Talk of secession gained prominence last week but it was unfortunate to see that the Kenya Constitution 2010, with its array of liberties and rights, has not been embraced.
Secession is not a new phenomenon. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, some 20 years after Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia. The question is; what did the secessions achieve? The bliss that South Sudanese citizens expected is yet to be realised. Right now, they are under the yoke of tribalism - the curse of African leaders.
I specifically refer to leaders because the patriarchal mentality that has guided African societies demands loyalty to leaders. How else would one explain situations, during adversity, where Kenyans forget their tribal affiliations and come to the aid of the disadvantaged? Only when the personal interests of a few individuals are threatened do ordinary Kenyans fight against each other.
South Sudan has become a basket case because the Dinka and Neur tribes, ably represented by Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, cannot agree on anything. Between them, rather than tap the potential that lies underneath their soil, they have butchered more than 10,000 people, in addition to the over two million people killed during the war for secession. Given our local politics, there is no evidence Kenyans would do better under similar circumstances.
It would be dishonest to deny there are deep fissures in the country as a consequence of political ineptitude on one hand and the apparent determination by only two of the 44 Kenyan tribes to occupy the driver’s seat. This is an aspect that demands attention. Yet because our leaders ascribe to a style that gives the impression Kenya is more of a police state than a democracy, the resolve to move away from high handedness gets hardened.
A seed has been planted in the minds of the Kenyan people at a time when they are going through hard economic times and when the political climate has been made tense by the Opposition’s petition against the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the presidential election by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
The UhuRuto administration is solely responsible for the secession calls. They detracted from their original promises made in technicolour detail. The duo can claim credit for improving infrastructure in parts of the country, not necessarily those that are in dire need of roads, like Turkana and Pokot.
Bandits are able to have free run of large areas of the North Rift secure in the knowledge that no motorised police transport can reach them. While bandits continue to massacre innocent civilians, the police continue to look for stones to turn. If they ever find anything under those stones remains a mystery.
The digital leadership declared in 2013 turned out poorer than the analogue leadership before it. The evils Kenyans fought so hard to overcome in the struggle for independence are still with us, to which has been added tribalism that clearly was not evident prior to self-rule. Illiteracy, poverty and disease continue to hold most of our people in bondage.
An education system structured to favour the moneyed denies the poor a chance to better their lot; creating a vicious cycle of poverty that consigns the majority to penury for generations. Where then are the equal opportunities for all?
Treatable diseases like malaria continue to send many to early graves. Cholera has jumped the social barrier to afflict the rich in upmarket places. The weight of one's pocket determines the type of medical treatment one receives at a medical facility. What is worse is that UhuRuto squandered the very first chance they had to unite Kenyans. Under them, ethnic glorification has been perfected.
Public appointments became the preserve of only two ethnic groups despite constitutional demands for equitable distribution of the national cake. As a consequence, many Kenyans feel left out, and to them, rightly or wrongly, secession may be the answer.
Barring the petition challenging his election, Uhuru would have taken the oath of office by now. He had, however, boxed himself into a corner. This suggests he is bound to repeat the same mistakes he made in his first term if he gets the Supreme Court’s nod to continue leading Kenya.
There is a greedy, worthless lot out there anticipating payback time for their support in the run up to the August 8 election. Cronyism, tribalism and rewarding loyalty could stand in the way of progress again. The very failures who have consigned Kenya to mediocrity for decades will likely get public appointments where their overriding concerns would be to recoup losses made in the campaign period.
The reluctance to tackle corruption is amplified when political parties allow party members who are principal suspects in mega heists to seek public offices. The power that comes with high political office enables them to pull strings and ensure that they are safe. Political goodwill can change all this.
Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The Standard. [email protected]