How Significant is Gideon Moi’s Kabarak Political Pageantry?

Postcard From the North: Samburu National Reserve
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A hitherto almost forgotten place is now squarely on the spotlight as THE place to be. Kabarak, the home of Kenya’s second president is now the place to be for any politician with an ounce of ambition beyond their current sphere of influence.  And Gideon Moi, the scion of the self-proclaimed Professor of politics is busy milking the photo opportunities like nobody’s business! 

The former president has hosted the who-is-who in Kenyan political royalty. From Uhuru Kenyatta (and his mother, former First Lady Mama Ngina) to opposition kingpin Raila Odinga and every other politician who appears to harbour presidential ambitions. With Gideon playing the political Sherpa, the Kabarak orderlies sidelined and blocked WSR from seeing the former president. Citing orders from above – and certainly not from God – the incumbent Deputy President was ensconced on the periphery with a hot lunch and safely escorted back to his chopper.

The damage and humiliation was gigantic.  But the message was clear: you are not wanted here. 

And then Governor Hassan Ali Joho happened.

A beaming Joho, flanked by several coastal MPs, Gideon and President Moi smiled for the cameras as reporters’ cameras clicked away. The Kabarak living room was playing host to one of the most gifted politicians of our time. And the political operatives made sure that the journalists reported that President Moi and Joho held a closed-door meeting. 

When it comes to Presidential contests in Kenya, votes do not count. The guys with the big guns and algorithms carry the day.

For all its worth, it is time to evaluate the real value of the Kabarak extravaganza. 

For starters, by handpicking guests, Senator Moi is inadvertently exposing some serious political insecurities. He is portraying the image of a man who has no political gravitas and must milk his father’s clout in order to appear powerful.  

Political might is gained on the hustings, not in living rooms. One must hit the rope lines, the trenches, the alleys, the slums, the dusty streets and shake every hand. Political might is derived from visceral connections with the masses and if one must rely on a parent’s photo opportunity then it is clear that he or she is lacking in political depth.

Joho in Samburu

Joho delivered a scathing speech in Samburu castigating corruption, in a manner that seemed to target Deputy President. Oscar Sudi, Kapseret MP and William Ruto’s orderly returned Joho’s attacks in kind, calling Joho a drug dealer 

Reaching out to Joho sounds great but it is important to note that Joho earned his stripes the hard way. He shot from obscurity to parliament and then to the Governor’s mansion. His father is not a household name. For Gideon to bring him over to Kabarak, it simply means that he is trying to reach out to the Raila constituency and maybe dangle a DP slot to him as an enticement. The assumption here is that Gideon is equally heavy politically, a highly unlikely situation given the fact WSR has consistently bagged the Rift valley votes since 2007 when he chaperoned the Kalenjins to vote for Raila at the expense of the Moi family.

Since then, the Kalenjin political conga has always danced to Ruto’s tune.  Ruto’s allies have held sway and until Gideon can demonstrate, at the ballot, that he can derail the Ruto train, all the political pageantry in Kabarak will be for naught.

Except.

When it comes to Presidential contests in Kenya, votes do not count. The guys with the big guns and algorithms carry the day. As such, if those guys decide that it is Gideon Moi for president, it will not matter what political juggernaut WSR assembles, the lead character in Kabarak’s political orchestra will be president. That and only that is why Joho’s sojourn to Kabarak made sense.

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