columnBy Wafula Buke
Listening to the Jubilee leading lights denigrate the contribution of Prime Minister Raila Odinga to the reform effort in Kenya, I search my memory to find equivalents in similar political settings and just cannot find any.
William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta have almost turned degradation and distortion of Raila's credentials and history into a manifesto for their presidential bid this year. I marvel at how their utterances last week in Kisii contrasts with those of their age mate US President Barrack Obama. Obama said of his rival then aged 71; "McCain has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the services rendered by this brave and selfless leader." Additionally, despite being known to be actively involved in the campaign against Raila's election, at least Hon Mwai Kibaki thanked Raila Odinga "for his dedication and commitment to serving the public."
On the other hand, Kenya's "youthful" presidential aspirants praise the legacy of outgoing President Kibaki at 80 and dismiss Raila on the basis of age in the same breath. Obama at 46 then had nothing to say about the age of his rival who was 71 then. Nelson Mandela's opposition unreservedly appreciated the input of freedom fighters as backgrounds to their campaign messages for political office. Didn't Uhuru's comrade in arms, Charity Ngilu, describe Raila as "Kenya's Nelson Mandela"?
Now even Uhuru says he fought for reforms. Hon James Orengo put it succinctly in Parliament in 2008; "Facts are very stubborn things because no matter what you do, they remain just that; facts." The Kisii crowd that heckled at my detractors at a Jubilee rally testifies to this. They heckled at them. Many questions and contrasting thinking must traverse Raila's mind such as those below:
"Do my younger competitors know that people of all ages were killed on July 7, 1990 (Saba Saba) as the fight for the multi-party system of government got to its peak? Same time, where were Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto? Whose interests were they serving? Were they aiding the forces of repression as they reformed their bank accounts?
Will they argue that they were too young to add value to the reform campaign when our history of resistance to political intolerance documents their age mates Tirop arap Kitur, the late Titus Adungosi, Gacheche wa Miana among others, as soldiers in the reform effort. Which side of the historical dice were my abusive competitors? Are they aware that Ken Matiba and Charles Rubia never recovered from the consequences of a brutal regime they obediently served?
When they talk of social justice for all, do they possess the humility to salute the grave of Bishop Alexander Muge whose death arose from his plea to the international community that the Pokot and Turkana people were dying of famine? If they were exposed to a distorted version of Kenya's history, can't they ask their ally, his excellence President Mwai Kibaki to narrate to them the feel of tear gas he himself went through in 1997 as we kicked at the ball of a new constitution?
Since they have lately been professing Jesus through prayer rallies, can they confess in that holy name that they were partners in campaigning against the new constitution with William Ruto being the daylight face and his colleague the famous fruit as packaged in media commentaries? How do they explain their support for the appointment of judicial officials including the Chief Justice out of the provisions of the new constitution if they believed in the new reforms as they proclaimed in Kisii recently?
If indeed they are reformers, why are they scared of history when all that history does is provide the story of a contest between evil and good and the protagonists of each side? Do they imagine Kenyans don't know Uhuru Kenyatta engineered the appointment of Eugene Wamalwa as Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs whose first task was to install Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat to head the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) for obvious reasons?
As William Ruto parades what he considers his achievements as Minister for Agriculture in the Kibaki era, is he oblivious of the historical context of his performance? Does he have the honesty to acknowledge my role in the enthronement of Kibaki as he opposed him? Who then shares in the glory of the successes of the coalition? Is it Hon Ruto who supplied fertiliser or is it the government which approved the proposals based on the social democratic philosophy of ODM? If his performance is solely the product of his energy and brilliance? Why are Uhuru and Ruto silent on what they did for Kenya as ministers for Internal Security and Local Government respectively in the Moi government?
As Patrice Lumumba of Congo would put it "History will one day have its say" but it will not be a history written in the comforts of five star hotels but in the villages, streets and homes of our people who continue fighting for a better Kenya and heckled them in Bamachoge Kisii when they lied about me."