Meet Kajwang’, MP for the constituency called Raila O
Published on October 25, 2007, 12:00 am
By Tony Mochama
It was not very nice of the true luminaries of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to leave poor Otieno Kajwang’ (Mbita MP, ODM MCee, X-LLB (2nd Class Dis. Hons) so long in the spotlight 10 days ago during their Kibaki Toka launch.
Spotlight? More like the hot sun of Uhuru Park, as the jolly clown from Mbita went about his duties with all the enthusiasm of a frog with a sudden rainfall.
Kajwang’ must have sang his solo hit mapambano about a dozen times as the 400,000-strong ODM throng waited for their Orange double-decker bus to State House to arrive before he was rescued by fellow noisemaker Bishop Her Holier-Than-Thou-Ness Jiggers-on-the-Fingers Dr Margaret Wanjiru (no doubt soon-to-be Professor) and her loud Pharisaic exhortations to the Lord to abide with ODM (does the Almighty vote or support one Kenyan party over another? Hmmmmmm).
Vijana musilale, bado mapambano, mapambano, mapambano, MC Kajwang’ sang until he sounded like a broken gramophone, or a scratched CD. That’s a completely redundant chorus for there’s no way anyone is going to kulala with such a racket going on.
Kajwang’ likes to sing and talk like a chatterbox — at great length with maximum prolixity. Just ask our poor parliamentary correspondents who have often been cornered at the tent in Parliament where Kajwang’ lurks, laying siege to journalists to give them his “side of the story” — and a piece of Raila’s mind.
From lawyer to lowly poet, from court advocate to court poet, Kajwang’ certainly cannot say he has had a “quiet and uneventful” life in his half century on the planet earth.
Not that it was an artistic call or soul that saw him leave the “sharp practice”, rather it was a phone-call from the Advocates’ Complaint Commission that preceded his being struck off the Roll of Advocates in the year 2000, although, weirdly, the man blamed his woes on then Vice President George Saitoti.
At least Saitoti’s Goldenberg cases, of which he was acquitted, involved billions. By comparison, the Honourable Kajwang’ was said to have done KCB, a client, out of Sh185,000, a petty theft really, and strange when one considers that MPs’ salaries, although not the prince’s ransoms they are now, were still a healthy Sh370,000 a month.
But that is Otieno Kajwang’ for you, a fellow said to usually be broke-for-no-apparent-reason, he who no longer practices (law) but preaches (Raila’s merits), preaches water, drinks wine (and hot liquors). A friend of mine called Clay once said Kajwang’ could not even buy an iced tea for him once. Parsimony as practiced on the purse strings of the non-pusillanimous.
Yes, Kajwang’ is certainly very outspoken when it comes to speaking out for his party leader, even more than for his own impoverished Mbita constituents. So much so that a foreigner, on hearing that Raphael Tuju is the MP for Rarieda, may say, “Oh I see. And Hon Kajwang’ is the MP for Raila?”
Kajwang’, assuming he is not just a learned friend but also well read (and I’m not talking song lyrics) may smile and quote Lenin in his defence. “We cannot be guided by the moods of the masses [of Mbita]”, and also quote Rudyard Kipling, winner of Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, a century before Doris Lessing won it this year, “No doubt but ye [Raila Odinga] are the people, your throne is above the King’s [His Excellency Mwai Kibaki]. He who speaks in your presence must say only acceptable things”.
Away from the poetic to the more prosaic (and what is more prosaic than money?) it was therefore surprising that the then LDP entrusted a prone-to-pecuniary-embarrassment individual like Kajwang’ with money to oil the palms of the supporters of an LDP candidate for Parliament. That was a brave one by LDP.
Now a smiling Kajwang’ swung voters’ slush cash and was captured on camera “bribing” them outside a church.
Expelled from the University of Nairobi in 1979 for leading a strike, Kajwang’ simply crossed over to Uganda, where he finished his law course at Makerere in 1982, the year of the attempted coup.
Not that Kajwang’ will ever abandon the good ship HMS Odinga. Fish in Mbita? Kajwang’s greatest outrage over the people he represents was when that clergyman turned politician, the Very Reverend Mutava Musyimi, made remarks about the CDF cash that Kajwang’ found not just irreverent but irrelevant. “He should stop making unnecessary comments about the CDF kitty”, Kajwang’ said, ticked off about Musymi’s complaints about the Fund.
Of course, in politics, the stomach counts for more than the brain, and it is a no-brainer to see why Kajwang’ wanted to protect his intestinal property [the CDF], although at times it does seem like many MPs’ thoughts originate from the colon as opposed to the medulla oblongata, as a learned man from Mbita may be wont to say.
Of course Mbita will remain in many Kenyans’ memories as the place where we saw some Kenyans fondling a GK vehicle early this year like prepubescent boys who have just encountered what Linah Jebii would call five-year-sucklers. When Raila was Roads minister, why did he not throw his perennial sycophant a by-pass or two? Only Lamu is allowed to operate with one vehicle, as the Official Land of Donkey Dung.
Cars haunt Kajwang’ like molasses spectres.
In his first term as Mbita Member of Parliament, (or when he was still a lawyer), Otieno Kajwang’, furious that Embakasi MP David Mwenje had questioned where he got money to buy a second-hand vehicle, laid siege to the midget. So that if Kajwang’ were to say “Can you dare repeat that outside of Parliament?” other legislators should pay heed and beware the bite of a toothless sssark!!
But Kajwang’s real May Day was that sad day in May when he lost LDP grass-roots elections. Shortly thereafter, Raila Odinga surfaced in Kajwang’s backyard and said: “Kwach onindo ethim gitong wuod nyanam koro mani uru lisasi gi bunde ma en kura gi kipande mondo ukonya lweny”, which roughly translates into something about a wounded leopard who must not be fought.
Master of platitudes
But Kajwang’ does not evoke images of a leopard. And when he said Raila was “horrified that friends can turn against him”, the man may have been referring to his declining fortunes in the Mbita area, salvaged from being savaged only due to his talents as singer and sycophant.
Kajwang has licked Raila’s boots so hard and so long his tongue has turned from pink to cobbler’s black. And when he grows up, he will surely be a master of platitudes even more eloquent than Oloo Aringo in his halcyon days.
But when he next sings mapambano, he may want to consider that the only kijana who has slept on the core job of being an MP is himself and that the only person he is wrestling, like Jacob in the Bible, is himself.