The aftermath of Raila Amolo Odinga’s choice of Martha Wangari Karua as his running mate has brought out the worst in women. A bunch of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto acolytes are out to derail Ms Karua’s journey to the highest office in the land, which is a heartbeat away, should the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party win the August 9 election.
They have embarked on a campaign of calumny, which is the bane of every woman daring to shake Kenya’s patriarchal foundations, never mind that it took one brave man, Mr Odinga, to dare to pick a woman for running mate.
Ms Karua should take comfort in the knowledge that she’s not alone in this peculiar position where a constituency you should be banking on—womenfolk in this case—prove to be the exact opposite of your expectations when you need them most. Yours truly had a taste of fellow women’s vicious side when in her quest to redeem her derailed master’s project, two women in the university took it upon themselves to fight the project.
Mercifully, it took not just the Solomonic wisdom of one Professor George Magoha — and surprise, surprise, a fellow woman — to scuttle the puerile machinations of the forces lined up against me on my academic journey.
I digress… but only to say that, in the same spirit, there will be more supporters than opponents to Mr Odinga’s choice of running mate, which, to me, is governed by wisdom. Let me expound on a few reasons why I’m all for Mr Odinga’s choice of Ms Karua for running mate.
Two-thirds gender principle
One, Ms Karua is among only a handful of Kenyans who ever quit high office on account of principle. She resigned in April 2009, citing frustration in executing her duties as Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister in the Mwai Kibaki administration. One was Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who resigned as Jomo Kenyatta’s vice-president in April 1966. Another is James Karugu, who resigned as attorney-general barely 15 months after then President Daniel Moi appointed him in April 1980. They all cited frustration in executing their duties.
At a time when we’re saddled with a deputy president who won’t resign from an office he ceased serving four years ago to protest President Kenyatta’s ‘handshake’ with his erstwhile nemesis Mr Odinga, the prospect of Ms Karua for DP smells like fresh air.
Secondly, Ms Karua for DP answers to the minus malum principium—the lesser evil principle—in a situation where Kenya’s political leadership is woefully tainted. Three, since the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Parliament has been caught up in a situation that has stridently defied the two-thirds gender rule. The choice of Ms Karua for a presidential running mate should give women cause to celebrate and step up efforts to mobilise behind her instead of back-stabbing her as Ruto’s female coterie is doing.
My Wanga people have a saying that, “Ilabushi yoli nayo niyokhuyiranga inzokha” (the club in your hand is the one you kill a snake with). In a situation where the two-thirds gender rule has been jinxed except in the civil service, where President Kenyatta has made tremendous efforts to up women’s numbers, it boggles the mind that any patriotic woman, nay, Kenyan, should fight a Martha for DP possibility. Will the women spewing vitriol at Ms Karua’s nomination smell the coffee and give us a break?
Ms Kweyu is Consultant Revise Editor, Daily Nation. [email protected]