Loading...


By MACHARIA GAITHO
More by this Author

I was left thoroughly miffed over the weekend by Trevor Noah, of the American television programme, The Daily Show.

Noah was flabbergasted that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó had sworn himself in as the president following several weeks of protests against the ruinous regime of President Nicolas Maduro. He called it an unprecedented action, describing Mr Guaidó as the world’s first ‘Selfie President’.

I was personally offended by Noah’s ignorance, as all Kenyans should be. The average American may believe the world revolves within his hemisphere, but Mr Noah is a well-travelled African, who should know better.

It would have taken just a little checking, if not basic knowledge of current affairs, to establish that a year earlier, Kenyan opposition chief Raila Odinga had set the trend.

Anyway, the comedian-turned-TV talking head might be excused, given that South Africans have a rather haughty and ignorant attitude towards the rest of the “dark continent”.

But what galls even more is not Mr Noah’s mistake but that many important Western countries are rushing to recognise Mr Guaidó — led by US President Donald Trump, whose counterparts in Canada, Spain, Germany, Britain and France signalled they would follow suit.

That is absolutely discriminatory, maybe even racist, because when Mr Odinga declared that he would swear himself in after pulling out of the repeat electoral contest against President Uhuru Kenyatta, those self-same Western leaders threw up their hands in horror. They adopted the government line that a parallel swearing-in was unconstitutional and criminal, therefore, giving cover for arrests and unleashing of violence on such gathering.

Beyond their Nairobi-based diplomats, Washington, London, Bonn and other Western capitals sent high-powered special envoys to warn Mr Odinga against such ‘treasonous’ action. They threatened sanctions, including visa bans for him and close family members.

They pulled aside his co-principals in the National Super Alliance — running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Moses Wetang’ula and Mr Musalia Mudavadi — to sternly warn them against associating with Mr Odinga’s plan, again on the pain of personal sanctions.

It is germane that the Venezuelan fellow had not even participated in an election whose outcome he disputed yet his unconstitutional coup is the one getting support from regime-change purveyors.

Loading...

Anyway, all that has been overtaken by events.

Our Western friends may have turned their backs on Mr Odinga when they rejected his stunt, but he eventually earned the recognition which matters — that of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kenyan people. I’m not sure whether that’s what we mean by campaigning for inclusion but our expanding leadership table now has President Kenyatta and ‘People’s President’ Odinga in a partnership that seeks to resolve their dynastic feuds.

Deputy President William Ruto, the self-proclaimed hustler, is determined to take his place among the sons of privilege with a presidential campaign billed as an insurrection against the dynasties — an obvious reference to the aforementioned heirs of founding President Jomo Kenyatta and Vice-President Oginga Odinga, as well as Baringo Senator Gideon Moi, a son of former President Daniel arap Moi.

Somewhere in the mix, we now have a de facto Prime Minister in Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, whom many pundits presume was placed as part of an effort to keep the DP in check.

Also staking their claim to the high table are Mr Odinga’s Nasa co-principals, who initially cried foul over the unilateral rapprochement. Mr Musyoka is tagging along with Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga ready to run errands. A largely invisible Mr Wetang’ula gravitates towards Dr Ruto. That leaves Mr Mudavadi to valiantly try and hold aloft the abandoned opposition banner.

We have achieved all that without the need for constitutional amendments. Why, then, all this brouhaha about a referendum aimed only at expanding the feeding trough?

The Kenya team in the Hamilton leg of the IRB Rugby Sevens circuit over the weekend earns my special commendation. Established stars have refused to play this season, leaving a cash-strapped Kenya Rugby Union to draft young, inexperienced players who put the nation above ego and money.

The players are evidently raw and naive but performed beyond expectations to be runners-up in the second-tier Championship Trophy. That is modest by Kenyan standards but a significant improvement from Dubai and Cape Town.

This is a team that, given time, can only improve. Let’s retain them and ignore those bent on blackmail.



Loading...