Minister during this time.
Politicizing the fight against corruption is sheer madness.
Tribalism in government will take at least a generation to deal with.
The Kenya government has a fixed limit of approximately 200,000 permanent and pensionable employees, and no government will
survive if it decides to wake up one day, fires people from certain communities, to replace them with
others from other communities, to create ethnic balance.
Raila understands this, which is why he did what he did with his ‘half’ of government when he was Prime Minister by trying to achieve this balance by appointing as many of his own as he could into various public and civil service positions.
Calls for the disbandment of IEBC, an institution whose formation Raila personally oversaw, is simply populist.
Raila knows how this institution was established, and how it can be
He also knows that it is impossible to disband an electoral commission through public rallies.
So Raila cannot claim clean hands on any of the issues he has been calling for dialogue on.
In fact President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto
can easily lay blame for the entire system at his and President Kibaki’s feet, and argue that the two former co-principals were the two most powerful figures in Kenyan government, for the last 10 years,
and that the new team has only been in office for slightly over a year.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has chosen (wisely) to ignore Raila’s ultimatum.
An African President cannot long survive if he bows to unclear ultimatums given by Opposition leaders in public rallies during their five year politicking episodes that raise new ultimatums almost everyday.
An African President’s authority is also not just in the government structures, but also in the perception of power and respect of his office.
Uhuru Kenyatta understands that
however willing he might be to dialogue on the issues Raila raises, he cannot accept it to be because
he has been stampeded into it.
(Even Raila, if roles were reversed, would not do it).
Raila has unleashed a powerful unpredicatble (political) tiger 37 days ago on his return from the US to appease disaffected crowds that seem to now hold him hostage and driving him to brinkmanship.
He has ridden it triumphantly since then.
Yesterday, July 7 2014, he tried
get off it,only to embark on a mores vicious one by calling for a thirteen question referendum,that is probably meant to take him through another cycle of rallies seeking citizens opinions on how and when to go about it.
This will definitely win him time on prime time news and keep his followers engaged and hopeful of power-grab by his now popularised sovereign direct power of Kenyan people.
How will he do it?
His battalion of followers are becoming more and more disillusioned by the ever slippery path that he has chosen for them to go for the power-grab by mass protests.
Will his crowds of supporters give him him time and patience as more and more of his strategies draw a blank in terms of visionary leadership and promise delivery?
Someone has got to hold the tigers tail for Raila to climb down,and this will not be without some fatal political casualties by 2017.
Just watch this space!
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