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Mama Ngina endorses Raila for presidency

Mama Ngina endorses Raila for presidency

By Correspondent

Independent Kenya’s First Lady, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, has broken her silence on the succession of her son, Uhuru Kenyatta, passionately appealing to Kenyans to support his preferred successor, ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The President’s mother at the same time hit out critics of the President over his decision to throw his weight behind the veteran opposition leader.

 In a rare public speech at a funeral in her Gatundu South constituency, Kiambu County, Mama Ngina, without mentioning Raila by name, maintained that the President means well for the country and implored Kenyans to support the ODM leader during the August 9 General Election.

Speaking during the burial of Nelly Wanjiku — her cousin, at Kabangi village, the former First Lady criticised politicians she accused of peddling insults in public, blaming it on poor upbringing.

 “Depending on how someone has been brought up, even when they speak in public, they should not insult others. Let this message get to those hurling insults, we will not engage them because it appears they were taught to insult others when they were growing up,” she said.

She defended President Uhuru Kenyatta’s choice of Raila, stating that the Head of State could not mislead his people.

In an apparent reference to President Kenyatta’s deputy William Ruto, the former First Lady stated that he (Uhuru) was not to blame for the fallout between the two Jubilee government leaders.

 She added that her son means well for the country’s future, a reason he chose the unexpected political direction of backing Raila.

“Let us love each other, the country belongs to us and we should continue with the agenda of the nation with focus. Your President cannot misdirect you. He had no issues but what do you do when your deputy brings up some issues? Please follow him (Uhuru) and I thank you for coming to help us accord my cousin a decent sendoff,” she added.

Mama Ngina spoke barely a week after the Deputy President’s (DP) tour of the Kenyatta family’s Gatundu South home during which he recalled the “blessings, support and prayers” of Gatundu voters, including from the former First Lady.

Ruto recalled that during the two occasions he and the President sought to be elected, they always asked for the blessings, prayers and support of Gatundu voters, including from Mama Ngina herself.

 “I am asking my friend the President, not to use the same political sword we had used together to undermine me. He should leave me to face Raila in the race for the presidency,” pleaded Ruto.

He added: “I have come here to thank you for your prayers and support when we first visited Gatundu in 2013 with my friend Uhuru at a time when we were facing criminal charges at the ICC and your prayers enabled us to win the election despite the circumstances.”

The DP was addressing crowds a stone’s throw away from the Kenyatta family’s Ichaweri home.  Ruto, who has had a bitter falling out with the President mainly over his Handshake with Raila, reminded Mama Ngina that she prayed for them in 2011 ahead of their cases at the International Criminal Court.

The media-shy Mama Ngina, Uhuru’s cousins Beth Mugo and former Gatundu MP Ngengi Muigai, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, their children Jomo, Ngina and Muhoho, his sister Kristina Pratt and his uncle George Muhoho, turned up for the prayers in which Uhuru and Ruto were photographed as she lay her hands on their heads.

This was the first time the former First Lady was coming out to declare her support for Raila, who has been endorsed by the President under the Azimio La Umoja movement.

The Kenyatta and Odinga families share historical ties dating to independence.

Her husband, founding President Jomo Kenyatta, appointed Raila’s father, Jaramogi Oginga, as his vice-president before they fell out in 1969.  

This perhaps explains why the Uhuru-Raila alliance has been largely interpreted as an unlikely union, the two having competed against each other in the past two presidential contests.

It was also a clear signal that the Kenyatta family had severed links with the DP.  While Ruto remained calm and calculated in his remarks throughout his tour of Gatundu South last Friday, his allies including area MP Moses Kuria used the occasion to launch a stinging attack on the President for backing Raila, claiming this goes against an oath taken in 1969 by Gatundu elders.

“The President may bring a curse to his family by deciding to go against the oath in which the elders vowed never to support or vote for an uncircumcised man,” said Kuria in a statement that attracted widespread condemnation on social media platforms.

Kuria has since attempted to beat a retreat through his Facebook page in which he says his critics should not crucify him over the remarks.

“For the record, I was not yet born in 1969. However, I keep receiving accounts from people who partook in the #IchaweriOath wondering what to do. Capt Kung’u Muigai raised the same issue recently and he didn’t get the condemnation I am getting. Why crucify me,” he wrote.

During the visit, Ruto who was accompanied by his fellow Kenya Kwanza co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula, among other leaders, made a passionate plea to President Kenyatta to withdraw his backing of Raila.

“With a lot of humility, I am sending you the people of Gatundu with a message to my friend and brother President Kenyatta to remember how far we have come together. Tell him to vacate the political battle between me and Raila,” the DP said at Mutomo village a stone’s throw-away from Uhuru’s rural home.

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