This would be my attempted objective look at Peeling Back the Mask. Reaching the level of objectivity herein was a true struggle. I have never approached a piece of literature with such preconceptions. It was admittedly hard since I have in-built preconceptions against the Author (Miguna Miguna) for a while.
Reading Miguna’s article in the aftermath of confirmation hearing, then, he was a columnist in The Star, I found it bizarre, that Miguna, a senior official in the office of the PM would use a language that bordered “foul” in his criticism of Hon. Ruto and Hon. Uhuru and their entourage during the ICC confirmation hearings. Miguna then was incredibly petty; I think he was celebrating the predicaments of especially, Uhuru and Kenyatta.
Miguna then termed Uhuru as an intellectually docile person who had never been above average in class and termed Ruto a political adolescent. This was disrespectful in the least. But on another scale, I thought it jeopardized the continuity of Coalition government and was a disservice to ODM since it was peeling the last strands of association between Ruto and Odinga.
Miguna later wrote an article critical of Isaack Hassan then, the chairperson then Interim Independent Electoral Commission. The country was then almost unanimous in its applause of Isaack’s performance during by elections and the referendum. The office of the PM through his Chief of Staff, Caroli Omondi sought to clear that Miguna’s writings were his opinion and not representative of the Office of the Prime Minister. Miguna would later allege that he wrote everything at the behest of the PM.
This occurrence appeared to cement rumors milling the media that senior persons at the Office of the Prime Minister were embroiled in power struggles.
I hold that our criticism of leaders should bear in mind our national realities. At the time of Miguna writing such profanely, emotions were running with impressionisms that Odinga had orchestrated the ICC process. For Miguna, then seen rightly as Raila’s voice; to smile at the six Kenyans in ICC was politically burdensome to ODM. If it were up to me, I would have fired him then. He was politically had outlived his usefulness and regrettably in such a short time.
Certainly Miguna is hugely intelligent, his work, even other literal work carries a lyrical prose enviable by any writer. A man, who has found a footing to have a multi-million residence in the Runda suburb after being a poor asylum seeker, deserves credit.
When he opines, on governance, policy and his pan Africanisist holdings, you will admire Miguna. I loved his vivid contributions as the constitution reform process unrolled itself to completion. Miguna is certainly a scholar, an enviable intellect.
Reading Peeling Back the Mask, I still think Miguna was fair to his master, Odinga and to whom he will remain loyally bound till death. The Miguna I was accustomed to would have been even louder. I expected him to go beyond revealing speculative Raila’s sexual escapades and hearsay. He did not, this could be for two reasons; he still retained a delusional thought that he could mend fences with his master or he never had anything beyond the snippets he generously bloats in his book.
If you read Miguna’s book, you will understand him. I find him honest, entirely honest. In fact, Miguna offers me a lesson I would never forget in my life, your past can unravel itself into your future with such concise resonance. He is combative both intellectually and physically just like the Nyando plains stratified him.
I, born when the chains of Moi’s totalitarianism had ebbed, would be ungrateful if I fail to salute his contribution to the second liberation, albeit short lived. A man capable of standing up to the sighs of death for a belief is worth applauses. It is this regard that makes me restrained in criticizing Kiraitu Murungi, Willy Mutunga, Raila Odinga, Martha Karua, Koigi wa Wamwere, Gitobu Imanyara and their likes. I relish the freedom of thought, I enjoy it and I know I owe it to them, they defied complacency.
Before opining on the Book, I think Miguna is justified by all means, natural or our laws to opine, and so are his critics, and so is I, who is writing this. In fact, just like my great friend Charles Wafula, Chair Youth Initiatives Kenya, this guy coincidentally shares two names with my late dad: I like people who write things that touch on national interests. I like reading biographies and autobiographies. They help chronicle the journey this country has travelled, the pitfalls it has avoided and the roles played by different people. I don’t like people who don’t write. This is the tiff I have with Mzee Kibaki. I really hope he gets to write before he departs. This is the ‘sin’ I will need grace to forgive Kanyotu, who, having being the spymaster for Kenyatta, Moi and even Kibaki, went to the land of his forefathers without leaving behind even a stick-it note! Am thankful to those who have been able to write, people like Moi, Jaramogi, Githongo, Nyachae, Kiraitu, Joe Hamisi, Koigi, Ndegwa (1st CBK Governor), Kalembe and of course Raila in his book An Enigma in Kenya’s Politics, in which he also reveals some ‘funny’ things about other people. Thanks Miguna for writing. I really love your prowess in lyrical prose.
Equally, I know that those adversely mentioned have a right to reply and even take Miguna to Court. They are not obliged to take bashing laying low. And when you have ambition, like Raila does, he has a right to respond to the allegations. If he chooses to respond in silence or through his agents, I do not know. Miguna, in his words fired in the air, I trust that never empted his barrel, he should aim, aim at the heart and pull the trigger. Kenya is waiting.
My response here may be riddled with my own preconceptions, I have lots, but I have endeavored to be strictly objective.
One thing we all need to agree on, is that the book is about Raila Odinga. I was disappointed when Miguna while on TV denied this and tried saying it was his memoirs. I guess Miguna forgot what he wrote in the book. “That Raila was the motivation of the book, and that his intention was to (hopefully) show the deception that Odinga has all along been.
I have my “beefs” against Miguna. The incorporation of his personal struggles in such a sensationalized memoir has robbed him a chance of being a sincere motivation to other Ja’Nyando’s. I love his struggles. The man never saw his father. I guess I know the feeling, growing up never to have a father pat your back.
Living with an uncle and pulling a plough in the thick of the morning and later, being clubbed to near death. Few, arise from this abyss of nothingness into advising the PM. I wish Miguna had written his story before, or separate of this political murkiness he lumped himself into.
Is Miguna bitter? Yes he is.
Does it matter?
No it does not.
Miguna, I guess wrote this book with several things in mind. Primarily he intended to annihilate Raila’s political supremacy through alienating him from what he thought were Raila’s strong pillars, secondly appease his ego and thirdly probably profiteer from the sale or the rage that will follow thereafter.
Reading through the book, I was tempted to believe Miguna was not writing the book for Kenya. In his description of his origin, culture and escapades, Miguna paints Kenya as an illustration of failure and sustained pretence.
I would love to believe he wanted to be conscious of his non Kenyan audience, that is why you will find writings like …Luo, the tribe which I come from… in his writing, but it tells of what he anticipated a market out of Kenya. Every Kenyan knows Miguna is Jaluo (I gather there is a difference between Luo and Jaluo) and so does all Kenyan know what kalongolongo is. If he were writing for Kenyans, I doubt if I would have seen this: Katolo is what the English call hop-scotch. Peke is a throwing game … and there is nothing wrong with that.
I have no way of ascertaining or disproving Miguna’s claims. I believe though the book is mixture of truisms and falsities in equal measures. I will comment on what my mind is clear on and recede to my subjectivities when judging what I do not know.
Attempts to annihilate Raila:
Miguna paints Raila as a man with an acute deficiency in organizational capacity. He cites several scenarios when Raila popped up into great occasions without speeches. He could be right. This was in public knowledge of the publication of leaked cables by wikileaks; (Miguna refers to this in his book) allegedly Orengo and Sally Kosgei noted that their boss was near dysfunctional when it came to matters organization. Whether the bloated incapacity is true according to Miguna; that will is matter of judgment.
The above is something I have held too as a person. When I fronted this in a discussion with an aide to Raila’s political advisor, he told me, Raila did not establish broader structures around his office as it will be scrapped off in the ultimate.
When I read Miguna’s analysis of the pre 2007 ODM nominations and situation, I thought he openly lied or was a distant contributor who did not have a proper comprehension of the ODM maneuvers. His allegations that Odinga rigged the nomination are false. This is based on two things, after Kalonzo’s departure it was clear that Raila would be the de facto nominee of ODM. And while there were nominations at Kasarani, the truth is that there weren’t.
Indeed it was stage managed, Balala conveniently stepped down for Raila but for instance the number of votes Ruto got did not match the delegates from Rift Valley. It is understood he, Ruto, conveniently asked a section of delegates from Rift Valley who would have sided with him to back Raila. Raila subsequently had the backing of Nyanza, Rift, Coast, Eastern, Central and a bulk in the western delegates; he did not need to rig.
Unfortunately, this early lie may haunt the rest of his book as almost everything he later discloses is either founded on; “his keen observation”, ‘someone telling him’, ‘someone confiding in him’ or ‘his eavesdropping of a conversation’.
Miguna appears as a person who understands Raila well. He knows the premier enjoys a great international backing, a fanatical support from the Luo community and Raila’s reform credentials attract him to a dissection of liberal electorates.
Miguna paints himself as a Luo betrayed by Raila and goes on to illustrate that Raila does not value other Luos save for his close family members. For instance he writes; when he sought a contract or placement on the government payroll, Raila told him – to his face – that he couldn’t be hired because he was a Luo. Being a Luo suddenly seemed to have become a crime for Raila (this is in reference to a Luo journalist seeking a contract at the office of the PM).
In quick succession he writes:
Ironically, when it came to his siblings, family or relatives, Raila conveniently
forgot that they were Luos; hence the formal employment of Oburu (assistant
minister, elder brother), Akinyi Wenwa (diplomatic post, sister), Beryl Achieng’
(board chair, sister), Ruth Adhiambo (personal assistant/MD Spectre, sister),
Rosemary Akeyo (personal assistant, daughter), Fidel (personal assistant, son) and
Raila Junior (personal assistant, son), Jakoyo Midiwo (chief whip, cousin),
Elkanah Odembo (ambassador to the US, Jakoyo’s brother in law), Carey Orege
(permanent secretary, cousin), Joe Ager (Kenya Power, cousin), Paul Gondi
(chairman, geothermal authority, cousin), James Ogundo (CDF board, cousin)
and many, many others.
Any person who has miniature understanding about the operations of the Odinga family will know for instance that Raila junior is greatly detached from his father’s political life. While Fidel and Rosemary actively participate in their father’s public life, Raila junior is detached concentrating on his personal advancement.
I would suppose, it is good to here to touch on some personal information. While Miguna alleges that since Raila taking office his children have been able to buy houses in expensive neighborhoods, this cab rebutted with such ease. For instance, in the run up to 2007 elections, the Raila junior was involved in a mini accident in which his BMW collided with the vehicle of another prominent Kenyan when coming from clubbing escapades. As such, these kids started driving top of range vehicles before the father became the prime minister. Raila junior for instance, as a slit into the young Odinga’s own empire, bought Safaricom Shares during the 2007 IPO exceeding 52 million Kenya shillings. This was when his father was out of government and not a PM
What for instance is wrong with Ruth running a family business. Specter International is not a government body and it is a common practice for family members to run family businesses.
Miguna is a politician, ambitious as such and he even fancied taking the Luo kingship mantle from Raila. He sacrificed for Raila as a way of realizing his own ambition. His book betrays rage, rage that all his sacrifices were going down the drain. Miguna admits: …There are personal, as well as ideological reasons, that people will devote their energies to helping others get to power. At its most rudimentary, they expect a “thank you”, and if possible, an opportunity to be considered for employment…
When Raila gave him a job, he was willing to keep quiet; when he fired him he blasted. Miguna is an angry man, but as I said it does not matter.
Miguna displays an amazing lack of judgment to the extent that he is a contradiction of himself.
When he started his book, he rightly says he is incorporating himself because to understand why he was writing; his readers could not divorce his person from the context. He seems to me here, as appreciating that his writing is suspect, but justifiable or excusable by his person.
The Miguna who he introduces us to is a boy who ran out into darkness and away, requested for a lift from a stranger and endured 8 hours night journey to run away from physical abuse; A man who resisted the allure of visiting the state house when money flowed from it. Miguna is supposed to be a man who is incorruptible, incapable of enduring graft.
But here, he supposedly meets Caroli ferrying 54 million in cash, Golden berg money, yet his heart is still blindfolded. Raila refuses to tell him thank you after coughing over $48,000 yet he trusts he will change. Raila refuses to act on the Maize and triton scandals yet he continues hoping and this hope vanishes immediately after being fired?
Why would Miguna blast Raila’s response on Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV), but he never extended his briefings to agencies mandated to fight graft. When the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission was investigating Caroli and Isahakiah after the President suspended them, why didn’t he extend the information to the investigation agencies? He gives a wide berth to these investigations in his book.
I imagine Miguna will ask me the question he has peddled around emotionally; so should he have kept quiet, no he shouldn’t. But the fact that his timing is telling, and the fact that he is not Christ the Nazarene means we have to question what he says. Is there a possibility that he lying? Yes there is.
Miguna’s disappointment with Raila is his own creation; he invested his hopes in Odinga and immortalized a man. He apparently placed himself at the beck and call of Jakom, sweetened and polite Jakomoing of his response to Raila, Jakom this, no jakom, jakom that: shows that Miguna saw Raila as a deity, as his own salvation, not Kenya’s and his is a sincere expression of disappointment.
Why would I suggest that Raila is Miguna’s deity? I keenly watched the guy after being fired; he lamented, Raila, he had paid Raila’s business class ticket, served Raila, Fought to the ground Raila’s imagined enemies, wrote Raila’s speeches, Raila came before his wife, He would book a flight when Raila called, stop packing and join jakom.
Strangely, Miguna cannot claim he did this because of the struggle. He is an ambitious man. He wanted to go to parliament and knew the easiest way was Raila. He, Miguna was an assumed Luo warrior, coming back from the Diaspora to size down other tribes. After all, Luos had been maligned and subjugated, and in his own words, his and the thoughts of other Luos elites was that they could endure Raila’s high handedness as long as the community’s interests would be served betrays the ideals he stood for.
Miguna rudely discovered otherwise. He ranked low in Raila’s priorities. What Miguna discloses, unconsciously I believe, is the fact that his involvement in Raila’s affairs was fueled by a possibility of jakom holding his hand to the corridors of power. Raila did, according to Elsderkin, after persuasion. Miguna almost supports this in his book. When Raila, failed, when he failed to consider him, for even AG, and strangely Miguna is not qualified to practice in Kenya, he has not attended the Kenya school of Law and later fired him, his was a rage of a man betrayed by his deity.
Another falsity in the book is about Miguna’s unassailable supremacy at University of Nairobi. While it is true that Miguna went to exile, that he was a finance secretary for about a week, that his team made bread available in large quantities, his description of Nduma Nderi (the chair of SONU) used to urinate in his trousers during campaign rallies is an outright lie according to Wafula Buke , who took over the reigns of SONU after Nduma.
RAILA’S MISTAKE “ALLEGED OMISSION” NO COMMISSION
“Raila never raised a finger to help Hussein even though such a policy was clearly discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
“Why hasn’t Raila said anything about Anglo Leasing or the Goldenberg or Triton or K-Rep or Grand Regency or the Embassy alleged scams through which the Kenyan taxpayers lost hundreds of billions of shillings?”
“And Raila never responded to my memo addressed to him on this matter”
“Why did Raila condone the appointment of his sisters to plum government positions soon after he became Prime Minister? Were his elder brother Oburu Oginga and his cousin Jakoyo Midiwo the most qualified members of ODM for Assistant Minister for Finance and Chief Whip positions?”
“What I am saying is that as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya and the individual with the constitutional mandate to execute all government functions, Raila could and should have taken initiative to have these matters addressed.”
“Not once did Raila publicly complain or register dissent against this outrageous abuse and desecration of public office.”
These are some of the allegations leveled against Raila. Going through the book, I am unable to find a place where Miguna says, Raila did this.
Sincerely though, if this sense of omission is true, then Raila’s office is a den of inaction. I would never imagine him as president.
But my doubting shallows with such speed as I read the book. The inordinate tagging of blame on Raila makes Miguna’s story untrustworthy. Does the constitution really give Raila “mandate to execute all government functions?” The Prime Minister’s mandate according to the National Accord is coordination of government functions.
I like Miguna’s proactive nature. He certainly exceeded his mandate, and I understand why his colleagues would see him as nosy, but if I trust what he writes, it was for the good of the country.
I doubt if advise on Coalition matters extend to investigations. Raila has many advisors including Adhu Awiti who is his political advisor. But Miguna did everything and in this zeal he himself trashed protocol and the Kenyan law.
Miguna terms as inaction, Raila’s inability to help someone he calls “ my mentor, a genial retired judge of the East African Court of Appeal called Bena Luta.”
Raila was supposed to intervene for Luta to be compensated for a property the former regime forcefully took from him.
Just wondering, was the PM’s office responsible for such, why didn’t justice Luta sue the state as many other Kenyans who faced injustices did. How would Raila value the property and order the treasury to pay up. What about other Kenyans who are not Miguna’s mentors? Was this actually an abuse of power on Miguna’s part?
Miguna says “The Attorney General, the Police Commissioner, the Director of CID, and Minister in charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration worked directly under him.”
The Provincial Administration is under the office of the president and so is the Internal Security Ministry. Raila may have had a very minimal command on this. While it is inexcusable to be silent, I think a prime minister seeing that the matter had been raised in parliament and the line minister having promised to look into the matter, what did Miguna expect.
My analysis Will continue…