Part 1: Stoni Athi resort
If you want to see the face of a politician cheated, betrayed or beaten at their own game today, find Musalia Mudavadi.
Mudavadi recently read a terse statement and declined to take questions from journalists saying the meeting with Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetangula had discussed ‘weighty matters.’
There was no doubting that this was not a usual meeting. His shoulders were no longer straight. His coat was hardly fitting. His eye contact had gone. He had aged in just three days. He was not the same man.
The Mudavadi that spoke was more like the man of ‘mademoni fame’ after the famous backtrack of Uhuru Kenyatta in another deal blaming some ‘mashetani’ or devils for agreeing to a deal to support Mudavadi. But do politicians learn?
So here is a man, who had lost his sparkle. I tried to find the man who electrified crowds at NASA rallies with his ‘NASA haoooo’ phrase. The rejuvenated Mudavadi who after forming NASA had agreed to ‘step down’ because ‘the country was bigger’ and needed leadership was now feeling let down.
On his right hand was Raila, a friend that was now on the borderline of turning foe. He too appeared to be waiting for the one minute statement to be over. He was not the same Raila who was at Harambee House a few days ago.
Here he was looking like the man he was after the August results were announced and was trying to read through some ‘log records’ to demonstrate how the multiples of 8 rigged him out. But it is not yet time to talk about Raila.
For the record, I am yet to find a Kenyan politician who is not in it for himself. Look around. The whole lot of them are nothing if they are not on the table. Mudavadi would probably have done the same if he was Raila. Kalonzo has done it before. He joined Kibaki and used the same reason, ‘national good.’
What do Kenyans want anyway? There have been numerous prayers, editorials, calls from all over the world, asking the two leaders of the dynasties that have ‘ruined’ Kenya – the Odinga’s and Kenyatta’s to talk to one another. And now when they do, someone still complains? What really do humans want. This is another puzzle I will never be able to answer about my motherland and its inhabitants.
Back to Mudavadi. He was back to the same place he had been just five years earlier. Played almost the same way. Only different players. Kenyan politics is just sweet.
As he spoke, his co-principals were in their own world. Downcast. It was clear whatever they had had before was gone. The fire was gone. Kalonzo stood there, distraught, putting his hands together.
Wetangula was worse.
The man who comes fourth in the pecking order of the principals had one of his hands in his pockets. His eyes, if you looked at them through the pair of glasses he wore, had lost something. There was bitterness around him. The mundu khu mundu‘ man had met his match in Raila. Not quite his match. But he had been told a thing or two about who really was in charge. He would later be dethroned in the Senate and lose his leader of minority seat.
Everything at Stoni Athi resort, where they held the meeting, felt, smelt, sounded, looked and screamed one thing. Betrayal. This is how betrayal looks like.
Just who is Raila Odinga and what really happened at Harambee House?
If you look around Kenya today, you will notice that those who have sacrificed the most in the struggle have lost out to people who played safe in the most difficult times.
This is what makes Raila Odinga stand out. He is among the few politicians who can be said to have fought for Kenya’s second liberation.
Though this is not enough to get you to the house on the hill, it is perhaps what was the basis for the other three NASA principals to set aside their ambitions, one more time, even when it was obvious every dark cloud had conspired to ensure he doesn’t see the inside of State House.
On March 9, we saw a rare Raila. It was the Raila who walks alone. The Raila who bolts out of the cage when it is no longer tenable. The Raila who finds ways to reincarnate his political career. The Enigma extraordinaire.
There is this particular picture that will make you just love him.
Here is a man who has been the fiercest political rival to Uhuru Kenyatta. Here is a man, in who’s name many Kenyans have died fighting ‘for his course.’ Here is the same man now looking down at Uhuru’s hand, waiting for the youthful handshake, smiling. A handshake that Uhuru only uses with his bosom buddies. A handshake that will shape Kenyan politics for many years to come.
I like that handshake, why lie. But it came a little too late. It came when all the bargaining power of the opposition was gone. After the swearing in, what else could Raila do?
One wonders what would have been the story if it had been Kalonzo who had jumped ship the first. It is cold out here and damn, another five years in the cold can kill a politician. But politics is not fair. It has never been. Kalonzo may have wanted to jump, but if he did it earlier, it would have destroyed him. If he remains with Raila, he is still destroyed. The man is doomed if he does, doomed if he doesn’t. He is not Raila, so he cannot be treated the same.
To understand last weeks events and what really happened at Harambee House in the making of a Betrayal, you must understand just who really is Raila Odinga.
Baptism – Raila Amolo Odinga
His father baptised him Rayila Amolo Odinga. One morning, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, decided it was time to get his three sons baptised. Having been introduced to the Christian faith, a few years back, he knew there was something good about church. But he did not want to take everything from the church.
So Raila’s dad wrote to the priest of the Maseno University Church telling him that he liked to bring his kids for baptism, but with African names. The priest told the senior Odinga that this could be arranged as long as he did not choose just an ordinary African name but one connected with the church. He was given suggestions of names like Aggrey or Khama.
But Oginga on the material day came with different names. Rev. Simon Nyende who was in charge at the time flatly refused to baptize the kids and insisted that he picks other names. Odinga’s wife was not happy at this public humiliation.
Infact she refused to bring the three boys back to church when the matter was eventually resolved. But Odinga was determined, he asked his students to help carry the three boys to church. That is when they were baptised as Ng’ong’a Molo Oburu, Rayila Amolo Odinga and Ngire Omuodo Agola. The story of how the name changed from Rayila to Raila will need a different sitting.
But it was clear, the seed of rebellion, of not going with the crowd, of standing alone, of being a nuisance, was planted long before Raila could fend for himself. This seed would be nurtured by his father and other experiences such as his 7 month house arrest in 1982 to make the man who Raila was before the Harambee House meeting.
You cannot understand what happened at Harambee House if you do not know the other side of Raila, the man now seen as the President Kenya never had.
Raila has never wanted to play second fiddle. He always wants to be the one in charge. The only time this was broken was when he supported former President Mwai Kibaki, but even then he had little choice given that the opposition now had a chance of winning with or without him.
The death of his father in January 1994 marked the beginning of his political star. After Odinga died, he was succeeded by the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana as FORD-Kenya chairman.
Raila challenged Wamalwa for the party leadership. But when he lost, he resigned from FORD-Kenya and joined the National Development Party (NDP). This is the Raila who if things did not work his way, he would look for the exit door. This would repeat itself in other circumstances including his revolt from KANU when Uhuru became the heir apparent. He did not just leave KANU, he had wrecked it, from within. If Kibaki would write a book, the Raila chapter in the Nusu mkate government would make an intriguing read.
Now that we are on the same page, can we now wait for the third installment, in the making of a Betrayal and why the joke is on Kenyans who fight for these politicians and whenever they get what they want, the no longer matter – accept and move on.
‘I smell betrayal’
So you have these three people who have no choice but support you. They are now fighting more for their political lives than ever before having missed your swearing in. You can now go around political rallies saying ‘I smell betrayal’. Everyone will believe it. These guys fate is hooked to you. They need you more than you need them. That is where every politician needs his lieutenants to be. Their absence, whether by design or default has turned out for the better.
Now MoU’s can die. This is not the first MoU to die.
So was there some meaning to the ‘Nigerian line phone call’ joke? Sit and wait for my call instructions. Remember to switch off your local phones off. Eventually, they cowed out of the park. That was their undoing. How can they betray the ‘King’ by failing to turn up at Uhuru Park for the mock swearing in.
This was not just a fuss. It was all part of the making of a betrayal.
Part 3: How much?
Raila Odinga never shows weakness. Not in public at least. In fact, not many people have seen him cry. Unless teargassed by police.
He once broke down and cried, but it was in a room of about 25 people, mostly his close allies during midwifing the grand coalition government, members of the pentagon as it was known, but even then the events of that time could weigh down anyone.
This perhaps is what defines the nicknames he has earned over the years from Tinga, the tractor to Agwambo, the mysterious one and now Baba, he has always been the man to watch.
So cowardice is not an easy trait to pin to Baba. It is therefore not possible that Raila bowed down to any pressure, unless financial, to shake hands with Uhuru.
This is the question on the minds of the three NASA principals who were left in the cold. Just how much was Raila’s handshake? Is Sh5billion enough to sell us out? Or was there anything else.
You see in Kenya, most politicians are wheeler dealers.
In fact in the words of Carey Francis, if you ever got the chance to hear him out as he dished out advise on careers, the former Alliance principal would say, whatever you do, don’t be a politician.
“All politicians, black, white, and brown are unmitigated scoundrels.”
If you look at the opposition who would not sell the rest out if a good offer was tabled? The opposition just like Uhuru and Ruto are all political brokers.
But this is not how it happened.
At first, Uhuru’s men reached out to Kalonzo and told him to take the deal and join the government. Kalonzo, with the benefit of hindsight, following his 2007 move to join Kibaki and was rewarded traitor, wanted not to walk that path again.
Kalonzo’s biggest mistake was that he joined Kibaki too early. He should have waited for more people to die. He should have waited until Raila made the move, which when he did, he was never seen using the same lenses as the ones used on Raila. Kalonzo betrayed the opposition to get VP, but Raila was a hero when he joined Kibaki and got Prime Minister. Life is never fair.
So this time, Kalonzo having learnt his lessons refused the Jubilee offer and said he would not be part of the politics of divide and rule. He told the Jubilee messenger, who is a top official of the Jubilee party that if he were to engage, he would only do so if the other three principals – Mudavadi, Wetangula and Raila were on the table.
Kalonzo must have smiled and patted himself on the back for once for not falling for the temptation. With the spirit of a ‘reformed school boy’, he rushed back to Raila and his two other coalition partners and told them what had happened at the meeting with the Jubilee deal maker. Kalonzo must have been happy telling his partners. He was a reformed man. He would never sell them out, never again.
Few days later, it was Mudavadi’s turn, he met a different person. They reportedly drowned down some significant quantities of some lugubrious beverage. He was all chatty, warmed up to the deal but was non committal. He too left his host at the meeting guessing if he would take the deal or reject it. But hes host was sure Mudavadi would at least consider it.
Mudavadi just like Kalonzo in the following days, declared to his other team members what had transpired. They were all now in the picture, but they were waiting for Raila, aka, baba to give the way forward.
All this time, Raila, never told any of the three that he too was having his separate meetings. Raila was not talking to just anyone, but a powerful woman who has shaped Kenya’s politics from behind the scenes.
When the deal was struck, Raila never told his colleagues he had a deal. He just kept it to himself. This was Agwambo, the mysterious one. I doubt if Uhuru would keep something like that from William. But this is politics.
He had pulled a rag under the feet of Mudavadi, Kalonzo and Wetang’ula. The three found themselves where William, Muthama, Orengo, Tuju, Ny’ong’o, Otuoma, Muhammed Ali, Henry Kosgey, Miguna Miguna and others had found themselves once in their political or civil service lives. The heart of politics. The politics of betrayal. They had been outmaneuvered, and played by a man who had served eight years of detention without trial. Raila had betrayed them. Sweet revenge.
This is what caused the three other principals the greatest pain of betrayal. They were all on the table, but they thought they were doing it as a team. But nope, Raila, the enigma of Kenyan politics had done it once more time.
Raila had weighed the cost of loyalty against the deal on the table and said, loyalty can wait. In any case, did he really need them again? To what end. Besides, what loyalty, these chaps missed my ‘swearing in ceremony.’ They are cowards. They had already betrayed me. Why not give them a taste of their medicines? Cowards, one side!
What was really on the table. Just Sh5billion? A promise of a Prime Minister position? A special ambassador? I don;t think just calling him your excellency all of a sudden was all. Was returning their security enough? Was allowing Miguna back just it? Or was there more? Will Joho get back his port business? Will Jimmy Wanjigi get back their tenders? The greenfield airport at least, SGR is gone. Surely, these guys cannot have been left out of the deal.
You see by the time Raila was cutting the deal, he found the house full. If it was a house Jubilee had already assigned all seats, all beds, all stools and all the sitting spaces to their men. There was nowhere for Raila to sit. In fact, when Jubilee made the remaining cabinet appointments two days after the deal, there was no sign that there had been any ‘bridging bridges’ or national unity. There was no attempt. Ruto went ahead to ensure his men took as many positions of the remaining PS and CAS slots, even as he ‘praised the deal’ and called the two leaders ‘patriots.’
Politics is a game of wheeler dealers. They excel in it. No one saw it coming. The hand shake. But politics is beautiful. Who saw Miguna supporting Raila?
You see, Miguna had one of the worst fall outs with Raila following the government of national unity. In Peeling Back The Mask, Miguna wrote that he was exposing Raila as a selfish, confused, hypocritical and deceptive leader whose greed for power and money makes him unfit for the presidency of the republic of Kenya. But this was swept under the carpet when their interests realigned. The same can happen with any of the three.
Should in the course of aligning their interests, find themselves save Kenya, then that will be an accident. Should baby pendo get justice (but how can she get justice when she is dead), then it will be another accident. Should any of the 360 Kenyans who died in the name of political competition be compensated, then it will be a miracle.
These people never matter in deal making, they are a means to an end. But should Raila not get what he is looking for in the Jubilee house, I would not be shocked to see him remember to call these people back on the streets for another mass action, same people who never knew there was a deal. They suffered the biggest betrayal. But do they know it?
But this is not the only puzzle.
Can Uhuru betray William? Only time can tell.