By Raila Odinga
Our land is littered with epitaphs and unmarked graves of opposition parties that arrived with pomp and died without notice. Here, only the fittest survive.
Today, the fittest of them all, ODM, is here to thank all of you who have kept the faith, who have been there in good and bad times, who have shed tears at our lowest moments and also celebrated our moments of triumph.
I am grateful for the privilege to speak to you as the leader of Kenya’s single largest political party marking its decade of fighting for Kenyans.
We have a reason and a history to celebrate. We are the party of the constitution. When the forces of status quo walked out on Kenyans at the Bomas of Kenya and came up with the Kilifi Draft, we are the party that said no. We stood up for an overhaul, not a panel beating of the old constitution.
We dared them to a duel and we beat them hands down.
Within the constitution, we stood up for something higher, bigger and radical; devolution. When we said Kenya is ripe for county governments, the status quo questioned our patriotism and accused us of Balkanizing the country.
But we remembered the words of Martin Luther King Jr:
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But, conscience ask the question, is it right?
And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
Because we in ODM did not retreat, today, we have county governments. They are still fighting devolution.
We are still fighting for devolution.
We assure Kenyans that ODM shall neither slumber nor sleep until devolution is fully entrenched as part and parcel of the Kenyan life.
We anchor the dreams of our founding fathers for liberty and justice and the rule of law. We carry the dreams of the progressive forces that removed section 2(a) of the constitution that made Kenya a one party state.
ODM is the buffer between freedom and a return to fully-fledged dictatorship, not just here in Kenya but in the entire eastern Africa region.
We are ready to return to the trenches for everything we hold dear; for a nation that is free, that shares justly, equitably and fairly.
We are Orange and we are proud of it.
Today, we are here to say thank you to those who have showed up without asking for money, without asking whether it is safe, for transport, for food, when the party has called on you to respond to the distress call of our nation. May you live long for our country.
As we gather here, the very forces that have caused us misery, the forces behind Eurobond and NYS scandals and the grabbing of school land are gathering in Nairobi to plot how to give us more of the same pain.
These are the forces that campaigned against the constitution, whose names bless every corruption scandal, who have presided over extra-judicial executions.
The same forces who have benefited from land injustices and tribe-based appointments are trying to hoodwink us that they are the change Kenya has been waiting for.
So as we celebrate our past, the central question that must be in our minds is, “What next must ODM do for Kenya?”
We must therefore issue a new call to action for our beloved nation. We must not live in the memory of our past victories but join hands and roll up our sleeves again and begin a new push for the final liberation of Kenya.
In ODM, we believe in the people and the power of the people. It is because of you that we have won past battles. It is because of you that we have become the largest party by geographical reach.
It is because of you that we have begun the process of reforming the IEBC.
Jubilee had said no. It is because of you that we have held the highest number of elective seats ever since we entered electoral politics. In the 2007, we became the majority party, with 99 MPs. We also beat an incumbent and won the presidential contest.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego found that we finished nearly 6 points ahead of PNU in 2007. The International Republican Institute put our lead at eight percent.
In the 2013, ODM won 16 out of the 47 governor positions, 101 seats in the National Assembly, 17 Senate and 598 MCA slots. All independent analysis has shown that together with our partners Wiper and Ford-Kenya, we won the presidential race too.
Don’t be told that incumbents cannot be beaten. We have beaten incumbents before and we shall do it again because we know you will be there.
We continue to cherish the Cord partnership and we will strengthen it. With your mandate, we will invite more leaders and parties to join us.
As we embark on the journey for the next ten years, we must mobilize and push new frontiers of good governance.
We have a landmark election coming next year. We must mobilise to win it.
Then we will deal a death blow to the old order that is regrouping and end the culture of impunity that has seen this region lose so many sons and daughters through State-sanction extra-judicial executions in the name of fighting terrorism.
Let then each of us leave this venue with a new conviction to bring new converts armed with voter’s cards on board.
Let’s tell our brothers and sisters, fathers and fathers out there that if they believe in defending the Constitution, they belong in ODM.
If they believe in equity, they belong in ODM.
If they believe in inclusivity, they belong in ODM.
If they believe in justice, they belong in ODM.
If they believe in a nation in which no one goes to bed in an empty stomach, they belong in ODM.
If they believe in a Kenya free of corruption and impunity, they belong in ODM.
If they believe that devolution is the way to go, that counties must be protected and not undermined, ODM is the place for them.
Let us tell our people to get out of Pharaoh’s palace where they are currently feasting and dash for freedom.
And let us summon the courage and tell the Pharaoh, “let our people go.”
Thank you. God Bless ODM. God bless Kenya.