By Washington Osiro
Dear Bwana DP,
Recently, a letter written by Kenya’s first vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga circulated on social media. In the letter, a resignation missive to his boss Jomo Kenyatta, Odinga, a man who occupied a version of the position you now occupy called out your boss’s father for sidelining him in decisions of national import, i.e., “state matters.”
Citing his conscience and discomfort about earning public money “but no job to do,” Jaramogi resigned.
William, most Kenyans who read the letter lauded Oginga’s decision to quit. They also urged you to do likewise, i.e., to resign as the deputy president given the on-going efforts by Uhuru Kenyatta and those around him (David Murathe, Francis Atwoli, etc.) to emulate his father and sideline you, Kenya’s #2, from “state matters” even as you continue to “earn public money.”
Sir, missing in the post accompanying the ninety-seven-worded letter were the events leading up to Jaramogi’s decision to quit KANU, arguably Jubilee’s predecessor. In fact, the preamble to the letter which appears in his autobiography “Not Yet Uhuru” in a chapter tellingly titled “Obstacles to Uhuru” sets it up thus. Chapter 14, all sixty-three pages of it, document Jaramogi’s explanation of why he resigned from Kenya African National Union and subsequently formed the opposition party KPU (Kenya People’s Union).
Yes he, Oginga Odinga, cites the altruism – of having a “conscience” and refusing to “earn public money with no job to do” – as his main reasons for resigning. However, I think it is fair to say that at the time, Jaramogi assumed (and believed) that he was dealing with someone (Jomo) who had a conscience thus deserving of such high-minded considerations.
It is now public record that this was not the case.
The former Vice President of Kenya was not dealing with someone with a definitive sense of what is right and what is wrong. Jaramogi was dealing with a national president who was playing hardball. Bw. DP, your boss’s father was also at the epicenter of persons who had zero compunctions about eliminating enemies – real or perceived – and all other niceties be damned. By refusing the job to lead Kenya THEN subsequently resigning from the national government, Jaramogi left himself exposed to the vagaries of a president and kitchen cabinet only too ready to run roughshod over any opposition and any pretenses of checks-n-balances. From that point onward, Oginga’s political goose was cooked.
William do not make the same mistake Jaramogi made some fifty-seven years ago.
Do not allow your boss along with those around him to force you out of a position you sold your soul to get – and this is not being hyperbolic. Along with the man now seeking to push you out as his #2, you are a former crimes-against-humanity suspect. It does not get any lower than that. In short and as a politician, now is not the time to appeal to your better angels, i.e., to your “conscience” nor is it the time to save a demonstrably undeserving Kenyan public their tax dollars from being wasted on someone with “no job to do.” You of all people should know that these high falutin ideals are just that – aspirational ideals quickly pushed aside once one is in power.
Bw. DP, the stakes are infinitely higher this time around and were you to allow yourself to be pushed away from the center of power, you will be making the same mistake most Kenyans now agree Jaramogi made when he turned down the opportunity to lead Kenya in favor of Jomo then followed it up by resigning from the ruling party instead of forcing Jomo to fire him. In fact, the preceding reality set in on the former VP even as his boss was delivering his inauguration speech on December 12, 1963.
By failing to acknowledge those who had expended life and limb during Kenya’s fight for independence during that speech, Jomo foreshadowed what his son is now trying to do to you: Discarding the one man responsible for saving him from The Hague. It is thus not melodramatic to point to Jaramogi’s reason for writing his memoir: To provide an accounting of the country’s history for you and others to learn from and hopefully save Kenya from the neo-colonialization by those who seek to build on the foundations the colonialists laid before independence.
William, is this what you want to see happen – fulfillment of Jaramogi’s prescient “power is handed to men who are moderate and easily controlled”? We now know that Jomo was a lackey for the west and his son, your boss, is no different as previously illustrated.
Bw. DP, for all your faults, of which there are many, do not allow this to happen.
Instead of reacting to the disrespect and demonization being hurled at you by your boss and his supporters, channel your inner tribesman Daniel Arap Moi and bid your time. And remember Jaramogi’s warning:
“A poor (powerless) man cannot negotiate with a (powerful) man of property.”
If you resign, you will be giving up the power, protection, and access bestowed upon you, the Deputy President, by the Constitution of Kenya. You, Bw. DP, will be a poor man trying to negotiate with a powerful man. In short, William, like Jaramogi Oginga, your goose will be cooked.
Do not allow Kenya’s history to repeat itself – again.