African Press International (API)

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Lessons Raila Odinga can learn from Donald Trump

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2016

By H.B Manyora
Updated Tuesday, May 24th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3

It is over. Donald Trump is the Republican Party (GOP) flag bearer in the American presidential election in November this year. Ditto Hillary Clinton who has all but secured the Democratic Party ticket.

There are lessons for us in Kenya, and especially for former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
At first, nobody gave Mr Trump much thought; many wrote him off. But as he gathered momentum, alarm bells began ringing.

What followed was disbelief, panic and resistance. Resistance from the “stop Trump” movement wasn’t enough to stop him. Trump had two things going; message and image. Hon Odinga can learn a thing or two from Trump.

For Clinton, her journey started in 2008 when she competed against President Obama for the Democratic Party Ticket. She lost even though she was then, as is the case now, an establishment candidate and the clear favourite. She is poised to win the ticket and face Donald

Trump during the “fall”
To succeed in 2016, Clinton had to reinvent herself and emerge a seriously different person from the Hillary Clinton of 2008. For her it was change, especially image.

Raila badly needs to change his image. In 2008, Hillary Clinton worked hard not to be seen to be playing the woman card. Today, she is gladly a woman candidate.

In 2008, she fought hard to look tough not feminine. Her trademark pantsuits buttressed this image of a tough Hillary. For this campaign she is no longer the toughie of 2008. She is all feminine, motherly and a woman.

Raila fought so hard to remove the image of him as a communist revolutionary, an anti-religion and disruptive person, who couldn’t be trusted with the leadership of this country.

He even changed his mode of dressing and almost abandoned his trademark cap. Instead, he began to put on the business suits.

And he did not stop there. He courted businessmen, most of them Kikuyu and won their confidence, not the vote.

By 2007, when he had his most successful run for the Presidency, Raila had shed off his radical character and transformed himself into a nationalist and won support across the country.

This image worked for Raila in 2007. It is not working now. Why? This carefully cultivated image has left Raila alienated from his supporters who were used to a fiery Raila. This gentleman, almost docile Raila, is a stranger to his fanatical followers of yesteryear. He should go back to the pre-2007 image.

And he needs to be tough like Trump. Trump has maintained the image of a tough guy. Americans love that.

When this has sometimes bordered on being too coarse, he has been advised to be “presidential.” He has disregarded the advice and publicly laughed it off. It has paid dividends as he has vanquished his opponents.

Trump’s message has resonated with the American people. He has captured the anger and frustration of Americans.

The American people are fed up with their politicians whom they hold responsible for the things that are wrong in their country.

Washington is blamed for loss of jobs, insecurity and the declining economy. Trump understands this frustration and disappointment and gives answers that touch the American voter. Kenya is similar to America in many respects.

There is pent-up anger in this country. Will Hon Raila learn from Trump and organize his message around this anger?

Will he give expression to the madness that is caused by raw corruption and thievery that has become the hallmark of the jubilee administration? Will he stir something in Kenyans by exposing the rot of tribalism, mediocrity and impunity that have become a malignant cancer in our country?

Trump will repeal all trade deals that don’t favor America. Will Raila address the Chinese “Invasion” of Kenya that has turned Kenya into a dumping ground? Trump promises to deal firmly with ISIS. Will Raila promise to withdraw Kenyan troops from Somalia immediately he occupies State House?

Trump excites his audience with the wall. He will build a wall on the Mexican border. Will Raila build a wall to protect Kenyans from foreigners who have a field day in this country? Trump’s wall will keep away illegal immigrants who come to take American jobs.

It will keep off immigrants who are murderers, rapists and drug dealers. One may not agree with Trump on these issues but the message sells.

He is not only the presumptive nominee but, in the view of many, the most likely occupant of the 1600 Pennsylvania avenue address come January 20, 2017. How far is Raila from State House

End/ standard news Kenya

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