The Americans say that the deal is not done until it is done. The Kenyan political class seems unaware of this reality. If it were, the birds would sing less melodiously than they are doing. For, they would remember this time in 2001. We were on the edge of the homestretch to the 2002 elections. The air was at once redolent with political anxiety and merriment. President Moi would be retiring after nearly twenty-four years at the helm. Who would succeed him? The talk of succession was here, there, everywhere.
People saw opportunities. Raila Odinga led the National Development Party (NDP) into dialogue with Kanu. The blossoming outputs of the dialogue burst into fruition in March 2002. Kanu and NDP fused into one party. Hitherto Kanu stalwarts fell by the wayside, ceding space to the new NDP kids on the political block. Joseph Kamotho, the fiery party secretary general, became a party nobody. His bosom friend Prof. George Saitoti, the nominal number two in the party and accomplished captain of doublethink and doublespeak, also became a party nobody.
The cockerel party was now famously known as New Kanu. Raila Odinga and his friends Adhu Awiti and Otieno Kajwang became cabinet ministers in the sunset of the Kanu hegemony. They started sounding like Kamotho. Only that they said the things that Kamotho had been saying with the zeal of veritable proselytes. They wanted to show the boss that they were more Kanu than those who had been with him all along. The internal rat race for the Moi succession had begun. By election day the Kanu behemoth had disfigured itself beyond all recognition. The independence party was dealt a political blow that has left it staggering for the past fourteen years. For, it is not done until it is done.
The season of migration is here again. Jubilee is the new Kanu. The migrants are coming from Kisii, the coast and from the Land of Mulembe – and everywhere. Even those who started off looking like they had genuine Mulembe grievances now look like they were only involved in a dress rehearsal, ahead of midair summersault into Jubilee. The New Ford Kenya battalion danced itself lame before the dance could begin. They announced dissolution of their party and rushed to State House to confirm to President Kenyatta that this was not a rumour. The Atbara River from the Land of Mulembe seems to be converging with the Blue Nile from the Gusii Highlands to fatten the Nile that is Jubilee.
The political Blue Nile, the White Nile, the Bar El Ghazal, the Atbara River – they are all struggling to join the party to the Mediterranean. Never mind that the Atbara flows only when it rains. For the rest of the seasons, it is dry. But that is not even the issue. Geographers say this of the Nile, “North of Cairo, the Nile splits into two branches. The two branches enter the Mediterranean as the Rosetta and the Damietta, forming the Nile Delta.” This is what Jubilee should be wary of, even as it resurrects Yellow Niles and attempts to benefit from their waters. The assumption that it is a done deal is pulsating. Costly political mistakes don’t seem to be too far off.
For a start, the excitement about the Atbara troops from the Land of Mulembe could be precipitate. They say in Emanyulia that you don’t run out of a troubled marriage straight into the bosom and lovey-dovey kisses of a new spouse. You must give your people time to come to terms with the fact that your marriage has broken down. They must understand and accept the reasons. Later, much later, they are likely to wish you well when you introduce another prospective spouse.
It is completely anathema in Emanyulia to concurrently announce the collapse of your marriage and introduce your amorous and smiley new spouse. This is going to be Jubilee’s big undoing in Western. The new courtship is too hasty, too flirtatious and obviously suspect. You don’t materialize into someone’s homestead in the morning – with expensive shopping and all that – to ask for his daughter’s hand just because you have heard that her marriage collapsed last night. If you don’t allow the family to put its act together, you risk huge rejection. Do not even be surprised to see her going back to her marriage, with you taking all the blame for the temporary collapse. President Kenyatta may want to reflect on this.
Elsewhere, there have been very interesting messages from the Central Kenya political class to Deputy President William Ruto. They understand that 2017 is a done deal. They have therefore begun lecturing the Deputy President on how he should behave if he expects them to support him for 2022. This team, led by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, has said to Mr. Ruto, “If you interfere with Nairobi’s politics, we will abandon you in 2022.” Similar vibes have come from Kiambu Governor William Kabogo and nominated Senator Paul Njoroge.
Our people have a saying that if the child keeps saying, “When I grow up I will be eating ugali with the accompaniment of python’s head,” the python will not allow the child to grow up. And so the River Nile is swelling. The tributaries are bringing in more and more waters from all directions. But they say in the same village that the river that swells is a river that must burst. There is reckless ethnic based overconfidence, thoughtless political talk, unbridled opportunism and unrealistic cargo-ship-of-rewards expectations from defecting politicians. If these things don’t worry President Kenyatta then he has another political think coming.
When I look into the seeds of time, I see that the ultimate formations that will take the country to next year’s poll are not yet in place. The person to worry President Kenyatta is unlikely to be ODM’s Raila Odinga. S/he is still on the way. And it could be another 2002 allover. We have exciting writing in the coming months.