Fourteen months ago, Kenya teetered on the brink of collapse as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition chief Raila Odinga became enmeshed in battle royal to capture State power.
But a handshake, a hug, a smile and tea are all it took to hammer home the historic camaraderie in the love-hate affair that defines the tempestuous relationship between the Kenyatta and Odinga political dynasties.
On March 9, Uhuru and Raila whose fierce political competition had threatened to rip the nation emerged at the footsteps of Harambee House and declared a truce.
To entrench their handshake, the previous political foes turned friends are both expected to attend today’s Jamhuri Day celebrations in Nairobi.
Tomorrow, they will team up for a presidential visit to Kisumu County – the Head of State’s first visit to the lakeside city after the protracted electioneering cycle last year. That was unthinkable 12 months ago.
Only a year ago, the political offshoots of the two prominent − some say aristocratic − families of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga were the fiercest of foes as they hurled brickbats and all manner of threats at each other’s political camp.
Earlier in 2017, the duo had taken gauntlet to once again face each other in a titanic battle, whose official outcome was Uhuru’s disputed victory that enabled him retain tenancy at State House for another five years.
In ways more than one, barring open mischief and unforeseen far-reaching constitutional interference or intervention, the dusty duel of August 8, 2018 between the two protagonists-turned-comrades-in-arms could as well have brought the curtains down on a five decades old on-and off warfare pitting the country’s two most awed and politically influential families.
Political analyst Kissinger Kakai can’t agree more, adding that the resultant benefits in terms of political and economic stability cannot be gainsaid.
He argues that what Uhuru achieved with the handshake was a political masterstroke that will be instrumental in helping him attain his legacy.
“Uhuru knew he could only attain his legacy if there is peace…after the handshake there is nothing the government the president has said or done that has been rejected by the opposition,” he said.
But Kakai was quick to point out that intimate details of the handshake are yet to be mined-hence the pact between Uhuru and Raila is clouded in mystery.
It has not been confirmed whether Deputy President William Ruto will accompany the Head of State on his visit, with speculations rife he will snub.
Kakai argued that Uhuru loses nothing by holding on to his pact with his deputy – warning that kicking up a storm this early will be foolhardy.