Macharia Gaitho: Marriage has gone to the dogs; what next?

FOR A MARRIAGE TO SUCCEED, it must be based on love, mutual respect, honesty, shared interests, faithfulness and trust. Forced marriages do not work in any ideal way.

When it is a marriage of convenience based, maybe, on consolidation of commercial or political interests, then there is a very high possibility of failure, or at best a sham and loveless union.

No, I am not seeking to encroach on the territory of Dr Chris Hart who expounds so knowledgably on sex and romance. I am on this shotgun marriage between President Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga that threatens to abort even before it is consummated.

Last Thursday, the two stepped out of Harambee House holding hands and looking each other deeply in the eye. They told us all that they had successfully concluded negotiations and even settled on a date for the nuptials.

The grand coalition government of President Kibaki’s PNU alliance and Mr Odinga’s ODM was to be unveiled this past Sunday, and sworn in Saturday coming.

Sunday came and instead of an announcement on the make-up of the new government, President Kibaki and Mr Odinga emerged from Harambee House to tell us that they were still in fruitful discussion, were making good progress, and would be continuing to consultations the following day.

Typically, they did not bother to explain to Kenyans why they were not able to conclude as scheduled. What we have been subjected to instead is plenty of finger-pointing, with each side blaming the other for failure to seal the deal.

Kenyans are not interested in the blame-game, conflicting information and endless talks that lead nowhere.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga owe it to all the Kenyans who have been affected so adversely by the post-election conflict to do the right thing and lead this country in the right direction.

The only right direction right now is speedy installation of the national unity government so that life can start going back to normal.

More than 1,000 poor and innocent men, women and children needlessly lost their lives because of a conflict that, essentially, was between the ruling classes.

To date, hundreds of thousands of others are living in abject conditions in refugee camps, having lost their homes, farms and sources of livelihood, and with little prospect of resuming normal lives unless the political wars, the scramble for power and privilege, between the elite are first settled.

It is evident now that our so-called leaders in their mad scramble for power and wealth do not care at all about their people. The people are mere expendable voting machines whose job ends once they cast the ballot.

AS PRESIDENT KIBAKI, MR ODINGA, and their respective entourages continue to haggle over the choicest pieces of the cake, they do not care at all about the hungry and suffering masses.

We all thought that when the two put aside intransigence to sign that historic power-sharing pact at the end of February, they were displaying the highest levels of political maturity and patriotism.

But it seems we were fooled. Each of them was only buying time in order to regroup and re-supply their tired minions in preparation for renewed battles ahead.

That is the only conclusion that can be drawn if the impasse over the formation of the coalition government continues.

One must wonder whether from the comforts of their well-protected palaces, mansions and limousines, they care at all about the death, destruction and terror that could be visited on ordinary Kenyans if the accord fails.

In a few short weeks after the December 27 General Election, Kenyans experienced a violence and bestiality that they could never have imagined would be the outcome of a disputed presidential poll.

Violence and the threat of civil war is something we associate with the troubled countries around us and beyond. We lived the illusion of an island of peace in a sea of turbulence.

Our illusions were rudely shattered, and yet we all cheered when President Kibaki and Mr Odinga signed their pact. We assumed that the violence witnessed was only an aberration and we could now go back to normal.

How wrong that would be! If the union between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga aborts, then we will be back to a renewed round of bloodshed. There can be no doubt about that.

When the poor pick up their pangas, arrows, spears and embark, in the service of their preferred leaders, on slaughtering their neighbours, where will President Kibaki and Mr Odinga be?

One will be safe in an impregnable State House protected by a veritable army.

The other will be in his own secure and fortified mansion.

Both their children and grandchildren will also be in secure compounds, driven to work, school and play by squads of armed policemen at taxpayers’ expense.

It will be the ordinary people fighting and killing each other. How many will have to die before the two leaders again see sense?

How long will it take before we graduate from mere post-election violence to genocide or civil war?

We don’t want to find out. We want to forestall such an eventuality.

The future of Kenya is in the hands of two stubborn gentlemen who must be made to see sense.

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