Roy:Of Kenya’s major political figures, you are the only one who established a political base in Nairobi and took spectacular risks with it first when you resigned from your Ford Kenya parliamentary seat to run on an NDP ticket and then in 2007 when you ran for the presidency, exposing yourself to the possibility of possible presidential success on one hand and parliamentary failure on the other. Yet you have never quite been able to shrug off the tribal chieftain tag. Explain.
Raila: You see, politics has a lot of propaganda. Sometimes, propaganda is stronger than the truth, than the reality. There is no politician in Kenya who is more urbane than myself. One, as you know, I grew up in Kisumu, which is a town, and also in Nairobi here. I went abroad and then settled in Nairobi in 1970, and I have been living in Nairobi all these years barring the years when I was in detention. And I chose to play my politics from here.
There was a lot of pressure on me to go and run in Kisumu when my father was running in Bondo and I said ‘no’, I will make my base Nairobi. This is where I live, and this is where I know the people.
And I also wanted to work with the poor people (of Lang’ata). I said, I know these people and these people trust me and this is a multi-ethnic constituency. It has helped me to understand other communities in Kenya.
See, in the past people have come with the assumptions that Kikuyus will not vote for me in Lang’ata; they have always been shocked and surprised. In 1997, I ran for the Presidency, and you will see there is a difference between my presidential votes and my parliamentary votes by over 6,000. I got more parliamentary votes than Presidential. Why? The 6,000 are the Kikuyus who voted for me as a Member of Parliament but voted for Kibaki as President.
Sometimes they talk of rents, and say, ‘Oh, people are not paying rent’. You see, in a place like Kibera, it is fairly cosmopolitan.
The problems are faced by all the poor people who live there – the Kikuyu, the Luo, the Luhya, the Kamba, Nubians – are all speaking the same language. So, when I speak, I speak on their behalf. I cannot champion the interests of any one group. Their problems are common.
I have chosen to represent Kenya rather than go back to a safe rural constituency because I don’t want to fragment Kenya and I wanted it to be a catalyst to unite the people. That’s why I have been saying that I am the bridge between the past and the future.
Look at now, for example, these last elections. Look at how the votes were; I got votes from Nyanza, Western , the whole of Ukambani area, the whole Coast, Upper Eastern, the Maa community – they voted MPs elsewhere but presidential votes went to me – the Turkana, the Teso.
So you can see the difference, they have the parliamentary majority, but the presidential votes came to me. You look at my opponents, basically from their communities, from their base. And if you look at Western, there was a candidate running there.
But if you look at the kind of votes he managed to get compared to what I got … If you look as well at the votes I got in Central and Rift Valley, where Jubilee got the majority, you’ll see that I am the only person who had the complete geographical spread of the votes across the country.
Q:Jubilee supporters were apprehensive that the Mutunga Court, as it came to be called, would be biased against them, given the Chief Justice’s sentiments towards you as he has expressed them in the past. But the court returned a unanimous verdict against your petition. There was no dissent. Now, every person who knows him will honestly say Dr Mutunga is incorruptible. So he was convinced about your loss. Have you lost a friend?
A: His conscience will disturb him. Ordinarily, it would not be a unanimous verdict. Each and every judge should write their verdict giving their reasons for it. For example, at The Hague, you had one dissenting judge and he recorded why he was dissenting; those two who were of another opinion, also wrote their judgment.
This is the most important case that the Supreme Court has handled since it was formed, maybe the most important in another five years to come. Some of them will be retiring at that time.
They should have at least had the courtesy to record the judgment individually – each person says because of ABCD, I dismiss, because of ABCD, I dismiss, not just to come there and say, we agree ABCD, yes! ABCD, we agree, yes! Yes! Yes! Then say that we are going to give a detailed judgment in two weeks’ time. Then when the two weeks come you are not ready on a Saturday, Monday, you are not ready and on Tuesday when people are assembled in court and you have invited them, they are expecting that you are coming to read a judgment and this was something that was so important for the country. Only for them to come and say “we are signing”. So obviously, it was something that they are ashamed of, or afraid of their own judgment. Now they are even correcting certain areas.
To me, it was a shame and I’ve said that people make mistakes; we say mistakes are human but I don’t know what went wrong, but I’ve mentioned earlier that stakes were too high, that blackmail could not be ruled out, apart from other methods of persuasion (laughs loud and long).
Q:As election returns have shown, millions of people believe that you are both qualified and deserving to be President. In the face of a third failure to achieve your objective, some are now talking about your being constrained by a primordial obstacle, that it hasn’t got with how much you try or how sincere you are. It’s simply unattainable. Address this issue of destiny, faith and philosophy.A: I have never been superstitious. When it reaches the angle of fate (starts laughing and almost doubles over with mirth) no, no, these are the beliefs of people who are basically superstitious, people who believe in supernatural powers to do ABCD (still laughing). I am a scientist and I believe in a scientific world outlook, I believe that nothing happens just because it has happened or is preordained to happen; I believe that something only happens when there are efforts to make it happen.
I also don’t believe there is anything impossible in this world. I believe that things are possible. But I also want to say that it must not necessarily be Raila; like now, I am not even saying that I am going to run again because that is too far-fetched now. We have just come from an election. I am always willing to support somebody else.
The last time we went for a nomination and if I had lost I would have supported somebody else. I came up with Kibaki Tosha and people thought that I had committed political suicide. Many told me that Luos could not vote for Kikuyus, but I said, ‘I’ll show you.’ And I convinced them.
More Luos than Kikuyus voted for Kibaki. In fact, James Orengo was a presidential candidate at that time and Kibaki got more votes than Orengo in Ugenya. It doesn’t always have to be Raila, I can support another candidate.
Q:Your physical energy is legendary. You have always been here, there and everywhere at the same time. How do you feel now? Excuse my phrase, how much gas do you have left in the tank?
A: (Laughs loud and long, rocking in his chair) Oh, oh! The spirit of the people, that’s what keeps me going. It is the spirit of the people that buoys me, it is this spirit that drives me. I am a servant of the people. I am propelled by the people’s spirit.
When the people say, let’s do this, I get the courage to move on; it is just not the physical energy, or the material energy. You see, I faced very great odds in this election. We were running against a team that was materially very well endowed (again laughs loud and long). It was like the battle of David and Goliath. But all the time I get the courage to move on because of the people.
Q:Your son, Fidel. Do you envisage a political role for him and what form could that role take?
A: You see I do not propose to prescribe a career for my children. My father did not bring me into politics. I came into politics by choice. It is Fidel’s grandfather, Jaramogi, who gave him that name.
Right now he is a businessman and he will find his level. If in future he wants to be in politics, even my other children, they are free. They want privacy, but all the time the media wants to pry into their lives. (Laughs).
You see, they have been saying, or there have been allegations, that I have put my relatives in government and so on. Which relative of mine is working in government? There have been a lot of unfounded allegations. It’s only my sister Dr Wenwa, who is a Counsellor in America, in LA. And I was not even consulted when she was being appointed. She was a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi, and any Kenyan is free to express an interest in a job.
She was interviewed and found to be suitable and so she was given that appointment. I think she initially wanted a job at UNESCO but they took her to LA. But she is also a Kenyan. If you are in government, does it mean that now it is a crime for any of your relatives to be employed anywhere else in government? You don’t call that nepotism.
Q:Finally, do you think you would be President were it not for the ICC?
A: (Laughs throughout the answer). Your guess is as good as mine. Arh! ICC, to these people, ICC was a matter of life and death. You know, everything had to be done to ensure that they have this shield. This is like the shield – the Presidency and the Deputy Presidency; for them, it is a shield. That is the bottom line. That is where we are. (Keeps on laughing).
Quotes from Supreme court judges are ashamed of their judgement
Quotes from Supreme court judges are ashamed of their judgement