ACK in 1992, following the breakup of the opposition group of those days, the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy, there was an epic battle over which of the two groups would get to go into the first multiparty election with the name Ford.
For, by that time, this name Ford had acquired great power in the minds of most Kenyans who would vote in the first pluralist poll for 25 years. It was associated with the brave group of men and women who had courageously dared to confront the all-powerful ruling party Kanu, and to demand a return to multiparty democracy.
But, out of a conviction that they were sure to beat long-serving President Daniel arap Moi, the Ford leaders started quarrelling among themselves and creating two Fords: Ford Kenya (led by Jaramogi Odinga) and Ford Asili (led by Kenneth Matiba).
Both, of course, ultimately lost to Moi. But the Ford name retained enough of its magic to lead the former Chief Secretary (Head of the Civil Service) Simeon Nyachae, in his presidential bid of 2002, to opt to run as leader of the Ford People party.
The next political acronym to have such force in the minds of the public was Narc – the National Rainbow Coalition of 2002. This was a coalition founded on the painful lesson of 1991 and 1997, that when the Opposition parties allowed themselves to be divided, Kanu was sure to win.
Narc also broke up, after they had won the election.
As such, President Mwai Kibaki found that, by 2007, he could not run for reelection on the Narc ticket. The party had been taken over by one of his former allies – Charity Ngilu.
Against a background of such examples of the potent acronyms of various political parties and political coalitions acquiring such force and strength as to become a sure ticket to electoral victory, it is hardly surprising that the newly minted NASA – the National Super Alliance – has attracted so much attention.
And, in a strange twist of history, we find that, just like in 2002, the political establishment’s candidate is Uhuru Kenyatta. And out in the Opposition we have the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Cabinet ministers, two former vice presidents, and all kinds of political heavyweights, who, if they would only unite, can certainly defeat the incumbent – just like they did in 2002.
But to win, NASA needs to become a vehicle that consolidates the combined vote power of the Opposition blocs.