Raila Odinga; The Iroko Tree has Fell.
The iroko tree is known as ìrókò, logo or loko to the Yoruba people of Nigeria and is believed to have healing properties. Culturally, the tree is believed to be inhabited by spirits which makes it to be revered with offerings far and wide.
If a man cuts down the iroko tree, he invites misfortunes to himself and his family as well. If the people want to cut down the iroko tree, they offer prayers and offer sacrifices before they can do as a protection against the spirits.
The iroko tree is as good as the mugumo tree is to the Agikuyu people of Kenya. There is a cultural code that protects the iroko tree or even the mugumo tree against any careless cutting and desecration of the sanctity of these trees.
But then, this doesn’t prevent the tree, when it is at old age or when natural calamities strike and make the trees fall. When such a thing happens out of the blue, the communities understand far too well that things are not okay.
For science, nature always takes its cause and such a phenomenon is a natural occurrence. To the Christians, the falling of the iroko tree is nothing but a common occurrence whose significance doesn’t go beyond the merry of firewood for a couple of days for the community.
When one looks deeply at the man Raila Odinga, he fits the iroko tree stature and has earned himself the cultural enigma of Kenyan politics. He is somewhat revered as the man who, like the iroko tree, is not to be pointed fingers unnecessarily lest the spirits of the lake waters follow the perpetrator even to the third generation.
As such Raila has enjoyed the support of Kenyans far and wide for a long time. However, 2022 marks a pivotal point in his political journey. The test of permanency in friendship and loyalty to the people seems to have changed the ‘sanctity’ that comes with being called Odinga henceforth.
Most of the time, the mystery that surrounds the iroko tree becomes a matter of cultural inheritance passed down through generations that sometimes erodes simple logic when it comes to the eventuality that natural occurrences make the iroko tree fall.
Take for example a situation when the iroko tree is planted along the edge of a cliff. Erosion and human action over time expose the tree’s roots and after a while, the soil is so weak to hold the tree and a little wind makes the tree fall.
To the cultural enthusiast, the fall depicts danger and calamity to the clan. To the scientist, it is a call to consider human action’s effect on the environment and the need to begin taking conservation seriously. To the Christian, that is another daily occurrence according to what God wills of His creation. The interpretation of such an action depends on where the interpreter stands.
So, 2022 has become the time in which Jakom muscled part of his last energies to go for the presidency. His marginal defeat by William Ruto ended up in the corridors of justice at the Supreme Court of the land which ultimately upheld Ruto’s win.
All of a sudden, Raila found himself without further choices. Perhaps, he sat to reflect on his political journey and realized that at some point he might have played for a fool shadowed by the legitimacy of every trust song that was sung to his ears. Maybe he became too mysterious until the generations that came after couldn’t fathom the need to revere the iroko tree.
As such, he has been left to go and audit what might have gone wrong. But for the keen observer, everything went wrong a long time ago. Some choices were detrimental, some decisions jeopardizing and some mistakes far too well choreographed for destruction. Unfortunately, he might have been too busy entertaining ideality when the reality was changing.
Today, Raila has become the son that his ancestral Bondo people are waiting to welcome back home. The cultural dances are beginning to be practiced in anticipation of his return. The drums are out in the sun drying before the drum man can beat them to the sounding communiqué of the return of the son who sojourned to a far land to bring the goodies of the other side. It will be a dance of joy, not that the son returned with the goodies, but a dance that the son returned alive.
For Raila Odinga, this should be his last stint for the presidency. He should go home and join his peers and play ajua as he enjoys his retirement because as it all seems, the tables have turned. It was never meant to work in his favor whether justice was to be served or not.
Raila has done his part, he has fought his fight. To some, he often let go of the firearm too soon, to others he became distracted from the ultimate goal, and to the rest, he was a man like any other who chose the pain and he must put up with the scars on his own. So it all boils down to where one stands.
For now, it remains to be told that the iroko tree has fallen. The community is appeasing the gods against bringing destruction to the land. The old men have already gathered around the fallen iroko tree to offer prayers and sacrifices and sacred dances for the healing of the land.
Yes, the iroko tree has fallen, but in its place have remained the roots and tree stump to remind us that there was once an iroko tree that stood on that spot.