Many Kenyans admire Koigi wa Wamwere, one of the leading lights of Kenya’s second liberation who was detained for fighting for democracy.
He has taken a back seat from active politics but some of his recent comments on events shaping the country appear to be far from reality.
Unlike some of his fellow liberation colleagues, Mr Wamwere no longer enjoys the limelight and influence.
The era of “deep opposition”, whose aim was to always oppose the government on all issues, is diminishing. We are in a new political order. There are several ways and options for offering criticism and finding solutions to many developmental and political problems. One can be in government and propose good alternative ideas and still have them adopted.
PATH TO DICTATORSHIP
It is true the dictatorship visited on people like Mr Wamwere during his struggle days can leave indelible reminders of pain and bitterness.
However, history is replete with many leaders who suffered similar fate but saw the need for change and softening hardline positions to move their countries forward. South Africa’s Nelson Mandela is one such example. He rose to power and appointed those who detained him to government, with Frederik De Klerk becoming his deputy president.
I read with amazement the criticism of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga by Mr Wamwere in the Saturday Nation of June 27 accusing the ODM leader of having abandoned the opposition cause and hobnobbing with President Uhuru Kenyatta supposedly on a path to dictatorship.
Mr Wamwere’s comments poured cold water on Mr Odinga’s political stand of unity.
Surely, Kenya is still one of the most democratic countries in Africa, with unrivalled freedom of expression. Though fraught with challenges like corruption, we still rank way better.
The ‘handshake’ has brought unity across the country, which will enable reforms as we look ahead to an election that will not lead to balkanisation on ethnic lines.
Alpha and Omega
If Mr Odinga has supposedly left a void in the opposition, there are millions of Kenyans who can as well ascend to that position. Mr Odinga cannot be the Alpha and Omega of opposition. We need other voices.
Like the presidency changes constitutionally, so should be the opposition in some respects to stop the profiling of some areas as “opposition zones”, denying them development and marginalising them – a fate the Nyanza region has suffered for decades.
There are many leaders available to assume the role if they feel Mr Odinga has failed them by working with President Kenyatta.
Even at the time Mr Wamwere was in the trenches, he was not alone. The “seven bearded sisters” – the radical MPs in Parliament in the early 1980s – tagged along together and even before that we had the likes of Martin Shikuku, Masinde Muliro JM Kariuki, among others who would steer the Opposition cause. Why would Mr Wamwere imagine that Mr Odinga should be permanently strapped onto the opposition pulpit and remain its eternal high priest?
Mr Wamwere, like some politicians, has made it fashionable to blame Mr Odinga for all manner of challenges befalling Kenya.
The former PM is not a member of Jubilee Party, yet he bears the brunt and false accusations of causing revolt within the party and influencing the defrocking of its House leadership.
Even fringe political parties with barely a handful of MPs now accuse the former PM of ‘sponsoring’ dissent in these outfits. Why do critics want to write for Mr Odinga a political script of make-believe scenes and acts to be followed?
–Omondi Muluan, immediate former Alego Usonga MP.