Raila vs Raila

Raila vs Raila

No-one has ever beaten Raila Odinga except Raila Odinga alone

By Yasin ArkANuddin

I read Kwendo Opanga’s article in the Sunday Nation of October, 18th, 2020 with interest. I found it to be a well-intentioned and highly diplomatic piece, but ultimately fundamentally flawed in terms of its political philosophy.

Democracy being premised on purely consolidating the majority in a chamber that is devoid of a message but is underpinned by the divisive values of individualism and the materialism of Capitalism, inevitably makes it about what current Deputy President William Samoei Ruto once perfectly described as “…creating coalitions of hatred” according to a piece by another columnist.

That is why in every democracy, as elections draw near, an aspirant must find a bogeyman for the public mind. The Democrats have it in Trump, the Republicans have it in Clinton, George Bush had Saddam Hussein, Barrack Obama had Osama bin Laden, and on and on.

Therefore in Opanga’s call for unity, if he wants other leaders to be included in the Building Bridges Initiative, he must provide a bogeyman the “inclusive union” that will have been created can rally the masses against.

Bringing the “coalition of hatred” home, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto united against a Raila Odinga bogeyman in two elections; now Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are uniting against a William Ruto bogeyman. Therefore if Opanga wants Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga and William Ruto to unite under a Democratic regime, he MUST provide a proportionate bogeyman. Outside of this, he can only unite them under a different political system, not Democracy, for, to quote William Ruto, the strongest coalition of hatred captures the throne. That is one.

Two, Opanga’s conclusion that Raila is a current favourite contradicts the current political reality and probably will also not stand the test of time as Raila once again places himself on the wrong side of history. And it is this assertion that we will look at most deeply, for Raila’s journey, for better fore worse, is all our journeys. None of us have escaped its consequences, good or bad.

I begin by submitting DP Ruto is proving deadly primarily because has copied and executed all of Raila’s best moves without making the critical and self-defeating errors Raila Odinga made when he, just like Ruto, was last just a few feet away from the throne as Prime Minister.

Let us look back.

In 2002 Raila Odinga, in a remarkable turn of events declared “Kibaki Tosha!” and became the darling of all the native tribes including Kikuyus. In 2007, then President Mwai Kibaki reneged on the now infamous Memorandum of Understanding he had with Raila Odinga, re-opening an age old wound Kikuyu tribal elites had inflicted on inter Luo-Kikuyu tribal relations during the reign of the first President Jomo Kenyatta.

Then Prime Minister Raila Odinga made a critical choice. Instead of gunning for the Kikuyu base after being betrayed by Kikuyu elites, like William Ruto has currently done, he was overcome by his old belief that “Kikuyus can never vote for anyone but a Kikuyu” or the Luo flavoured version of the same belief “Kikuyus can never vote for a Luo”. He instead built what he believed was an unbeatable “41 against 1” coalition of hatred. For this he organized an alliance of Tribal Chiefs, then famously known as the “Pentagon”.

William Ruto has now been betrayed by the Kikuyu comprador elites, who many do not understand have evolved to be a distinct and separate group from the Kikuyu natives. But William Ruto has responded by going direct to the Kikuyu base, instead of presuming that rejection by the Kikuyu tribe’s elites implies rejection by the Kikuyu tribe.

The Kikuyu base remained silent after the President Mwai Kibaki’s treachery. As “silence is consent” in politics, it was assumed the entire tribe endorsed the betrayal of the MoU. A simple unscientific survey would have revealed that the base was bitter that President Mwai Kibaki betrayed Raila Odinga, who by now was famously called Njamba amongst the Kikuyu for saving them from the tyranny of Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi. But the Kiambaa killings forced the Kikuyu to rally behind the treacherous leadership as any existential crisis always does for incumbent leadership. 

The 2008 Post-Election Violence caused by the betrayal of the MoU resulted in the Coalition Government so-called “Nusu Mkate”. Raila Odinga became Prime Minister.

Again here Raila Odinga made critical choices. Instead of seizing the Government of Kenya and running it like William Ruto did as Deputy President, he famously complained about perks at political rallies. Instead of plotting a palace coup from within, he frolicked around the country and the world, while President Mwai Kibaki ran the government as he willed.

I explained it in my piece of January 30th, 2018 (Failed coup, mock treason and the actual revolution), speculating that thought Raila Odinga is a brilliant mobilizer and populist, he does not seem to understand “The nature or substance of Power”. Being Prime Minister was his chance to pull the “Mnangagwa” he in latter public speeches threatened to.

In 2012, the ICC indictments of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were confirmed. Here, again, Raila Odinga made watershed choices; instead of standing with his ‘General’ and key pillar in the Pentagon, he famously said “…everyone should carry their own cross…”

This was by far his biggest and most fatal strategic error. In that moment Raila Odinga lost the entire Rift Valley. But, blinded by success, he assumed the millions who showed up at the ballot for his “coalition of hatred – the Pentagon” were as a result of his individual star-power, famously boasting “the people of Rift Valley elected me because of my own appeal, they did not elect me because of Ruto”.

In 2013, William Ruto moved with the Rift Valley to the centre, ruthlessly correcting Raila Odinga’s delusions of populist grandeur. By this time, anyone who had been keeping track knew Raila Odinga’s fatal personality weaknesses.

People who worked in his campaign secretariat in 2007 revealed after the election that it was pure chaos, just as Dr Duncan Ojwang revealed in an interview with YouTube Talk show host Gerald Bitok that went viral. Raila’s political parties have card-board structures: he decides everything, on whim. Meanwhile, reports have it that his erstwhile opponent Uhuru Kenyatta listens to and obeys the experts during campaigns.  

Raila Odinga is not an administrator by nature. So what? His problem is that he must be the master of everything. With this in mind, let us look at 2017.

Raila Odinga’s “Election Monitoring infrastructure in the cloud” failed to deliver. His secretariat was a mess. In his Kisumu base, young people preferred to work as Election monitors for his competitor Jubilee than for Orange Democratic Movement because Jubilee Party paid more and paid consistently.

Here again Raila Odinga made a critical error. During the campaign, he was captured on video in Kajiado saying that “all visitors (Kikuyus automatically assume he is referring to them) must leave”. Word spread through the Kikuyu tribe like wildfire triggering the now famous “kumira kumira”. The Kikuyu came out for the election in numbers that broke Tom Wolfe’s statistical prediction tools at opinion pollster IPSOS Synovate. The intent was to make sure their candidate won to guarantee the safety of their kin outside the Mt. Kenya region and their property elsewhere.

2018: The Handshake

While most of us thought Raila Odinga initiated it, Economist Dr David Ndii revealed it was actually Uhuru Kenyatta who reached out. It then became the now famous Building-Bridges-Initiative.

So as 2022 approaches, Raila has the state infrastructure but he has lost two key grounds, Mt. Kenya and Rift Valley. The past few elections have shown that if you have Mt. Kenya and Rift Valley you cannot lose. Secondly, if you do not have one of them, then you need to have the rest of the country and split the other. 

Raila, though in the centre with Jubilee right now, has neither Mt. Kenya nor Rift Valley; even if he has the rest of the country and government infrastructure, he cannot win. Kenya’s political medium has evolved. In spite of the undeniable power that resides in Government infrastructure, its writ is not absolute. Any aspirant would be unwise to depend on it alone.

Moving forward, in Dr. Ndii’s words, the Kenya marriage has failed. Different from Dr Ndii, I hold that Kenya’s marriage was not a marriage between tribes; it was an abusive marriage between Malcolm X’s famous House Negro and the Field Slave, the natives, where the master remains Her Imperial Majesty. The abuse in the marriage has now become untenable.

The house Negro has mortgaged the field slaves, their families and all their personal possessions now and for coming generations. He has spared no resource in brutalising and expropriating the field slaves; policy, police, bulldozers, and William Ruto will comfortably be able to hang this albatross on Raila Odinga’s neck.

If Ruto can forge the Kikuyu-Kalenjin alliance into a turbine and then successfully house them in a class structure, Raila Odinga is facing a potential political tsunami. Like the rest of us “field slaves” he can only escape the certain destruction he once predicted for others, through a radical change in strategy – a change so radical that it risks destroying him.

Otherwise he just like us, the natives, is trapped. He has no escape from further failure and impotence; just as we have no escape from tyranny and expropriation.

Raila, like many great men of the past, is his own worst enemy. No-one has ever beaten Raila Odinga except Raila Odinga.  ( 

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