Moses Wetang’ula wants to be Kenya’s next president. Very few may have taken him seriously, with most dismissing his bid as a joke, but probably because they have not stopped to consider his merits. I must admit I have previously been one of those, and only stepped back to look more critically after the recent spread, in social media, of messages reminding us about the similarities between most of those with interests in the highest political offices in the country.
Commenting on the news of Wetang’ula’s launch last year of his bid for Kenya’s presidency, one observer of the news online commented that: “It is important to say that Kenya’s politics revolves around the following: tribe, wealth, charisma, manipulation and intimidation.”
That is not to say that is the way it should be, and reading his brief comments, I could not help to see how closely intertwined the last three factors are, even where charisma and intimidation may appear diametrically opposed.
He went on to aver that one must come from a tribe that rallies behind them 100 per cent. Wetang’ula’s bid may be complicated by the question as to whether the Luhya nation should be construed as one tribe, or a collection of possibly 18 tribes.
His act of using this as the base of his support therefore requires not just great courage, but also strong belief in the abilities of oneself.
The fact that his launch was violently disrupted by goons is a clear proof of this, and that he has been able to soldier on shows the great resolve, and he is steadily working on consolidating that base, while at the same time departing from being a clan or tribal chief. Wetang’ula is on record for saying he would have been happy to launch his bid in Garissa or Migori, as any other part of Kenya.
The said reader also observed that one needs to have money to get the support of those with money. Wetang’ula is neither filthy rich nor a show-off, and this may help him connect with the people. He may fall in that category of self-made ordinary Kenyans.
Felix Odimmasi is a political analyst and specialist in diplomacy.