Ali Hassan Joho was just the Governor of Mombasa until the weekend when climbing from his coastal town, Joho took Nairobi City by storm. His political caravan traversed the city with waves and pomp never before seen in Kenya’s capital city.
Joho came to town and paralyzed not only the ruling Jubilee Alliance party but also the muddled opposition Cord alliance. The country – all the country – has since been singing and talking about the “boy” from Mombasa who could be Kenya’s President.
Effect of Joho Rallies on Cord
Joho was in town to market the opposition leader Raila Odinga and the ODM party, the strongest of the opposition Cord Coalition whose other parts are Wiper Movement of Kalonzo Musyoka and Ford Kenya of Moses Wetangula. The leaders are the three principals of coalition among whom, it is expected, a presidential candidate will be selected to face the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and a possible array of other presidential candidates in next year’s elections.
While Ford Kenya and Wiper leaders have smugly sat in their tribal cocoons – Wiper in Ukambani and Ford Kenya in a section of Luhya land – ODM have been touring the country popularizing their manifesto and their leader.
The waves – the might and the splendor – with which Joho entered Nairobi, effectively set aside the Cord alliance,leaving Kalonzo and Wetangula high and dry.
Jubilee and Tyranny of Numbers
Jubilee – the ruling party of President Uhuru Kenyatta – was also paralyzed. The move was unexpected and from unexpected quarters. Hitherto, for Jubilee, it was a cut and dry issue that Uhuru would be President, come next elections. Political adviser Mutahi Ngunyi had taught them the arithmetic. The Kikuyus and Kalenjins who support Jubilee constitute the largest number of voters and therefore, using the so-called tyranny of numbers, they would always provide the President until when they were tired. It is something that President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto repeat; apparently unaware of the impact it has on other communities.
Now here was the “Boy from Mombasa” who does not work on this tyranny of numbers theory because Mombasa is one of the few places in Kenya where tribes do not matter and which no community in Kenya can ignore because of its economic power.
The timing was also bad for Jubilee who have yet to find a new locus following Uhuru Kenyatta debacle during the recent burial ceremony of the Maasai political giant William Ole Ntimama. It was a bad start for Uhuru who arrived to lukewarm welcome and was overshadowed by Raila who was welcomed with thunderous cheers and ululations.
Then came the speeches and Raila was cheered throughout his speech. He exploited the opportunity to score points for himself and the opposition. The standoff between the President and the opposition leader clearly showed that leadership does not need agile feet and hands, it needs wisdom and experience.
According to political analysts the issues Raila raised in his speech have created a dilemma for Jubilee, likely to puncture their campaign programs. Uhuru’s desperate and angry rejoinder ended with the now famous phrase in which Uhuru boasted that they in Jubilee would continue to eat delicious meat while others watch with their mouths watering. The embarrassing statement has been taken to be affirmation the depth of grip of the tyranny of numbers theory in the Jubilee party.
Signs of impact of these Jubilee failures were obvious when Joho entered the City. Jubilee hurriedly arranged a counter-rally which had much less attendance, drama and pomp and where speeches where just the old tired platitudes. Even President Kenyatta’s efforts to boost Jubilees weakening power with a tour of the poor areas of Nairobi City didn’t work. It was like the proverbial adding an insult to injury.
Joho has promised to spread ODM – and the country is apparently ready for fresh thought and impact. If what is happening is anything to go by, everyone is waiting.