Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:October 15th, 2007 08:20 EST
The 8% Majority

The 8% Majority

By Mark Thiong'o

The date is Sunday October 14th 2007 and Nairobi comes to life. The city is literally colored orange. A mass of people weave through the city chanting political slogans praising one man: Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka. His big day is finally here.

Political fever has gripped the entire country. Battle lines have already been drawn, and the often dangerous game of political poker is underway. For Kalonzo, this day is more significant than most. True, he’s officially launching his presidential campaign under the ODM-K party, but there is more than meets the eye.

Let’s look back at this day 5 years ago. Monday 14th October 2002. Uhuru Park, the largest recreational park in Nairobi city, is full to capacity. The country is going through what many have called a political liberation. The man of the moment is long-time leader of the official opposition, Hon. Mwai Kibaki. This would be the day that would set the precedence for his political future. Represented in proxy by Hon. Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and other members of the NARC coalition, they made known his vision for the country. With great acclamation he got his answer. He was on his way to the mansion on the hill.

Today, the mood is electric. The crowd seems to be snow balling. It seems to swell at every juncture, picking up pace and euphoria. It’s a mirror image of years passed. As the leaders grace the podium, the crowd roars in approval. Here stand their champions. Many believed that he couldn’t capture the minds of Kenyans. In a city thought to be a stronghold of his arch nemesis, he sent out a resounding message: I am here to compete; I mean business. Recent polls had placed him as an outside contender, holding a mere 8% in the face of 53% approval for his competition. In a country rich in ethnicity, this meeting truly represented the various shades of Kenya. Every group was represented.

As Kalonzo stands in front of the crowd, even he is set aback. He had promised a miracle; a change in the tide. He was witnessing the miracle unfold before his very eyes. Every available spot was taken. The crowd was hanging on his every word.

“A few days ago, they called me ‘punda’ (donkey),” Kalonzo proclaimed, “but a political miracle has taken place today. We are here to write history and the politics of this country has changed forever.” This was in reference to the political taunting he had experienced. With promises to fight corruption, and a federalized economic system, Kalonzo’s 8% approval rating seems to be on its way up.