Here is Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s message to Raila Odinga on his birthday on 7th January 2018:
As an African Saint. As a servant to all. We celebrate you today. Its your day. I am not planning to publicize my political stand, but that should not be the reason to privatize my personal opinion.
This man Odinga will one day be no more. Just like Steve Biko and Martin Luther King Jr, he will leave his people in the dark. Totally paralyzed and in the cold.The news will be flying in the air. The headlines will be bold and clear. The winds will blow in halves and the trees will be shy to sway. The air will be moist and heavy. We shall celebrate the life of a man. We shall be joined by the people. These people he treasured most. These people he lived and fought for.
On this day, the big day. Senior heads of states shall be invited, but they shall take the back seat. To be seen but not heard . They will not be allowed to speak. Speeches will be reserved to two groups. The African economic freedom fighters and the people. The masses of the people.
Any food or snacks shall be served first to the people. Then to the people and the leftovers to the people again. The guests shall take a seat at the back at this point.
The nation will be an orphan. Struggling to breathe but dying slowly. The democratic space will be squeezed and suffocated.It will be no more.This man will not be able talk anymore. He will leave his people in the hands of ‘them’. He will not be able to guide them anymore. Not be able to tell them who stole their money. Who grabbed their land…
The nation will go silent. On this evening, I will call all my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I will remove his portrait on my wall and walk down to the river. With my offspring, we shall sit down on the ground by the side of the beautiful river. I will tell his story. A man of our own time.The struggles, the arrests ,the humiliations and the torture.
So if we cannot recognize, appreciate and respect this man in his present. Let us be humble enough to honor his days in the past. This is your day Odinga. On this day you were born.
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