Tuesday, April 18, 2006



One is left wondering the cause of the transient nature of political groupings in Kenya. One of the main reasons is the purpose for which the groups are formed. Most of these parties tend to consolidate themselves for the purpose of gaining political power. They gravitate around winning seats in parliament or local authorities. They incline around personalities rather than philosophies, their manifestos are filed to meet legal requirements rather than sell their vision to their followers. Their internal cohesion is maintained so long as the leaders gain power and recognition. The prize is often limited and this leads to conflicts within the group leadership. This seems to be the case with ODM.

The ODM came together with a specific goal, to mobilize the voters against the draft constitution. After the achievement of the principle objective, the momentum was stifled. To mutate ODM to a political party, which will take the leader to state house, calls for a different approach. The constitution referendum gave the electorate two choices, yes or no. It did not matter whether it was Raila or Kalonzo or Kibaki leading the parties, the choice was still either yes or no. Presidential elections are a different plate altogether.

All the ODM leaders who have put their stake at the presidency may be assuming that the momentum of the referendum will be simply transferred to their advantage. After the referendum, ODM has become an amorphous grouping of ambitious individuals seeking to use it to step into state house. If the ODM leaders fail to solidify it and give it another identity other than a vehicle for achieving their egoistic agenda, then its implosion will lead to the demise of their ambitions.

ODM should have continued on the path of mutation into a political party. It should develop group culture, identity, cultivate belongingness of the followers and be seen to be on the path to political maturity. The leaders are not the movement, they are just drivers. If the vehicle is a ramshackle with poor maintenance record packed with passengers, it does not matter how level the road is or how good the driver is it may not make the whole journey. If they do not refine the vehicle, tune it, spray paint it, put good music and working seat belts, the passengers will hike another ride. Perhaps the most important thing is to put a sign indicating the destination.

The gestation period is over and it is now the season for the birth of political parties. Kenyan political parties have failed because they have been built around personalities. Leaders migrate from one party to the other with their pockets of followers. Most Kenyan political parties would fail the test of formal organizations in the Max Weber sense. They lack norms and values, the type and purpose of the group is to serve an individual, they plant the seeds of their own demise. Kenyans have been cheated out of political maturity by the temporal nature of these parties. When one observes the leaders forming new parties this late, Kenyans should be ware that these are vehicles for either retaining power or getting power. The Kenya electorate is always used as a door mat to guard the door and carry all the mud and never enter the house. It is time the mud was scrapped elsewhere for the mats are slippery and will trip you if you step on them.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Death is Life's Common Denominator.

Kenya mourns the death of six MPs among them all MPs from two districts, Marsabit and Moyale, and other leaders. The death of the Marsabit leaders among others is tragic given the circumstances. They died on a mission to seek reconcilation and peace for their region.

While death is life's common denominator, the death of some is viewed as more tragic than others due to the variance in their abilities and contributions in the society. Dr Bonaya Godana lies in this category. He was a bright star in the republic and perhaps the brightest from Marsabit. His demeanor and guise was that of a cultured gentleman, shunning public confrontations and being principled in his uttering. Godana was in the class of MPs who gave parliament dignity. He is one MP whose full potential was never fully exploited. Nevertheless, you cannot fault his leadership abilities and the affection his people had for him. Every time we lose such a leader, we are bound to ask ourselves what is the legacy they leave behind. Where is their philosophy recorded? Where are those scholary papers, treatise and expositions that they bequeth our libraries? Where is the experience as MP, Minister, Deputy Speaker, Lecturer, recorded? Why must we allow the cumulative knowledge of our leaders be buried with them?

With all the resources that parliament is allocating to itself, they should pass a law that each MP should write up their achievements at the end of each parliament. These documents should be edited and be availed to public libraries. Our leaders must develop the culture of writing books for posterity. The habit of reciting national achievements and struggles during national days is not enough. The Mau Mau veterans are fast disappearing, who will be left to document all that happened in the forests. Very little is written by actual combatants. Most have a story to tell and we should not let them go to the graves with their stories. Their stories belong to the nation and should be archived for posterity.

Death is cruel and tragic. To day you are present, tomorrow you are the late. May God console the bereaved and rest the souls of the departed peace.

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