Sunday, December 23, 2012

Drama, humour as Cord group unveils leaders

PHOTO | SALATON NJAU An ODM party supporter on her way to the Uhuru Park rally on December 22, 2012 to unveil Prime Minister Raila Odinga as the Cord presidential candidate.

PHOTO | SALATON NJAU An ODM party supporter on her way to the Uhuru Park rally on December 22, 2012 to unveil Prime Minister Raila Odinga as the Cord presidential candidate.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AGGREY MUTAMBO amutambo@ke.nationmedia.com

Nairobi’s Uhuru Park is famous for many things; it is the place that the new Constitution was promulgated two years ago.

It is also where then Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Raila Odinga famously said “Kibaki tosha (suffices)” ten years ago under the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), which LDP had entered into with the Mwai Kibaki led National Alliance of Kenya.

So, on Saturday, when the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord) took their rally there to announce Mr Odinga as its presidential flag bearer, plenty of comic strips and sideshows were present too.

First, the devil was unwanted here. “When others see devils, we see God,” Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba told the crowd.

“This is a coalition that serves God,” added nominated MP Millie Odhiambo.

Whether the said devil was real of metaphoric was not the issue. But the Police were here in numbers too. They stood in groups of fours or fives, at strategic points overlooking the dais.

They took no chance; their fingers were on the trigger, tear gas canisters strapped around their bellies as though they had smelled trouble.

In deed two years ago, a political crusade held to oppose the proposed constitution, then on a referendum test, ended in gloom when two grenades were hurled at the crowd. That scenario has been repeated often, with the latest grenade attacks in Eastleigh coming to mind.

This time round, there were mean-looking guards too. Wearing tight black suits, they frisked everyone without saying a single word. There was sweat on their noses, perhaps as a result of choking from the tight ties round their necks and the heat from the sun. Then they would push you on into the ground. They were doing their job.

There was little trouble from the crowd until the real politicians started to arrive. Every time an MP or an aspirant would come in, the crowd would clap, stand up, raise their hands or hurl bottles of water in the air.

They seized this opportunity to surge forward too with banners some of which read, “Jahkom, tulihitwa (sic) shetani na tumerudi, tafadhali tukubali.”

The guards had a tough time when the three Cord founders, Mr Odinga, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Trade Minister Moses Wetang’ula made their grand entry.

The burly guards formed a human fence around the three as they came in on an open vehicle. But they could not prevent the gathering from seizing this chance to come in to the dais. Surprisingly, no police officer stood near the dias even as hawkers sold their wares liberally very close to the leaders.

Soon, the 15-metre distance that had been created between the crowd and the podium was dissolved as eager fanatics thrust forward, carrying banners and party symbols high.

Eventually, they reached an agreement with the guards to stay where they were as long as they sat down. That was until some started hurling objects at journalists, accusing them of obstructing the view of the dais. They were ordered to move, but they refused. The bored guards started to shove them away before they gave up.

Somehow, things started to work smoothly as each side chose to concentrate on the proceedings instead of picking small fights with each other.

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