Remarks Of Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH. At The Orange Democratic Party National Delegates Convection, Kasarani
Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta,
Distinguished guests and honourable delegates,
The unity of Kenya that we have been talking about, that seemed so remote or impossible just a few years ago, is taking shape before our very eyes, in our own life time. We are no longer deferring the quest for unity to our children. Neither are we deferring the turbulence and the pain of divisions to the next generation. We are fixing things now. Take a look around you, wherever you are seated, or wherever you are watching this from. Chances are that next to you or in the crowd, is someone you once swore you would never sit together with, discuss politics with or support a similar cause with. But we are all together now.
I have just come from a Jubilee NDC where Jubilee, a worthy opponent that ODM and NASA hated with a passion has joined Azimio la Umoja. Here with us is the Jubilee Party Leader, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, an avid campaigner who had some very strong views on ODM and our NASA coalition in in 2017 and after. ODM and representatives of other parties that ran against him have given him a standing ovation, same way I was given at the Jubilee event a short while ago. In recent days, Mr. President has gone all out to support my candidature because he believes it is in the best interest of the country.Kenya is changing and uniting one handshake at a time. To quote Abraham Lincoln; “Whoever can wait for it can see it; whoever stands in the way will be run over by it.”
What we are going through today, what we have witnessed in recent days and what shall be happening in the coming days is a clear demonstration that the often undeclared but often raging uncivil war between our communities, political parties, leaders and regions can end if we choose to do so. We have evidence before us that politics does not have to burn our country. We have evidence before us that the feelings of helplessness, impotence, fear, loathing, dread and panic that often grip this country because of politics can be countered and reversed to give way to genuine and sustainable recovery.
So much can change in so short a time when actors in a critical theatre like politics agree to unclench their fists, shake each other’s hands, and share their hopes, fears and aspirations for the nation.
We did this with President Kenyatta four years ago. He braved the hardliners. I did too. In the sittings that were initially tense and looked like a waste of time, we came to learn that we actually shared similar aspirations for this country. We came to learn that we were in agreement on what we needed to do as a country to be able to realize those aspirations.
I said “Unity of our people.” Uhuru said “Unity of our people.” And we said, let’s go to work. Hence the handshake that has brought us here. We are in this to restore the soul and secure the future of Kenya.
We are all agreed that whatever the rhetoric, the economic model, the technology we adopt or the number of votes we win at election time, the only thing that will make the ultimate difference in the life of our country is unity. Unity. Unity.
Getting Kenya together is a battle we must fight and win. It is my prayer that all Kenyans can join this cause. It is a worthy cause.
Nations do not progress just because of change of guard from one president to another or shift of power from one party to another. It takes leadership that has faith in the country, vision for the country and courage to sell the vision to the people and unite them behind it. It is happening today.
It will continue in the days and years ahead. Kenya must return to factory settings. Our independence came as a result of our unity. That is where we must return.
Today, the people of Kenya are experiencing numerous problems that we are all aware of. I believe that the problems we are going through have not resulted from the mistakes of our people. Kenyans have not failed. We are not suffering from some divine curse from the heavens. We are not suffering from lack of resources. Plenty still abound within our borders. We, the leaders, have often been the source of failure and the problems our people are going through. We the leaders have often been the source of divisions. This is the reality president Kenyatta and I accepted and set out to own in March 2018. It takes courage, integrity and honesty to own up. It is the journey we are on today and the journey we have to stay on in the years ahead.
Franklin Roosevelt told us: Restoration comes through a leadership of frankness and vigour. Only such a leadership can carry a nation through every dark hour of its life.
I appeal to all the other leaders, who are still looking for every excuse to tear us apart, to cease, desist and join the unity train.
We are on the path of frankness and vigour. We want to meticulously cultivate an inclusive political establishment and use it to pursue our aspirations, confront our nightmares and denounce our prejudices. We are determined to build a peaceful and prosperous nation out of our ethnic, religious and racial diversity through honesty, integrity and principles that we can explain and defend.
I want to appeal to our people and our leaders to have courage and faith and let go of fear.
If we do not change our attitudes. If we do not reform our mindsets and our prejudices, we will not transform the country or the economy.
So fellow Kenyans, it has been a long journey to where we are today. Another long journey begins today. The journey will take us back to the homes, villages, towns and cities across the country, where we first sought and got the mandate to run this race. I am counting on your help and your voice.
I sense victory is near, and when it comes, we shall celebrate together and then get to work together. Let us go to work.
I thank you.
HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH.
FEBRUARY 26, 2022.