When I was reading excerpts of Miguna Miguna's alleged humiliation of Raila Odinga by President Mwai Kibaki behind curtains, I read on fast believing that an incident I have heard of would also be included. It is alleged that a youthful ODM MP held Raila by the collar and tie in Serena Hotel as he repeatedly told him not to accept a ceasefire during the negotiations for a peaceful settlement. Raila is reported to have calmly looked on without shaking off the antagonistic grip of this belligerent ODM MP.
Who indeed, was the hero of the power sharing negotiations? Was it those who got the bigger chunk of the loaf or those who ceded ground to stop post-election violence? Is it not intransigence and selfishness that created the Somalia we have today?
Miguna says, in apparent comparison to himself, that Raila wept in the heat of our national catastrophe. I would rather we have a Raila who weeps with those who suffer pain and cedes ground to satisfy those greedy for power than a snobbish traitor who is not only callous to the suffering of the people but is also inconsiderate in the pursuit of self-interest.
Miguna who had never worked with Raila during the worst times, having been in exile, was justified to be taken aback by the emotional breakdown of Raila in 2008. Erroneously he considered Raila to be tough, selfish and apparently even callous. Miguna would have applied his literary prowess in capturing Raila in a similar emotional state during a visit to the home of the late student leader, Titus Adungosi in 1997. When Adungosi's mother spotted Raila who was accompanied by former detainee Ken Matiba, she approached him and knelt down asking: "I have been told you were with my son in prison. Tell me, who killed my son?"
Raila went blank. He had no handkerchief and used his bare hands to wipe his tears as he joined his former comrade's mother in mourning his death. Raila shed more tears when he stood at the unmarked bushy grave where Adungosi was buried. On the return journey to Kisumu, John Kiema who rode with him in the same car says Raila was silent throughout the journey.
On Wednesday 11th July 2012, I visited Raila's office and found Mark Mwithaga, the vice chair of the parliamentary select committee on the JM Kariuki murder, JM's widow Doris Nyambura Kariuki, Dedan Kimathi's daughter and grandson, Gitu Kahengeri (the Mau Mau war veterans spokesman) waiting to brief the PM on the ongoing Mau mau case in London. There were also councillors from Nyandarua who had come to request that a hospital in Ol Kalau be named after a Mau Mau war hero. Raila has also employed JM Kariuki's daughter in his office. Who other than a person filled with sympathy can have time for this marginalized constituency?
Dedan Kimathi's daughter summed it up when she told me: "You know what? Raila is the last born of our caring fathers." The statement, "I value solid popularity-the esteem of good men for good action. I despise the bubble popularity that is won without merit and lost without crime," by US senator, Thomas Hart Benton is apt in reference to the Miguna book.
Its popularity and that of the author will quickly die and be forgotten within a short time unlike the achievements by historical personalities which do not lie in the hype of the moment but it's a sum of activities, decisions, policies and positions taken over time. When a nation is in crisis, those who make sacrifices to save it pass the test of greatness and their actions are associated with selflessness, courage and heroism. John F. Kennedy put it succinctly in "Profiles in Courage" which is an analytical presentation of figures in American history who opted to eat humble pie (read half a loaf) but were vindicated by history. "Great crises produce great men and great acts of courage."
The writer is the chair of The National Victims and Survivors Network