I hate Raila Odinga – but why?

“I hate Raila Odinga”, that’s a confession a close Kikuyu friend made in the height of Raila’s agitation for Okoa Kenya. I asked her why she would hate him that much. Her reasons were not clear but I remember her mentioning Kibera, calls for mass actions in 2007/2008 which she blames for the post elections violence, and the failed 1982 coup. Basically, she associates Raila Odinga with violence.

The fact that her and a number of other Kenyans mostly Kikuyus hate Raila Odinga was brought up for discussions yesterday when Ipsos Synovate reported that 61% of Kenyans think the country is headed towards the wrong direction, but only 44% of the same Kenyans would vote to change that direction. In an attempt to analyse this irony, my friends and I realized that other than tribalism, the major reason why several of the people who will rather maintain the status quo than vote for Raila Odinga will do so solely because they hate Raila Odinga.

As described in paragraph one, some of the people who hate Raila Odinga do so on flimsy grounds. Interestingly, a number of them hate Raila Odinga based on mythical stories told to them at fire places. Let Ephraim Njega explain;

Among our Central Kenya generation which was not exposed to the infamous tribal oaths our Raila fears arise from stories we used to hear when growing up. It was a household dinner time tale that once Jaramogi had said his only desire in life is to sit on the presidential seat even if for an hour in order to teach our community a lesson.

As young and unexposed kids we took this story to be a matter of a fact. We therefore believed that it was duty upon us to prevent Jaramogi or his progeny from ever ascending to power as it was an existential threat. When Jaramogi died we believed his son had taken over the family’s lifetime quest. Therefore we saw Raila’s quest for power as motivated by the malicious need to destroy us. This is the reason many in our generation cannot view Raila’s quest for power in any other way.

Raila Odinga took it upon himself to explain to the Kikuyu that he has no ill-motives against them as a people. He did this during his first round of Kiambu campaigns. To lend support to Raila’s assertions of no ill-motives against the Kikuyus, Ephraim Njega further wrote:

When Raila came closest to power as a Prime Minister of our great country I cannot remember anything he did to destroy us and our so called businesses. In fact I saw Raila work hard to protect the business of S.K. Macharia that was under siege from government over broadcast frequency issues. I saw Raila fight hard to protect Tabitha Karanja’s owned Keroche Industries which was under siege from beer multinationals.

But some of those who hate Raila Odinga also do so based on numerous other propaganda that have been spread against him every political season. We have the 41 against 1 slogan which has been linked to the 2007/2008 post elections violence of which I have no evidence. If Raila ever used the phrase 41 against 1 during his 2007 campaigns I would like to receive a memo.

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Then there is the hatred of Raila based on Majimboism. Majimboism, if you may remember, was part of the MoU that brought together LDP and NAK in 2002 to create NARK. This NARK MoU had clauses that would see the NARK government implement a new constitution within the first 100 days of taking power. Part of the promises in the new constitution was a parliamentary system of government led by an Executive Prime Minister – a post that would be taken up by Raila Odinga if the constitution came to life. What most fail to acknowledge is that the promised NARK constitution would also usher in Majimboism.

Majimboism that was envisaged in the promised NARK constitution and found its way to the Bomas draft was a system of government where the country would be divided into 10 jimbos, or devolved units. These devolved units would operate as unique individual states that had a lot of control of the resources and politics of those jimbos. But the promise of this type of devolution, alongside the parliamentary system of government, would be deleted in the infamous Wako draft. Kenyans would overwhelmingly vote against this Wako’s draft in the 2005 referendum.

The reason Kibaki led government had problems with majimboism was the notion that devolution was bad for the country. Kibaki’s arm of NARK that evolved into PNU would tell Kenyans that majimboism was a way of dividing Kenyans along tribal lines. PNU would insist that under majimboism, a Kenyan of a wrong tribe who had relocated to a particular jimbo would be required to abandon his home and relocate to a jimbo of his ancestral land. This idea scared Kikuyus to the core, as they are the majority who had found themselves settling in other areas especially in the heart of Rift Valley. It doesn’t matter how much Raila Odinga tried to debunk this propaganda – most Kikuyus still believed what Kibaki and PNU  propagated.

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But then 2007/2008 post election violence happened that forced Kibaki and Raila to share the government under an Internationally mediated agreement. Part of this agreement would be the enactment of a new constitution that was mutually agreeable between the two parties. In the spirit of compromise, Kibaki would agree to a watered down form of majimboism (what we now have as devolution), and Raila would completely drop the push for a parliamentary system of government.

Today we have a version of majimboism that almost every Kenyan loves. The few people who have had issues with devolution are those who have cited the cost of maintaining the devolved units. But by and large Kenyans have appreciated how this watered down form of devolution has managed to bring services closer to them.

Those who have found issues with devolution, including Moses Kuria who was in the camp that fought tooth and nail against Majimboism, have tried to propose constitutional changes that would bring back the Bomas draft type of majimboism – where we have 10-15 jimbos whose major source of income would be revenue collection within the jimbos, instead of relying heavily on exchequer.

Right now we have a situation where not only does everyone appreciate majimboism (devolution) but some of those who were against majimboism even desire the very majimboism that Raila was vilified for. We see this clearly where after the 2013 general elections, Raila’s move to embark on a drive to strengthen the powers of the 47 devolved governments received overwhelming support from all governors, even governors affiliated with Jubilee. However, Jubilee governors would be talked down by their principals, as their continued support for Raila’s Okoa Kenya would seem as a vote of no confidence on Jubilee leaders.

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Now reason like this, If Raila was vilified on devolution based on claims that devolution would cause Kenyans to be evicted from their non-ancestral lands (Ruto was in the NO camp based on this very point), but today every Kenyan is celebrating devolution, is it not clear that Raila’s vilification on devolution was a complete nonsense?

What other untruths about Raila are complete nonsense? E.g. will Raila become a dictator who completely destroys the country the Burundi way when he takes over power?

If you are not going to vote for Raila, please don’t vote for him simply because his manifesto and promises don’t make sense to you. Or don’t vote for him because you trust that Uhuru Kenyatta is driving us to the right direction. But if your reasons for not voting for Raila are based on hatred and unfounded fears, then you should know that the foundations of that hatred and fear are baseless.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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