By Chris Obure
I have been following the delicate account of key swing votes with interest. This is mainly because Kisii, my birthplace, is being lumped into this category together with the Meru region (or generally upper Eastern), Bukusuland, and Coast as possible deciders of who wins the presidency.
Others predict that these vote blocs could eventually be game changers in the final lap to State House.
One major characteristic about these so-called ‘key swing vote’ communities revolves around the perception that they may not have one of their own as a key presidential candidate or big political party that resonates well with their aspirations.
On my part as a political leader who has been around for quite some time, I prefer to view all those Kenyan men and women who have come forward to succeed President Kibaki as Kenyan patriots out to serve all of us. I disagree with those who view them through ethnic or regional lenses, akin to mere conveyors of regional or ethnic interests in the presidential race. Most commentators, including the media, have opted for the later.
In that case, ODM’s Raila Odinga, TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta, URP’s William Ruto, UDF’s Musalia Mudavadi, and Narc-Kenya’s Martha Karua have found themselves easily stereotyped as belonging to and pushing some mundane sectarian interests. This is unfair to them and undermines democracy and national cohesion.
However, those balkanising our national politics in this manner should be reminded that majority of Kenyans value national unity and harmony.
Thus, they want to interrogate presidential aspirants and parties in terms of how they will boost nationalism, national cohesion, and socio-economic wellbeing of the country.
No conscious Kenyan person or community is keen to form political unions that are aimed at perpetrating divisions, inequalities, ethnic or regional complexes or economic apartheid to favour and hurt fellow countrymen. That is the spirit of our new Constitution. That is the main objective that our founding fathers had when they risked their lives to wrestle out the British colonialists.
With that broader view of the elections, I have reviewed the categorisation of Gusiiland (plus the Gusii diaspora) as a swing vote with a lot of concern. Those behind this branding should give us a break.
Our people are enlightened enough. They have willingly integrated themselves with other Kenyans at home and countrywide, plus, of course venturing overseas where they have actively played their role as part of the global community. That is why many are engaged meaningfully and progressively in other Kenyan and international communities. That is why there is a Mkisii (non half cast) elected mayor in such a far off land like Canada.