Kenya’s presidential “debate” was not a debate. The definition of a debate is, “formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.” Synonyms: discussion, discourse, dialogue (Webster).
Kenyans who went through high school know the difference between a debate and a press conference. Remember the debate clubs? What the Kenyan media is calling a debate was not a debate. It was a press conference. Who was Raila Amolo Odinga debating? Himself? The Kenyan press need to up their game in logic! Call a spade a spade not a big spoon! Though I am a Priest, certain matters must be analyzed intellectually by all or we get blind folded and walk into the ditch! Believers are also citizens.
However, this is not why the press conference is disturbing, rather, it is what the presidential candidate said that seems to be ignored! We all know that politicians say a lot of nonsense and they lie a lot! My father described politicians as “prostitutes”. He argued that in the same way a prostitute tells each person they are the best lovers, politicians tell different groups they are the best, wanting to keep every one happy for their egocentric benefits. However, if you did not watch the “debate”, I advice you to watch it because once in a while, “prostitutes” can say something from the heart.
During one of the questions from the press, Raila Odinga expressed his heart when it comes to Land ownership. During the 2007 – 2008 Kenyan presidential election, a migrant from western Kenya who lives in our village went around telling people that when Raila wins the presidency, he will occupy the rentals in Kijabe for free. Being a mission station, we were not alarmed by this. The Kingdom of God seeks to show all manner of grace, mercy and forgiveness. Since then, the family has left Kijabe willingly for greener pastures.
When asked about his promise to Kenyans, how he intends to lower the price of rent, Raila gave his theory on land ownership. According to him, citizens in Kenya do not own the land, they ‘hold’ it in trust for the state. Given that therefore, the state has the right to order the owners as what and how of the rent they charge! Think about this for a minute. The idea of a democratic republic is land ownership and authority that, that, gives to the citizen. The whole reason why Kenyans fought for independence was land ownership! Kenyans were not fighting for democracy and western concepts of political philosophy. Kenyans were fighting to have the right to own their God given portion of the earth! That is why the republic has boundaries with absolute authority to govern itself. The idea of nation states is land, full stop.
When I went to Havana, Cuba on an intellectual pursuit of culture at the university of Havana, the student who took me around expressed his cry against the socialist state, “we cannot own land.” He said with disgust. All things including one’s body is owned by the State! Those who dwell on this nation state and have houses have no individual authority to their land and homes, their authority is subservient to the State. Within western democratic Ideal, an individual has authority of the land or property owned and apart from constitutional and legal issues on dominant domain, the right of the individual is absolute. Man have rights!
The theological argument, which is important given that I believe the creation narrative in the old testament book of Genesis also supports this ownership concept. God created the heavens and the earth. Then he subjugated the earth to man. “Be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth.” Genesis 1:28. Man was given land and all its properties to own with authority! Taking away that right is a violation of Divine Order.
Historically, Raila’s father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga held Raila’s philosophy. In fact, their war with Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta was their disagreement on the philosophy of land ownership. Jaramogi wanted the Europeans kicked out of their land because he believed they acquired it illegally (see Robert Mugabe). Jomo Kenyatta believed that given the land did not have a government when the colonial government came, there was no legal bases for illegality. Therefore, he advanced the idea of buying land from the Mzungu. That is why GEMA was formed and under Njenga Kurume’s’ leadership they bought land from the Mzungu. Jaramogi refused to follow suite and form organizations to buy land for his people.
The point is, Raila Amolo Odinga wants to actuate his father’s philosophy and force the might of the state to subjugate all things to IT! He argued that this theory allows the state to tell people how much they would charge for rent! If this is his philosophy, then the nation state becomes the absolute, not the Divinely given individual right and authority over land. This my brothers and sisters is disturbing.
Knowing the truth opens our eyes to life and its benefits. So it is written, so it is!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist