In seeking Mt Kenya vote, Raila should learn the art of seduction, brute force just won’t do

ODM party leader Raila Odinga and other political leaders during a recent Azimio la Umoja meeting in Murang'a

ODM party leader Raila Odinga and other political leaders during a recent Azimio la Umoja meeting in Ihura stadium, Murang'a county. 

Photo credit: Martin Mwaura | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Those tricks of wooing Mt Kenya, including picking Karua as Azimio deputy or Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) have not moved the mountain.
  • Ruto’s support is being purveyed through word of mouth, which is usually the most effective political medium.

Jesus once quoted Prophet Isaiah and stated some ‘people will listen and listen, but will not understand.

You will look and look, but you will not really see. Yes, the minds of these people are now closed.

They have ears, but they don’t listen. They have eyes, but they refuse to see.’(In the Bible, Mathew 13:14).

President Uhuru Kenyatta has made all possible efforts to rally Mt Kenya towards Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Of course, he is an influential son of the soil and on the face of it, he ought to have succeeded against an outsider (Deputy President William Ruto).

However, those tricks of wooing Mt Kenya, including picking Martha Karua as Azimio deputy or Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) have not moved the mountain.

Poll after poll has affirmed this. Jubilee by-elections losses in Gaturi (Murang’a), London (Nakuru), Kiambaa and Juja (Kiambu), Kiagu (Meru) and Rurii (Nyandarua) should have given Azimio the clearest signal that the mountain is gone completely with the Deputy President.

However, Azimio seems to continue pegging its victory to the mountain.

Political medium

This ignorance can be attested by Azimio’s heavy political investment deployed in the region.

Attempts to use local language media to rally the region towards Azimio have been futile.

This is unlike past elections where this strategy has been effective in rallying Mt Kenya towards a desired political direction.

Ruto’s support is being purveyed through word of mouth, which is usually the most effective political medium.

This is how Mt Kenya rallied against the Nyayo regime in 1992 despite airwaves being exclusively under President Daniel Moi’s control.

So, what are the factors that have made Mt Kenya rabidly against Raila despite the best efforts by Uhuru and Azimio?

First, the region views Raila as power hungry and this breeds suspicion as to what he can do with it if he wins.

There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and seeking power.

The late Masinde Muliro famously said one has no business being in politics if he or she is not ambitious.

However, power is such a powerful facet, an effective search for it demands subtle and nuanced methods.

Jesus alludes to this nuanced search for glory when he says “when you are invited (to a party), take the lowest place so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests.”(Luke 14:10).

'Political seduction'

Searching for political power is no different from seduction. For instance, it is imprudent for a person to ask the desired partner for marriage on their first date.

In his book Art of Seduction, Robert Greene describes anti-seducers. One type is the brutes.

They have no patience and seek to skip the seduction and offend with egotism.

In seeking Mt Kenya votes, Raila wants to skip seduction. On losing in 2017, if Raila intended to win the region, he should have instantly developed a sophisticated seduction plan.

It could have included constant visits to the region. Mt Kenya voters are wise and can see through his current belated efforts to woo them.

Odinga is seeking the presidency now for the fifth time. Compare him with Uhuru and Ruto.

Uhuru vied in 2002 and lost. He wisely skipped vying in 2007 as he deftly planned to inherit Kibaki in 2013, and succeeded.

Ruto made a false run in 2007 but withdrew and deftly supported Raila in 2007.

He then supported Uhuru twice and accrued Mt Kenya’s trust in the process.

Raila can argue he did the same for Kibaki in 2002. That was a very wise move, but he wasted Mt Kenya's goodwill when he turned against Kibaki in 2004.

As Greene advises, Raila should have adopted the skills of a good seducer and been patient.

Moi and Kibaki, likewise, ascended to power by exercising the art of patience.

Manage economy

The second factor fueling Mt Kenya’s rejection of Raila is a moral one.

The region feels, that for the future of its children and the goodness of Kenya, it is altruistic to honour its 2017 pledge to Ruto.

But why would political concerns for honouring an agreement supersede other matters, including who would best manage the economy?

Why brush aside aspersions that have been made against Ruto and hoist political commitments over such accusations?

The answer lies in what Kwame Nkrumah said: “Seek ye first the political kingdom and everything shall be added upon thee.”

Curing our political problems must reign supreme. By voting for Ruto and rejecting Uhuru’s Azimio project, the region will have helped Kenya in ‘nation building”.

Nation-building is constructing or structuring a national identity.

Nation-building aims at the unification of the people within the state so that it remains politically stable and viable in the long run.

Nation-building fosters social harmony and economic growth.

By voting for Ruto and rejecting directions given by one of their own, Mt Kenya will have shattered the myth of being an insular and inward-looking region that can only vote for one of their own, hence fostering nation-building.

It will hasten the de-ethnicisation of Kenyan politics.

A Ruto vote will serve as a moral lesson to every Kenyan politician that the region does not hate Raila on the basis of his ethnicity.

It is only that he has never worked wisely to get its support, unlike Ruto. By doing so, Mt Kenya children will have a better future that is free of political stigma.

The writer is a lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He is the senator for Murang’a