Whiplash

BY: Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Mr Raila Odinga (right)— Opposition Leader
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Mr Raila Odinga (right)— Opposition Leader

Whiplash is 'a neck injury that can occur when the head suddenly moves backwards and forwards. It is usually self-treatable, usually self-diagnosable, lab tests or imaging rarely required; short term, resolves within days to weeks'. Whiplash is also the name for an hour and 47 minute long dramatic film about a young jazz musician. In 2014, Whiplash won all manner of awards including the Academy's Best Supporting Actor and Best Film Editing statue, a BAFTA for Best Sound and a Critics Choice nod.

Spare a thought for Uhuru Kenyatta, currently former President of Kenya and now in between jobs. He cruised to a comfortable lead in the August 8 elections and then their Supreme Court delivered a verdict on the election results for which more than a neck brace and 'mentholatum' is required. A re-run is ordered within 60 days. How do you translate this pause on your resume? See me. The man is only 55, if he doesn't pull this one off, by his 56th birthday on October 26, he might find himself out of State House and on the consultancy train. It is a crowded field.

There is a certain cachet to having mis/ruled, gambled and lost. Kenyatta could take a minute to compose himself then join the lecture circuit. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron does this and is apparently also writing his memoirs. But they are not coequals. Campbell resigned after he misjudged the Brexit mood.

Kenyatta could buddy up to former President Thabo Mbeki and again, they are not in the same category. Mbeki was ousted by a dastardly palace coup orchestrated by the current President Zuma who is himself being hounded by his former protege, Julius Malema. South Africa's Mbeki was one of the declarers of the 'free and fair' verdict for the now discounted August 8 elections, as was John (IV) Mahama, former


President of Ghana. The latter's memoirs were ghostwritten whilst he was in office, he was historically turfed out after one term and is apparently on his way back in 2020 as a presidential candidate for his party.

For my money, and it is not a lot, no one is doing the former H.E. thingy with as much class and fun as Barack Obama. Unlike Kenyatta, Obama, his father hailed from Nyang'oma Kogelo, has not been implicated in pre and post- electoral violence necessitating inquiries from the International Criminal Court. During his 2 terms, Obama was not without his critics and faults. And he also didn't govern by Twitter.

If Kenyatta does win the re-run, it is unlikely that the Judges of the Supreme Court or the executives of the Kenyan Law Society will be invited to sip masala tea at State House anytime soon. He has reportedly referred to the judges as wakora simply put, crooks. The Law Society has welcomed Kenyatta's initially sober statement, respecting the ruling whilst disagreeing with its findings. They have taken particular exception to his follow-up comments that seem to suggest that if Kenyatta returns to State House, he will be giving the Judges very short shrift indeed.

It is apropos to roll out the cliches. You couldn't have scripted this stuff if you tried. This is a momentous decision for Africa, in many ways. East Africa's largest economy, home of safaris and amazing scenery, troubled by years of governance fails and ethno political in fighting has just said karibu to the truth. The numbers must add up. They didn't. The presidential election was rigged.

Before you begin rolling out President Odinga victory T shirts, the 72 year old who has thrice lost presidential elections is not a saint. There are enough people who actively dislike his brand of politics or are indifferent to him and his message. Faced now with only two choices, will Kenyans turn up again to vote?

More worrying, will their Electoral Commission whose IT manager was hideously murdered days before the election (the very same IT system that was apparently hacked enabling the pro Kenyatta rigging to take place), be the ones in charge again? Will former Presidents Mbeki and Mahama head back to Nairobi again to 'observe' the elections again? Backwards and forwards. Whiplash indeed.

The uncertainty raised by the Supreme Court decision has already impacted business confidence. Bloomberg reports that expected growth has slowed from the projected 5.8 per cent to 5.5 per cent, the value of shares has fallen, as has the value of the Kenyan shilling against the US dollar. Not nice and not fatal if it means that finally, after 54 years of independence and a proxy war 'fought' between elite cabals, Kenya will actually, finally begin to clean up its institutions and experience Uhuru, as in freedom, not just in name and the man but indeed.

Some analysts say the prospect of a re run could trigger further electoral violence. One thousand one hundred people were officially killed during the 2007 elections, the two stars in that film were Kenyatta and Odinga. For this election, depending on how far your neck is twisting, between 24 and 100 people have already lost their lives.

Kenya!!!! Habari. Shikama. Get it right this time. Asante Sana.