Few of those who have cast even a passing glance upon the Bible have missed the fabulous story of Samson son of Manoah; the Nazirite, from the small tribe of Dan. He was presaged as a great hope to the people even before his conception. He was consequently dedicated to the Lord from the day he was born. As a chosen one he took the vow of abstinence from alcoholic drink, touching the dead and trimming his hair. Consequently, he grew to be physically very strong and of salubrious disposition. His anointment meant that when he came of age he took his position as one of the nascent Judges of the nation of Israel. But somewhere along the line he lost his way. Human beings mingle and naturally friendships develop out of acquaintances. Samson’s youthful exuberance took him past the gates of Gaza and therein he invariably was acquainted with Israel’s sworn nemesis, the Philistines. In my estimation this may have been borne out of contempt as he felt even if the Philistines were such odious people, no weapon formed against ‘God’s anointed’ was ever going to prosper! Familiarity breeds contempt. That is where his downfall began. He was forced into gambling on the bizarre and consequently on losing the bets he had to pay so great a price. His Achilles’ heel that burnt his credentials into a fine cinder was his amorous engagement with the lasses of Philistine extraction. Just as many of the ones we have around even today, they had little loyalty to authentic affection and could have easily been swayed by material possessions and tribal inclination in antipathy to any warmth of attraction they may ever have felt at first. That is how despite being the stalwart who tore apart a lion with his bare hands and even ate honey from the titan’s innards; he was fickle pickings as far as the wiles of feminine carnality are concerned. When he posed the trope “Out of something strong comes something sweet to eat…” who even with the most ingenious of crania could ever have guessed even remotely the general solution to this equation, ‘Runge-Kutta’ formula savoir-faire notwithstanding? The answer was willfully coaxed out of this ace and soon the grapevine around town became the solution to his seemingly insuperable puzzle. As a loser of this infernal frolic he was obliged to provide 42 festive gauntlets, but where was he to obtain them in such short notice? He was forced to become a robber with a tyrant’s violence who tricked a group of men into a scuffle with him that ended in a bloody carnage for the unfortunate victims of Samson’s brutality! 42 men lay dead in cold blood and our Nazirite was forced to play the role of a mortician stripping off the festive garments from the previously benighted but currently deceased lads. He had broken one of the strictures of the Nazirite vow, “Never in your life boy should you ever touch a dead body!” But the Lord was still with him. He also greatly ignited the fury of the Philistine overlords against Israel and he became a harbinger of Israel’s insolence. It was now more than a game and restitution became necessary! He once again found himself in trouble in Gaza when he was seduced into a harlot’s den and given a strong drink that lulled him to sleep. He committed the unpardonable iniquity of placing his trust on a consummate practitioner of the oldest profession devoid of even a shred of concern for her own very body. Wow! A plan was hatched to arrest him at an ungodly hour when his reflexes would have been thought of non-existent. Fortunately, being a light sleeper he was awakened by the commotion outside and went into survival mode. He crept up to the gates and performed the unheralded feat of not just extracting and lifting the entire structure of wood, bars, hinges and foundation but carting it 61 Kilometres up the hill opposite Mt. Hebron. I hear this loss was so crippling that even to this day funds are yet to be availed for the rebuilding of that important piece of protective infrastructure and an unmistakable gape remains where an impregnable hardwood gate once stood! Long story short, the cat was out of the bag. An irresistible woman of the name Delilah was procured to make Samson so passionately in love that even the stranglehold on the secret of his invincibility was loosened and he was ultimately captured and his eyes gauged out for good measure! But in captivity Samson made reparations with his creator, renewed his abhorrence for the barber and it paid dividends. He regained his old strength back. As an irreverent guest during the feast for one of the philistine gods; Dagon, Samson made sure he played to greatest effect the role of party-pooper by literally ‘bringing down the house’ on all that attended. The King, the nobles, generals and the lovely Delilah all perished in one fell swoop. The misfortune of the story is that Samson, a man of potential to be the greatest leader Israel ever had; indeed Dan’s pride & joy, was lost to the world because of falling prey to hubris and personal foibles. This is the situation Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s incumbent President finds himself mired in today. Allow me to indulge y’all.
God rarely calls the qualified, more often than not choosing to qualify those called but the question I must pose at this juncture is this: Was U. Kenyatta really called or much less even slightly qualified when he ascended to the apex of Kenya’s political power? What of his Deputy William Ruto? Truth be told, Uhuru Kenyatta acceded to the presidency on the back of a bi-tribal quest to stave off their sons’ potential arrest by the International Criminal Court in case of being found with a heavy of burden of culpability in their crimes against humanity case for meting out inordinate barbarism during the 2007 post-election violence. An indictment in this court for any society that adheres to the rule of law, logic, civility and sensibility must surely be the threshold for non-eligibility for any public office, but not Kenya! The tyranny of tribal arithmetic did not help his cause in the slightest with regards to being a symbol of unity as viewed in the backdrop of the innumerable, unrepresented, numerically disadvantaged tribal entities in Kenya. Moreover, this is exacerbated by the implicit feeling among many Kenyans that he is merely a porch-prince, ill-tooled and utterly uninitiated to the struggles of the ordinary man. Being too care-free, laissez-faire and a guy boasting a suicidally happy-go-lucky attitude to life, much worse to Kenyan unity led to serious questions arising on his credentials for this highly crucial venture of leading a nation’s destiny for not just today but into the future. But the good fortune of the wealth afforded to him by the Kenyatta heritage, not less the recognizable family name ensured that our prince was galloping headlong towards the pinnacle of Kenya’s political power, perhaps unfairly against more deserving candidates. Allegations of a serious lack of sobriety also cast aspersions on the character of the man, Uhuru. Moreover, a perception of leaning more heavily towards the tribe than national well-being weighed heavily on his visage. A feeling that ‘extra-electoral’ mechanisms were involved in this duo’s election cannot be ruled out despite the Supreme Court upholding their victory in 2013. To add insult to injury, on getting elected in a highly contentious election he went on a campaign of protecting only himself against any injury to his personal interests at the expense of state business. Shuttle diplomacy it was called. This in turn hurt the Kenyan economy greatly.
Not in the least, he also distinguished himself as a standard-bearer of incompetence by endeavoring to appoint ill-fitting individuals to important national positions; worse still gave a smooth landing to political losers who contested the elections on the Jubilee party ticket. Appointments to state corporations became a matter of tribal affiliation with the consideration heavily favouring only two tribes to the disenfranchisement of the rest of the nation. This did not bother Mr. Kenyatta in the least. The culmination of these appointments was manifested in the fiasco that was personified as the Garissa and Westgate terrorist attacks that were a direct consequence of laxity, corruption and incompetence at worst. A Cabinet secretary who attributes smoke during a terrorist attack to burning of a mattress is not just a liability but a great embarrassment to their appointing authority, in this case the President. The cataclysm that was the Westgate terrorist attack came at a great expense to no less the President himself as he lost kith and kin. Empirical evidence has concluded that both attacks could have been forestalled before they happened and the rescue effort better coordinated a fact the President alluded to in retiring the then Inspector General of Police and totally relieving the sitting Cabinet Secretary of all executive powers and relegating the guy back to kitchen duty when making consequent cabinet appointments.
Additionally, the president became moody and apprehensive if not emotional and mushy when he mentioned that he and his government will continue to figuratively ‘eat the meat’ while the apparent naysayers from the opposition masticate on their own saliva. Uhuru Kenyatta did himself no favours when he chose to dabble in more semantics and theatrics as opposed to deliberate action as a means to curb corruption. He portrayed himself as a week character unable to deal with some ‘cartel’ that had dismally been allowed to take root as far as the Office of The President. Both public sentiment and austerity attached to the august office of the President of Kenya slipped consistently even among the most ardent of his supporters. In the absence of good counsel, Parliament itself became an actual battleground when the prevailing sentiment was that the Speakers in both houses were behaving as if they were merely figureheads and marionettes for statehouse. A seeming lack of autonomy saw debate in both houses degenerating to either partisanship at best and fist fights at worst. A day came when a government anti-terrorism bill that covertly gagged the media was forcefully passed in the national assembly amid throwing of missiles and the deputy speaker getting her expensively procured crowning glory of ‘natural hair’ drenched by a fellow woman legislator. In the aftermath of this fiasco, no less another female member of the national assembly brought forward allegations of sexual battery and torn knickers in the course of the foregoing casting a terrible stain on the president’s ability to whip his side into any measure of a disciplined side. This was only in his first term.
If you thought his first term was stormy and acrimonious then you were in for a shocker come the subsequent re-election and commencement of the second term. At re-election time it was threats and intimidation galore to any state officers who did not dance to the Jubilee Party tune. As a highly divisive character, he made it clear that he was going to govern Kenya even if he would forego votes from some regions of the republic. He poured out incendiary vitriol in the direction of the leader of the opposition making it known he thought of him as a perennial loser, perpetual cry-baby and anything but a ‘Mugoroki’ (Madman). This split the nation in half as anyone with an inkling on the on-goings of the previous election was beyond aware of the illusion that Mr. Kenyatta won the election by exactly 50% + 8,000 odd votes and Raila a respectable second at 43%. Hate him or Love him; Former Prime Minister, Mr. Odinga prima-facie commanded the love and appreciation of nearly half the country and was an important factor in any national debate on the destiny of Kenya. Public sentiment and goodwill was heavily in his favour, a fact that can never be disputed or wished away! Derision to the rule of law became his modus operandi as court orders were treated with contempt and synergy between the three arms of government came a cropper in deference to the Executive.
Indisguisable opprobrium was shown to the 4th Estate and Media Freedom became only an Academic enshrinement of the constitution far removed from reality. We were going to the dogs. The election came under a cloud of the referee body heavily leaning towards the incumbent. The winner was a foregone conclusion early in the contest despite national goodwill being with the opposition side. The election had been so riddled with injustice and illegalities that it had to be petitioned at the Supreme Court. So heavy was the burden of proof against the IEBC that the Supreme Court by a great majority nullified the result of the Presidential Election and called for a new one. They were spared neither the paroxysms of the President nor his indifference to their role. Revisiting was the least they were promised should the sitting President get elected in the second poll. This Poll ended up a non-contest as the illegalities and impartiality, a hallmark of IEBC from the First Poll persisted and the opposition party pulled out of the contest. Consequently, governance became a theatre of the absurd as cat and mouse games between protestors and police, disproportionate violence by security agencies towards the populace and indifference by the president-reelect became the order of the day. The Presidential legitimacy of this figurehead became a matter of conjecture and the economy consequently took another dip. When the Opposition leader ordered for Mass action and economic sabotage as a way to tame this high-handed regime the nation seemed to be at the throes of civil war. So serious was the situation that a bill was being mooted for the secession of a large tranche of Kenya from the whole. Then came January 30th 2018 and the Opposition Leader took the perilous step to be sworn-in as the People’s President of the Republic of Kenya. We now had 2 presidents and a potentially catastrophic showdown was imminent. Then much like lightening out of azure skies came the 4th of March handshake that cooled down tensions and gave the President the much needed legitimacy as full leader of Kenya.
Prior to the handshake it had been fashionable to curry favour with state by simply insulting the Opposition leader in the presence of the president. Many ills were partaken under the very auspices of state but with a lame-duck president, little if no condemnation would be forthcoming. Impunity and corruption reigned supreme under this regime but all this changed after the famous handshake. It is as if new impetus was injected into the president, legitimacy permitting and he soared above partisanship with an unheralded gust of wind under his wings. As if algid water had been splashed upon him, he suddenly woke up to the realities of a rotten legacy he was leaving behind as the worst head of state to ever have had the misfortune to pillage Kenya! As he had already secured the commencement of the constitutionally stipulated two terms he no longer saw the need to split the country merely for political expedience. His new allies became common sense and the rule of law, a move welcomed by a wide spectrum of the country. His vision became clearer. He now discovered the teeth he has always had to take corruption head on throwing both friend and foe literally under the bus. Appointing the youthful and uncompromising George Kinoti as the Director of Criminal Investigations and Noordin Hajj as the Director of Public Prosecution was a masterstroke in sensibly dealing corruption a death knell. Dispensing with the old system for the pristine is to the benefit of all who have the interest of the country at heart.
Men like Rashid Echessa who had done little to embellish his image as an unschooled and boorish character were mercifully ushered out of the cabinet to fanfare even in his native Mumias! Let Ministerial portfolios now be assigned to more competent and enlightened professionals not village louts being rewarded for paying fealty to a lost cause. Sentiments of tribal animosity like ‘Kumira-Kumira, Thuraku –Thuraku’ have been dispensed with for the more conciliatory message of Unity, Love & Peace to portend an all-inclusive development agenda. The President has now put forward the Big 4 Agenda to foster Manufacturing, provide affordable Housing, Improve healthCare and Food security. All of a sudden, it’s become kaleidoscopically clear that Kisumu is located on the shores of the biggest Fresh water lake in Africa and so locating a Beer Manufacturing plant there would bode well with this aim of job creation and increasing manufacturing where water availability is no conundrum. This is in antipathy to what we have witnessed for years where disenfranchisement of the region was hallowed as ‘uncircumcised barons of poverty would be left to roast in their own well-documented obstinacy and unwavering opposition to the government of the day. That change of tact is heart-warming just the same way the President is now viewed as a welcome visitor in Luo-Nyanza, by and large anywhere in Kenya. A few months ago many were wondering if the right driver had been assigned to our collective bus but now he looks too young to retire!
And sure enough the chickens are coming home to roost as the age of sacred cows draws to a close. With the political salve against perversion in the name of protecting the Presidency exhausted, heads are now rolling. The blue-eyed boy of the Jubilee administration, Mr. Henry Rotich was finally caught with his fingers firmly stuck in the cookie jar and duly fired from his portfolio at treasury and arraigned in court over his transgressions. A sitting Governor from the President’s own backyard is also in hot soup for allotting tenders worth over a Billion bob to an entity with familial links to himself and no other prequalification of either expedience or track record of service delivery. The wheels of the juggernaut called the anti-corruption initiative now appear well greased by political will and are milling them big and small. Not in the least, this could be Mr. Kenyatta’s saving grace as he attempts to salvage his legacy from the fires of mediocrity that has plagued his stint. Win this fight and we will eternally hail him as the greatest leader we have ever had. He will also have set a precedent any of his successors will ill afford to eschew and so in a refrain made famous by our former president H.E. Daniel Moi, “na hiyo ni Maendeleo.”