Fidel Castro of Cuba with Wojciech-Jaruzelski of Poland
I have tried hard to discern whether there is someone in Kenya who is truly a master of political persuasion. So it is perhaps futile to search for the Grandmaster of the technique of political persuasion. The late Kiprono Biwott was perhaps one of the best practitioners of the art. The late Mark Too was also a master. Then it went something like this: I know a secret about you. I want something from you and I have something for you.
Nicholas Biwott Charles Njonjo
‘Sir’ Charles Njonjo was said to be a master in his time. He kept tabs on every politician, businessman, churchman or crook. That was long before the internet and the advent of social media took over control of information. Then, the political class controlled the news since they were the only ones with access to the state apparatus that gathered information as a matter of course. That has not changed but now virtually anyone can gather information- sometimes enough to confound a liar.
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta with Gurcharan Singh Chana of Kenya Airforce
The treasure trove of the pre-internet era came in handy especially during elections or lead up to elections. A presidential election is war declared, as you very well know. The rules go out of the window, even as the election officials claim to have everything in their grips. The only rule that politicians worry about is the Winner-take-all rule. It is a difficult time for the contestants. For those who manage elections it is also an exhilarating period since this is the only time the high and mighty pay attention to them. Those in charge of major political party campaign strategy are supposed to be particularly good at this. The Grandmaster knows well that power must have money back-up.
Uhuru Kenyatta with Angela Merkel of Germany
For the Grandmaster, this is the time to meet the rich, the powerful and the corrupt. They all need you to help them survive the onslaught unleashed by their opponents. They will never say it but the fear is nearly always palpable. That should be a source of pure, unadulterated adrenaline for you. You must run with it. They need you for your talent and you must satisfy that need. You must turn into a super political animal, a breed or two above the mediocre type you see around you, who run on ‘high octane power and fear mix.’
Uhuru with Raila Odinga
Work on the basis that every politician has enemies. That is the case always. But most of them have particular enemies, who would do anything, including things bordering on criminality, to see their enemies flounder. Those are the enemies they most worry about. And it is in dealing with them that the Grandmaster must exhibit unsurpassed acumen. That is when he has to resort to the proven technique of the holy trinity of political persuasion. Out of his political bag of tricks gathered over a long period and sustained political research, must come an answer to the puzzles presented by every particular enemy of his politician client.
Uhuru with Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa
It is no secret that most politicians are only interested in what they can use. They operate on the principle that if it is not of advantage to them, then there is no need to know. One would be forgiven for thinking that some of them are utter and complete bastards with no breath of compassion. They possess the gift of pure selfishness. The protagonists may be a long-term opposition figure in national politics or just a great tactician with an astute political brain. The Grandmaster ought to know everyone in politics, the church, civil society and the unions, even student unions. He must know all their sins and scams, know who is getting what and how much. He must be utterly discreet with a long and dangerous memory.
Moi with Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia
On the face of it, he must be a dependable gentleman who delivers all the favours promised during the campaigns in time and good measure. He must be inscrutable, permanently neutral even when he says he will give it to you in writing that ‘we will win and you will get XYZ.’ He never has, nor entertains, any doubt. He knows that politicians shout loudest when they are not certain of themselves. They do not trust even the one sitting beside them in parliament. But they must trust the Grandmaster, the moneybox. With him they must discuss everything and tell him everything. He alone is able to move upwards or downwards or sideways in the party. The politicians might even hate you with a passion but so long as you deliver a win, you should be content. Just get the job done.
Mzee Jomo Kenyatta with Milton Obote of Uganda
Let nothing and nobody stand on your way. You know which button to press, who to call and what to say. They should know that with you everything is possible; for you are the optimist who schemes and dreams big dreams. Through a discreet suggestion or a gentle reminder of an indiscreet incident in the past, you will get the target to pay attention to you. Always exercise that power of quiet and persistent malevolence. You will get your way. Tell them to do as they are told and when they are told to do it. And always couch it with a promise for the future and how much. On certain issues, tell the party what to say, how to say it and when to say it. The emphasis as you have heard around is not WE in but THEM out.
Uhuru Kenyatta with Theresa May of Britain
The Grandmaster must raise money to say it in newspapers, on radios, TVs and elsewhere, a task which demands a man who has learnt to pull a great many strings. You must be sagacious enough to avoid drawbacks or setbacks. No matter the case, exercise one-upmanship of the highest calibre, as you wield this faceless power that casts no shadow. By all means, vanquish your opponent but do not shame him for his lack of political judgment. You are the Godfather.
Engage the best people who can deliver the advertising design to do it all on Radio, TV, newspapers, banners, handouts, billboards, social media and elsewhere. Work them like dogs, get them to respond like dogs, and deliver everything in time. Your assistants should be your personal 24/7 property for the period of the campaign who, together, know every aspect of national politics. You must be remorseless.
Above all, never abuse your position or betray a confidence, and you will end up with enormous power and influence. Remember, I KNOW something about him; I WANT something from him and I HAVE something for him.