Raila to unveil book on his vision for Kenya

The quest for Nationhood book by Raila Odinga 10/7/17(Beverly Musili,standard)

 

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The quest for Nationhood book by Raila Odinga 10/7/17(Beverly Musili,standard)

The National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate is set to unveil a new book detailing his vision for Kenya.

The Quest for Nationhood: Roadmap to Our Future is a pocket-sized 125-page book written by Raila Odinga himself.

The book details “how Kenya can recover lost ground and achieve prosperity for all”. In essence, it is the independence history of Kenya.

Raila says he wrote the book for Kenyan youths who were not there during the country’s defining moments and for the elderly who have either chosen to forget or whose memories have faded.

The NASA chief called the book a guide for young Kenyans to help them know, love and serve their country.

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The Quest for Nationhood explores ideas on how to fix the economy, strengthen nationhood, protect devolution and end corruption.

Historic moments

It is an account that captures the former prime minister’s memories of historic moments in Kenya’s political development.

For Raila, the years between 1966 and 1969 were the most difficult for Kenya as the country changed for the worse.

A year into independence, the Kenya African Democratic Union party dissolved and joined Kenya African National Union (Kanu) making Kenya a one-party state.

In between, Jomo Kenyatta and his vice president Jaramogi Oginga Odinga parted ways, with the VP resigning. In 1966, Kenya People’s Union (KPU), was formed after 29 MPs, led by Jaramogi, joined the Opposition.

The move led to “the little General Election of 1966” when a strengthened Kanu quickly amended the Constitution so that all MPs who crossed the floor had to seek re-election. The 1966 election turned out to be the last multi-party polls before 1992 – some 26 years later.

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The author revisits the introduction of the Preservation of Public Security Act in 1966, which restored detention without trial. He says this law was worse than the colonial one.

Colonial law

“The colonial law depended on declaring a state of emergency, which the Government had to periodically seek the Legislative Council permission to renew, whereas the post-independence Act gave the President unlimited personal powers to detain people without trial – whomever he wished, for as long as he wished,” he says in the book.

The first victim of this law was the late John Keen, who was then the Kajiado North MP. His crime appeared to his calls for an East Africa Federation.

The book also highlights postponement of the 1968 election because of the stiff competition Kanu faced from KPU.

It also talks about the so-called Kisumu massacre after which the entire KPU leadership was detained and the party banned. This was followed by the assassination of Tom Mboya.

Raila says the damage inflicted between 1966 and 1969 affects Kenya even today. For instance, it was not until 1997, about 30 years later, that the revising of the draconian Preservation of Public Security Act and similar laws began.

He then moves into the ’90s and concludes by stating there was no difference between Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi in terms of autocracy.

Election violence

“Both preserved and served the system as the colonial governors before them,” he says.

Raila tackles another ogre that threatened Kenya’s survival during the same period – election violence – concluding that “the hand of the State was visible in the pre-election violence in both 1992 and 1997.”

He describes the short-lived National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) era, the betrayal of the memorandum of understanding and the disintegration of the first grand coalition government. He also talks about the Anglo-Leasing scandal and attempts to derail the quest for a new constitution.

Raila says Narc could have survived the violation of the MoU, ethnicisation of the State and the scandals.

“What it could not and did not survive was the attempt to subvert the new Constitution,” Odinga says, and concludes: “Had Kibaki legitimately won the 2007 General Election, the status quo forces would have regrouped and we would not have the Constitution we have today.”

Cling to power

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He takes a sympathetic look at the 2007 elections and wonders what was really at stake that made former President Mwai Kibaki seek to cling to power at all costs.

He revisits the switching off of power at Kenyatta Internationa Convention Centre, where votes were being counted, the storming of the venue by security officers and the shutting down of live broadcasts. Then the abduction of the chairman of the electoral commission and the hasty swearing in of Kibaki at State House, away from the public and under cover of darkness.

Raila says the independence Constitution did not tackle the difficult political questions that needed to be resolved and merely worked around them. This included the issue of the Coastal Strip, which had been given in 1966 to the Kenya colony on the basis of an agreement with the Sultan of Zanzibar.

The Somali question, which began with the splitting of the Northern Frontier District (later called North Eastern Province) into two, led to an uneasy situation that gave way to the Shifta war. 

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