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Jomo Kenyatta with Oginga Odinga. Some political rivalries go way back...

Kenya is no stranger to political rivalry and the machinations of Machiavellian politicians. Some say it has existed since Kenya attained its independence. Anyone who has read up about the debates and manoeuvrings during the Lancaster House conferences in the early 1960’s will know its antecedence predates December 12th, 1963.

In post independence Kenya there were constant wrangles between the first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, father to the now Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The communist Odinga Oginga was opposed to Kenyatta’s more capitalist policies.

When Daniel Arap Moi succeeded Kenyatta as President and leader of KANU, then the only political party allowed in Kenya’s one-party state, he continued Kenyatta’s pro-western policies and, of course, his one-party rule. This was until early 1990s when strong pressure began to build up, internally and internationally, to restore a multi-party system.

Moi however, ruled Kenya with little tolerance of any form of opposition especially after the attempted 1982 coup. The newly appointed chief justice Dr Willy Mutunga and Raila Odinga, who publicly criticised Moi’s governance, were detained for advocating political pluralism during Moi’s regime.


The coalition government which came into force after the disputed 2007 elections has not only not been left out as far as political rivalry and the battle for power goes, you could argue that it is purpose built for the propagation of political infighting. They’re at it like chickens in a yard.

First there was the drama caused by the Prime Minister’s outcry that he is President Kibaki’s equal in the coalition government and hence senior to Vice President Musyoka and therefore the latter should speak after him during state functions and not before. This scene repeated itself last Saturday during the late Professor Wangari Mathaai’s funeral, when the state functionalities had the Prime Minister speak before the Vice President. The PM took his seat after giving his tribute but pointedly did not invite the VP to speak.

The looming 2012 general elections have seen political temperatures intensify especially within parties.  The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been characterised by a conflict of interests which has seen key members of the party fall out. The biggest rivalry has been between Eldoret North MP William Ruto and Odinga. Ruto, a 2012 presidential hopeful who has since defected from ODM to the G7 alliance (see below), blames Raila for his sacking from Cabinet and his tribulations at the International Criminal Court.

The G7 alliance, which is preparing to field a single presidential candidate in next year’s polls, is campaigning on an anti-Raila platform and is made up of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa, among others. According to recent reports, the G7 members seem to be disintegrating, a claim that Ruto has come out strongly to dispute (see, ‘G7 leaders dismiss talk of discontent as State House aspirants lay strategy’, The Standard, October 11).


Uhuru Kenyatta with Raila Odinga. Some political rivalries last for years!

Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are also political rivals, a rivalry that most people believe has been carried on from the days when their fathers crossed political swords. Mr. Kenyatta, who also faces criminal charges at the ICC, accused Raila of being the man responsible for the 2007 post election violence during the confirmation of charges hearings.

Another perennial rivalry is that between Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Water Minister Charity Ngilu. Ngilu has constantly accused Kalonzo of being behind her woes in the Ministry of Water and of working with the former KACC Director, DR PLO Lumumba in brining the charges that are currently facing her ministry.

The differences between the two played out when Ngilu choose to snub the VP’s offer of a handshake, again at the state funeral for Prof. Wangari Maathai, much to the bewilderment of the dignitaries present. Ngilu’s gesture, which has received a lot of criticism, was in marked contrast to that of Uhuru Kenyatta who upon arrival at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner, heartily hugged Raila.

They say politics is a dirty game, well the Forum doesn’t refute that but we suggest that some dirty linen is better washed behind closed doors and that a little bit more decorum from our politicians is called for, not least at a State Funeral.

P.S. On the lighter side of things, a few items for all of you who have followed the news from the CERN laboratory in Switzerland…

Detecting Neutrinos at CERN

The barman said: “Sorry, we don’t serve neutrinos”…. A neutrino enters a bar.

Two neutrinos are just about to have sex….she says, “Oh come on darling!” … He’s smoking a cigarette.

Did you hear about the dyslexic neutrino that thought it could travel faster than light? Poor thing thought 2C=EM…

Neutrino: “Who’s there?” Caller: “Knock knock”

Ans: To prove neutrinos can travel faster than light… Qu: Why did the neutrino cross the road?

And finally…

A neutrino stopped to pause,

Whilst considering Einstein’s great laws,

To a photon compared, it seems so unfair,

That e=mc squared.

Who Killed Dr Robert Ouko and Why?


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October 2011
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