Kenyan Politics; You Don’t Win Until You Win.
I have heard William Ruto repeatedly address the opponents of his one major wish once the August election is concluded. That of conceding defeat. I haven’t heard him talk of his concession should he be defeated.
As you realize, this is akin to pointing one finger at your adversary forgetting to notice that the entire hand is pointing a punch at you. I know that no one steps into an election to lose. It is human to be optimistic about a win as much as possible.
I once contested in an election. I entered into the race with lots of hope of clinging to the coveted seat. By the time I was presenting my nomination papers, everything was telling me that all odds were in my favor and that the win was going to come in easy.
The day I received news that I was officially in the race, my adrenaline for winning was heightened and I already saw myself occupying the office. Little did I know that one challenge would end up affecting my campaign plans in a big way.
As days went by, my campaign financing strategies started letting me loose one by one. By the time we were nearing the election, my coffers were running dry and my closest contestant had gained quite a competitive edge. The defeat was imminent, but something inside kept telling me of a win.
Come the election day, I voted for myself and waited to win. Unfortunately, and as it pointed, I squarely lost the election. The fortunate thing, however, was that I was prepared to concede defeat the same way I was prepared to celebrate a win. I picked up valuable lessons from that single election I have so far contested in my life up to this time.
I learned the first and biggest lesson that you have not won until you have won. This is the message I wish to convey to William Ruto largely and the rest of the contestants. I know these contestants have been in politics long enough to understand what I am telling them. But it is good to reiterate that you can only be sure you have won when you are declared a winner.
Secondly, an election is an election. This means that the chances of winning are equal to the chances of losing. So, the fact of being too sure can be very costly should it turn out the other way round. It is a tough thing to live in denial, it can kill you very quickly.
Living in denial is akin to the young man who was caught stealing berries and was handcuffed. As he was being escorted to the station, he kept resisting the plea to go pointing out that they were just berries after all. To him, thieves are the guys who steal pumpkins and melons because they are the big fruits.
The more he resisted, the more the handcuffs cuffed him until he learned his lesson that he was the one harming himself by trying to deny that he was caught stealing berries, however small fruits they are and that he was already arrested to face justice.
Dear politicians, understand from the word go that the odds may not work in your favor and begin to be ready for that eventuality. There is every reason why they are called secret ballots. Even that closest friend of yours in secrecy can choose to vote for someone else.
Thirdly, those crowds don’t necessarily translate to votes. Sometimes the people who vote may not be among the crowds. Some people have nothing to do, a pointer of our state of the economy, and so they chose to attend rallies to keep themselves busy.
In those crowds are people who simply get excited when they see masses of people because they thrive best in such environments. Others come to see the politician so that when they meet in the local squares, they can brag that they too saw Mr. so and so.
In the crowds are hawkers who come to sell their merchandise and pickpockets who come to cash in on their vice. In the crowds are the majority who come not with the intent of listening rather the expectation to be dished with some cash.
They leave home promising their wives and children to put water on the fire because they will come back with flour and vegetables from the cash handouts at the rallies. So never use the crowds as a measure of votes such that it offers you the false sense of winning which may drive you into acute winning mode void of the flexibility of things turning the other way round.
Fourth, never start behaving as though you have already won or lost as that may cost you some competitive edge. I remember listening to the news recently that UDA had written letters to various factions even addressing one to the ICC over claims that there were plans to rig their win in the August election because of disfavor from this early on.
Whatever drove to such a decision may equate to a man who goes to talk to a girl about the possibility of marrying them and when the girl asks for time to go think about it, the man leaves with the narrative that someone had gone beforehand and warned the girl about him.
At the end of the day, the issue is more about the man and not the situation at hand or even the woman herself. It becomes confusing when the girl comes and agrees to the request of marriage and the man looks at himself as a fool or the girl turns down the request and the man lives with the folly that someone didn’t wish them well even when there was none.
My brother William Ruto, go slow with the narratives of already winning and seating in the statehouse. Focus on the process. Be in the race. You can not be in the terraces and the race at the same time. Time and again, elections have disappointed great men who were never prepared for any eventuality.