Raila Odinga's Christmas message to Kenyans

Sunday December 24 2017

Raila Odinga

Nasa leader Raila Odinga. He has said no one will stop him from "lifting the Bible". PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

By RAILA ODINGA
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Christmas and the New Year festivities is a time of joy and hope.

It is also the time we reflect on the year behind us, and what lies ahead.

We end 2017 a deeply divided people.

We are divided between those who have rallied behind the leadership that wants to take us back to the dictatorship and those who believe that democracy and rule of law portend a brighter future for us all.

We are divided by the forces and ideas that propelled the second liberation and the new constitutional dispensation, and the beneficiaries of the old political order whose power and wealth is threatened by democracy, rule of law, devolution and inclusive governance.

We are divided by historical injustices, between those who believe that the truth will set us free, and those who fear the truth.

As we look into 2018, we must acknowledge that the forces of autocracy are on the ascendancy, not just here in Kenya but across the world.

The global wind of change that propelled our second liberation has abated.

Freedom and democracy are under threat in every part of the world.

In Europe, the extremist nationalism that gave rise to fascism is now commonplace.

Western governments who supported our cause have abandoned democracy and now promote stability at whatever cost. 

But this should not surprise or disappoint. 

States are not moral beings.

They pursue their interests as they perceive them.

Promoting democracy served to undermine communism.

Today some western governments perceive strong dictatorships as more useful than democracy in combating terrorism and giving them access to natural resources and economic opportunities.

As we usher in 2018, we are called upon to choose between resigning ourselves to dictatorship, to accept and move on, or to stand up for what we believe in.

We are called upon to accept that there is political hierarchy of communities in this country, the rulers and the ruled, or to affirm our dignity as equal citizens and to invoke our inalienable human right to self-determination if we must.

We are called upon to accept that some people are more equal than others, that there shall be one law for the poor, and another for the powerful, or to defend the rule of law.

We are called upon to accept that the vote will no longer matter, that what will matter is loyalty and sycophancy to the powers that be, or to stand and be counted.

The Christmas story reminds us that throughout history cruel leaders have inflicted needless pain and suffering on people, like King Herod was doing at the time of Jesus.

Such leaders live in fear of the people. When King Herod heard that another king had been born, he sent soldiers to hunt him down and kill him.

The mighty king was afraid of being overthrown by a baby.

He lived in fear of the people.

But cruel rulers have never triumphed over determined people.

The mighty Soviet Union could not break the will of the Afghan people. 

The indomitable USA could not defeat the Vietcong in Vietnam. 

The fate of all dictatorships is to fall.

They inflict pain and suffering but it’s all in vain for they live in fear and ultimately fall.

King Herod slaughtered children but failed to kill baby Jesus.

We thank the Almighty for the gift of life, family and friends.

That is why, over this season, we remember fondly those who left us.

We remember in particular the innocent, defenceless victims of police brutality and in particular Baby Pendo, Stephanie Moraa and Geoffrey Mutinda.

We pray for their souls, and for their tormented families.

We pray for the injured, the widowed and the orphaned. 

The Christmas message of hope reminds us at times like this that good triumphs over evil, that faith and courage will always triumph over fear, and justice will always triumph over injustice.

The message of Christmas therefore implores us to arm ourselves with faith, hope and the courage of our convictions.

We too shall overcome and we have a clear programme to victory.

On Sunday 17 December, the Coast region set in motion the People’s Assembly process.

We experience firsthand the outpouring of emotions and resolve of the people.

The other regions will convene similar forums in January leading up to the inaugural National Convention early in February.

Through the People’s Assembly process, we are breathing life into the foundation of our Constitution, namely the Supremacy of the Constitution and Sovereignty of the People.

As you recall, we planned to launch the People’s Assembly process with a National Convention hosted by Mombasa County on Jamhuri Day 12th of December, during which we were going to swear in the legitimate President and Deputy President of the Republic.

We were implored to defer the ceremony as a confidence building measure towards a political dialogue with Mr Uhuru Kenyatta. 

We know how disappointed many people were by the postponement.

Unfortunately, and true to our fears, the interlocutors that we gave benefit of the doubt are the same ones now singing Uhuru Kenyatta’s tune that we need talk only about development and Vision 2030.

This development worship is not new. 

It was first pronounced by Jomo Kenyatta in 1965 shortly after dismantling the independence constitution, elevating himself to the imperial presidency and co-opting the opposition making Kenya a de facto one party state. 

It is the opium that successive regimes have used to anaesthetise the people so as to take away their political rights, dispossess them of their land, rob them blind in Government, and exploit them ruthlessly in the market place.

This is the status quo that we must uproot for democracy and the rule of law to take root.

We do not expect the status quo to cooperate in its own uprooting.

We cannot and shall not go back to dictatorship.

We promise you that you can now look forward confidently to our swearing-in ceremony very early in the New Year.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

God Bless You.

Raila Odinga,

Nasa coalition leader.