When I read the news that Koigi Wa Wamwere had joined Jubilee, I had a sinking feeling that the great generation of resistance to poor governance, ethnic balkanization, corruption and impunity had come to a sad and defeated end. Koigi was among the last men of an earlier generation holding out against CORD and Jubilee’s politics of ethnicity, impunity and mediocrity, siasa ya ukabila, ukora na upuzi. Since the Jomo Kenyatta days, he has been a government critic to the hilt and one who refused to compromise on his ideals. He carried his resistance crusade through the Moi government and the Kibaki government.
In a country where politicians claim to have “suffered” and “sacrificed” for the country when they are simply referring to their personal dreams and ambitions, Koigi has truly earned his stripes. Regardless of what you have heard about some entitled princes claiming to have suffered and sacrificed longest for the liberation of this country, Koigi Wa Wamwere is among the longest serving political detainees in Africa after Nelson Mandela. He was the poster-boy for resistance in Kenya and among the last men standing, the last one to tap out.
Koigi Wa Wamwere’s credentials in the fight for freedom and good governance in Kenyan can hardly be faulted. He fought for freedom, fought against ethnicity, fought against corruption and bad governance, fought against cronyism only to sell out to Jubilee the most tribal, corrupt, inept and least deserving regimes this country has ever seen.
How could he have resisted the dictators, the despots and the aristocrats even in the face of death itself only to give in to their pitiful minions, the pathetic Moi-mimic-men in the degenerate Jubilee establishment? It is like a great General who resists powerful and ruthless warlords and ironically surrenders to a band of junior clueless and powerless underlings of the warlords!
I am sensitive as I pen this not to demean the contribution of Koigi Wa Wamwere and others to the second liberation in this country and his continued resistance to the politics of ethnicity, impunity and mediocrity, siasa ya ukabiula, ukora na upuzi. I am also aware that most of his colleagues especially the young turks of the early 90’s tapped out a long time ago and were incorporated into the system. We have to congratulate him for holding out this long, but like Martin Luther King Jnr said Koigi must remember, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice. Its conformity.” What a way to fall!!
At 21, he abandoned his University education to fight none other than President Jomo Kenyatta himself. Today those who are 21 cannot even start to imagine the courage of such an act back then. Opposing Kenyatta was considered sacrilegious. At one time, Kenyans had been warned that even imagining the death of the President was treasonable. And a 21 year old believed then that his course was not only justifiable but even viable. What has changed?
Koigi has been critical of the the Jubilee government, ran by the son of the man he opposed and opposing the son of the man for pretty much the same reasons he opposed the man: corruption, social injustices, oppression, negative ethnicity, cronyism and empire building.
What is baffling are the reasons that Koigi gave for selling out to Jubilee. They are absurd and shocking. He claims he has seen the “light”. He says:
I have come to realize that I am fighting from a disadvantaged position because CCM was a small forum that could not make me achieve my goals.
I am not sure what he means by seeing the light. He would have to explain that himself.
There is no light in Jubilee. Only tribalism and dirty money. Very dirty money.
There is no vision beyond money and power and to say that going to “jubilee” is seeing the light is delusional. He himself has described Jubilee in terms that make his seeing the light claim look ridiculous. Asked in an interview whether Uhuru-Ruto alliance will bring about national healing he replied:
Absolutely not. How can an alliance of two communities unite the whole country? A lot of suspicion is still palpable among Kikuyus and Kalenjins, it is really a union of the two chaps at the top. On another note, the Jubilee win was ethnic victory.
People voted for it on the basis of tribes with the hope that it will bring goodies to their communities. It is a government of exclusion of others but inclusion of political allies. They have just appointed their cronies.
In the same interview, he describes himself as a media-man and warns:
Journalists should be the bravest and the best amongst us. They should be cynical and keep a healthy distance from the ruling elite, whom they are supposed to check.
It was a shame to see journalists fall over each other for photo opportunities and a hug from the President, literally sitting on each other and even openly soliciting for jobs. Agents of dictatorship within the media are pushing for the wrong side of things in the country.
One is therefore left asking: “So what has changed so that now he feels comfortable to join jubilee?”
Perhaps to answer this question, he goes on to claim to have been fighting from a disadvantaged position.
This is strange.
Koigi has always fought from a disadvantaged position. It is the lot of those who would bring change. Change is never mainstream. Those who would bring change must create alternative spaces to do so in the margins and in relative obscurity. This disadvantaged position has never stopped revolutionaries from achieving their goals. Martin Luther King warned that:
The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your [country]…there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic (sic), nor popular but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.
If Koigi knows Jubilee to be tribal, and a regime of exclusion, why would he join it because he is alone? Was’t he alone in the cells of Kamiti when he fought the political and biological fathers of the current Jubilee tribal overlords?
It is his expectation of his sojourn in Jubilee that is even more underwhelming. He claims that he will not surrender his ideological beliefs and will continue fighting inside Jubilee.
This had me shaking my head.
Either Koigi is not being honest or he is underestimating Jubilee. Mudavadi, who should know, has called them “political gangsters”, See http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000211496/mudavadi-trust-me-to-do-what-jubilee-has-not-done .
These guys stand for no virtue and no value. They stand for raw power and money and they have never claimed to stand for an ideology. They are not known for their intellectual prowess. Swimming in money and power, they do not think ideas and intellect are necessary. It is in that arena where Koigi hopes to spread the gospel of good governance, accountability and social justice. Comrade Koigi, we wish you luck! You will need it, and even luck may not salvage you.
My guess is that Koigi was persuaded by the tribal colossus that is Jubilee party that his only option is to join them. They are big, he is small. The old general calculated his chances, looked at the calendar, and decided to surrender. After 55 years of resistance, there was no heart left in the old general anymore. He has surrendered to the scions of his tormentors. They will laugh at him and humiliate him. In the end, it is they who will have the last laugh, and it is he who will have lost a legacy. I have a feeling that Koigi has gambled big time in giving his legacy of resistance as a sacrifice to the gods of ethnicity and impunity, for a last chance at the emperors table. And for the erstwhile general, this is a last toss of the coin, a last desperate act akin to the caged Samson at the temple after he had lost his hair. We all know how it ended for Samson.
As one of the last doyens of resistance in this country taps out, the question is: What next for the resistance ranks in Kenya?
While the old order of ethnicity, corruption and cronyism has renewed itself in Jubilee, the resistance ranks have failed to inspire a new generation of patriots to take on the Kenyatta-Moi-Kibaki scions who perpetuate their legacy of ethnicity, impunity and mediocrity. The country is in desperate need of a new breed of reformists, puritans who stand for something. Idealists who like the Koigi of the 70’s were not intimidated by the corrupt and brutal state machinery and its machinations. I wonder, like Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things fall Apart” – “where are the young suckers that will grow when the old banana tree dies”. The old general has capitulated to the sons of his tormentors, where are the young revolutionaries who will replace him?