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The altercation at the Parliament media centre by Starehe MP Charles Kanyi (Jaguar) and Embakasi East Member of Parliament Babu Owino has cast doubts on youth leadership in this country.

These are the youths who fought the phrase ‘vijana ndio viongozi wa kesho’ (Youths are the leaders of tomorrow) to achieve ‘vijana ni sasa’ (Youth’s time is now). But fellow youths are ashamed to associate themselves with such calibre of leaders. Leaders who fight for positions to go and exchange blows in the very legal alter where they should be mending laws! Its a shame.

According to Jaguar, he had a good reason to fight Babu Owino in the name of defending Uhuru Kenyatta after having referred to him as the ‘care taker president’.  Jaguar demanded respect for the president. Babu Owino, on the other hand, let Jaguar know that Raila is the only president he knows.

RELATED: Inside Babu Owino’s smoky mind

This is one of the most dishounarable things for the honorouble members. In bloggers language, it is bootlicking. Jaguar is not in Parliament for president Uhuru neither is Babu representing Hon Raila.

They are in Parliament on behalf of the Starehe and Embakasi East people respectively, whom they should defend. Even if it is in defense of their people, it should not get to a point of exchanging blows. This makes the whole incidence pointless.

The fight scene looked more like one you would see in reality shows such as the Real Housewives or Two Drunken Men fighting over a sports game. Their actions do not match the Honourable title they hold.

“Personally I don’t engage in physical fights but what happened today is a shame to this nation and we are showing a bad example to the youth of this nation and to our children and to me I can’t regret because I was defending myself. I will forgive them. You know the Bible says that you forgive your enemies,” stated Babu Owino after the fight.

They promise to work together with other leaders to ensure a better tomorrow for the region, but not to fight one another. The nation needs so much the input of the young leaders at such a time when political temperatures are heightening. They should be united more than before, irrespective of their political divide. Even as the two are now set to face disciplinary action before the Powers and Privileges Committee presided over by speaker Justin Muturi, the stain cannot be washed away.

SEE: ODM MP kickstarts process to split Kenya into two

Earlier this year, former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar and former Nyali MP Awiti Bolo exchanged blows in front their Party Leader, Kalonzo Musyoka, over the race to the gubernatorial seat.  These are the leaders claiming to be as white as wool, but are they?

A couple of years ago, former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama was attacked in Parliament, not by bees but by the ‘honourable legislators’, and to make it worse they were discussing a security bill which is supposed to protect all Kenyans from any kind of insecurity, including such attacks.

Last year, the public witnessed the then Nyeri MCAs Peter Nyira and Johnson Njoroge getting into a fight over the proposal to oust Nyeri County Governor Nderitu Gachagwa. It got so heated up that one of the parties was left with a torn shirt, and a female journalist assaulted.

They should behave

When such things happen, both parties should exercise conflict resolution strategies. Instead of attacking, why not avoid, reconcile or even come to some type of understanding. Be the mediator and not the conflict. Leaders ought to put their energy in working together to develop the community in the social, economic and political battle field as promised rather than punching each other competitively. They should behave themselves accordingly and be responsible because they are representatives of their people.

To crown it all, elitists, as they refer themselves, should engage in intellectual battle, not physical fisticuffs. After all, what will the disciplined forces do?

Abigael Tairo is a journalism and communications student at Daystar University on internship at Business Today. She is passionate about print media and loves writing human interest articles.You can reach her on email: [email protected]

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Opinion

Withdrawal: Is Raila conceding defeat?

While Raila Odinga has been losing all his party’s key point men, Uhuru Kenyatta has been gaining, which translates to landslide victory for Jubilee.

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The last couple of weeks since the September 1 historic ruling that saw the Supreme Court nullify the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, the political atmosphere has been marred by anxiety and constitutional confusion precipitated NASA coalition.

As much as it was an immediate political gain for the coalition party, the decision that showcased the judiciary’s independence also initiated the gradual fall of the opposition chief. While the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga possesses such a significant political charm that by now, he should have become a president, the prominent leader of the opposition politics in Kenya and the political spokesman of the Luo nation, continues to remain an outcast peaking into State House.

The political misfortune tormenting ‘baba’ – as  his supporters popularly refer him – can  only be equated to a family curse. His father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the father of opposition politics in Kenya, made several attempts from the time of KANU in the 1960s, during the formation of the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) in 1966, when he formed FORD, the first major opposition party till during the division of FORD to FORD-Asili and FORD-Kenya, a division that led to his defeat and that of the opposition loss during the December 1992 General Election.

Having lost his best bet in 2007, Odinga’s zeal to soldier on for the fourth time, saw him get political rejection in the August 2017 election, making history too as the only candidate who, despite the intense political-labor, has never won a presidential election after four attempts in Africa.

Realiation that he (Raila) will never ascend the presidency ladder and him being at his weakest link, has made him develop withdrawal strategies that can only be interpreted as to the son of Jaramogi conceding defeat. His withdraw from the fresh election as slated by the Supreme Court, two weeks to the election day can only be said to be an early acceptance of defeat. The son of Jaramogi has realized and acknowledged the hard fact that there is no chance of him gaining victory through the ballot. Instead, Raila and his other NASA principals are developing mechanisms that are intended to either force a coalition government or force a caretaker government.

Stronghold Intrusion

Also coercing Odinga to concede defeat is the serious intrusion that Jubilee party has made into what was purely considered NASA’s stronghold, which has reduced the percentage margins of the opposition getting 100 percent support. Defection of NASA’s point men in their strongholds like former Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka, who in the just concluded August 8th elections delivered 30 percent of the votes to President Kenyatta, the highest that any candidate outside the opposition party has ever received, is causing jitters to Mr. Odinga. Eugene Wamalwa’s factor in Trans-Nzoia, has also contributed to Raila’s downfall while Jubilee has been gaining grounds.

In addition, defection of former ODM Secretary General and now Labor Party leader Ababu Namwamba, has also contributed to Raila’s political downfall. Also significant in contributing towards Raila’s conceding defeat is the defection of former Mombasa Senator Hasaan Omar and the support of Nyali Member of Parliament Mohammed Ali, whom have split the coast region vote, not to mention basket of development goodies that the president has delivered and promised the people of the Coast region.

While Raila Odinga has been losing all his party’s key point men, Uhuru Kenyatta has been gaining, which translates to landslide victory for Jubilee. Numbers too have failed the son of Jaramogi as previous runs by Mr. Odinga has not secured him neither a majority vote nor the 50+1 threshold required to make him the Head of State and Government.

READ: Raila’s speech: We need the help of our friends

Young and energetic politicians who do not share in Raila’s political ideologies, which more often than not favor social democracy, have also made Raila’s political life a living hell, therefore reducing his chances of ever rising to power.  These include leaders in his stronghold who do not advocate for his dictatorial tendencies in the Luo nation and in his Orange Democratic movement (ODM) party. Case in point, the selective role that he plays during party nominations of candidates, from Governors to MCA’s, on an ODM ticket has been questionable.

Never conceded defeat

The 2017 election petition scenario by Odinga is not a new strategy but rather a continuation of an old habit that now stands a chance of dying. Despite all pollsters, both international and national, over the years showing a zero possibility of a Raila win, the opposition chief has never conceded electoral defeat, in the history of Kenya elections.

Instead, he always alleges that election results are rigged thus leading his supporters to the streets to protest the results. Having lost to former President Daniel Arap Moi in 1997 and Mwai Kibaki 2007, Odinga’s protest that he has been rigged out and rejection of the outcome of the General Election saw the country plunge into its worst political crisis in 2007/08.

In 2013, Mr Odinga also rejected President Kenyatta’s win and petitioned the outcome of the election.

Despite the unanimous ruling authenticating Kenyatta’s win, Raila Odinga still rejected the ruling of the Supreme Court. The same rigging trend was repeated in the just concluded August elections where the NASA flag bearer referred to the electoral process as “sham and fraudulent”, therefore rejecting the results and not conceding defeat.

2017 was therefore no different from the previous trends, as two months after the Election Day; Kenya is still witnessing violent protest orchestrated by NASA leaders in the opposition strongholds.

No Supreme Court route again

Also contributing to Raila Odinga strategy to indirectly concede defeat by withdrawing from the race is the realisation that he might have exhausted his chances of going back to the Supreme Court with a petition.

And in the event that he does, the possibilities of the court asking him to concede defeat is high. Odinga also fears that in the event that he takes yet another petition to the most high court in the land, the likelihood of the ruling being made against him are not farfetched, and the likelihood of the court asking him to concede defeat since President Uhuru Kenyatta accepted court’s ruling remains high as well.

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Opinion

Sycophants burying Kenya’s democracy

It behoves on our leaders to be wary of the sycophants clothed in the colours of the loyalists and be extremely mindful of the strong derogatory concept that sycophancy connotes

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Something is expressly wrong in the Kenyan society. Spiraling further is the expression, “go along to get along.” It is almost an unsaid national slogan for many Kenyans. Have the Kenyan culture, political party government and institutions become sycophantic?

Hitherto the official opening of the 12th Parliament, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto convened a parley of elected Jubilee MPs and senators at State House, Nairobi. Without mincing words, the president read a list of his preferred candidates for position of Speakers of the National Assembly and Senator. Surprisingly, the senators and MPs voted as per the wish of the President.

For political and democracy pundits, this is a dangerous emerging trend. Today, the role of Parliament as an institution is not restricted to the traditional responsibilities of legislating and checking the Executive, but also as instrument for grass root development through Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and devolution (Senate). The Parliamentarian is now seen more as a factor for change, development and growth and this expectation rings bell in the minds of the citizenry more than any other functions.

Cheques and handouts

The display of loyalty by MPs and Senators in favour of the President’s wish surpassed basic political and logic.  The loyalty we are experiencing in our political circles in particular is, however, turning into something evil which, if not checked, has the potential to derail us from the democratic track. And for me this evil is more dangerous to our democracy than the coup makers. This evil is what we know as sycophancy.

A sycophant is “a person who seeks favour by flattering people of wealth or influence” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. Sycophants do not make waves or criticisms.  A sycophant will never criticize or correct his superiors.

The stakes are high: paychecks, hand-outs, appointment to state jobs and “development.” Government itself easily makes the people subservient with its power of force always at the ready. Too often Kenyans may confuse criticism with impoliteness.

ALSO SEE: Kenya’s Big Men are failing us very badily

It’s not in doubt sycophancy in our socio-economic and political life is the biggest threat we face in shaping our society. People are just licking the shoes of authority in the name of loyalty; some to score personal goals but the majority to undermine others.

Today, there exists a thin line between loyalty and sycophancy to such an extent that the two seem to be synonymous with each other. People no longer mean what they say, and say what they mean.

Today in our political development, people say and act just to get the attention of the powers that be for their own personal gains. In fact, our politics is sadly infected with quintessential professionals who have the habit of singing hosannas when they really mean crucify him.

Sycophancy is not far from “full time praise singing,” “perennial lobbying for personal gains,” “obsequious flattery,” “servile,” “parasite,”  “fawning,” “buttering” and “sucking up.” Our democratic process faces an unprecedented high level of respected professionals from across board playing to the gallery through sycophancy. Their main weapon to achieve laurels is to “effectively lick the boots” of leaders at the right place and time.

It behoves on our leaders to be wary of the sycophants clothed in the colours of the loyalists and be extremely mindful of the strong derogatory concept that sycophancy connotes. Both Jubilee and NASA coalitions are dotted with a strong axis of sycophants masquerading as loyalists.

To many Kenyans, Leader of Majority in Parliament Aden Duale is the Jubilee government’s foremost defender. The Garissa Township MP takes on opponents of Jubilee – from the civil society to CORD leaders and governors head-on. Duale with senators Kipchumba Murkomen and Kithure Kindiki complete the visible axis of sycophants in Jubilee defending the government of President Uhuru and his deputy Ruto at the slightest provocation.

SEE: Uhuru’s nasty plans for ‘President Raila’

For Kenyans who remember the Kanu regime, Duale is a stark reminder of the sycophants of those days. The likes of politician Peter Oloo Aringo, who at some point referred to then President Daniel arap Moi as the “Prince of Peace,” a title Christians reserve for Jesus Christ. Duale said he was ready to take the bullet for President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto.

In his book Another Century of War? Gabriel Kolko wrote: “Those who become leaders of states are ultimately conformists on most crucial issues, and individuals who evaluate information in a rational manner-and therefore frequently criticize traditional premises-are weeded out early in their careers.”

The sycophants are so powerful that they could easily reduce a performing state servant to that of a disgruntled one. Their motives are simply to infect the system of government and hence end up doing grave damage to our democracy and the future development of our beautiful country. And for me this is the evil scaring our democracy!

READ: This is what it feels to be declared bankrup like Jirongo 

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Opinion

David vs Joshua in presidential race

I have seen a number of prayers shared on WhatsApp from both sides of the political divide that are Bible-based but with violent overtones

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In May, newspapers published a photo of Mr Odinga praying at the historic Western Wall in Jerusalem, during a visit to Israel. Mr Odinga explained that the Wailing Wall was more than 5,000 years old and was sacred to all three Abrahamic religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity - and that to him it was a very strong symbol of strength and unity.

If opposition leader Raila Odinga contests and wins the presidential election re-run on 26 October, a large chunk of the Kenyan population will be about to enter the biblical land of Canaan.

This is because Mr Odinga has succeeded in boiling down the entire manifesto of his umbrella group of opposition parties into a single memorable phrase – “tunaenda Kanani” – Swahili for “we’re going to Canaan”, the land that flows with milk and honey.

Presidential elections in Kenya have become a complex affair. In the past it was enough to shout yourself hoarse on campaign platforms, lock up or silence your critics, change the constitution at will, distribute a few goodies to supporters and you would wake up at State House.

Now you need a multi-million dollar budget to hire helicopters, control the media, buy out political parties, patrol the digital space viciously and consult the best traditional herbalists.

In addition, you have to know your Bible well in the search for special anointing.

And so Mr Odinga – the presidential candidate of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) – has carefully studied the Book of Joshua and cast himself in the role of the famous hero who succeeded Moses, and led the fight to liberate enemy territory and settle the Israelites in the new land.

Mammoth prayer sessions

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who are seeking re-election, must be suffering from sore knees, as they have moved from church to church kneeling before men of God, who lay hands on them and give them the anointing.

Mr Ruto has been at the centre of a spiritual storm as leaders of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God try to interpret what his recent donation to them of Ksh 10 million (US$68,00, £51,000) could mean.

Some say it was gift for the development of the church, while others argue it was a political tithe to sway them to vote for his Jubilee Party.

In a country where people’s hopes for a better future have often been crushed by bad politics, endemic corruption and deep-seated tribalism, many Kenyans have always put their faith in God. He is the only constant and unchanging force for good.

Related: Bob Collymore takes Raila head on

When faced with any calamity, Kenyans have been known to go on their knees to seek God’s intervention in mammoth prayer meetings that are broadcast live on the media.

The politicians have woken up to the fact that they live in a nation of believers and to reach them you need to be seen to be God-fearing. In May, newspapers published a photo of Mr Odinga praying at the historic Western Wall in Jerusalem, during a visit to Israel.

Mr Odinga explained that the Wailing Wall was more than 5,000 years old and was sacred to all three Abrahamic religions – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and that to him it was a very strong symbol of strength and unity.

Attacked by bees

With the rival presidential candidates keeping their Bibles close to their chest, Kenyans have been on the look out for any divine sign that could help them decide which of the two is the anointed one.

uhuruto-in-church-300x228 David vs Joshua in presidential race

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, who are seeking re-election, must be suffering from sore knees, as they have moved from church to church kneeling before men of God, who lay hands on them and give them the anointing.

Earlier this year, President Kenyatta caused an online tremor when he became a “rainmaker”.

On a voter registration drive in Nyeri in central Kenya, the crowd urged the president to pray for rain in the area, which had experienced a drought. Minutes after he reluctantly prayed, there was a heavy downpour, prompting animated reactions on social media. One contributor said: “Our president is not only a leader but a prophet!”

To counter Mr Odinga’s metaphorical journey to Canaan, supporters of President Kenyatta, who is left-handed, have also delved into the Bible for inspiration and likened their candidate to King David.

READ: What media stars earn will blow your mind

The Jubilee Party faithful have gone to the Book of Judges, which refers to 700 left-handed soldiers from the tribe of Benjamin being excellent in the use of the sling as a tool of war.

David too was an expert with the catapult and some therefore argue he must have been left-handed. And so images of President Kenyatta writing with his left hand have done the rounds on WhatsApp to confirm his leadership credentials.

The Bible was at the centre of a political storm again when angry bees attacked police and protesters outside the Supreme Court on 20 September, as judges gave their full ruling for annulling the August election, saying that it was marred by irregularities.

In response to the incident, opposition supporters quickly began to share a verse from the Book of Exodus that says: “And I will send the bees ahead of you to drive your enemies out of your way.”

With the electoral commission announcing a new date for the presidential poll, social media platforms, especially WhatsApp, are again awash with biblical messages and prayers for the two main candidates.

‘Love life’

A famous Kenyan comedian has often joked about the dramatic nature of some of the prayers offered by some extreme church pastors: “May God knock you down with his favour, may he lift you and throw you into a pool of prosperity, may he embarrass you with his riches!”

But now it is no longer a laughing matter.

I have seen a number of prayers shared on WhatsApp from both sides of the political divide that are Bible-based but with violent overtones. The intention is to stir up ethnic hatred and use the Bible as a legitimate weapon of war.

President Kenyatta entered the race with a prayer from the Book of Nehemiah that he shared in a live radio interview: “Remember me with favour, my God, for all I have done for these people.”

ALSO SEE: Raila Tosha and other moving quotes from NASA rally

Mr Odinga ended his Supreme Court battle with the Book of Joshua: “Our journey to Canaan is unstoppable,” he said.

“On 8 August we crossed the River Jordan to reach the city of Jericho. We are marching on to the city of Jerusalem, and we shall get there.”

I am not quite sure what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make of the Kenyan invasion, but presumably Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has armed him with the appropriate Bible verses.

However, whether it is Joshua, in the form of Mr Odinga, or King David, in the form of Mr Kenyatta, who wins the re-run, many Kenyans will hope and pray that the candidates will heed the Gospel of Peter: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil… he must seek peace and pursue it.”

Amen.

Credit:  This is part of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s series of letters from African journalists. The author, Joseph Warungu, reflects on how the Bible has taken centre stage in the battle for the Kenyan presidency.

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Opinion

Kenya’s Big Men are failing her

Neither President Uhuru Kenyatta nor Nasa leader Raila Odinga appear to be motivated by a vision of the public good

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga in a past public encounter.

“Big men” have long been the scourge of Africa. Unfortunately for Kenya, it has not one, but two: President Uhuru Kenyatta and perennial opposition leader Raila Odinga. Both are behaving like tribal chiefs, Kenyatta of the Kikuyu, Odinga of the Luo, and both are spectacularly rich in a poor country.

Neither appear to be motivated by a vision of the public good. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s invalidation of the August 8 presidential elections, both appear prepared to take the country to the brink to secure personal advantage in the upcoming October 26 election (which has already been pushed back from October 17, but cannot occur after October 31, per the Constitution).

President Kenyatta persists in his denunciations of the Supreme Court justices as members of his Jubilee Party in the senate move to strip the Supreme Court of the power to void future elections. Such a move would undermine the independence of the judiciary and almost certainly require amending the Constitution of 2010—a constitution which was designed in part to secure the judiciary’s independence following post-election violence in 2007.

Meanwhile, Odinga is calling for the wholesale firing of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the selection of a different company to print the ballots, warning that he will not participate in the elections if his demands are not met. Kenyatta rejects these demands. If Odinga does not participate, he could still prevent a valid election from taking place: according to Bloomberg, the constitution requires that voting must occur in all of the country’s 290 constituencies for the election to be valid. Odinga could ensure that, in one or two constituencies that this party dominates, voting does not take place.

There is no dialogue underway between Kenyatta and Odinga, nor between the former’s Jubilee Party and the latter’s National Super Alliance (NASA), according to Kenyan media. Odinga is calling for demonstrations; in Nairobi, on September 26, pro-Odinga demonstrators chanted “no reforms, no elections,” and stoned police and counter-protesters. The police responded with tear gas.

Related: Raila Odinga’s wish-list for presidential re-run

Demonstrations are also taking place in other cities. However, the media reports that supermarkets are open and people are going about their business. Meanwhile, the police have removed the security detail assigned to Odinga and his running mate, Kalonzo Musyoko.

Bloomberg reports that investors in Kenya are “unnerved;” yields on Eurobonds have risen by 44 basis point, but the shilling has weakened only slightly against the dollar. Investors, like everybody else, are mindful of the possibility of ethnic violence as has occurred in previous post-election periods.

At present the two “big men” are at an impasse and the potential for demonstrations to turn violent is real. If the impasse continues, there is the possibility that there will be no elections on October 26, leading to a constitutional crisis. How it would be resolved is not clear.

This article was first published in a blog on the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) website.

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