By Dorcas Z
Indeed, Raila has weathered many political storms. He is a battle-hardened general whose ship has rode through moments of great upheavals, insurrections, and relative calm on the turbulent waters that are Kenya’s politics. He is like a phoenix: when you think you dealt him a mortal blow that would send his presidential bid to the cemetery of political dreams, he rises in great triumph with more power; more formidable.
But in recent times, his political star is taking a precipitous plunge to ignominy. That is partly due to the dynamism in Kenyan politics and, thanks to the creeping senility, the scion of Jaramogi Oginga cannot keep up.
This is the internet age. Information travels in rocket speeds. A simple gaffe is enough to send one to political oblivion. And, Raila being in his 70s, you’d naturally expect that due to the creeping senility, he’d be gaffe-prone. Some simple blunders can dim his political star in a snap.
The other reason why Raila Odinga is not the indefatigable phoenix of yesteryears is that the guy participated in a coalition government. He therefore shares in the blame for some of the failures of that government. That is not all: the gentleman has vied for Kenya’s highest office a record three times. In two of those times he challenged the election results.
In one of those times, the contention degenerated into a near-genocidal mayhem that will for some time remain a stain in Kenya’s brief history. What that has done is to project Raila’s ambitions as jinxed. Further, most of his supporters have resigned to fate and lost hope in a Raila presidency.
Worst of all, the Raila political star is losing its allure thanks to the battery of advisors that surround him. You would expect his advisors to take care of the revolutionary’s image, to cushion him from some overt blunders, and to package him as a vibrant leader capable of restoring the fortunes of this country.
But if recent events are anything to go by, his team of advisors has utterly failed in its mandate, and it is time Raila found a new team that isn’t looking out for itself. Yes, most of Raila’s aides are people who are hanging on his coat tails, looking out for themselves. They are not interested (or have lost hope) in Raila becoming president.
Some of the blunders are these:
First off, the moment Jacob Juma died, the CORD coalition should have suspended anti-IEBC demonstration for some time so that Kenyans can mull over the fact that we have a rogue regime bent on eliminating dissidents. The anti-IEBC demonstrations have overshadowed Jacob Juma’s death. Kenyans are no longer talking about JJ’s demise; they are now debating whether the demonstrator was Ngatia or a Manono. And, as typical of Kenyans, the nation has moved on. CORD think tank should have foreseen this and suspended the demonstrations for a while.
Two, during the demonstrations, a section of bloggers, either due to mischief or mistaken belief, reported that the demonstrator seen in a video being assaulted by police officers had succumbed to injuries. The news wafted to the CORD vanguard who did not hesitate to call a press conference to call for a moment of silence to mourn the supposed death of the demonstrator.
As expected, Jubilee spin doctors sprung to action. They formulated a plausible counter-narrative debunking the belief that the demonstrator had succumbed to injuries. CORD bit the bait, and sought to prove that indeed the demonstrator was dead. What CORD bloggers failed to do is show that it is immaterial if the demonstrator died or not (save for the effect that would have in the nature of crime the police officers may be charged with); what is important is that there was use of excessive force, and there was undue barbarity and brutality.
This casts CORD in very bad light. The rush to call for a moment of silence was ill-advised. In Africa it is wrong to mourn a person when they are alive. And, Jubilee are surely going to capitalize on the gaffe to score some political points.
Remember that CORD has been criticized as benefitting from other people’s misfortunes. That was the narrative pro-jubilee apologists propagated backing it up with allegations that it is Raila who fixed Ruto.
Recently, after JJ’s death, there was criticism that CORD loves funerals and was drawing political capital from Jacob Juma’s death. Mutahi Ngunyi further amplified the notion by indirectly suggesting that CORD could have killed JJ so as to appeal to Luhyaland. Today, jubilee spin doctors are busy propagating the theory that the poor man was set up so as to gain sympathy for the demos from Kenyans.
And, you see, that appears plausible. For why would the CORD entourage rush to call for a moment of silence before visiting the dead man in the morgue? To any onlooker, that would mean they were not interested on whether the man was dead or not; they were only interested in the political goals they’d score from the belief the demonstrator was dead. That casts them in bad light as they are seen as lovers of funerals who are eagerly waiting for a terrible misfortune to befall the nation so they can take advantage of vulnerable mourners. CORD think tank, the likes of Orengo, should have known better.