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Raila wants to jail all thieves, will that be a prudent move?


ODM leader Raila Odinga drumming up support for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) in Kilifi, March 3, 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga possibly recalls the biblical story of King David and Bathsheba, the beautiful wife of Uriah, a subaltern in David’s military. It is told in the eleventh chapter of the Second book of Samuel. The narrative is long, rich and memorable.

The integuments of the story are that perchance, the king sees a beautiful nubile woman bathing. He enquires about her and has her brought to him. Her husband is away at war, fighting for Israel. 

A relationship develops between the king and the married woman. She conceives. The king recalls her husband. The scheme is for him to be intimate with the wife.

He should then ‘own’ the Davidic pregnancy. It falls through, however. For the man spends two nights outside his house, in solidarity with his comrades at war.

He cannot enjoy luxuries of the night while his brothers are dying on the war front. 

The frustrated king issues instructions to Joab, the field commander, to have Uriah killed in battle. A prophet is sent from God to reproach David. He tells him of a man with thousands of sheep.

But when he gets a visitor, he kills for him not one of the thousands but, rather, his poor neighbour’s single lamb.

David, a just man, is overwhelmed with righteous anger. He says the greedy man should be punished. Whereupon Nathan, the prophet, tells him, “You are that man.”

But, Raila has probably never heard of this story. For last year he quoted from a non-existent biblical book.

ODM leader Raila Odinga during the burial of Origa Opiyo at Ratanga village in Ndhiwa, Homa Bay County, on February 20, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

He cited a fictive book of ‘First Isaiah’ and a non-existent chapter 82. Unlike biblical books that come in two volumes, like Kings, Chronicles and Samuel, there is only one Isaiah. Familiar territory may, therefore, be best drawn from allegory? He possibly knows about the tragic story of King Oedipus? You can find it in Penguin’s Theban Plays, by the great Sophocles. 

It is divined at his birth that Oedipus will in future kill his father and marry his mother.  His parents send the infant far away, to be killed. He survives, however. He grows up elsewhere as a prince.

He does not know that the royal people bringing him up are not his real parents. One day, on a royal excursion, he encounters and kills several enemies.

His adventures take him to a distant country, where he marries an older but very beautiful widowed queen. 

Unknown to anybody, she is his biological mother. One of the people he previously killed was his father. When a plethora of misfortunes afflicts this land, a diviner reveals the cause. “It is you, Your Majesty.” He learns that he sleeps in his father’s bed and that he killed the man. 

Such are the kinds of things people should know when they say things like, “I will jail all thieves, when I come to power.” The Waswahili say that what eats you is in your clothes.

We often think it is the lice that infest our linen. But it is not. It is the person in your clothes. Accordingly, what messes you up is much closer to you than you imagine. 

Grand larceny in Kenya is well documented, even if nothing is done about it. The owners of the Goldenberg scam are in the Bosire Commission Report. The land thieves are in the Ndung’u Commission Report. Poachers, ivory thieves and the coffee smugglers of the 1970s and 1980s are available. 

Other scams are Kazi kwa Vijana, the maize scandal of 2008, the Sudan blood oil, the Kenya Pipeline scam, Eurobond, SGR, Kenya Railways land scam, Covid billionaires, Afya House scam, the mobile clinic affair, emerging superhighways, and many more. It would be good to jail the thieves.

Some could, however, be closer to some people than they imagine. Our people say the child who proclaims in the hearing of the snake that they will eat a snake for dinner, will never see dinner. 

-The writer is a strategic communications advisor  


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