Not yet uhuru is the title of the autobiography written by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s First Vice President, and father of the man in the eyes of the storm, Raila Odinga. Uhuru is a Swahili word which means freedom.
It all started with the August 8th,2017 elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner for a second term. Odinga challenged the results at the Supreme Court which nullified the results and fixed a re-run for October 26,2017, an election Odinga boycotted citing a lack of electoral reforms and which Kenyatta won with a landslide. Last week, in an apparent fulfillment of a threat he issued after the October re-run elections, Odinga was sworn in as the “Peoples President” at Uhuru park, Nairobi, a potentially treasonable act punishable by death under Kenyan law. President Kenyatta responded swiftly by ordering a massive crackdown on media coverage of the event which led to the shuttering of 3 private television stations, followed immediately by a government gazette declaring the National Resistance Movement, NRM, the “C” wing of Odinga’s party, the National Super Alliance, NASA, as an “organized criminal group”.
Before we begin to apportion blames as to who is right or wrong, between Kenyatta and Odinga, it is proper to establish certain facts regarding the Kenyan elections. In the build up to the August elections, the mutilated body of Chris Msando, acting Director for Information and Communications Technology at the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Kenya’s electoral commission, was found in a forest near the capital Nairobi. Also, in the build up to the October re-run elections, Roselyn Akombe, a senior official in the electoral commission, resigned and fled to the United States of America, saying members of the commission were under intense pressure from “unnamed sources” to compromise the vote and that she felt her life was no longer safe in Kenya. Both incidents seemingly corroborates Mr Odinga’s claim that the elections were rigged by hackers who infiltrated the database of the election body to manipulate the results, and that members of the IEBC led by Mr Wafula Chebukati, were biased in favour of the incumbent.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court verdict which annulled the initial elections, clearly stated that the IEBC did not have all the tally forms when they announced the results. It also said that some forms lacked security features such as watermarks, signatures or serial numbers, which called their authenticity into question. It is pertinent to ask why IEBC refused the Supreme Court access to it’s computer system in order to enable it verify opposition claims of hacking? We must also not overlook the covert and overt intimidation of the judiciary by President Kenyatta and his allies after the Supreme Court nullified the August poll. The shooting of a bodyguard of a member of Kenya’s Supreme Court, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and the utterances of Kenyatta about the Supreme Court Judges after the annulment of the August poll lends credence to my assertion.
The political feud between Kenyatta and Odinga is reminiscent of that which existed between their fathers, Jomo Kenyatta and Jamarogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s first President and Vice President respectively, one a Liberation war veteran, the other a wealthy supporter of the Liberation war, who fell out with each other politically and became bitter enemies until their deaths. It seems to me that there is a calculated plan by the Kikuyu to monopolize power and perpetuate their hegemony in Kenyan politics. With the exception of Daniel Arap Moi, Kenya’s longest serving ruler, who is a Kalenjin, whom Jomo Kenyatta appointed to the Vice Presidency, named as his successor and stubbornly refused to dismiss despite several pleas by his tribesmen urging him to do so, all of Kenya’s Presidents have all been Kikuyu.
Many have speculated that Odinga’s plan is to foment civil unrest so as to force the government to the negotiating table and make them implement electoral reforms before a fresh election is conducted. That is a feasible plan considering that Odinga has rock star popularity in Kenya especially among the poor and rural dwellers. It also explains why he did not declare himself as the President of Kenya rather he declared himself as the “Peoples President” thus laying the foundation for a long drawn legal challenge, if it arises, with it’s many twists and turns, to the Presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta. It is a political booby trap which Kenyatta seems to be falling for with the recent closure of some media houses, the arrests of journalists, lawyers and political associates of Odinga, actions which have attracted widespread condemnation and sparked international outrage. Let us not forget that a similar scenario played out after the 2007 elections won by Former President Mwai Kibaki. Violence trailed the announcement of the results with over a thousand killed and about 600,000 displaced before former United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan negotiated a coalition government in which Kibaki was President while Odinga was Prime Minister.
The battle for the soul of Kenya is on. Political warlords in East Africa’s biggest economy should be mindful of the fact that a prolonged crisis could be fatal for the country as it could attract terrorists in prophetic in his autobiography published over 3 decades ago. Indeed, it is not yet uhuru in Kenya.