You Will Never Guess… But They’ve Got It Wrong Yet Again…
There is great anxiety amongst many quarters in Kenya at the moment as to whom the Americans may be backing for the presidency after their Mwai Kibaki honeymoon ended rather unceremoniously with unprecedented blood-letting in Kenya.
If truth be told the Americans contributed a great deal in provoking the post election violence in Kenya by failing to read the mood on the ground and blindly assisting Mwai Kibaki to steal an election in such an obvious manner. It is on record that the World Bank continued to do business with the corrupt Kibaki government days before the elections and their point man, World Bank country director Colin Bruce not only boasted that he knew who would win the presidency, but he even put his sentiments in writing (remember the leaked memos?). This is behind a backdrop where polls showed a close race and one that favoured ODM’s Raila Odinga. The truth on the ground was that at no time was the presidential race in Kenya last December, close. Actually Raila had a very convincing win, bordering on a landslide as even the flawed results showed because he won 6 out of the 8 provinces very decisively indeed. But all that is now water under the bridge.
Any keen observer in International politics will quickly tell you that American foreign policy has really never succeeded anywhere. From Iraq to the mess they have created in neighboring Somalia by orchestrating the removal of a stable Islamic courts government when they had nothing feasible to replace it with. Power abhors a vacuum as any high school history student will tell you.
And the list of American failures in Africa goes on and on.
But nowhere is the consistent and spectacular failure of the Americans’ foreign policy more fascinating than it has been in Kenya.
They started off backing a brilliant young politician called Tom Mboya. Mboya had such influence at one point that it is said that he was easily able to access President John F. Kennedy any time he wanted. The shrewd Mboya on his part milked his relationship with the Yankies to the limit. For instance the famous airlifts to the US enabled hundreds of Kenyans to study in American universities. One of the famous beneficiaries of this is current Internal security minister Prof. George Saitoti.
To date theAmericans have never gotten a better bet than what they had in Mboya. All they had to do was to be just a little careful and lie low and wait and voila, they would have seen their man safely inside State House.
But alas, they still managed to botch the whole thing and made numerous mistakes and many analysts including Kumekucha believe that had TJ gotten his backing from the Brits instead, he would still be alive today and Kenya would be a totally different country.
The mistakes Uncle Sam made with Mboya are the very same mistakes he’s still making to date. The American’s arrogance and superiority complex does not give them the patience to study the situation on the ground more closely and think things through. Or better still, to seek opinions from those who may know. They also seem to have this belief that anybody who can’t string together a few good sentences in English is not intelligent and that persons who can speak the damn language with an American accent are extremely intelligent. This unintelligent approach led to one Daniel arap Moi running circles around the Americans for 24 long years. But I will come to that in a moment.
The Americans failed to correctly analyze the political developments in Kenya where despite Mboya’s immense intelligence, he was making enemies too fast as the young Kenyan nation hurtled towards independence. They totally ignored the less than fluent Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (father to Raila) who proceeded to casually lock Mboya out of the presidency by insisting that Jomo Kenyata be released before independence. The Colonial government at first flatly refused, but later reluctantly accepted. That was the end of Mboya because he could not dare oppose Kenyatta’s release or his ascension to the presidency because it would have meant him losing his Nairobi constituency for good. Most of those who enthusiastically voted for him every time were Kikuyu (Kenyatta’s tribe). Later the Americans failed to see that Mboya’s assassination was bound to happen. Even after a failed first attempt on the Economic Development Minister and Kanu Secretary general where a policeman fired into his empty Mercedes Benz, they failed to take the necessary precautions.
When President Kenyatta died rather suddenly and unexpectedly in August 1978, the Americans like everybody else were taken by surprise. Still they could not hide their delight. They were sure that this time they would get their man in the seat of power because the two front runners to succeed Kenyatta, according to them were both “friends of America.” Mbiyu Koinange was the front runner according to the American state department and second in line was the late president’s nephew, a Stanford educated medical doctor turned politician called Njoroge Mungai. Indeed the influential Time magazine published an article where they echoed these sentiments. The Americans completely ignored the Kenyan constitution and the man who had been running the government of Kenya for years, one Chrales Mugane Njonjo. Meanwhile the Brits had already done their homework and moved in quickly to reassure a frightened and overwhelmed Moi that with their backing he would not need to fear the Kikuyu so much.
What followed was a 24 year Tom and Jerry (I love that classic cartoon) battle between the mighty Americans (Tom the cat in this case) and the humble former herds boy who never saw the inside if a high school, called Daniel arap Moi (Jerry). At the height of the battle, millions were poured into the campaign of one Charity Ngilu with the American hoping to replicate what they had helped happen in the Philippines with Mrs Corazon Aquino, where she swept into the presidency. It failed badly and Ngilu could onmlyu manage a distant fifth position behind the winner Moi, Kibaki, Raila, and Wamalwa Kijana. Moi outsmarted the Americans every inch of the way.
In exhaustion and completely sure that Moi was invincible, the Americans threw in their lot with Moi’s project, Uhuru Kenyatta in 2002. This time they must have been double sure that ythings would go their way. Yet again they failed to read the mood of the Kenyan voters and their determination for change in Kenya.
Now after their failed honeymoon with Kibaki the Americans are said to be supporting Raila Odinga to succeed President Kibaki. Surprise, surprise, yet again they are ignoring the very fluid political situation in the country at the moment. Acvtually klenyan politics has never been as slippery and unpredictable as it is currently. NEVER.
The truth is that even as you read this there is a possible storm brewing within ODM which could easily come to the surface after the announcement of the grand coalition cabinet within the next 10 days or so. There are those ODM supporters who while supporting the grand coalition are not happy about Raila warming up to President Kibaki too much. Some are nervous that it may be a PNU plot to isolate and then divide ODM pentagon members in preparation for moves in future that would be aimed at completely scuttling the unity of the most popular political party in the country.
Then there is the fact that Kenyans seem be increasingly gravitating to a new generation of leadership that is more sensitive and in touch with the needs and aspirations of the people. Indeed the odd silence of the British in this matter should be a clear signal that the Americans may be yet again backing the wrong horse.
Other quarters would put it thus; whatever horse the Americans back, no matter how good their chances of winning, suddenly end up being jinxed out of the race. So based on this past record, the same might just happened to Raila. Only time will tell but if Raila does succeed President Kibaki, it will be the Yankies first success ever in Kenya.
P.S. Just as I was posting this article I received news that a group of Kalenjin MPs within ODM came out today to demand the equal sharing out of the ODM cabinet posts between the Kalenjin on one side and the rest of the communities on the other.
P.S. 2: Kumekucha is in total support of reducing the term of office for the President, Parliament and civic seats to 4 years and a maximum of two terms ONLY in office. So even if somebody rigs themselves in as is the habit, they can only impose themselves on us for a maximum of 8 years. Some MPs have been in parliament so long that they believe the seat is their birthright. Just ask Americans what they would have done if President George W. Bush had been in office for two terms of 5 years each…