The overarching bases for any disaffiliation of a group from its nationality should be the promise of better social economic lives of the separatists. That promise should be demonstrated beyond doubts that the radical decision victims are led to make does not jeopardize them further.
Kenya, as a nation, has under the constitution, legitimate interest in its citizens economic and social rights. It would not, therefore, tolerate its people being influenced out of their livelihoods to worse standards of life. In this connection, it is paramount that the Kenyan populace appreciate the import of secession as a proposed means of liberation the opposition is crusading for. Currently the only ground opposition has proponed is the perceived electoral injustice.
Since the opposition speaks with rage, anger, rhetoric and undertones for revenge, without dissemination of the benefits to be gained from such a radical venture, it sends chills of fear for violence and for resort to destruction of lives and property as has been the experience.
A case for secession
If former US President Woodrow Wilson’s 1918 definition of self determination as the right of a people to form its own state is anything to go by, a case for secession can exist. But who is the “self” that makes this determination? What is your identity? Is it based only on political party groupings? What are the grounds and benefits for seeking the determination ?How will secession help? The group has to define itself succinctly to its current or would be supporters.
The only identification of the dissenting Kenyans is their political affiliation. Political parties are episodic and can change several times during the election cycles. The grouping , therefore, is not cohesive and might not hold together. There is no historic, cultural heritage, race, ethnic , religious, or language bonds between the pockets of the supposed supporters thinly scattered in the country. The extent of the perceived new state fractures, segments and partitions all essential communication and other infrastructure.
According to the philosopher Aristotle, the whole is more than the total sum of its parts, and together, everyone achieves more (T.E.A.M). The groups will of necessity shift allegiance based on which side of the bread is buttered. The opposition leadership should demonstrate how its supporters will hold together.
NASA should educate the public on the resources it would have at its disposal that they cannot currently access, for exploitation to fuller potential. The benefits of the venture should be explained in simple clear terms and language to the people of humble backgrounds for them to understand what they are getting themselves into, not in the technical jargon adopted by their leaders and advisers. The groups promises to its members should be clerified. Are the group members going to continue enjoying services from existing or alternative public institutions, schools, hospitals, security against terrorist attacks etc.
Can the separatists promise food security and other supplies?Is the separation compatible with the budding devolution dispensation. How does separation affect the interests of those dissenting and those left behind with whom there are family relations? Is the breakaway of the group good riddance? Does secession harm the members by taking resources away or causing other disruptions?
The group should provide education on examples or lack of successful secessionists in the world. The implications to the neighboring countries and the international relations that secession might have on the perceived gains should be brought out at public rallies. How will resistance to the secession from within or from the neighboring countries be countered?
For example, there was resistance from the Nigerians when its Eastern constituents proposed to form the state of Biafra where most oil reserves are, because the resource belonged to all Nigerians. The Biafran war lasted over two years. When Somalia agitated for secession of Somalis in Northeastern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia to secede, both countries resisted, resulting in fighting in the region. Subsequently, Somalia itself fragmented in a civil war among its clans. The Eritreans fought annexation by Ethiopia for thirty years before holding a referendum to allow their war-battered country to recover. The secession proponents in Kenya have no minerals or any other wealth to take away like the Sothern Sudan which had an irreconcilable past with the North due to many years of war over resources and religion.
After it seceded from Sudan, ethnic violence inside South Sudan intensified and has been getting worse by the day. Catalonia, one of the several examples outside Africa, which is fresh in our minds , is estimated to account for a fifth of Spain’s Growth Domestic Product. Yet, besides its secessionist designs being illegal, Catalans are seriously divided on the issue, both among themselves and from the rest of Spain. The fact that many states in the world are ethnically heterogeneous, like Kenya, discourages secession due to the potential disastrous consequences. The Kenyan’s opposition’s clamor for secession should educate its followers on how it will overcome similar turmoil experienced by other secessionist movements.
The proposed secession on the only grounds advanced of electoral injustice, real or perceived, and the threat to sacrifice lives, will plunge Kenya into worse violence than experienced following the 2007 elections. Swearing in of the leaders of the opposition is sure recipe for unprecedented crisis.
Mr Kimani is a communication consultant.