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The events surrounding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s travel to The Hague last week were not only outstanding for the accompanying bravado, but they also revealed a lot about the
President, Kenyans and Kenya.


The last time I alluded to the genius of some foreign public relations consultants handling Uhuru Kenyatta’s affairs in this column, I was harangued by Jubilee attack dogs on social

Blogger Bogonko Bosire, he of the Jackal News fame,dismissed the article as a work of fiction, confirming my fears that many of my friends who live off dirty jobs for politicians
are often too naïve to know who is pulling the strings.

If still in doubt you only need to see how the President’s PR people ran rings around the local media on the eve of his latest travel to The Hague, making what human rights activist
Njonjo Mue calls a ‘non-event’ headline news and the hot topic for public debate.

By purporting to hand over power to Deputy President William Ruto (who automatically assumes some presidential duties in an acting capacity under the Constitution anyway),
Mr Kenyatta had with the stroke of a pen led the media away from the more substantive story of his humiliating record as the first sitting head of state to appear before the International
Criminal Court (ICC) judges.


Of course the President’s PR team will want to take credit for the excellent choreography of The Hague drama.

But they were helped in no small measure by Kenyans’ depraved craving for a hero — any hero.

In 2003, jubilant crowds poured onto the streets of Nairobi to welcome General Mathenge, the Mau Mau freedom fighter
said to have been exiled by the British colonial government.

It turned out that the man they had given a heroic reception was Lemma Ayanu, an Ethiopian peasant.

In 2014, similarly jubilant crowds turned out to receive Uhuru Kenya, returning from the ICC where he is facing crimes against humanity charges.


For all its evoking grave emotions, the post-election violence of 2007 and 2008 for which the President and his deputy are in the dock also produced winners and losers on the political scene.

The two gentlemen are beneficiaries of political scavenging, having used their personal troubles at the ICC as a stepping stone to power at the expense of their opponents whom they
continue to depict as stooges of the West.

But the ethnic character of the violence means that no group can celebrate victory over ICC without being seen to be jumping on the coffins of victims belonging to the other group.

Predictably, Mr Kenyatta’s triumphant return caused excitement in his support base in central Kenya and Rift Valley while in western Kenya, the ancestral home of many of the victims in the case, folks were either sad or indifferent.

Otieno Otieno is Chief Sub-Editor, Business Daily

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