What you need to know:
- Basically, the loaded MKF message to the OKA principals was one of unity.
- There's the silly argument that the MKF magnates don't bring votes.
Oddly, the Mt Kenya Foundation meeting with the Okoa Kenya Alliance (Oka) team of Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang'ula and Gideon Moi last Thursday could become a recipe for confusion.
Why? It's just that the meeting could cause doubts by raising false expectations. Mmm? Because Raila Odinga was for all practical purposes endorsed by the same Foundation on September 28. Same Safari Park hotel venue.
Reportedly, it is President Uhuru Kenyatta who pressed MKF to hold the session with Oka. Reason? Fairness, perhaps. Others muttered about PR. Meaning? Already a decision had been taken by MKF about Raila anyway.
MKF chairman Peter Munga was effusive nonetheless. The Equity Bank founding titan hecktored the gathering that his Mt Kenya people didn't need to be told about poverty. They want inspiration, he said. He had a target antagonist in mind. He's known, surely. On this one, the MKF wazees came closest to saying who this was.
Munga dramatically alluded to an incident in the immediate pre-2007 election, when he and his Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi and the late entrepreneur Chris Kirubi visited Kalonzo to try and persuade him to hitch his wagons with Kibaki.
"It could have avoided the (2006/8) clashes," he mused. Kalonzo, of course, is not the mortal fence-sitter MKF sees today.
Basically, the loaded MKF message to the OKA principals was one of unity. Unity, unity, unity. Not just of OKA, but with Raila and everybody in that wavelength.
An elder fronted by the foundation, a guy called Michael Mugo of Laikipia, brought up the story of a beautiful bride with many votes (meaning Mt Kenya), but with the caveat that the bride could not possibly be available for four grooms.
Theme of unity
"Get one groom," he said. "Then we'll talk."
It was a motif played repeatedly throughout the gathering. Of the OKA luminaries, Kalonzo was off the blocks first, which was odd. He vowed the 2007/8 PEV will never be allowed to happen again. He said he worked very closely with President Mwai Kibaki, to the point of recommending Uhuru Kenyatta be appointed as Deputy Prime Minister.
"I think Uhuru owes me one," he added on a light note, but stressing he didn't agree at all with the contemporary "politics of debt".
Kanu's Gideon Moi was next, leveraging yet again the theme of unity.
"Sacrifices were made at Independence. Most of those sacrifices were made by the Mountain. Blood was shed. In the blink of an eye, this country can slide into what we saw in Rwanda," he said.
Handle the backleg kicks
He added: "I know your (Mt Kenya) enemy. I'll hold the horns. Will you handle the backleg kicks?"
The rather genteel MKF jamboree had not reckoned with what landed next in the form of Cyrus Jirongo. When I asked, nobody was sure when he joined OKA, and through what party. Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala suggested to me he joined the same day of the MKF bash, though he quickly added everybody was welcome to the OKA boat.
First of all, Jirongo's mysterious entry has reconfigured OKA. They now have five, not four, putative principals. And three are Luhya. Jirongo's speech started with the right vibes for Mt Kenya. Very analytical too. He noted the 2007/8 war against 'kwekwe' (or 'thangari', or madoadoa) in Rift Valley.
Hustlers versus Dynasties
"But this has been turned around into a new war of rich versus poor," he warned. Hustlers versus Dynasties. He went on: "They must create an enemy. That is their modus operandi."
Yet a lot of what else Jirongo had to say was uncomfortable to the conservative MKF caucus. He was adamant that they should not have a preferred presidential candidate (obviously meaning Raila). The talk of a conducive economic climate that MKF harps on was useless, Jirongo averred, if everybody did not unite against a "dangerous" presidential candidate.
"Let's not have a preferred choice. Let's go to the ground as a team - United," he insisted.
Jirongo is known to hold major grudges, including within the OKA he has joined, and specifically against Mudavadi. Some, like rebel ANC MP Godfrey Osotsi, told me he is closer in thinking to Gideon Moi. The MKF think-tankers don't think so. They suspect Jirongo was the pre-agreed Luhya frontman to gobsmack rivals like Kalonzo in the race to corner the Kikuyu vote.
Certainly the Wiper team was not amused by the Mudavadi team's perceived attempt to hijack the MKF-hosted event, from choreographed songs and campaign materials highlighting their party ANC rather than OKA. Incidentally, their coded language was more anti-Raila than anything else.
Aha, Mudavadi. His speech was appropriately presidential, especially after it transpired Citizen TV and KTN TV, and Inooro TV, were broadcasting the Safari Park event Live. The bonus for him is he spoke last. His fundamental question was: Who can you trust? He had very good vibes on the economy, too.
There's the silly argument that the MKF magnates don't bring votes. Really? You're a fool if you imagine somebody like S.K. Macharia, with his television stations and multitude of vernacular radio outlets, has no voter influence.
And what about MKF's well-documented voter registration mobilisation drives ahead of 2013 and 2017 elections? And the get-out-the-vote initiatives during the actual voting day? Including paying for transport for the old and infirm? If you think these geezers don't matter, then you don't know Mt Kenya.