Credit: Daily Nation
The other day, I was on a KQ flight from Abidjan to Nairobi and the air hostess announced that our former Honorable Prime Minister was on board as well.
Somebody near me immediately squawked out “Haiya! We’re with a VIP?” and the people laughed.
I couldn’t help but feel bad for Rao. People either know you and mock you, love you and can’t help you, or don’t know you and don’t care. We landed at some obscure hour of the night/morning and he was quickly whisked away from the plane.
Then I started wondering why I felt bad for him.
For those of you born in a Post-Moi Kenya, Raila has had a genuinely bad time in politics. He was detained and tortured for 8 years without trial in the 80s for preaching multi-party democracy in a time when there was only one party. When he was released, he was still being given a hard time. I mean, you know things are bad when you run away to Norway. No offense intended to any Norwegians reading this, but I’m sure even you guys would run away to some place with sun if you were African.
Anyhow, he came back and became MP in 1992 and since 1997, he has tried to run for President. Not once. Not twice. Not thrice.
But four timesActually, yes. Thrice. And lost. Three time. The fairness of each loss is increasingly dubious, but the one thing you can’t glare over is that he lost. 3 times.
And that can’t feel good man.
Then from there, it’s the little details that I imagine have added white hairs to his head. He got robbed. And then got robbed again. And somewhere between the two robberies, he was denied entrance into the Airport VIP Lounge.
Come on. It’s flat out f**ked up that the former Prime Ministers of other countries can use our VIP lounge, but not our own. Heck, former diplomats, civil servants, army folk, all take a dump in there but not our Prime Minister?
As I was sitting in that plane, watching him be escorted away through the windows, I thought “Hold on, that’s not sad. It just seems sad.”
This man is a billionaire. Not million. Billion. And not one or two either. Tens and twenties, probably. Between the oil company and the bio-gas company alone, I’m sure he’s at 10 billion shillings.
And then you add everything else (like his salary, which he’s been collecting for 21 years) and his inheritance, because like I keep saying, politics is a hereditary disease and our government is family-owned and operated. Financially, he’s not suffering. Which is why I’m wondering why he’s pulling out the “I’m suffering card” while abroad. Yes, it is unfair, but it’s also exaggerated. He can afford to let his security guards use a car.
Yes, he should be allocated his dues, but methinks there are better ways to make his case without playing victim. Like just letting a PR team handle it and make sure the story gets printed minus him seeming like he’s championing his own cause.
He’s loved by many, respected by almost all and for those who don’t love nor respect him, they either fear him or can be squashed by his wallet. More importantly, he has no pending ICC case.
I’m sorry, but if I was one of the two main political candidates in the election that caused enough violence to hark the attention of the Hague’s pitbulls, and I hadn’t been caught, I think I’d shut my mouth and never complain about anything again. Anything else seems trivial, I’d think.
I empathize with the fact that he sleeps alone at home, and that his security guards can’t carry guns on matatus, but I think he should take the high road on this one and let the facts(or professionals that know how to spin them) speak for themselves. Talking about VIP and security guards makes you seem petty when someone could easily say “But you’re a billionaire.” I realize the general injustice is the main issue, but those two incidents have already been taken as the focus. When, really, focus is the last thing he should want right now. He should make as much distance with the past as he can, while he can.
Seeing as politics wasn’t really doing the guy any favors, he should be considering this a vacation. Take up a noble hobby like philanthropy.
If I were Raila, I think I’d be grateful I made it out alive and go around Africa doing Koffi Annanisms; shaking hands and hugging babies and being loved while raking in billions every time one of your trailers pulls up to a petrol station.
Oh, wait. He’s already doing that. Then the only thing I’d do different is NOT complain, let a PR team handle the press, and accept that life is pretty awesome.
After all, I could afford to do that.