Africa is a continent blessed with enormous beauty, nature, and incredible opportunities. However, it is equally synonymous with ups and downs. It can be a place, where the word “surprise” means nothing because the everyday life of an average Africa is an epitome of surprises. More than that, Africa has become a continent of skepticism and distrust. The citizens hardly trust their elected leaders who constantly disappointed and lied to them for the personal aggrandizement of the leaders. That makes one wonder whose interest these leaders stand for – the interests of the citizens who voted them in on the promise that the leaders would bring positive changes in the lives of the citizens or the personal interests of the leaders who use, milk and dump the citizens after being voted into offices? Your guess is as good as mine.
African leaders come and go. They never fail to leave a remarkable blueprint behind – from corruption to dictatorship, bribery, nepotism to sit-tight leadership, to mention just a few characteristics. Likewise, the opposition and political agitation have become a norm in Africa. Of course, Africa has experienced, formidable oppositions who did their best to make big positive changes. Mandela of the blessed memory and others. However, more often than not, the continent has constantly experienced opposition, who portrayed themselves a saint only to eventually become reminiscent of all the odds they criticised in their predecessors and for that matter, a mere opposite of all they promised to deliver. The typical African Animal Farm story, indeed. The situation has become so rampant that many Africans have lost hope in their opposition leaders simply because they believe they are not better than the “devil” they criticize.
We have heard the rhetoric of oppositions in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda (are you still counting?). Yes, some of these opposition leaders might have genuine intentions for the citizens, but most Africans have learned to be skeptical and suspicious of them simply because once bitten, twice shy. All lizards lie on their stomachs, as such, it has become increasingly difficult to know which of the lizards has indeed, a stomach pain. Oga Robert Mugabe was once a die-hard freedom fighter, who fought the White minority rulers to a standstill. Mugabe wanted democracy and rule of law in then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The uninterrupted rule of the White must stop; Zimbabweans must be given the mandate to rule democratically, Mugabe once insisted. The rest is now history after Robert Mugabe was given the mandate to rule his country and change all he criticized in the White rule. What of dos Santos of Angola? Was Jacob Zuma of South Africa better than former President Thabo Mbeki, he systematically engineered and sent into a political wilderness? What of those who claimed that the biggest problem in Africa is that leaders overstay their tenure of office? Did they keep to their words and avoid the same mistakes they long criticized?
The situation in Kenya is not only interesting; it has made some believe that there is a special bond between the opposition and the ruling party. Don’t ask me the name of this bond. Do I look like a priest or pastor who does baptism? Could these guys be relatives? Ahaa, are there secret marriages amongst the families? Secret marriage indeed. Others call it political maturity. Yet, some categorize the political situation in Kenya as one of those “normalities” in the African political landscape. Yes, those surprises that have transcended into normalities and formalities. Once upon a time, there was (you mean “is”?) Raila Odinga, the National Super Alliance leader, who was President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political nemesis. Ask me what Odinga did not accuse President Kenyatta of. What of those die-hard overzealous followers of Raila Odinga? Die-hards? Don’t’ even go there. Didn’t Julius Malema once vow to kill or die because of his beloved President Zuma? Beloved? You love to hate Zuma! What is Mr. Malema’s stand now? Let’s hope he will not repeat the Zuma’s mistakes and all he has accused former President Jacob Zuma of doing.
Back to Kenya, some of these followers of the ruling party and opposition alike are now victims of political fights between opposition Raila Odinga, and President Kenyatta. They paid with their lives supporting one camp or another. After the repeat of the Presidential election, which the opposition boycotted, alleging lack of transparency and undemocratic norms, Raila Odinga held up a Bible as he swore himself in as the ‘people’s president.’ The ‘people’s president’ indeed, even though the act was labelled a treasonable felony and the opposition group termed “ criminal group.”
The questions many have asked are, why did the ruling government fail to arrest or persecute Raila Odinga after declaring himself the ‘people’s president’ in an election he refused to participate if the government in Nairobi really believed his act was a treason and the opposition a criminal group? That is not all. Now that both the opposition and the ruling party have entered into a political marriage, is the new-found love based on the need to find a lasting solution to the problems in Kenya? Or is the political flirtation aimed at the political aggrandizement of certain politicians? How best can an average Kenyan benefit from this new political romance and “maturity” between the ruling party and the opposition, the National Super Alliance?
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance need to seriously prove to the Kenyans and the world as a whole that both the opposition and the ruling party can work together for common goals. Yes, the common goals of the citizens who voted for the two leaders to bring much needed positive changes in the lives of Kenyans. President Kenya and Mr. Odinga must act quickly and decisively to achieve this noble task, otherwise, history will not judge them lightly.