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Ruto should have jammed to ‘Red Red Wine’ with Uhuru and Raila

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MACHARIA GAITHO

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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It was uplifting to see President Uhuru Kenyatta and his opposition ‘brother’ Raila Odinga jamming to the sounds of iconic British reggae group UB40.

Their attendance at the jam-packed concert until the wee hours of Sunday was a timely reminder that it is healthy to often take time out for R&R.

Politics in Kenya is too often a 24/7 preoccupation. Our leaders spend day and night plotting and scheming how to grab power or hold on to it. They are forever traversing the country on the high-octane political junkets.

Even when they take a break from the endless tours, it is often not to catch a breather but receive delegation after delegation of politicians out to cut deals and constituents begging for favours.

Let President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga letting the hair down — or what remains of it — to dance the night away to “Red Red Wine” and other classics be a message that there is room in this world for fun and games.

Those breaks are good for mind, body and soul.

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It should be a reminder that politics need not always be the all-consuming do-or-die affair, and that, indeed, there is life beyond public office or the quest for it.

This message should go out not just to their supporters in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) crusade but also the opponents across the bridge, led by Deputy President William Ruto.

Now, Dr Ruto might argue that he is too committed to public service to waste time on hedonism.

He is famously a proud teetotaller and it is likely that his entertainment preference is the church choir rather than loud reggae or rock music amplified by alcohol, cigarettes and possibly open puffing of some unapproved substances.

Dr Ruto is, of course, entitled to his highs of choice, but my worry is that the church sojourns — often marked by Kuria Kanyingiesque displays of large bundles of cash donations — are more often political than worship events.

Maybe the DP would have found more peace and calm at the UB40 concert than when surrounded by greedy preachers clamouring for his cash.

That was the place where he could have put all the political stresses aside and danced with wild abandon to the best of UB40.

That was the place where the whispers of fawning courtiers, political sycophants, juvenile activists, conspiracy mongers and hate merchants would be drowned out by the more edifying sounds of Britain’s greatest export since cucumber sandwiches.

The UB40 concert came on the same day Mr Odinga’s BBI campaign was desecrated by the primitive treatment meted out to Ruto supporters at a rally in Kitui.

The violent reception accorded garrulous Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen was a big blot on an initiative that claims to be an inclusive building of bridges to national unity.

Host governor Charity Ngilu, whom I have always deeply admired as one of the few women politician to rise to national stature by sheer force of personality, and the new Kiambu governor, self-proclaimed ‘Dr’ James Nyoro, played particularly shameful roles in inciting the crowd.

They are fortunate that things did not get out of hand, for they would have been held responsible in the event of serious injuries or fatalities.

A loose cannon like Mr Kuria, who can hardly deliver a sentence without crude insults laced with sexual and ethnic references, may well invite retribution upon himself but the treatment he received can never be justified.

Not, especially, when it can only invite counter-violence as some of Dr Ruto’s usual mobs are already threatening.

The bigger point here is that, if Mr Odinga looked on with folded arms as Mr Kuria and Mr Murkomen were harassed and humiliated, he must be held responsible for the thugs marring his roadshow.

This would be in keeping with the same principle by which Dr Ruto must take responsibility for looking on as rude acolytes at his campaign rallies utter incendiary expletives against President Kenyatta.

It would have been great if President Kenyatta, Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga together took advantage of the Saturday night concert to discuss bringing civility back to political intercourse.

They could have done so with some “Food for Thought” from UB40:

Ivory Madonna dying in the dust/

Waiting for the manna coming from the west/

Barren is her bosom, empty as her eyes/

Death a certain harvest scattered from the skies/

Skin and bones is creeping, doesn’t know he’s dead/

Ancient eyes are peeping, from his infant head. Politicians argue, sharpening their knives. Drawing up their Bargains, trading baby lives.



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