Earlier this month Kenyans went to the polls to elect their president and other officials in a democracy that is said to be “on trial”. After few days of suspense-filled delay in proclaiming the victor and the vanquished the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) released the official results which gave marginal victory to Uhuru Kenyatta with his arch-rival, the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, coming second. Narrowly avoiding a run-off he garnered 50.07% of the vote beating Odinga who polled 43.31% of the total votes cast. Uhuru is the son of Kenya’s legendary first President Jomo Kenyatta.
While Raila Odinga has refused to acknowledge defeat claiming that the poll was “massively rigged” the Supreme Court in Nairobi remains the final judicial arbiter constitutionally mandated to adjudicate on the matter of this kind. Odinga has signalled his readiness to challenge the results announced by the IEBC in the apex court to test their veracity in conformity with the electoral standards and acts (In fact he has done so some hours ago). Raila is the son of the late Oginga Odinga, the first Vice-President of independent Kenya. So you have got two worthy sons of great men of yore doing battle for political superiority and acceptance to serve. Just like their sons they were bitter political rivals but with the interest of Kenya at heart!
As the son of Kenya’s founding father, Uhuru has got the name, the wealth and the burden that comes with this heritage. At 51 he is fulfilling a presidential destiny, one bestowed by paternal political activism and personally nursed over time. Fondly called “Njamba” (hero in his Kikuyu language) by his supporters the president-elect is about the richest Kenyan, a family fortune that Forbes magazine estimates to be in billions of dollars. Someone in Nigeria (peace to his soul) comes to mind here but we shall come to that later.
The President-elect is still standing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for crimes allegedly committed in the 2007-8 national pandemonium in which over a thousand people died. But one wonders why the ICC should wait until an accused gets elected as President (with the immunity that high office guarantees) before doing justice to the case for which he stands accused. If that does not amount to the mockery of international justice system then one wonders what is. Kenyatta’s trial has been tentatively fixed for July when he must have assumed office as President with the attendant constitutional and legal consequencies. Pray, how do you try a sitting President of a sovereign country?
The charges stemmed from allegations that he had helped orchestrate the bloody violence that erupted after the 2007 election; the crimes against humanity for which he must continue to stand trial, are heavy and serious indeed with huge consequencies for both Kenya and the international community. Before the Kenyan general elections the Western powers (US, UK, France, Germany etc) had warned Kenyans of the ‘consequencies’ of electing a potential ‘war criminal’ as president but they ignored such warnings. Despite such Western interventions seen generally in Kenya by Kenyans as undue interference and meddlesomeness in their internal affairs the ballot has spoken.
It would be recalled that in a similar presidential poll in 2007 pitting the out-going President Kibaki against Raila Odinga a social strife was ignited with the announcement of victory for the incumbent president prompting the killing of over a thousand Kenyans with hundreds of thousands made homeless or refugees. Odinga had then refused to accept defeat claiming that he was cheated of victory — something that appeared to be true given the unpopularity of the old Kibaki and his unimpressive 5-year presidency. For peace to reign a la Zimbabwe (where the Mugabe muddle is still in full swing) a power-sharing ‘deal’ was struck in which Odinga was named Prime Minister.
While the indicted Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, still refuses to be ‘cornered’ and brought before Judges at the Hague to answer to charges of genocide levelled against him in Darfur the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was ‘deported’ there by his rival, the President Alassane Ouattara, to face charges bordering on extra-judicial executions, multiple rape, monumental theft and other economic crimes against the state committed during the post-election violence cum war in late 2010-2011. Today Omar is free defiantly daring the ICC by visiting ‘rogue’ countries (where his liberty could not be breached) while Gbagbo is still holed up in the Hague waiting for his fate to be decided.
Though Uhuru Kenyatta has not been found guilty yet for any crimes it is suspected that he played a significant role in the killings that took place during the violence after the presidential poll was doctored to favour the out-going president Mwai Kibaki whom he had vociferously backed. Odinga had alleged then that he had won the election outright and that he was denied victory by the Kibaki forces — something similar to June 12 in Nigeria in 1993 when the late President Moshood Abiola triumphed over Bashir Tofa only for Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and the late Gen. Sani Abacha to scandalously annul the pan-Nigerian mandate setting Nigeria ablaze in the process.
The Kenyan president-elect has few things in common with the late Nigerian flamboyant president-elect MKO Abiola. Whilst Uhuru is the son of a great politician Abiola was born poor but hit ‘gold’ through the dint of hardwork. While Uhuru is rich (having been born with a silver spoon) Abiola was a self-made billionaire whose wealth was ‘hammered’ out of ‘stone’ through sweat and perseverance and ‘felt’ by many people through philantrophy and benevolence. Whilst Uhuru would surely exercise his mandate Abiola was disallowed criminally by military fiat from assuming the mandate freely given.
Just days before the presidential poll reports online indicated that Raila Odinga had sent emissaries to Calabar, Cross River State, to consult with the late Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS) leader Olumba Olumba Obu. Perhaps the visiting Kenyans must have seen the son, Bassey alias Roland the “king-of-kings”, who must have told the delegation that his late father, “the comforter”, was ‘resting’! That lie had been sustained over the years, for more than a decade since “the spiritual leader of the universe” kicked the bucket and was secretely buried at midnight in his Biakpan ancestral home without any formal funeral ceremony. Having audaciously claimed to be “God” it is inconceivable that that “God” would ever die given celestial immortality and infallibility.
What made Odinga think that a dead god could be of help in an electoral contest in far away Nairobi beats one’s imagination. Why not, instead, go to TB Joshua’s Synagogue in Lagos for some electoral miracle similar to the one obtained there by the late Ghanaian President John Atta-Mills? But despite the official visit to the Calabar ‘shrine’ located at Ambo Street, Odinga still lost the election to his bitter rival Uhuru! The truth is that the Kenyatta son appealed more to the masses and used his huge resources to embark on a winning campaign which paid off. The lesson here is that we must always put our trust (only) in the living God and not in any creature masquerading blasphemously as one.
Unlike Nigeria where no transparent presidential election has ever been conducted since the return of democracy in 1999 Kenya did organise something similar to a free and fair poll even though some technical glitches were reported here and there. Like Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who has “lost” three presidential polls Odinga is hoping to challenge the outcome in the Supreme Court and he has promised to abide by any decision reached by the apex court — unlike in Nigeria where electoral disputes were often ‘arranged’, sold and bought at the tribunals and even the Supreme Court!
While we congratulate Uhuru Kenyatta for his marginal presidential elec
tion victory in his country (with attention fixed on the eventual outcome of the Raila challenge at the court) we must remind him, in the spirit of pan-Africanism, that it is not yet Uhuru! It was the late great father of the vanquished Odinga, Oginga, who said so in his autobiography. With national challenges bordering on unity, poverty, unemployment and infrastructural deficiency facing Uhuru it cannot be Uhuru yet until these nagging social problems were arrested with commensurate development that cuts across every political or ethnic divide.
President Uhuru Kenyatta can make Kenya to be an ‘Uhuru’ nation — a great nation east of Africa if he applies the wisdom of his late father and generosity of heart of great winners! We wish him the best of luck as he goes about building ‘bridges’ with the opposition and making life better for fellow Kenyans.