Onyango Oloo Revisits A Message He Sent to ODM in November 2005
I have been following the events surrounding the ill-fated trip by ODM members to
There are a couple of things I want to say before recycling a document I had sent to the ODM leadership-in November 2005.
One of those things is that part of the problems bedeviling ODM-Kenya is that it is NOT a political party, but rather, an electoral matatu propelling some of
The other thing worth pointing out is that ODM-K started climbing the tree from the top rather than from the bottom.
Thirdly, ODM-K makes the headline news most often not because they are pushing issue-based politics but rather engaging in spats or covering up insinuations that spats and rows are taking place in the first place.
Fourthly, as all these mini-feuds break out all over place with increasing predictability, the struggling wananchi are hungry for concrete alternatives and hankering for sustainable solutions to issues like poverty, unemployment, gender-based violence, corruption, expropriation and repatriation of Kenyan natural and human resources etc.
Fifthly, the allegation that Raila Odinga and his associates tried to stage manage an event in
Let me give two illustrations to back me up.
On Wednesday, April 8, 1992 Raila Odinga and Gitobu Imanyara arrived in
The second event was on Friday, August 25th, 2000. The venue this time was the Public Library at Dufferin and Eglinton West. We chose that place because one of us, James Karanja Ng’ang’a was one of the senior staff there and so it was easy for him to secure the hall located in the basement of the building. We had organized a public session featuring
Najib Balala, Kavetsa Adagala, Orwa Ojode, Peter Kyalo Kaindi, Professor Tumbo, Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Matunda Nyanchama and Adongo Ogony.
I remember having a run in with Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojode- who saw himself as a very close aide to the Lang’ata MP at that period. Hon. Ojode railed at me when I informed him that ALL the visitors without exception would be limited to a 10 minute initial intervention before opening up the floor to the public participants. Ojode was adamant in demanding more time for Agwambo, arguing vociferously that Raila was a cut above the rest and therefore we could not keep a cap on how long it should take the Langata legislator to address the audience.
This back and forth went on for some time.
Ironically, it was Raila Odinga himself who resolved the impasse by informing Ojode that their entourage was visiting Toronto at the invitation of the local Kenyan community and that therefore they couldn’t and shouldn’t interfere with arrangements made by the organizers on the ground. As things turned out, the public session proved to be very fruitful with audience hanging around until very close to half past eleven at night.
I have had more than my fair share of organizing similar community-based public events in
My suspicions of what may or may not have happened in
Perhaps we will await the emergence of more facts before commenting much further.
All the same, and regardless of where you stand on the whole PR debacle, one keeps getting the nagging thought that all these issues on who the ODM-K’s flag bearer should be largely spring from the history of the ODM-K itself and the ideological underpinnings of its leading lights.
It is one’s fervent hope that the internal mud-slinging- if that is what it is- does not degenerate to the point where it resuscitates the dashed hopes of the totally discredited and self-destructing NARC-Kenya electoral machine.
It would be tragic not just for ODM-Kenya and its massive social base but also those patriotic Kenyans who have been hoping against hope that ODM-K may miraculously turn out to be the new political messiah, despite the ferociousness of the apparent infighting within its high flying “luminaries”.
With that long prologue, let me now recycle a document I wrote and submitted to the ODM leadership way back on November 30, 2005:
Viable Structures for the
A Contribution by Onyango Oloo
[Following a discussion with some key members of the ODM in the days following the November 2005 Referendum victory for the NO forces, I was invited to submit a brief outline that was to be discussed internally within the Orange Democratic Movement.. What follows below is that contribution.]
1.0. The Historical and Ideological Context of the
The overwhelming rejection of the Wako Draft by 3.5 million Kenyans climaxing the just concluded referendum campaign has a deep significance far beyond the mainstream contestations of power that have pitted the NAK faction against the LDP and her KANU allies.
In the first place, it must be appreciated as the THIRD consecutive democratic victory garnered by the Kenyan people in almost as many years, following close on the heels of the Unbwogable Victory in December 2002 that brought an end to 40 years of KANU rule and the democratic breakthrough that punctuated the Bomas Triumph in March 2004. A key aspect of those three events is the massive participation of millions of ordinary wananchi in effecting peaceful democratic change in
In the second place, the NO win marked a further opening up of democratic space precisely at a time when a section of the ruling elite was trying to sneak in disturbing precursors to a civilian dictatorship with creeping fascist tendencies. Despite the naked use of state terror in the form of brazen police brutality put in motion to crush peaceful and very well attended Orange rallies, the wananchi and their leaders were resolute in pushing for a reaffirmation of the tenets that led to the multi-party coalition which caused such a seismic shift in Kenya and beyond at the end of 2002.
In the third place, the Orange Victory has radically redefined the notions of who is to be counted among the “reformist” forces and who represented the forces of reaction. In an almost cruel ironic inversion, the heroes and sheroes of the reform movement of yesteryear emerged as some of the most vicious attack dogs at the forefront of shoring up an increasingly tribal cabal: names like Kiraitu Murungi, Koigi wa Wamwere, Kivutha Kibwana etc rush to mind. In the meantime, KANU which had become a by-word for repression, dictatorship and retrogressive politics managed to reinvent itself as a patriotic democratic formation counting among its ranks some of the most articulate defenders of our patriotic and democratic values: names like Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Mutula Kilonzo come to the foreground. In the meantime, the NAK faction led by President Kibaki, the hitherto self-declared “reformist wing” of the NARC administration thoroughly discredited itself among the Kenyan people by its naked appeal to the worst vestiges of ethnic chauvinism, overt state propaganda vilifying its perceived “enemies” and naked employment of the most tawdry manifestations of shameless pork barrel politics. This coming in the aftermath of the series of corruption linked scandals like Anglo Leasing, La Rue Gate and the embarrassing travel ban slapped on one of the most rabid hawks of the Kibaki kitchen cabinet went a long way in squandering the massive popular mandate given to NARC when it took over from KANU in January 2003.
In the fourth place, the opening up of democratic space had profound ramifications in the East and Central African region. We saw opposition forces in
and elsewhere mull over the NARC coalition experience as a possible template that could power their own march towards forming governments in their respective countries. Additionally the emergence of a popular government in Uganda Kenyaacted as one of the catalysts for the regional peace processes already underway in places like , Sudan etc. The Western countries initially warmed up to the prospect of doing business with the Kenyan government, before the NARC era corruption scandals emerged in the public domain to cool things off somewhat at the bilateral levels. Somalia
In the fifth place, the democratic breakthroughs in
between 2002 and 2005 were punctuated by the re-entry into national politics of SEVEN marginalized groups: the working people in the towns and countryside; the youth; women; Muslims; pastoral communities and ethnic minorities. Kenya
In the sixth place, the aforementioned developments helped to solidify the prestige, respect and popularity of several mainstream Kenyan politicians- almost exclusively the present leadership of the
Orangemovement who were seen as the real progressive and patriotic leadership recognized by the Kenyan wananchi. The LDP, even more than KANU was seen as “the real opposition”.
In the seventh place, all of the above pushed otherwise conservative politicians in the LDP, KANU, Ford-Kenya and Ford-People mainstream parties to try and reinvent themselves as agents of democratic reform or else risk the ire of the irate masses.
In the eighth place, the core of all the democratic advances was anchored in the decades-long demand for a new KATIBA.
2.0. The Patriotic Responsibilities of the
At the moment, the Orange Democratic Movement is seen across the country as the one force in the mainstream that can spearhead the national political salvation of
and is riding the crest of the post-referendum euphoria. Kenya
But let us not forget that this was precisely the position that Jomo Kenyatta and KANU found themselves in December 1963; that even Daniel arap Moi was seen to be a fresh gust of air following the repressive years of Kenyatta and the Kiambu Mafia and that the ORIGINAL Forum for the Restoration of Democracy in Kenya had the same delirious and enthusiastic backing that the ODM, and before it, NARC enjoys.
Time and time again, mainstream populist formations have been consistent in BETRAYING the trust, dashing the hopes and rubbishing the aspirations of the ordinary Mwananchi. This has been largely due to the fact that mass mobilization happens from above rather than below and that this mass mobilization is NOT de-linked from immediate electorate face offs. We notice that time and time again, politicians who are extremely popular with the wananchi use mass mobilization as a mfereji that is turned on and off for political expediency leading to the quick and disappointing demobilization of the very same wananchi who are largely responsible for the emergence of these leaders in the first place.
To be quite frank, the ODM is a very mixed gunia where you will find nduma mixed up with ngwache, mahindi, maharagwe, mchicha, kitungu saumu, pili pili hoho, biringanya and dania.
Orangecamp one finds veterans of the Kenyan reform movement as well as undisguised apologists for the status quo ante.
One finds consistent democrats as well as opportunistic political careerists.
There are those who are in
Orangebecause of genuine patriotic sentiments-coexisting with defeated candidates from the last election mulling over the cynical possibilities of clambering on board the Orangegari la moshi to re-enter Bunge.
Because of these internal contradictions, the Orange Democratic Movement can go one of two ways- it could be a proto-NAK formation that cynically exploits the wananchi’s kiu for democratic change in order to grab elitist power;
OR it could be a GENUINE launching pad for a new, Made In Kenya national democratic and liberation movement that will complete some of the historical and political tasks left over by the Mau Mau and earlier generations of Kenyan wazalendo like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Makhan Singh, Elijah Masinde, Pio Gama Pinto, JM Kariuki, Jean Marie Seroney, Bildad Kaggia and many others.
It is entirely up to the leadership of the ODM to determine which fork in the political road the former NO camp will take.
3.0. Some Strategic Imperatives for the
In order to be a viable political force that eventually grows to rival the clout that South Africa’s ANC currently enjoys, the ODM MUST focus on the KEY democratic demands of the Kenyan people:
(a) The need for a new democratic constitution;
(b) The permanent participation of wananchi in all aspects of national politics;
(c) The need to deal with the Mashamba Question;
(d) Devolution of powers to ensure BOTH regional autonomy AND national unity;
(e) Equal participation of Kenyan women in all political, social, economic and cultural spheres;
(f) Developing a national ethos that says NO to impunity, corruption, sloth and political arrogance;
(g) The re-entry of Muslims, pastoral communities and ethnic minorities in national politics;
(h) Forging peaceful and friendly ties with all of our neighbours;
(i) Developing a truly independent foreign policy;
(j) Placing Kenyan national interests at the forefront of any negotiations with international financial institutions and multi-lateral bodies such as the WTO;
(k) Valorizing Kiswahili and other components of our national heritage over the blind adherence to what Ngugi wa Thiong’o called a Kasuku Culture;
Perhaps the reader will notice that NONE of the above points includes “winning the next general elections and propelling so and so to State House.”
It is my contention that the death of the
OrangeDemocratic Movement will kick in the moment the formation confines itself to a mad obsession with mainstream succession politics. The ordinary Kenyan people who are far ahead of the OrangeDemocratic Movement are NOT looking for a NARC retread or a Kibaki clone: they have been there and they have done that.
4.0. Creating Viable and Accountable Structures for
The ODM is a mseto cobbled together around the struggle for a new Katiba in
. Its broad nature precludes any narrow ideological prescriptions. Kenya
However, no matter how diverse, this cannot be an excuse for lack of principles.
Because of its very popularity, the
Orangemovement is destined to attract political wagongaji, matapeli and even magagula (conmen, fraudsters and night runners to the Kiswahili shy). Scores of wanna be MPs and potential cabinet ministers in waiting will dash to Orange HQs to pledge fealty to a movement which perhaps, they secretly disdain because they are NOT true democrats, true reformers or true patriots. That is why I want to suggest a few cornerstones for the development of a strong ODM:
i) A broad patriotic and democratic manifesto that potential ODM members must understand and adhere to;
ii) A code of conduct for all ODM leaders to eschew such things as corruption, tribalism, nepotism and lone-ranger horse trading mentalities;
iii) A conscious affirmative action to ensure that 50% of the ODM leadership is comprised of women, youth and ,marginalized communities;
iv) A mashinani based approach to movement building. Units of the ODM should start at the locational level if possible.
v) A culture of internal democracy and open dialogue and tolerance for dissent within the parameters of the aforesaid manifesto.
I could write more but I am confining myself to the limit that we had all agreed upon when I embarked on this little intervention. Models that speak to some of the structures I have in mind include: the African National Congress of
South Africa, Al Mubadara (The PalestineNational Initiative), Al Mubadara and ’s FDC (Force for Democratic Change). Uganda
I will provide copies of their structures shortly.
November 30, 2005
The only feedback I got from the ODM-K leadership came from two senior people-none of them Raila- who basically told me to come down to earth because hardly anyone in the ODM grappled with such theoretical and ideological issues. That was it!