Those who listened to Rosemary Odinga at her brother’s final funeral service were surprised by how calm she was. How easily she had the crowd shut up and listen to her and how far she diverted from the rhetoric spewed wholesale by her father’s political friends. Some of us – okay, me- were literally swept away when she began to sing that verse from Redemption Song. ‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery’ is just the right thing to tell the sort of people who show up for funerals ready and willing to listen to all manner of balding men shout at the top of their voices matters completely unrelated to either the deceased or their family. Matters, if we are to be a bit more precise, such as national dialogue.
We watched wide-eyed on May 31, 2014 as Cord leader Raila Odinga arrived from the United States and went straight to Uhuru Park to Iron Zion with his peeps before heading home to family. That day, Kalonzo Musyoka said, “We want an all-inclusive government.” All-inclusive in politician-speak could mean a government in which I am included or a government in which every representative of the various political leanings is included. that, in our present circumstances, can never happen. Certain decisions were made in March 2013 that have made that impossible for the next two, three years. At that moment, then, it looked like the bitter man from Tseikuru wanted a nusu mkate government.
But then, thankfully, he ended his microspeech and handed the mic to the jet-lagged Baba. Baba can work up a crowd. Everybody temporarily forgets what they think when he launches into his tendawili or football commentating. Even the staunchest Jubilee supporters, those who stand up when they see the President on television or drop the child when they hear Kamwana speak will tell you they listen very well when Baba drops his tendawili and mawingu yametanda lines. That last day of May, after he was done with the theatrics of #BabaWhileYouAway, Baba delivered the final call. National Dialogue. He said this should be done in 60 days and if that doesn’t happen by Saba Saba, July 7, the government could only blame itself for what would follow. Mawingu yalikuwa yametanda.
Never mind that July 7 was not 60 days away but 37. Never mind that Kalonzo convinced us to forget that he had called for “an all-inclusive” government and
After that, as football lovers like the former Prime Minister enjoyed the World Cup, the call for national dialogue was kicked around like the political football it had become.
By the time Saba Saba came around, the tune changed to referendum.
Today, the switch has flipped back to referendum, and the football is being passed around again as we await the Africa Cup of Nations.
Back to Rosemary, who would be a good interview prospect one of these fine days, who seems to me like a worthwhile new politician in the mould of Johnson Sakaja, who has also taken to making statements unlike those of his peers or agemates, and whom the former Prime Minister should probably prepare for politics as he was said to have been doing for Fidel.
She spoke well, saying, “What we are asking is if the leadership of Cord can come and have dialogue without any ultimatums, please come have dialogue without any ultimatums. And to the leadership of the country right now; yesterday, you did not own the instruments of power. Tomorrow, you will have to give those instruments to somebody else. What will be your legacy? Kindly, I ask, humble yourself and come for dialogue. For the sake of Fidel, humble yourselves and come for dialogue.”
The question that remains unanswered is; what form will it take?