By Dikembe Disembe
It is a sad day in Kenya, for Kenyans, today. We have no President.
An event happened in Moi University while I served as a student leader which hit me as I meditated, and deeply so, about President Uhuru stepping down.
Even before he said it, it struck me that the President would temporarily resign. When I posted it here; as usual, the jubilee ragamaffins were on my case. I have got used to you.
Back to Moi University. I am a proud alumnus.
Two years ago, I had just won the 26th Students Governing Council elections. For a year, which would later span into two years, I would be the Secretary General, the second most powerful student after the chairman, of a union of thousands of students. I was just a second year.
Before my race, there had been other attempts. There was Kaudo, who came inches to winning the seat, and lost. There was Kioko, who sauntered too, and also lost.
The seat, I was told, was for ”senior students”, the third year group, who would be finalising in a year. That was the tradition, unbroken, stark, staring at me, my campaign manager Macharia Wa Njoki and a team, very small team,of volunteers.
If being second year wasn’t handicap enough, I also happened to be a poor student politician. I could not match the money, which translated into publicity, and, worse, hooliganism, that my opponents had.
I also came from a little an unknown, new school, or facualty, of comrades who see students politics as a waste of time, and, until then, never really went to the ballot, to vote.
I was also a Luo, the youngest of the other two Luos, by years spent in college, vying in the same post. In fact, when all was done, our surnames, including that of the fourth candidate, a Luhya, my friend Meshack Omega, sounded the same, and, confused all.
Macharia and I knew, as did our team, that, to win, we had to ‘reduce’ the role of money, in that race. Already, we had lost the main campus media, the punitive Moi University Press Club, The 3rd Eye. We lost the media long ago; because we had resigned, in fact, fallen out, of it.
A semester earlier, I had rose, under one Ondieki Elvis Mwandishi, now a journalist with DAILY NATION, to be the Chief Reporter. As Ondieki left campus, the incoming team, led by Nyamweya Bw’ Omari, were a bunch of regime gatekeepers, and adventists, who failed to hold the outgoing SGC in check. The Chairman of that SGC, Mwamburi Mwang’ombe, and the Secretary General, Okeri Orina, were so close to the Chair of the powerful student media house, the 3rd Eye, that when Macharia, Masero (then Editor-in-Chief) and myself wrote a story accusing Mwamburi and Okeri of leadership malfeasance, though the story was published, out of pressure, we resigned, nay, we were fired!
That’s how we lost the media. A powerful tool in campus politics.
There are other things that happened. However, to cut this part of my story short, we won the race, and, we did it so decisively that it still lingers on in the minds of many.
In Moi, when a race has been won, just like in our country, the incoming leaders begin to think of how to share the spoils.
Constitutionally, we had power to nominate three more students. That was my wish, but other members, purely out of selfishness, did not want to ‘populate’ the SGC with ‘outsiders’.
We settled for two, a physically impaired comrade, and, the Editor-in-Chief.
To be honest, for the physically impaired, I had Walter Sang in mind. He had proven, beyond doubt, that he cared for the union. For the Editor-in-Chief, ”we” had Macharia!
By we, I mean the team of comrades, senior and junior, who had made me win. Some had been in the Students Electoral Council (our IEBC) and were determined to see Macharia in.
Of course, it was not going to be easy. Macharia was my friend, my classmate, and the man who managed my campaigns, successfully. Together, in the course of the campaigns, we had made more tenacious enemies than we thought, especially the enemies we defeated, like our friend Obilo Kobilo!
But I was determined to have him in. Already, my new council-mates had ganged up and appointed a muslim – also physically impaired – in the slot I had ‘reserved’ for Sang.
They knew I would have no grounds to oppose. But Macharia?
When interviews were called for the Editor-in-Chief, I lobbied. My friends, I lobbied. And yes, Macharia emerged winner. He too had other friends, apart from me, in the new Students Governing Council.
I played all cards. I even tried an ethnic card, arguing that since no Kikuyu had been popularly elected in our SGC, it would only be fair to have one appointed!
It turns out my chairman, Florence Doghana Ph D, had other plans. He too had promised Koome Kimonye the slot. Koome was my friend; but Macharia was my guy. The feminists within the SGC wanted a lady, Repher, who was also my friend, but, as you can see, Macharia was my guy.
In the words of Winston Churchil, paraphrased, on Macharia, I was not going to ‘resolve to be irresolute’, I would never ‘decide to be undecided’.
So by majority, I got Macharia nominated as the Editor-in-Chief, and, also, the Dean of Students, Dean David Mwenje Mureithi, approve the resolution on the ‘unanimous’ appointment.
Then Chairman Doghana, still fairly popular, and with the backing of all our enemies, pulled a first one on us. He threatened to RESIGN, and, with his resignation, bring the union down!
It was a sad day for campus politics! A whole chairman chickened out of Chairmanship, at least by threats. With his resignation on the cards, Dean Mureithi called me, and mumbled something, and, with a stroke of his pen, rescinded the decision to appoint ‘my guy’. I have never been devasted in politics.
On matters politics, I came to learn that resignation is among the smartest moves by a politician. However, on matters leadership, the politician who resigns, and runs way from his duties, or, as happened yesterday, bequeths them to another, is one sanctimonious coward!
Uhuru Kenyatta is a smart politician but, as a leader, of a middle income economy, a big coward. Shame!
Dikembe Disembe is a blogger and former Moi University Student leader