Tension had built up in the run-up of the all-important announcement. The country had been kept guessing who might be the chosen individual to be the AZIMIO coalition running-mate. It had long been concluded that Raila Odinga would be the captain of the ark architected to float the hopes of Kenyans across the Mediterranean to Canaan, but the seat of the deputy coxswain remained vacant.
Names had been mentioned. A dozen of qualified candidates for the position had been interviewed for the position. Among the contenders was the Iron Lady of Kirinyaga, Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth the former Gatanga MP, Ali Hassan Joho the current governor for Mombasa, former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, MP Sabina Chege and others.
On the other camp, the Kenya Kwanza, a long gestation that lasted at least seventeen hours had finally birthed a Rigathi Gachagua, the Mathira MP, a former DO, and focus had now shifted to AZIMIO. Who would it be? Speculations were rife that it could be Martha, the former Gichugu MP and former minister for justice and constitutional affairs under the Kibaki government, but again it could be anyone else, especially factoring in the reality, that in the game of politics, not all cards are kept on display for all and sundry.
Pundits had opined that the mountain vote, a moniker for the votes from the 11 counties that formed the former Central Province and the Kikuyu community in the diaspora, combined with the Embu and Meru votes, is critical in this election and this made everyone believe that the running was to be chosen from the house of Mumbi. But who?
Finally, the day came and a multitude of enthusiastic supporters congregated outside KICC for the announcement. Leaders jetted in one by one, among them those who had participated in the interview, save for the WIPER parry boss, former VP Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka also seen as a front runner for the position, who gave the event a wide berth.
When Raila’s turn to speak came, he began by announcing to the crowd which ministerial position had been allocated to those who had sought this running mate position. As the reading proceeded, by way of elimination, it was now possible to conclude that the coveted seat had been reserved for Martha Wangari Karua.
The waiting ended when the AZIMIO party leader announced that Martha Karua was the coalition’s running mate. The crowd went wild cheering the appointment with ululations. In her acceptance speech, Miss Karua evoked memories of her days with Raila and others, in the multipartyism activism christened the second liberation, the agitation that ended KANU’s three-decade grip on power.
Kenya had her independence, when the wind of liberation swept across Africa in the early 1960s, bringing to a screeching halt, almost a century of imperialism, officially known as colonialism. Unfortunately, the independence, as it also happened in most parts of Africa, turned out to be a pseudo, with the liberators of the people, slowly and steadily mutating into ruthless tyrants, practicing absolutism.
The country and by large the continent appeared to have swapped colonialism by the European intruders with that of the natives. The country had new oligarchs in town muzzling democracy and freedom of speech, subjecting Africans to underpaid labor, very akin to slavery, and subjecting Africans to the same indignity they suffered under the colonial administration.
The trend spread across the continent and the population that was optimistic started becoming disillusioned anew. There was a need to liberate the people from the native colonialists. Remember, colonialism remained very lawful a form of disenfranchisement, akin to apartheid that was in South Africa.
Kenya’s first regime, that of Mzee Kenyatta began on a very wring footing, with the famous ‘kikuyunization’ of the state, and the first government by the natives invented, land grabbing, corruption, nepotism, and political assassinations as new pandemic affecting the population and stagnating development. Moi, Mzee Kenyatta’s successor had sworn to follow Mzee Kenyatta’s footsteps oftentimes referred to as ‘nyayo’, in essence assuring the country that he was likely to escalate the atrocities that mitigate them.
There was a need to liberate the country anew. As much as others found nothing wrong with the regime because the perpetrators were from their communities, others chose to fight the dictatorship in a long bloody war referred to as the second liberation. The regime couldn’t want to hear anyone oppose their autocratic ways and it reacted ruthlessly; forced exiles, detention without trial, torture by the state agents at the famous Nyayo House torture chambers etc. The video of Rev Njoya being beaten like a rice thief in Ahero, which happened in the days, is chilling.
Among the list of those who persevered against torture, declined to be compromised, and faced the wrath of the regime, were Raila Odinga, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Kiraitu Murungi, Gitobu Imanyara, James Orengo, George Anyona, and others. The most known female in the rank and file of the group that comprised MPs, young lawyers, university lecturers, and students, etc., was a young a lawyer called Martha Wangari Karua, who was the most visible lady in the movement that culminated in the amendment of the constitution to allow political pluralism that allowed political competition.
Two decades after the restoration of the multipartism system, with a youthful population largely ignorant of the political struggles of the nation, the country had forgotten its former dark days until Raila appointed Martha Karua as his running mate. This appointment brought together two leading lights of the agitation for pluralism. The reunion of the duo, with other players like Kiraitu, and Dr. Mukhisa on the same side saw a new wave of optimism begin sweeping across the country, as it was captured by the TIFA poll, released on a few days ago showing Raila the Azimio candidate who had been struggling from a distance from previous polls, zoom past his opponent, Wiliam Ruto of Kenya Kwanza, to settle at 39% in compassion to the former’s 35%.
It became very evident that Martha Karua, who performed dismally in her own bid for the presidency had breathed a new life in the campaigns of Raila Odinga. The tough-talking daughter of Kirinyaga, described as ‘the only man in the PNU cabinet’, who represented the Gichugu Constituency for over two decades, has found favor with the voters who believe her record as a crusader of social justice and defender of the rights if women, puts her high above other politicians who may have wished to be named to the position.
A few days of campaigns in the mountain region and it isn’t difficult to conclude that she has found her way into the hearts of the people, going by the masses that attend her political functions, dubbed her homecoming. Martha was born in Kimunye village in Gichugu in 1957, attended Mugumu Primary School and Kiburia Girls, before joining the University of Nairobi law school where she trained as a lawyer. She has previously served as a magistrate, a minister for both water and justice and constitutional affairs.
Martha has brought a clean pair of hands easy to tell, from the many palms up there in the hierarchy of power, oftentimes as itchy as a caveman’s dandruff, and her appointment is bound to reverberate far across the political strata.
By: Channel 54 News Political Pundits
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