While the announcement threw many Kenyans into shock how Raila Odinga who had consistently announced no dialogue without repeat of elections on agenda, many hailed the two leaders for their statesmanship as they seemed to bury their disagreement in interest of their country which Raila described as “a sailing ship” which would capsize and kill all unless they ended their differences and moved as one nation.
By Allawi Ssemanda
Last week on Friday, many Kenyans and people in the entire East African region were left in shock as the two political nemesis in Nairobi come together in front of cameras announcing they had buried their animosity and were willing to work together for the good of their country - Kenya.
While the announcement threw many Kenyans into shock how Raila Odinga who had consistently announced no dialogue without repeat of elections on agenda, many hailed the two leaders for their statesmanship as they seemed to bury their disagreement in interest of their country which Raila described as "a sailing ship" which would capsize and kill all unless they ended their differences and moved as one nation.
In same way, the deal left President Uhuru Kenyatta seen as a statesman for reaching out a man many said was giving him tough time to lead the country, especially after he sworn himself as "Peoples President" prompting the government to announce a crackdown on opposition a development analysts said was reversing Kenya's democratic gains.
As Niccolo Machiavelli taught us, a brilliant prince does what he needs to do. If keeping his word leads him to self-destruction or harm, he must not keep his word(s), it is fine he can break his entire big oath to survive. In same way, Raila put aside his "No election repeat agenda, no talks" aside and struck a deal. This way, he must have scored from his sponsors and donors (Western diplomats) who for long were pushing him to embrace dialogue as a way of avoiding crisis.
What remains to be seen now is; will this deal hold which Raila's NASA allies claim was a one man's decision since he did not consult them?
Will this deal give President Keyatta chance to complete his legacy term (last term) without disturbances so he can deliver his promise or like Greece's famous Trojan horse the deal will turn to be Kenya's "Nairobi or Harambe House Horse"?
From history, we recall the Trojan War, which the Greece fought for nine years but failed to conquer the city of Troy from troops loyal to the city's king who was called Paris. After realising they could not defeat Paris' troops in Troy, the wise Greeks built a large hollow wooden horse in which a group of warriors were concealed, as several other Greeks soldiers appeared to sail back home, leaving the big wooden horse (Trojan horse) and a few soldiers who deceitfully managed to persuade the Trojans that after realizing they cant win, they were instructed to give the wooden horse the king as a gift as a sign of accepting his strength.
The Trojans accepted the horse, entered it in the palace and at night, a few Greek soldiers returned and their comrades crept out of the wooden Trojan horse and opened the gate for their allies to enter King Paris' palace. In just one day, the city of Troy they had tried to capture in 9 years was taken over. I hope Raila did not go to Harambe house with a Trojan horse or to prepare for its coming.
While this maybe seen to be far, East African history and Kenyan in particular, history shows that at interval of 10 years, Raila joins his political opponents in government and cause political constipation from within. After coming third in presidential elections that were held on December 29, 1997, which Mzee Daniel Arap Moi won and Mwai Kibaki came second, Raila made it difficult for Moi to rule.
He later signed a deal with president Moi whom he was visited at Harambe House and in the deal; he was made the Secretary General of Kenya's oldest political party KANU. After only 200 hundred days as secretary general of KANU, he completely destroyed it that to date KANU is big in just name. Ten years later, in 2007, he contested with Kibaki in a disputed poll and also forced Kibaaki into signing a deal and was made a Prime minister.
Ten years later in 2018, the same Raila seem to have caused political constipation in Nairobi resulting into Friday's meeting with president Kenyatta where he came out announcing "…My brother (Kenyatta) and myself have, therefore, come together today to say these dissent stop here" Whether he came with a Trojan horse at Harambe house, the future will tell.
But whatever the case, as of now, both leaders must be hailed for exhibiting political maturity, and Raila's willingness to meet president Kenyatta and resolve their misunderstandings in favour of their country, hearing the two leaders address each other as brothers give hope.
When you critically analyse Raila's decision to meet with Uhuru, I also presents him as a brilliant leader able to read the rhythm of the current time and future and make a life saving decision. From the look of things, his allies in NASA coalition ever since they failed to show up during the his mock swearing in, the principles in the coalition seemed to have been reading from different pages and had he not turned down Uhuru's call to meet, my guess is that the other three NASA principles would have met Uhuru this week. Therefore, Raila's quick action shows he is a man who is able to read the future.
On the side of president Kenyatta, his body language was clear as the two leaders addressed journalists.
During the handshake, Raila's hand was on top, in body language, that can mean a sign of dominance, on realising it, covertly and gently, president Uhuru brought his second hand and placed it on top of Raila's thereby covering all his hands.
On many occasions, the Uhuru's body language was clear, showing he is the man in charge. In front of journalists, he embraced Raila like a young man and patted him on shoulder several times; again this in body language is sign of dominance. He also kept his eye contact with Raila very open all the time. To sum it all, the deal was signed and the two leaders spoke peace and President Uhuru Kenyatta's body language was also precise and clear, I am the man in charge.
The writer is a PhD student of International Relations and Diplomatic Studies.