By Ndung’u Wainaina
This article will not dwell on Raila Odinga’s history. That has been taken care of by several articles and biographies by different authors locally and internationally. This article is about Raila Odinga’s promise to the people of Kenya for a new Kenya as a five-year transitional president, with the vow to being a consequential transformational, not transactional, presidency. This author would like to disclose he proposed and pushed for this arrangement and that his conscience is comfortable with the prospect of a Raila presidency.
The 1972 Democratic Party of United States of America campaign platform read: “We must restructure the social, political and economic relationships throughout the entire society in order to ensure equitable distribution of wealth and power. The cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.” This powerful message is the heartbeat of Hon Odinga and the recently launched National Super Alliance (Nasa) manifesto, with the promise of a full implementation of the Constitution of Kenya – building a strong and stable progressive, people-centred servant leadership, creating middle and below inclusive economy, ensuring more labour productivity, addressing bad legacies of the past, building more people-centred security and safety, and and deepening devolved participatory system of governance.
I would like to address Hon. Raila first as follows:
Dear Raila Amolo Odinga, socialism is no longer a term to avoid in the current troubled world. Your best lesson is found in Bernie Sanders of United states of America, and Jeremy Corbyn of Britain. Bernie and Corbyn didn’t shrink from it. They gave voice to a social demand that is reverberating throughout the world. Voters, especially the desperate youth who are looking for economic opportunities, found it intriguing. They embraced its policies. Bernie and Corbyn are old. However, age didn’t matter in their quest for “political revolution” in a world ridden with ever-deepening capitalism crisis. Both staunch, left-inclined policy advocates are old but they both got the biggest youth vote boost. To both, age did not matter when it came to getting votes.
Raila, you must find out what is the common denominator of both Bernie and Jeremy and how it is connecting with the shifting global politics. There is no crime committed in you asserting that you are a pragmatic social democrat, setting out a new progressive social democratic vision based on the hope of an equitable Kenyan society. You should come strongly as a social democrat defending the rights of majority. This is where the world is leaning.
Looking at Raila’s daily public statements and the Nasa manifesto, it is clear that Odinga has learnt why, for instance, Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour party came out very strong in the recently concluded British election. First, Corbyn’s leadership, which did not shy away from making a significant break from the neoliberal Blairite legacy, firmly re-established new progressive and pro-people policies. Secondly, the Labour manifesto titled “For the Many, Not the Few” promised increased public spending on job creation, education, healthcare, housing and social security to be funded by enhanced taxes on the richest five per cent, corporations and finance capital alongside re-nationalisation of the railways, mail service, water system and energy supply. This helped Jeremy to galvanise popular support from the working people and the unemployed. And thirdly, the phenomenal rise in support for the Labour Party among the British youth, which explicitly stands for wealth redistribution, participatory democracy, putting people before corporate interests, ending all forms of discrimination and reversing privatisation.
The resurgence of democratic socialism globally is a lesson that is driving Raila Odinga’s agenda for rebuilding a society along a social democratic vision of social development. In this regard, and looking at what, so far, Raila has stated in public, three things stand out. First, he is set to make a break from the corrupting influence of past. He is forthright in his critique of the existing order that is increasingly dominated by finance capital, giant corporations and a subservient state to criminal profiteering cartels. Secondly, he is determined to establish a more devolved economy and governance system with ordinary people at the centre – people who are able to tap into their potential and prioritise their needs without neo-liberal second-guessing. Thirdly, he is set to dismantle the old order and its institutional and organisational structures in order to embrace the social democratic aspirations of today’s youth and the working population by evolving a democratic and participatory vision and practice of social democracy rather than remaining nostalgic about the unitary statehood that has seen Kenya suffer from ethnic conflicts, gangsterisation of politics and authoritarian dictates of capital.
However, one thing Raila must continue to avoid is politics of hate and fear that an opportunistic, predatory, corrupt and criminal clique has fuelled against him. This has to be done not by remaining silent about hate politics but by combating it and exposing its vacuousness and irrationality.
But who really fears Raila, and why?
In 2003, after…
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