Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lunch with R & G

Yesterday I attended a corporate function (center picture) in Karen. I arrived late, and just as the vice president’s motorcade was leaving. After watching bodyguards jump into moving cars, Raila Odinga pulled Uhuru Kenyatta aside for a brief chat. They talked alone for a few minutes before Uhuru’s Mercedes pull up and he also left (did not know that the leader of official position uses a GK car) . Raila also entered an SUV and drove off, waving to the small crowd though his open window.

Later we walked to the Horseman restaurant for lunch to end the event we were surprised to find that all the politicians had also come for the lunch as well, and we seated at a corner table. As I sat there, I thought about the last time I had been this close to, and can claim to have had a lunch with, Raila.

It was in December 2004, also in Karen, the day Raila’s daughter Rosemary, got married in a huge wedding for the ages. It was huge with pomp, bling, money spent well – expensive but tastefully, and was attended by President Kibaki, former president Moi and thousands of others.

That day, I was very surprised to see John Githongo for the first (and only time) time in my life, as he walked in with President Kibaki’s entourage of the day.

Reading the Githongo diaries, we know now that it was a momentous day for Githongo as he had just before wedding, given the president another explosive briefing on the still underground Anglo Leasing scandal. And just over a month later, he was gone, resigned and in exile from the Kenya government.

And there they were that day celebrating with Raila the man who sways & seduces people, politicians and voters - and who has been a critical ally turned lethal foe for both presidents Moi and Kibaki. Rails was also a man who Kibaki’s people had been uncomfortable with almost to the point of obsession. The Githongo diaries are peppered with utterances where Kiraitu Murungi and other officials told Githongo that Anglo leasing funds were to be used to fight Raila at Bomas, their fears Raila knew all about Anglo Leasing was, that they needed Anglo leasing funds to build up a war chest to strengthen the president and contain Raila.

Fast forward to yesterday, many months later, when I also attened aKwani poetry slam in the evening. IMHO, the best reading was given by one Muki Garang who gave some nice def poetry performances. He also wore a t-shirt with John Githongo’s portrait.

John Githongo, who is alive, has joined a select list of people immortalized by young revolutionaries - such as Che Guevara, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, even 2Pac. Most of them died before their time, often at the hands of others. Yesterday was also the date when another icon, Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. He is not a t-shirt icon like the others, but he is recognized in a greater way with monuments, a holiday and is credited with the legacy of spearheading the drive to ending separation in America.

But sometimes when you reach a summit, the only place you can go is down - and the years have not being kind to some people e.g. Michael Jackson, Jesse Jackson and now Whitney Houston - who would all be called icons today if they had left the scene in the late 80's with their reputations intact. People would be talking about them in legendary status, wearing their t-shirts, and own tons of their memorabilia.

John Githongo deserves more than a t-shirt as recognition item - which is why he needs to keep evolving and adapting like Raila has done. Maybe Githongo should apply to become the next head of Transparency International in Germany or the USA or come back and be the next head of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. He has to keep plugging away, not just commenting.


kritik said...

thats a revealation- on githongo t-shirt that is...
am yet to come across any though.
in as much as githongo may have done the country a great service by exposing the scandals, am of the opinion that his chosen medium left alot to be desired.
i just hope he did not tape his conversations with the president. that would be very unpatriotic if not highly treasonable!
raila is a liar...says kwamchetsi makokha! i concur

Shiroh said...

Githongo's revelations humble but his intentions could be said to be suspect. I have been thinking about it and would be bad if Githongo was used by Raila.

Nice post

Anonymous said...

The leader of official opposition occuppies a position equal to that of a cabinet minister: from car to salary and all, except for the flag.

On Githongo, that was a nice post. He should like Raila ever evolve. then one day, we'll all start asking him to be Kenya's President.

Stunuh Jay said...

Whew! What a heady concoction, power lunch with powerful people. I gave up all hope on Kenyan politician. A true stateman there never has been and at my age I aint' holding my breath!

mashatall said...

wholly concur with you on Githongo, who in my opinion left his work half baked, just when we needed him to dig deeper and unearth the corruption that was being perpetuated by a select few in the Kibaki Govt. What he did kinda borders on treason, and i would also shudder at the thought of him having taped the president. cant acord him any hero status in my opinion, to methat was cowardice coz he didnt finish off his work.

gishungwa said...

I think Githongo deserves better than to live away form home like a prodigal son away from his family and those wo care about him. I think he did what had to be done and he didnt have nother option.. great piece on this guy and if i find his shirt am wearing it.

bankelele said...

kritik: First t-shirt i saw.

Shiroh: I don't doubt his intentions or methods.

Anonymous: Thanks for the flag tip

Stunuh Jay: powerful people queue at buffet line, eat with fork & knife, and go to the bathroom like us.

mashatall: My point is he can't stop there and be satisfied with what he has done, but am ok with his recording others since "no one would believe him".

Gishungwa: Hopefuly he'll get some gigs soon, maybe TI again. I need to start a t-shirt printing business

Anonymous said...

John Githongo is a traitor plain and simple...he did not only betray his colleagues, who are BY THE WAY still innocent until proven guilty...and have asked for investigations to be carried out. Lets be patient and wait for the results of the investigations.

In my book he is a sell out and the biggest coward. I would not wear his t-shirt if you paid me to. Not only did he run away but he pretended that his life was at greater threat than Evans Mwai, the AUDITOR GENERAL who he says in his report was also "threatened"...but GUESS WHAT, he kept on working and has just produced an audit report submitted in parliament yesterday. He also revealed the names of the investigators at KACC whos names I forget. If his life was at threat, and he was simply an advisor, what about the guys on the frontline of the investigation whos names he dishes out happily in his trashy DIARY. ALL OF THEM ARE STILL ALIVE and getting on with their lives IN KENYA!!!!!

You are right about one thing... his days are numbered. The guy has told the biggest fairy tale of the century. Lets see how fast his STAR falls once it is clear how pumped up his story was.


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