NAIROBI, Kenya, July 8 – As the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leaders read out resolutions during the Saba Saba (July 7) rally at Uhuru Park, this tall, lanky man made his way down to the sound station for a microphone stand so Bungoma Senator Boni Khalwale, the late JM Kariuki’s daughter Rosemary Kariuki and Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar did not have to juggle both their scripts and a microphone.
Earlier in the day, when Raila Odinga granted Capital FM News an interview before the rally, he sat behind his father, in the background.
But it’s time, Political Scientist Dr Mutahi Ngunyi believes, for the over six-foot Fidel Odinga to move to the foreground, from behind the desk and beyond just offering a helping hand, to steering the helm.
“Fidel has the height of what the Jews would call a good leader. He’s a tall six point something guy and I think he also has the rhetoric of his father and grandfather. Groom the young guy. Let Fidel be the one to take on Uhuru and Ruto. Now that,” Ngunyi advised Odinga, “would be magical.”
Magical, he said, because, “Raila is a slow punctured politician, a cat whose nine lives have expired,” as evidenced by the unexpectedly but admittedly, low Saba Saba rally turn out.
“As one of the Russian leaders Nikita Khrushchev said once, if you feed people with revolutionary rhetoric today, they will listen to you, Saba Saba, tomorrow they’ll come and listen to you, the day after tomorrow they’ll listen to you but the fourth day they will tell you, to hell with you because we’re tired of the rhetoric,” Ngunyi referenced.
In the interest of fairness however, CORD principle Moses Wetangula blamed the low rally turn out on a government conspiracy to keep their supporters away, accusing the police of barricading their supporters in the slums.
Fidel as a choice of successor however, Ngunyi made clear, is a calculation based on set precedent and not precedence.
“I think Raila is cursed by what the Greeks call the curse of Sisyphus; 2002 he rolled the stone with Kibaki, it tipped on the other side but Kibaki claimed the victory. 2007 maybe he was actually the one who won the election but before he could tip it the same thing happened. This time round same thing, it rolled back, Saba Saba – it is rolling back. My persuasion is that the gods don’t seem to sympathise with his cause; I don’t think he will become President, he is better off appointing somebody and as dynasties are jealous institutions, he had better start grooming Fidel,” Ngunyi explained.
And as with his thoughts on Odinga’s political future, he doesn’t mince his words where a Fidel succession would leave the father’s co-CORD Principles Kalonzo Musyoka and Wetangula:
“Kalonzo and Wetangula are like vultures, opportunistic; they’re waiting for Raila to fall down dead politically so that they can feed on his carcass. They’re not there because they like Raila. Remember Kalonzo and Raila have been bitter enemies during the Kibaki period. They’re waiting for Raila to exit so they can inherit his dynasty which will not happen. You’ll find they’ll end up with a split which will be as bitter as the original one,” Ngunyi analysed.