Former Vice President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka has confirmed to both friend and foe that despite being ambitious to lead the country as President, he is not power hungry but cares more about the future of Kenya.
Ceding the ground to support the orange Democratic Movement party leader Raila Amolo Odinga, the third time for the presidency is a clear demonstration that Kalonzo is not an opportunist but a leader who puts the needs of the country before himself.
An Australian evangelist in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Desmond Ford once said these words: “A wise man changes his mind sometimes, but a fool never. To change your mind is the best evidence you have one.”
What does this say about the Wiper Party leader? In my opinion, he stands tall as a patriot and a free thinker who looks at the larger picture to adjust according to prevailing circumstances.
I'm sure, the Azimio la Umoja Presidential candidate Raila Odinga, is thrilled with Kalonzo’s show of humility and selflessness to support him for the third time.
The quest for a better society requires sacrifices and even self-denial. Kenya is a multi-ethnic society. When an influential leader like Kalonzo rallies behind a presidential candidate from a different community, it becomes almost automatic that his community will rally behind that candidate.
The miasma of anxiety and fear was evident in the Azimio la Umoja coalition before Kalonzo finally agreed to join the team. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga, knew that without Kalonzo, the Ukambani vote was not assured despite the support the coalition was getting from governors Charity Ngilu of Kitui, Kivutha Kibwana of Makueni and Alfred Mutua of Machakos.
As the Azimio coalition gears up to capture the presidency in August, the coalition’s candidate may garner almost 85% of the Kamba community votes because of the former vice president.
Having Kalonzo, Ngilu, Kibwana and Mutua in the Azimio coalition, it will be an uphill task for deputy president William Ruto of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) to penetrate Ukambani region.
It’s a wake-up call for Odinga, to remember that a friend who always has your back is a true friend. Kalonzo has demonstrated so and that he can be relied upon. At the right point in time, I’m sure that Odinga will reciprocate… it goes without Saying this: you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
The biggest lesson Odinga should learn is that Kenyans believe in his vision. They trust his values and yearnings for the country’s present and future. Otherwise, if he didn’t stand for anything, we couldn’t see a constellation of political parties and individuals supporting his 5th bid for the presidency.
President Kenyatta too deserves kudos for following his conviction. He has served in the highest office and has seen that Odinga, is a good shepherd to take over the reins of Kenya in August. This reflects bravery and, boldness.
A leader cannot lead alone. The ODM leader has to tap on the expertise of men and women with impeccable characters to resuscitate the country and lift it from the present degradation.
Encouragingly, Odinga has brought to his fold great minds like governor Kibwana, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, prof Mutua Makau and many others who are likely to feature in his administration to revive the country’s socio-economic fabric.
Kenyans expect a lot from the Odinga Presidency. Even those in the diaspora where he enjoys a fanatical following believe that his leadership will defend their aspirations by incorporating some diaspora personalities in his administration.
As he prepares to take over from Kenyatta in August, he should remember that the country is embroiled in a myriad of challenges. The prevailing high cost of living, systemic corruption, unemployment and overborrowing from global partners have hit a crescendo.
While it’s understood that development is a gradual process, especially with new leadership, Kenyans are likely to expect a lot from President Kenyatta’s successor because of what is presently at stake in the country.
No bull can dominate a kraal for too long unless it’s super strong. It’s perhaps only Odinga who has managed to do so. From 1997, Odinga only skipped vying for Presidency in 2002 when he made the Kibaki "tosha" declaration. For the rest of the electoral seasons, he has vied for the presidency but “lost” controversially.
It is no mean feat to cobble a team from over 15 political parties to support your ambitions in an emerging democracy like Kenya. There is something impressive in Odinga that the 15 leaders have seen that they want him to showcase for the country.
In the Holy Bible, John 15:13 says that there is no greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. The likes of Senator Gideon Moi, governors Wycliffe Oparanya, Mutua, Kibwana and Dr Mukhisa Kituyi shelved their ambitions to support Odinga.
In sum, leaders who forgo their ambitions to create greatness for their fellow men clear the ground for their own greatness. Who knows that one day, Kalonzo or any of the Odinga backers will also rise to greatness because of their selflessness.
To wrap it up, it's high time supporters of the Azimio movement desisted from labelling the former vice president with obscene words like watermelon (indecisive). Supporters of Odinga must also remember that, if the former vice president went all the way to the ballot, Ukambani votes could have gone to William Ruto. This could’ve catalyzed a repeat presidential election which is costly for the country.
By Joseph Lister Nyaringo
Nyaringo is the president of Kenya Patriotic Movement, a diaspora lobby, based in the US.