Thursday, May 25, 2017

Why they hate Agwambo

In certain corners of Kenya's political arena, the hatred of Raila Odinga is intense. While there are many committed political operatives who are determined to craft a winning strategy for their candidates in the upcoming general election, there is a hardcore cohort that is motivated exclusively and bitterly by their hatred of Kenya's only second Prime Minister.

There are many of us who are utterly unconvinced that Raila Odinga would make a good president of Kenya but we are not giving Agwambo the side-eye because we hate his guts or fear his presidency. Some of us believe that his time is over, that he must make way for youthful political leaders. Still some others believe that he has spent so long being the symbol of the Official Opposition that he may not make the best president Kenya could have. Whatever our reasons, it is not that we feel for Tinga. It almost never could be.

Few Kenyans with a Twitter account know or remember how far back Kenya goes with Raila Odinga. Many seem to only remember the Raila Odinga who emerged after the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy fell apart after the death of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Raila's father, and the backstabbing that took place against Raila Odinga and his allies in the party. Those that look back a little further can remember that Rail Odinga was "implicated" in the abortive 1982 coup against Daniel Moi but seem to have erased their memories of the detention without trial that Raila Odinga suffered till the late 1980s. Jakom has a long and mysterious history with Kenya but that alone cannot explain the anger and hatred that it engenders in certain quarters.
The case against Agwambo's presidency by those who angrily hate him is always founded on an accusation that he is not a true patriot because of his connections to the 1982 abortive coup. Tinga, they allege, was never held to account for his role in the coup, meaning that he was never executed like Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and the other coup plotters. Those that hate him want him dead and yet you can't point to anything that Jakom has done in the past forty-five years that justifies this perverse vendetta that many of them seem to be waging.

Few Kenyans, though, care that much about the 1982 coup; it failed and Baba Moi went on to rule for a further 20 years. It almost always seems that the one who hate Raila Odinga hate him because he is Luo and, therefore, he is seen to be against the interests of the ethnic communities living around Mount Kenya, none more so than the Kikuyu though Jakom has done absolutely nothing to provoke this fear (save for the ill-advised appointment of a combative, abrasive and utterly unhinged "advisor on coalition affairs" when he was Prime Minister).

There are many grounds to deny Raila Odinga the presidency but on his public record, ethnic hatred isn't one that he has ever been guilty of. Then there are the allegations that Tinga had his hand in the Consolidated Fund cookie jar and the phrase that keeps on coming up is "maize scam" as if Raila Odinga single-handedly engineered a drought that turned into a famine and thereafter oversaw the systematic looting of the National Cereals and Produce Board silos while Kenyans starved to death. Cast your mind back to that time. Raila Odinga was not the Minister of State in the Office of the President in charge of Special Programmes. Neither was he the Minister for Finance nor the Minister for Agriculture, two men who had re-established an alliance that had been rendered asunder by the devastating 2002 Mwai Kibaki political victory. Remember the face of that North Rift octogenarian who made hundreds of millions simply by trading permits linked to maize in NCPB silos?

A picture has been painted of Raila Odinga as this mad, Luo ethnic chauvinist who will do anything and everything to "steal" the presidency, including engage in ill-fated coups and blatant rigging (even of party elections) so that he can exact some sort of revenge against ethnic communities that he blames for his personal and family failings. Those painting this picture are light on facts and heavy on innuendo. They almost always compare their political champions' records against Agwambo's by repeating, ad nauseum, that "Raila Odinda did much, much worse." It isn't enough that their guy built a road; it is only better because the road Agwambo built is full of potholes or some such shit.

Hatred for Raila Odinga has been elevated to a religious precept. It is now a canon of their religion and the high priests of this faith operate at the highest levels of delusion. The founding myths of this religion are now obscured by the self-serving sermons the faithful are fed on almost daily basis. It is enough, so the high priests preach, to know that Agwambo is the wrong man for the job and to hate him for not bowing out of the field of play.

No comments: