BY ANTHONY KAGIRI
To some Kofi Annan is the Messiah Kenya badly needs, to others he is simply the third principal recognised by the constitution through the National Accord giving him the obligation to ensure reforms.
To others he is a foreigner whose persistent lecture of our leadership and visits are unwarranted. According to this group his work (as ‘saviour’ of our burning state as it were) ended with the signing of the Peace Accord.
I agree with the third school of thought which sees his role as that of moral authority, functioning like a wise man, an advisor whose wisdom we can choose to embrace or not. And with our kind of leaders not much will be done (don’t mistake me for a pessimist; I am one of the most optimistic Kenyans).
In a TV interview, Annan dismissed his critics saying he was retired and did not need a job. Rightly put this man does not need any other job, not even a payslip. As a former United Nations Boss he has held one of the most powerful posts to be held by an African. He has earned all the money and fame and no job would come close to this, not even a Head of State, I guess.
Nevertheless what I can assure you is that Dr Annan will not be leaving Kenya alone anytime soon. He will keep coming to follow up the so called ‘Reform agenda’ until 2012. Incase you did not know he is coming back in December and again in March next year.
At age 71 the ‘Mediator’ is at what sociologists under the Maslow Heirachy of needs call ‘Self actualisation stage.’ Characteristics, of this stage include morality, creativity, problem solving, spontaneity among others. Kenya, (which was at the brink of a failed state last year and now has the opportunity to change) presents a perfect opportunity for the ‘big brother’ to fulfill these needs.
As the wise man recognized by the Kenya Constitution, he has the power to consistently summon President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for meetings to brief him on the progress of the reforms. Looking at the brief the two gave him, it is like a teacher inspecting homework given to his students. For the failures or delays the two Principals (but rather power persons in the country) clearly gave their justifications. Here he plays the ‘morality’ fiddle. This man knows what Kenya needs and at within which time frame.
Kenya as the first African country to follow the power sharing route, following the example of Germany and Belgium (and now joined by Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Honduras) is an experiment the big brother would want succeed and used as a benchmark for failing states. Our beloved country I presume should be an example of political adversaries ganging up and drive meaningful changes that change the history.
This is where Dr Annan serves his ‘creativity’ need. His is the one who came up with the power sharing deal after all (remember both the Party of National Unity and the Orange Democratic Movement had dismissed this idea?). With such arrangements having failed in Somalia and Zimbabwe Dr Annan would want to see his baby sit down, crawl, walk and run all within five years.
I do not need to say anything to demonstrate that this guy came up with the solution to our crisis and he became the problem solver. Our caring brother jetted into the country and just like a good diplomat listened to both sides and ‘spontaneously’ came up with the solution. That completes his cycle of needs at his stage.
This guy is at the stage of ‘giving back to the society’ and like other retirees (especially former Heads of State) diplomacy provides the best opportunity.
I don’t intend to dismiss him; he is our peacemaker, probably a godfather who is constantly watching the leadership for us. With the many conflicts in the continent we definitely need him. As much as he fulfils his stagy needs, Africa gets peace.
Long live Big Brother.
(Anthony Kagiri is Capital FM’s political reporter)