Posted November 13, 2011
By Samuel N. Omwenga
I don’t profess to know every article Prof. Makau Mutua has written all of his life but none could be worse than his article in the Nation about the recent incident in Kisumu.
I am not just saying this for the sake of saying it; in fact, anyone who follows me as a blogger would tell you my preference and style is to simply point out why an article or writer is wrong but I do not and cannot recall anytime where I have said someone has written the worst article, even in cases I thought they clearly had.
I usually leave that for the reader to come to that conclusion as they should.
I have made an exception here because Makau has gone way beyond being wrong to actually penning what in my view amounts to a conspiracy article and by that I mean, there is more to this article than Makau’s usually eloquent but nonetheless wrong on the issues articles.
Before addressing the specific “issues” Makau raises—and I put the word in quotes because these are non-issues—and I may not even bother to address them as they are non-issues, let me first point out why Makau’s article is the worst in his life and perhaps the worst article ever to grace these fora and on the ground:
It is the worst form of argument and therefore not befitting a serious person with any formal education, let alone an intellectual to make up facts and then go on make unquestionably eloquent arguments for or against those made up facts.
Makau has just done that, namely, made up facts and then gone on to make an eloquent case why the object of his piece looks bad under those made up facts.
This is not even a case where one may assume certain facts for the sake of making an analysis complete and neither is it even a case of postulation and hypothesis for the sake of argument, or even predictive analysis which by definition can only be speculative on the basis of known facts.
This is flagrantly and shockingly at Makau’s level of intellect making up facts but even equally worse, ignoring known facts!
Let’s start with the known and indisputable facts Makau has ignored:
First, long before the recent Kisumu incident involving some politician claiming to run for president, Raila made it clear that any politician is free to campaign anywhere in the country.
The PM even has gone as far as publicly acknowledging and addressing the false perception first propagated in 2007 that, if he were to be elected president, Luos would not pay rent or bus fare and took this issue head on this time around when he addressed a funeral of the father one of his aides and warned Luos not to act in any way that would encourage such thoughts or false beliefs.
If Raila is concerned about the perceived flousing and arrogance of the Luos, or the so-called “Luo factor,” does it take a genius to figure he would not condone anything worse?
Makau Mutua would want us to believe so but the reality and fact is, mere common sense is good enough to figure that out.
Even though it goes without saying, violence has no place in our politics, or anywhere for that matter, the PM reiterated this very fact just the other day when he said violence has no place in our politics and that doing so undermines all the progress we have made as a democracy.
Second, the very constitution Raila fought tooth and nail to have passed guarantees freedom of movement and association and a number of politicians seeking to challenge Raila for the presidency have, in fact, peacefully traversed the former Nyanza province without incident, which goes to say that’s the norm than the false and alarmist insinuations Makau Mutua is peddling in his piece.
Third, in order to fully understand the import of this fact I am about to put forth, it is necessary you remove Raila from the picture: What happened to Tuju would have happened to him regardless of whether Raila is running for president or not and here is why:
In November, 2005, and against all counsel given to him, Tuju intentionally made a trip to Kisumu that resulted in deaths and injury of innocent victims caught in the crossfire, including a young girl at a nearby private school.
The injured included another young man from a nearby Polytechnic who was rushed to the hospital with his intestines hanging outside his body by a witness known to this blogger.
These deaths and injuries need not have been had Tuju heeded the counsel given to him about the visit.
Indeed, prior to the 2005 incident, those opposed to Tuju’s presence sought but were denied a license to hold a separate rally away from the stadium by the local police who were obviously working with Tuju and his mission.
The people of Kisumu placed the deaths and injuries of their loved ones on Tuju therefore his return to the same spot without even as a prior effort to make amends would have caused the same reaction from the people regardless of whether Raila is running for president.
In other words, the enemies Tuju has in the area have nothing to do with Raila but everything has to do with the deaths and injuries of their loved one thy put squarely on his feet and blood on his hands.
To have also said at the time he was ashamed of being Luo, added salt to an injury that is still sore.
This is not to say anyone condones the rock pelting of Tuju and his entourage but a pointing out of how reckless this man is and how he puts his selfish interests first than those of the people he claims he wants to represent, let alone their concerns.
Fourth, it is the responsibility of the Minister for Internal Security to ensure the safety of all Kenyans on security matters within our borders. Yet, to read Makau Mutua’s piece, one would come away thinking that ministry does not exist for Makau never mentions it even once in his piece!
Finally, but not least, Rafael Tuju is not a serious presidential contender as even he would admit, if he were to be honest but he is just another wannabe more in this presidential race for reasons that have nothing to do with even a remote potential to be elected president but everything to do with yet another scheme to stop Raila from being elected president that neither Raila nor ODM is concerned about for he is doomed to fail.
These are the facts Makau Mutua ignored in his piece, which alone make his piece the worst; but there is more.
Makau Mutua leaves the impression by insinuation in his article that either Raila or ODM or both are opposed to Tuju running for president.
This is a clever way of making up a fact which does not exist!
Neither Raila nor ODM has said or even would bother to say that Tuju should not run for president; in fact, the opposite is true and that is, Raila has repeatedly said he welcomes opposition to his bid for the presidency and is on the record saying he doesn’t fear competition because “the more candidates, the merrier it gets.”
Ignoring this fact while creating his own that somehow Raila or ODM do not want Tuju to run for president, Makau Mutua goes on to invoke the constitution, thus elevating his fake argument to that significance by rhetorically posing the non-question, “Doesn’t Mr Tuju have a democratic right — just like Mr Odinga — to seek the highest office in the land?” and barreling downward on this logic, Mutua declares, “I must have missed the article in the Constitution that forbids two Kenyans from the same tribe competing for the presidency.”
And as if to drive this non-point home, Mutua informs us all that “Nowhere is it written in the Constitution that only one person from Luo Nyanza — Mr Odinga — can seek the presidency.”
I hope you have not lost track of where this started: The wholly made up “fact” by Mutua that Raila or ODM does not want Tuju to run for president.
This is what is known in logic as the Straw Man argument: set up a false premise, destroy it in argument and then declare victory.
That’s not something I would expect from someone like Prof. Makau Mutua but there you have it, and goes to support my conclusion this is the worst piece Makau has ever written and probably will.
Makau next tees up his next several arguments on this proposition: “The unruly and intolerant conduct of Mr Odinga’s Nyanza “supporters” smacks of dictatorship, and must be nipped in the bud. I offer four incontrovertible reasons why so.”
Neither Raila nor ODM condones what happened in in Kisumu the other day therefore whether it smacks of dictatorship or whatever else is irrelevant for as Raila has repeatedly said, there is no space for violence of which “unruly and intolerant” is a subset of and in that regard, nothing further should or could be said about that, unless Makau has something else to be said, which he does and what that is, in the form of his “incontrovertible reasons,” is actually a series of innuendos intended to besmirch Raila and here is why:
While acknowledging Raila’s reform and democratic credentials, and specifically that Raila has “fought and suffered — more than any other politician alive today — for the rights that Kenyans enjoy,” Prof. Makau nonetheless goes on to insinuate that Raila would even as entertain the thought of enjoying the fruits of this sacrifices at the exclusion of all others.
“[Raila] didn’t fight for those rights to enjoy them alone,” Mutua declares, adding, “that’s why he must defend the right of every Kenyan to seek elective office” and that “must, in particular, include Mr Tuju.”
It obviously goes without saying that Raila has never said he must enjoy the fruits of his struggles at the exclusion of all others and neither is that possible, even if he wanted to.
But does that simple fact prevent Makau from insinuating otherwise?
By the way, why is it that Raila “must in particular” include Tuju in his defending the right of Kenyans to seek elective office? What makes Tujus special from everyone else seeking elective office?
Makau says, “Mr Odinga mustn’t allow himself to be seen as winking at barbaric attacks on Mr Tuju. If he does, he’ll lose his moral claim on the presidency.”
This is a proposition that all us, including Raila, would agree with 100 per cent.
This being politics we are talking about, however, let me introduce two propositions that would render this otherwise apt proposition inapplicable and therefore irrelevant to consider in the context of the following propositions:
One, suppose it is true, as alleged, that Tuju organized for his entourage to be stoned? What bearing does that have on anyone in condoning or not condoning the conduct? Are we then not talking about a question of moral equivalence as opposed to a clear moral mandate in the case where this proposition is not true?
There is no question political gamesmanship and trickery does not preclude such a staging being a possibility and unless one can be satisfied to a degree of certainty beyond any doubt, I would not exclude such as having been the case.
I was visiting home one time when I saw in the news that an old friend, Omingo Magara’s house gate had been fire-bombed and when I heard either him or someone saying he was being targeted by ODM, I could not help but laugh, asking someone I was watching the news with, why on earth would ODM want to harm Magara? Who is he?
I told my friend Magara either had personal enemies who wanted to harm him, or he had staged the whole thing to gain some publicity.
I would not rule that out in this incident involving Tuju either for it is as practically possible as any can be but being a man of peace, love and unity, I would certainly condemn it either way for we do not need violence at all in our country or anywhere but Tuju would get the lion’s share of the condemnation in that case.
There is, however, a different proposition which can be consistent with Tuju not having staged his own stoning but yet raises the same moral question and that is, suppose it was neither Raila/ODM nor Tuju but Raila’s enemies who staged the stoning to advance their agenda; does that give everyone pause as to why this does not make sense, namely, what Makau is insinuating about Rail and ODM viz this incident?
It should and above all, it should give pause to someone like Mutua before penning such an article which may otherwise rightly leave others wondering the article itself is not a part of such a scheme.
Prof. Makau argues that “Mr Odinga’s condemnation of the attacks on Mr Tuju would strike a blow against tribalism.”
The stoning of Tuju, staged or otherwise has nothing to do with tribalism.
The incident could only be argued to be an aspect of tribalism, if it involved a candidate other than a Luo and no amount of tortured logic is going to change that fact, including the professor’s argument that “tribalists believe that only one person from each “tribe” should contest the presidency.”
You can replace all Luos with a village of white aliens or blue people from space and Tuju would still remain an irrelevant man at the national scene and hated locally for the reasons stated above, if all other circumstances remain the same.
Indeed, the fact that a community would prefer to field one candidate in by itself is not tribal neither is it confined to where you have tribes.
Here in the US, for example, you hardly ever have more than one serious candidate seeking the presidency from the same state on the same party and certainly, there has never been a presidential bout involving residents of the same state in modern races.
The last time that happened was in 1944 and before that it was in 1860, 2904 and 1920.
Again, my point is, a community demanding or having only one serious presidential candidate from a community is not by itself an aspect of tribalism but one of practicality and optimization of chances, which is separate and distinct an issue from where a community decides to back only their own at the exclusion of candidates from all other communities, which is tribalism per se.
Makau’s call for Raila to specifically mention Tuju in his condemnation of violence as somehow adding some value to his [Raila’s] stance against violence and tribalism is wholly and completely misplaced.
Ditto for Makau’s rambling about Kalonzo Musyoka and Ngilu which I can only say Makau was trying to make a point about Kamba politics which fits nowhere in his made up facts and analysis.
He should consider penning an article specifically intended to make that point, whatever it is.
Makau says, “Mr Odinga must repudiate Mr Tuju’s attackers to show that he’s a strong leader who is unafraid of challenge.”
Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, there is absolutely no reason Raila should single out Tuju and defend his right to campaign without violence anywhere in the country more than he has.
When Makau says, “leaders who egg on their supporters to pour vitriol on competitors or physically molest opponents betray an underlying weakness,” he is obviously insinuating that Raila would egg on his supporters to “pour vitriol” on his competitors when that’s as far from truth as one can imagine.
When Makau says, “Those who would use violence to suppress opponents don’t believe that they can win a straight and fair fight” he is stating the obvious besides once again insinuating that Raila would do such a thing.
He can’t and doesn’t have to.
In perhaps the most revealing of Makau’s assertions, he says, “Mr Odinga and ODM claim to be the party of ideas and change,” which is true, but goes on to add, “If so, why panic and resort to political skullduggery and street thuggery?”
In just that one sentence, Makau has told us that (1) ODM is in panic and (2) has resorted to “political skullduggery and street thuggery” when neither is true in any way!
This is simply unbelievable but just as it is possible for politicians to stage “attacks” on them, it is equally possible for a writer to pen something like this which can only fool the uninitiated and unwary.
Again, one would expect someone like Makau to pause before publishing such an article which may otherwise rightly leave others wondering if the article itself is not a part of an unfolding but perhaps now thwarted scheme.
Professor Makau poses the question, would “Mr Odinga’s “supporters” molest critics and create a republic of fear were he to become president?”
Raila himself has advised his supporters not to conduct themselves in a manner that encourages others to be concerned about what will happen when he becomes president, that type of general characterization of people regardless of individual preference and character being an aspect of tribalism to begin with.
Be as it may be, Raila doess not need Makau to lecture him about that and neither does ODM the party for they all know better.
Raila need not necessarily condemn the Kisumu incident beyond what he has said or by specifically mentioning Tuju’s name in order to “convince Kenyans that he won’t condone dictatorship.”
Makau’s use of the language to “convince Kenyans that [Raila] wont condone dictatorship” is yet another loaded assertion that relies on wholly made up “fact” that (1) Kenyans believe Raila will be a dictator and (2) that he needs to convince them otherwise.
False and shamelessly so coming from Mutua.
While it’s true there has been some exaggerated “concerns” about a Raila presidency, including the now almost comical that Luos won’t pay rent or pay bus fare, the reality is, such is nowhere near as widespread a concern as Makau would have one believe and certainly Tuju is irrelevant in how Raila addresses the unfounded issue, which he already has and am sure will continue to even beyond when he is elected and sworn as president.