By MAKAU MUTUA
Posted Saturday, June 29 2013 at 17:56
Let me tell you something you already suspect, and can take to the bank. Star lawyer Kethi Kilonzo is the Chosen One. That’s because she has the goods – the whole works. I mean the entire kit and caboodle – the brains, pedigree, and the looks.
That’s why she won’t need any kamuti – the legendary Kamba sorcery – to scoop the Makueni Senate seat. This is what her opponents – who are political desperados – must concede. She’ll crush them like the proverbial bugs.
Methinks the great Makueni people know a good thing when they see one. That’s why they will send the apple of the late Mutula Kilonzo’s eye to the Senate. Her foes are spent, and belong to yesterday. She’s Kenya’s tomorrow.
Ms Kilonzo will face off against two politicians with a checkered history. One is former Kilome MP Harun Mwau, whom US President Barack Obama once accused of involvement in a drugs-related crime.
But Ms Kilonzo’s main opponent is lacklustre former MP Philip Kaloki, the Narc-Jubilee candidate.
Mr Kaloki has many questions to answer, which he can’t – and won’t. His claim of the title of “professor” from an American college needs further scrutiny. Which college was it, and is it accredited? How and when did he become a professor? Has he ever published any academic papers? What did he teach? Does he hold any earned degrees, and from which university?
He must tell the people of Makueni the whole truth. But let me tell you why Ms Kilonzo is a child of providence. In William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, there’s a pithy truism that’s entered the annals of history. It says “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them”.
Rarely has one person been blessed with all three. Very few people who are “born great” and “have greatness thrust upon them” ever “achieve greatness”. But Ms Kilonzo has.
Most princes and princesses are defined by mediocrity, or utter ineptitude. They live on the family name, never to achieve anything of substance on their own. They undeservedly – and scandalously – inherit treasure and power just because of their family name. Ms Kilonzo has earned her stripes.
In March, Ms Kilonzo struck Kenya like a thunderbolt. We know the father, a Senior Counsel, was a larger-than-life figure in legal circles.
He laid to waste many an opposing counsel before the bench. He did it with panache and the old fashioned way – by cutting them up with a razor sharp legal mind and merciless wit.
Little did most Kenyans know that he had sired a replica, except for the gender. It’s true the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In the biggest stage of her life, Ms Kilonzo wowed the country with her masterful debut performance at the Supreme Court as lead counsel for Africog, the NGO that sought to nullify Jubilee’s victory.
Ms Kilonzo was eloquent and charismatic. She not only showed a command of the law, but demonstrated – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that she understood what democracy is all about.
Even ardent opponents applauded her brilliant performance. She outshone – and outwitted – every lawyer in that courtroom. That the case didn’t go her way is neither here, nor there.
Even Mr Kilonzo, the old maestro, couldn’t conceal his pride as he watched his daughter “slice and dice” seasoned colleagues from a few seats back. We knew then that we were watching history in the making. A star had been born. We knew instinctively that this wasn’t the last we would hear of this human rights champion. We were right.
It’s clear that political intriguers are out to snatch the Makueni seat from under Ms Kilonzo’s nose. I’m sure Jubilee and its affiliate parties – especially Narc – would love nothing more than to stick it to the late Senator.
He was, after all, a fierce opponent of the Jubilee duo of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. He vigorously opposed their candidacy, and insisted that the Constitution barred them on account of The Hague trials for crimes against humanity.
His voice on the International Criminal Court was resolute, clear, and unwavering. There was no love lost between him and Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto. Ms Kilonzo’s passionate argument against Jubilee at the Supreme Court put her in her dad’s political shoes.
Then we got a doozy. Mr Kilonzo’s widow – Ms Nduku Kilonzo – was temporarily prevailed upon to challenge her step-daughter. I think we all smelt a rotten rat there. This would have been tragic and shameful. The late Kilonzo would have abhorred such subterfuge. I am also sure he would have wanted his favourite daughter – not his second wife – to succeed him if the people of Makueni so wished.
Some “dark forces” tried to split the family, but the ground in Makueni was too hostile. That’s why Jubilee shelved the “attempted coup” and went for Plan B. Ms Kilonzo’s election would be a first – she would be the only woman elected to the Senate. That’s worth all the gold in the world.
I am glad Mrs Nduku Kilonzo realised that parents aren’t supposed to “eat their young”. Opposing her step-daughter would have been a “fool’s errand” to nowhere. She must now wholeheartedly get behind Ms Kilonzo.
I don’t even have to invoke my crystal ball to see that Ms Kilonzo will devastate both Mr Mwau and Mr Kaloki. Of the three, she is the only one with the timber to effectively represent Makueni in the Senate. Ms Kilonzo has all the tools – she’s the Chosen One.
Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC. Twitter @makaumutua