Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In Praise of Mutahi Ngunyi

I must say, sheepishly, that I had not really read or listened to Mutahi Ngunyi's words until this week. I came across him on the IMSKenya video recorded a day after Kivuitu announced the election results. I was impressed by his insight so I decided to google him and see what else he has said.

(These three samples are the first three that I came across, wow, simply wow.)

His prescience is eerily scary. I cannot really add much to his words but I want you all to read his words and think about it in the context of the events of the last few weeks. The only thing I will say is that he has a stellar political mind, clearly a mind that I would want on my side if I was a politician.

April 30th, 2006, referring to the Referendum

If ODM wanted to ‘win’, they should have planned to ‘lose’. And if they had ‘lost’, this country would be in a different place today. The uprising against Kibaki and the only province that voted ‘Yes’ would have been overwhelming.


Is ODM unity against Kibaki necessary? The answer to this question is a resounding no! … This unity is ‘anti-hegemonic’ and not ‘counter-hegemonic’. Its underlying ideology is anti-Kikuyuism, and not counter-Kikuyuism. This has driven even the most progressive Kikuyus into regimenting around Kibaki. And why this is dangerous is because of what we call the tyranny of numbers.

If you drive the Kikuyus against you in an election, their numbers will frustrate you. With the magic of incumbency, all Kibaki needs is an alliance with a small tribe and he has the election bagged. This is why an alliance between him and Kalonzo Musyoka would be sexy.

Now to my second point and why a ‘divided’ ODM is good strategy. In the theory of war, there are two ways of fighting an enemy. You can either confront him head on or surround him. The first method is conventional, while the second is what we call the war of detachment.

While conventional war has provision for coffee and lunch breaks, the war of detachment has no rules, no protocol, just surprises. And this is how ODM should deal with Kibaki in the coming election.

More specifically, they should force a run-off by sponsoring a presidential candidate in every province. The intention here is to surround Kibaki by denying him the mandatory 25 per cent in five provinces. This process should also be used to select the real ODM candidate to take on Kibaki in a run-off.

In other words, and this is my submission here, the only chance a united ODM has of beating Kibaki is in a run-off. Unity in any other context is part of the old revolution and wont wash.

Back to Kibaki. After much reflection, I have had to eat humble pie and admit that he is of a superior mind. I say so because there is method to the ‘madness’ of his regime. From the referendum to Anglo Leasing, there is a pattern to every goof. I am even beginning to entertain the thought that Kibaki was never quite sick. And if he was sick at all, it became part of his strategy to seduce the nation with this weakness.


Where am I going with this? I have two points. One, like it or not, Kibaki has us where he wants us. Two, he does not mind being underestimated. We underestimated Moi for years before we finally accepted that he was a ‘professor of politics’. When you underestimate your enemy, they can only surprise you.

And that is why we need to figure Kibaki out and do it fast. As we do so, we must then ask the following questions: If this man was recruited into politics by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, is it possible that he learnt nothing from this guru? Could he have learnt nothing from such sophisticated peers as the late TJ Mboya with whom they ‘invented’ the Kenyan version of African socialism? Were the 15 years he spent under the stewardship of the late Jomo Kenyatta wasted? How about the 10 years of bullying as Moi’s Vice-President and the 11 years in the cold benches of opposition politics? Was the man asleep in class? I doubt it. Or what do you think Mr Raila Odinga?
August 29th, 2007
[Moi’s endorsement of Kibaki] could work against Kibaki’s re-election. Moi has endorsed Kibaki for his own political insurance and not because he likes Kibaki as a president. ODM will get support in the Rift Valley.
November 18th, 2007
This is a letter to Mr Raila Odinga:


You, my brother, are like the Energiser Battery. No fear, no limits, just energy. Keep going bro!

However, I must warn you that this unlimited energy is also your main handicap.

Two, I write to you to convey a message from a young fan of yours in Tanzania. I met this fishmonger in Nancio, the capital city of a small island called Ukerewe on Tanzania side of Lake Victoria. The young fellow was worried that you might botch it between now and December 27. He sent me with this warning to you sir, "… fish begins to rot from the head". His point? If ODM does not win, it will be because of Raila Amolo Odinga.

My third reason is based on nothing. It is just a hunch. Sir, Kibaki will not win this election. You will lose. My hunch is that your lack of inhibitions will result in a fatal error. This will not be a common error. It will be a dosage of fate, administered by the gods. This, sir, is your destiny. But you can change it. Before I make my case on how to avoid it, I have to give you the story of a chap called Sisyphea recorded in Greek mythology. My intention is to illustrate the gravity of your impending fate. My hope is that you will avoid it.

This guy offended the gods and he had to be punished. He was condemned to rolling a huge log up a steep hill. But before he could tip it over to the other side of the hill, something would happen. A few metres to the tip, Sisyphea would run into a ‘fatal error’. Instead of tipping the log over to the other side, it would roll back to the bottom, where he would start pushing it up the hill again.

You, sir, are where Sisyphea was. You have already rolled the log up the hill. All you need now is to tip it over on December 27 and become King. But the question is this: will you do something foolish between now and then? Will you commit the Sisyphus error, and let the log roll back to the bottom of the hill? My hunch is that this is where you are headed. But you can avoid it.

Sir, your ‘fatal error’ will come from one of two blind spots. The first one is your political mouth. You talk too much. My counsel to you is, whenever you get an opportunity to shut up, grab it with dear life. I’m compelled to say so by only one reason –– whenever you open your political mouth, you show a double personality. Of the two Railas, ‘Raila One’ is vengeful, ruffian and bad. ‘Raila Two’ is winsome, forgiving and charming. Between now and December 27, you must, therefore, hide your ‘tail’ and show us your good side only. Can you do that?

Your second fatal error will come from the Rift Valley. If you become King, it will be because the Kalenjins said so. Of the ODM vote, 50 per cent is Kalenjin. In other words, they have 50 per cent share in ODM. They are not voting for Raila: they are voting against President Kibaki. It is a protest vote.

Similarly, they have gleefully settled on the idea of William Ruto becoming president in 2027, after you and Musalia Mudavadi. Sir, this kind of high sacrifice does not make sense in politics. My conclusion? The Kalenjins are deeply wounded by Kibaki.

My counsel to you is this: Keep them hostage to the anger against Kibaki. Their wounds must not heal, and they must not break away from the anger spell. This is important because, apart from the anger, they have nothing else against Kibaki.


At Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 11:36:00 PM EST, Blogger Bella said...

Interesting read, Silaha. Never thought I'd get hooked on politics until I came home to visit. I actually wanted ODM to win and fix the rest of the country. Mombasa looked pathetic for a tourist hub.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog. It's really a writer's blog, never right political stuff until my latest. I did check with Thinkersroom and he has a disclaimer that the pictures he used aren't his, just Googled, which I translate to free for all (I do that with all the pictures I use online...unless it comes with a get-owner's-permission label).
Will stop by again once I get back to my writing and cyber routine

Happy blogging and nice to make your acquintance.


At Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 1:44:00 AM EST, Blogger Nilla said...

Wow, that is scary. He sounds prescient! I would like to know what his impressions are for the coming year. Apart from the politicians, is there hope for Kenya?


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