Despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s no-show for the presidential debate on Monday at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Karen, there were still some interesting moments in the two-tier live broadcast.
Here are the 10 things that stood out:
1. The wives.
When four of the men running for president appeared for the debate, they also inadvertently revealed their wives to the public.
Ida Odinga said: “I have always helped him where I can. I believe he is prepared for this debate and the future.”
Michael Wainaina’s wife, Dorcas, told of how she had initially laughed off the idea of the former university don running for the highest office in the land.
“At first, I laughed it off. Then he gave me his manifesto, and I said, huh? Truly, I see you have made up your mind, daddy,” fondly calling him “Daddy.”
“The one that warmed my heart the most was his proposal of a women and youth development bank.”
Prof Wainaina’s son said: “My father is a very peaceful man. He is caring and wants to invest in the youth to give Kenya a better future.”
Ekuru Aukot said that he had married his wife, Wanjiru Mathenge, “to end tribalism”, saying that it had led to a union he called “Tukuyuz.”
Japheth Kavinga Kaluyu did not come with his wife.
2. Joe Kaikai?
Mr Odinga caused laughter when he repeatedly referred to NTV boss Linus Kaikai as Joe.
Mr Kaikai was moderating the debate with his KTN counterpart Joe Ageyo.
“I think we should have introduced our positions. I am Linus and my colleague on the left is Joe Ageyo. But we understand, with a little of makeup we might look alike,” Mr Kaikai had to explain.
But even after the explanation, Mr Odinga still called Linus, Joe.
3. Odinga on Waiguru: “I would have Magufuli-ed her.”
It is no longer news that Mr Odinga had ran a sustained, almost personal campaign against the former CS, now a Jubilee governor candidate, attacks that largely contributed to her resignation from her powerful role.
Mr Odinga believes that Ms Waiguru was shielded by the Jubilee leadership, claims the former CS has furiously denied, saying she was the victim of a political witch-hunt, insisting that she was actually the whistle-blower.
At the debate, Mr Odinga claimed he had been vindicated, and that if it were him, he would have taken action, taking a cue from Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli, who has been widely celebrated for his austerity and stance on corruption.
“I called Waiguru on NYS. They called a press conference and told me to leave that lady alone. When evidence later emerged, the Deputy President went to a church in Githurai and said that lady should stop speaking too much English.
“That she should have answered. For your information, that lady is the Jubilee governor candidate for Kirinyaga,” Mr Odinga said.
So what would you have done, Mr Odinga? He was asked.
“If it were me, I would have taken action, Magufuli style. I would have Magufuli-ed her,” he said to laughter from the varsity auditorium.
4. Dr Aukot: A benevolent dictator?
A former chief executive officer of the Committee of Experts that drafted the 2010 Constitution, Dr Ekuru Aukot, born in Kapedo, Turkana, said Kenya had been derailed by bad manners and it needed some lesson on discipline.
He termed as betrayal the fact that even with a 1963 promise to fight disease, poverty and ignorance, Kenya, in 2017, is still battling cholera in the city.
“What Kenya needs is a no-nonsense leader, not necessarily a dictator in the sense of this word, it is somebody who can say: ‘This is the direction we can take, and we will not tolerate bad manners and theft . . .’ You want a leader who will not tolerate certain bad mannerism. We have become such an undisciplined country,” said Dr Aukot.
5. Tallying centre in Tanzania?
The Mr Odinga-led National Super Alliance has insisted that it will set up its own tallying centre for the elections, with suggestions that it could be in Tanzania.
The Tanzanian government has denied that President Magufuli is interfering in Kenya’s election by supporting Mr Odinga, while also dismissing claims of a tallying centre.
In the debate, Mr Odinga skirted around the issue.
“Our tallying is to compare our results with the results of those of the IEBC. So, why should somebody be worried about a tallying centre even if it is in Germany, US or the moon? Why should it be a security issue? Unless somebody intends to rig!”
Pressed further, he said: “We have a tallying centre in Kenya, in Kenya. And in the cloud!”
6. Odinga and granddaughter
When he walked into the auditorium, Mr Odinga was accompanied by an unlikely person – his granddaughter.
Mr Odinga, who came with his wife Ida, daughter Winnie and son Raila Odinga Jr, chose the heart-warming moment for the young Sophie.
7. Prof Michael Wainaina’s search for “our goat”
The former Kenyatta University lecturer said that corruption should be treated as theft of money, and its first cure should be to reject both Jubilee and Nasa, which he said represented the status quo.
“Fighting corruption with the tribalists in Jubilee and Nasa, it is not gonna happen. My father uses an interesting phrase: Unatafuta mbuzi na wale walikula. Wenye walikula mbuzi yetu, ndio tunatafuta na wao. (We are looking for our goat among the people who ate it),” said Prof Wainaina.
8. Dr Kaluyu to be a Matiang’i on steroids?
Independent candidate Japheth Kavinga Kaluyu – who insisted on being called by his three names – vowed to realign the Kenyan education sector, saying he will borrow from his experience living in the United States.
“When it comes to education, I will do major reforms. You think of (Education Cabinet Secretary Fred) Matiang’i? I will be Matiang’i on steroids!” he said.
Dr Matiang’i, now also acting as Interior CS, has been celebrated for bringing sanity to Kenya’s education sector and restoring the integrity of the national examinations.
9. Was Raila tired in the second part of debate?
After the break, he preferred to sit rather than stand at the lectern.
“They (the organisers) are the ones who asked me to sit. I had been told that I would stand for the first half of the debate and I would sit for the second half.
“Chairs were provided for both candidates. That was meant that you talk when you are standing and the second half you sit down,” Mr Odinga told journalists outside the auditorium after the interview.
10. Did Dr Kaluyu betray his colleagues?
At the debate, Dr Aukot termed as dishonest Dr Kaluyu’s move to have his running mate Muthiora Kariara turn up for the debate, after what he said was a letter signed by the fringe presidential candidates not to turn up for the discussion.
“I have a plan. Muthiora Kariara was coming to say it. He should tell the youth to follow the law,” he argued.