Now that the repeat presidential election is over and the winner sworn into office, Kenya needs to go back to normalcy.
However, this cannot be actualised without two major actors — namely; President Uhuru Kenyatta and his nemesis, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga — opening up for serious business of hemming fences and redressing Kenya from the self-inflicted wounds their dynastic differences and political struggle have inflicted on the country and Kenyan society.
I don’t aim at being the devil’s advocate. Again, looking at the imbroglio-cum-impasse that Kenya has been in for a long time now, methinks the duo needs to look at the situation broadly and boldly but not narrowly as it was when they were running for office.
For a long time, the two have been involved in the ‘dialogue of the deaf’ — something that is seemingly exacerbating the problem.
While they have maintained a sort of denialism resulting from toxic and tribal politics, their cohorts and majordomos kept on making things harder.
The situation became even worse after the election re-run.
Thus, nobody can tell exactly what will happen regarding the closure of the crevices being on tenterhooks. The two need to come together and engage in dialogue since there is no way the malady can heal itself without their constructive and positive interventions.
Currently, Odinga is obsessed with being sworn in as the “people’s president” — as if President Kenyatta is not the president of the people.
This struggle does not do Kenya any good. There is time and season for everything. Elections are over. The duo must bury the hatchet and let Kenya move forward as a nation.
It is important for the two to start thinking about Kenya and not their personal power and glory. They must seriously and realistically consider and look at a suffering Kenya.
Evidently, the economy is dangerously tanking. Many business people have already registered their discomfort with it. The society is deeply divided along ethnic lines, not to mention political klutziness that the country has found itself in.
For the two to understand and underscore the important roles they have to play, they should step into the shoes of other Kenyans who lost their loved ones, those whose businesses are cascading, those whose lives have been dangerously turned upside down, those whose hopes have been dashed and the like simply because the two are at it tussling with each other for just elusive and temporal power.
Looking at their flinty stances, without wising up Kenya stands to pointlessly lose a great deal.
For instance, Odinga has commuted his coalition into a movement, meaning that his cause has not been achieved. Talking about the movement, Odinga was quoted as saying “this is basically going to be involved in civil disobedience, civil resistance, not an armed resistance”.
But for how long, and won’t such measures negatively affect Kenya by exacerbating the already worsening situation?
Nobody can easily tell. However, it is easy to foretell how the situation will be. Considering the deaths and loss of property already witnessed, the situation is likely to be spooky and surreal shall the two stick to their guns.
It does not make sense for Kenya to be held to ransom simply because two protagonists are living in a state of denial simply because they are not directly affected by the goings-on. They need to be realistic. There cannot be a winner if the country remains divided.
And thanks to such precarious limbo, many opportunistic elements will cash in and take advantage of the logjam. We have already heard of the clamour for secession and other provocative propositions that cannot — and will not — help Kenya.
President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga need to constructively engage each other in order to avoid giving Kenya’s enemies ammunition to finish it off, especially at this moment it is facing Al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia, not to mention the economic slump.
Should the duo keep on hardening their positions, Kenyans should consider taking lawful steps in order to force them to talk, as it is to the citizens that Kenya actually belongs.
Mr Mhango is a Canada-based Tanzanian author, peace and conflict scholar an alumnus of UDSM (Tanzania) and Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, Canada. [email protected]