Many wonder why I picked on an innocuous word like “earthquake” and turned it into an endearing campaign brand.
In my career, I read public moods and ‘listen to the ground’, though I made political sacrifices even when it was unpopular and paid for it.
The “Earthquake”, like “Nasa Hao” in the 2017 elections, quickly caught on as an inspirational slogan, a rallying call, of the Kenya Kwanza campaign.
It was tattooed on the minds of Kenyans so much so that, whenever I rose to speak, the crowd would call me out with shouts of “Earthquake! Earthquake!”
Reading Shakespeare, earthquake is used metaphorically not in reference to natural phenomena but human foibles like the events that proceeded the assassination of Julius Caesar.
He was forewarned but ignored the entreaties. Similarly, people get forewarned of earthquakes but rarely take precautions. So did our competitors, as a political earthquake swept them to political Armageddon in the 2022 General Election.
What exactly did I mean by saying the earthquake will “scatter them, and gather them?” Psalm 55:9 says: “Confuse them, Lord, and frustrate their plans, for I see violence…and from that place the Lord scattered them over the face of all the earth.”
The Earthquake frustrated our competitors’ plans and, although they resorted to violence at Bomas, they were at sea as IEBC results and the Supreme Court confirmed our victory. The behemoth that was Azimio isn’t recognisable, “scattered…over the face of all the earth.”
There is a lot of pretence and hypocrisy in Kenyan politics. If you are neither, you are labelled laidback, indecisive or even a coward.
In Shakespeare’s writings, earthquake disruption represents the future, a new universe. To “scatter them, and gather them” was my euphemism for separating the wheat from the chaff, paving the way.
It was a test case, a measure of telling who is sincerely committed to improving our lives for the better from those for whom leadership means ownership of chattels, including the citizens.
Some lessons from the Earthquake are enduring. That elections come and go but they are important in nurturing democracy.
That you don’t have to agree with me but allow me to express myself without intimidation. That we don’t have to be mortal enemies because of my choice. That Kenya has demonstrated to the world that you can have free, fair and credible elections in Africa.
We have also learnt that voters are rarely wrong in their choices. The problem is interference from dark forces intent on falsifying and defeating the will of the people. Oligarchs survive on electoral fraud.
Yet Africa is not alone in this experience. Increasingly, even mature democracies are targets of insidious ploys. The war in Ukraine is a recoil from the 2004 Orange Revolution, nipped in the bud through an attempt to assassinate the leading presidential candidate by poisoning him, followed by electoral fraud.
We saw ultra-right populist and extremist forces attempt civilian coups in the US in January last year and Brazil recently. Our experience with such treacherous attempts at Bomas lends credence to the fickleness of democracy; that it requires eternal vigilance.
That’s why the Earthquake is still erupting. There are still seismic economic and pollical waves. The after-shocks are hardly silent. We are redefining our targets in terms of socio-political and economic engagement.
We have political stability which has facilitated effectiveness in decision-making; the results of which are starting to show and will be even more evident soon. More than ever, we are aware of the dangers of state capture.
Thanks to the Earthquake, you can hardly notice that we have divergent views within the ruling coalition. We have chosen cooperation as our guiding principle.
The emphasis is on the positive working relationship between partners rather than negative energy. The coalition was and is bound by a shared economic philosophy and agenda focussed on empowering citizens and service delivery.
KKA came together out of shared goals and values: The economic prosperity of all Kenyans through the Uchumi Bora, Pesa Mfukoni mantra which aligns very well with the bottom-up philosophy. This, in turn, ties us and drives our enthusiasm and commitment to a national economic transformation agenda.
In this journey of the Earthquake, transparency and accountability by public officers is not negotiable. Impunity and corruption will not be tolerated. I will execute my roles to oversee and supervise government entities as in Executive Order No. 1 of 2023.
Ours is to translate the solidarity of the coalition into stability of the country, and unity of purpose. Kenyans are saying “elections are over, it is time to get to work”. That is the Earthquake fruit of a peaceful election: The people are leading in reminding us to focus on uplifting the living standards of the voter.
Mr Mudavadi is the Prime Cabinet Secretary of Kenya. @musaliamudavadi