This piece is not for the lackadaisical reader but is worth the read so, take time and read it through as it’s an analysis I have decided to do from an article I disclose below and I believe strongly the message needs to beard by all who care about our beloved country; heck, even if you don’t care, just read it and you’ll be glad you did. If not, well, it’s corona time so likely not much else to do with all the available time:-)
In the lead-up to the 2017 presidential elections, Njuguna and I had had many heated discussions on who Kenyans should elect as president. That time he told me, “Uhuru ni gaitu ga guicirira…mukuigwa uguo…” (Uhuru is ours by birth and blood…you can lump it if you don’t like it).
“Iguthua ndogoria, itikinyagira nyeki,” said my friend, a matatu driver to me. Translated metaphorically, it means a limping shepherd leads his flock astray. Literally it means, a leader who lacks foresight cannot lead his people to greener pastures. Essentially, he becomes a burden to his people.
My matatu driver friend said that in some parts of Kiambu County, where he grew up and still lives, he knows of families that have been rendered jobless. Even with their meagre incomes, at least they could afford to buy food. “Now that meagre pay is not forthcoming. How do you expect these people to survive? Still, the president talks of ‘my fellow Kenyans’. No muhaka ticiria uhoro wa muturire witu wa hau kabere.” We must seriously think of how lives will be in the future.
“For me, I already have”, said the driver. “I’ve thought long and hard and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never again participate in electoral politics. What’s the point? Uhuru and his band of politicians can spend millions of shillings cheating our mothers with branded lesos [kitenge-like wrapping cloth, popular with women], caps and T-Shirts, yet he cannot find money to buy the same women masks.
“The Kenyatta family runs the biggest milk production company in this part of the world, but it cannot, even for one day, say it will subsidise the price of milk so that poor people can afford it. That is the same milk they get from those poor farmers in Mt Kenya region.”
“But look what happened? Kikuyus hitched their wagon on a fading horse, a wild horse that didn’t, in the first place, know where it was headed and how it was heading wherever it was heading. Yet we Kikuyus couldn’t stop to ask these important questions because we were consumed by ethnic jingoism. We were all in a tribally induced trance…now we’re all paying for it. I’ve thought about these things: cooked up presidential elections, tribal voting, about Uhuru, politicians, why people are suffering, and now coronavirus and I can tell you we’re living in apocalyptic times.”
“The Kikuyu people are bewitched,” mused Njuguna. “How do you explain the fact that one family has been able to control the thinking of an entire group for so long?” I asked him whether he had been bewitched during the 2013 and 2017 elections. He said yes. “How else can I explain my total conviction in Uhuru’s presidency without wanting to brook any contrary opinion? My sister being stuck in China is the last straw that broke the camel’s back. We are through with Uhuru…”
If there is one thing coronavirus ought to teach us, said my friend, is that we Kenyans need to think long and hard about the future of the country: “What do we want for ourselves? What kind of leaders do we desire? How do we right the political wrongs we’ve made? Talking specifically to my fellow Kikuyus: How do we unchain ourselves from the Kenyatta family servitude? This will be critical if the Kikuyu people in the coming years hope to be part of the struggle to liberate the country from the shackles of predatory politics.”
These are the words of a Kikuyu voter identified only by the name Njuguna in an article appearing in the Elephant and titled …Is the Love Between Uhuru and the Kikuyus Over?
I have read many articles, watched news, listened to talking heads on TV shows in Kenya and know since the handshake, there has been a drumbeat of anti-Uhuru rhetoric, which started right after the handshake with Raila and the criticism started off as expressions of confusion regarding the handshake—and understandably so as no one expected the handshake to mild criticism and in no time, the unleashing of whining and complaining that morphed into outright insults and even daring of Uhuru to silence those leading in these unprecedented attacks on a president of Kenya.
In this one piece, Dauti Kahura, its author has captured nearly all of the collective case made against Uhuru and Jubilee.
It is also the reason I have extensively quoted the article more than I would usually do in any of my blogs or writings.
I have captioned the heading as wailing of a Kikuyu voter, but I may as well captioned it as the confessions of a Kikuyu voter.
This is because what this Kikuyu voter has said in behalf of all Kikuyus is something many of us non-Kikuyus have known for decades and said as much but all to deaf ears and this can be summed up as follows:
First, tribalism is the disease that is eating out our core.
Second, even though voting is always along tribal lines, Kikuyus alone cannot win the presidency in Kenya as that is an impossibility constitutionally but, even with some gobbled up coalition to rope in another big tribe like the Kalenjin as was the case in 2013, they still cannot win the presidency without the help of vifaranga vya komputa.
Third, even as Kikuyus have voted for their own for president to the man and woman (give or take about 10% who voted for Raila at all relevant elections), most of them have never benefitted from having so voted as only the rich among them benefit, alongside those have connections with them and in some negligent numbers relative to the total population, some hoi polloi who may get some trickle down benefits such as their kith and kin through nepotistic employment.
Fourth, even with full knowledge of the fact they NEVER benefit from having gaitu ga guicirira (birth and blood), the Kikuyus, lured by lofty speeches at rallies, campaign paraphernalia and a reminder of their “superior” status as “nyumba kubwa” (the entitled ones), once again turn up in large numbers to vote for their “own” only to repeat the same circle of continuing to live in the same miserable conditions to no end.
Fifth, it took the government’s inability to bring home a relative stuck in Wahun, China for this Kikuyu voter to say enough is enough. “My sister being stuck in China is the last straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said. Well, a most voters who voted in October 2017 had reached the same conclusion and voted for change that never saw the light of day. Ditto in 2013. It took this Kikuyu voter’s sister being stuck in China to feel the pain all these other voters have felt all these years.
Now that this Kikuyu voter, and all those from the region have seen the light, what next?
Obviously hating Uhuru and calling him names is not it.
However, recognizing all these failures and shortcomings the country has lived with through all these decades, it is time to find solutions, not more whining and complaining about it.
We start by an admission as this Kikuyu voter has that most of you have been brainwashed to believe in tribalism, which is a myopic and backward belief that only serves the interests of those who whip you into buying the crap.
We start by finding common ground as a nation, regardless of tribe in finding a formula that works for us to pull through not just this pandemic, but in all future social, political and, economic challenges.
We start by fixing the government so that voter say counts in an election.
We start by de-coupling tribe from government so that being in government is not determined or decided by what tribe you belong.
We start by making sure those in government are held accountable to what they do or do not do.
We start by demanding and having elected leaders who are not in office to line their pockets at the expense of those they are supposed to represent.
We start by demanding that parts of our constitution such as Chapter 6 on integrity are not just empty words.
We start by accepting the reality you cannot do the same things over and over but expect a different result.
These things can all be done at the same time, starting with implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Only then we can have a Kenya we can ALL be proud of and, more importantly, a Kenya that works for ALL of us, not just for the few who continually empty our coffers for their selfish benefit and enjoyment at the expense of everyone else they live with nothing to even survive on.
May God bless our country and open our eyes and hearts to see this is what is at stake.