VP Kalonzo has lived up to his political soul
Published on February 14, 2008, 12:00 am
By Robert Chutha
Service is the true mark of leadership. The worldview that service is superior to power is perhaps what is most lacking in local leadership. That is perhaps what was most unique about Kalonzo’s campaign slogan — “The People’s Servant.”
But according to Mr Dominic Odipo’s Monday column, the Vice-President has lost his “political soul”.
This may well be so, within the narrow confines of Odipo’s definition of a political soul. Allow me to redefine a political soul in light of the current post-election spirit. The spirit of those who have seen the damage that loyalty to political fraternities, clubs, and other high-flying associations can generate when it takes precedence over national loyalty to the country and the people.
From today on, “political soul” shall be defined as one, which accepts the way of service, rather than seeking the way of power, nollens vollens. “Political soul” shall be that which puts national interests before perceived personal grievance. I mean a soul that seeks to build the country and its people, rather than to destroy.
One possessed of a political soul, shall be an individual whose service is to the national interests first, rather than to fiefdoms, fraternities, or any other superficial grouping. Such an individual will be alert and sensitive enough to the needs of his country that he will rise to the occasion promptly and begin the work of building what needs to be built and rebuilding what has been destroyed, even as others collect themselves in difficult times. He will recognise that there is no time to waste because economy, trade, and the serious business of educating children waits for no man’s ego. He will be fluid enough to change and mold to the needs of the country, rather than requiring that the country change to adapt to his sense of greatness.
There can be no denying the truth of Odipo’s sentiments that political power is not always a factor of the realities on the ground, but about the perception of those realities. Perhaps Henry Brooke Adams articulated it better in the nineteenth century, that “politics as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organisation of hatred.” The perception some may wish to perpetuate, that the Vice Presidency has diminished Kalonzo, will eventually be disproved by time because history does not misjudge, even if it takes a century.
Truth be told, had it been an ODM government that picked Kalonzo as Vice-President, he may not have been painted in Monday’s column as a man who has lost his political soul. Fortunately, the Vice-President’s resilience, such as we know it, will not allow him to be deterred from his path as he has declared it all along – as the people’s servant – not the servant of the ODM fraternity, as Odipo would have it.
It seems that Kenyans have moved on from petty party politics to finding a path to peace, rebuilding, and getting Kenya and Kenyans back to normalcy and on the development path.
Mr Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga turned the tide with the first handshake and their committed engagement in dialogue that may soon, for all we know, result in a government of national unity.
Anyone on any street in any Kenyan town, and every single soul confined to a camp for the dispossessed will be quick to clarify that anyone who is working to put this country back in order, regardless of their political party affiliation, is a friend of Kenya.
Welcome, Odipo, to the new Kenya.
The writer is a Nairobi-based social science researcher