Why a third liberation might not be farfetched

Kenya is abuzz with rumours of an overthrow of social order. None other than President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) has alluded to a revolution by citizens if the Government does not move swiftly to ameliorate the current state of angst experienced by the vast majority.

His Jubilee administration’s social, political and economic peregrinations have yet to yield the desired well-being for all.

If anything, the elements that make for a revolution continue to present themselves daily.

For instance, the much hyped inclusivity for which the Building Bridges Initiative was mooted is yet to reflect in State appointments.

Of the 18 recent designates to foreign missions, 13 were from one ethnic extraction.

Further, the tax burden on ordinary citizens is stretching to unbearable levels against stagnated incomes.

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Corruption is at an all-time high and the inability to feed the indigent on cheap, nutritious and available food may be exacerbated by the delay of the onset of the long rains.

But even as national leaders fail to draw salutary lessons from Algeria and Sudan, African states that have suffered upheaval in recent times, there are tell-tale signs that Kenya may not be going the way of revolution; at least, not just yet.

This is because of a few mitigating factors that set it apart from many countries on the continent.

New administration

For starters, Kenya has a blow-valve for when citizen angst becomes unbearable.

This is in the system of leadership renewal through election cycles every five years. When Kenyans are dissatisfied with the performance of government, they cling to the hope that a new administration will come and that will cure the malaise of the previous one.

Because the Jubilee administration appears to have no redeeming qualities, 2022 election politics have taken centre-stage with the cathartic effect of hope springing eternal in the human breast.

Then there is the fact that Kenyans presently do not have a central figure that they can rally around.

It has been said that Opposition chief Raila Odinga was best placed to lead a revolution in Kenya because of his stature in the minds and hearts of Kenyans.

However, Mr Odinga is now preoccupied with a pact with President Kenyatta.

This is ostensibly to bring peace to Kenya after the fractious national elections of 2017.

Currently, no one seems able to articulate the grievances of Kenyans or importantly, to have the gravitas that can marshal the country to a cause.

Another counter-revolution factor is that of class. Kenyan society is stratified into upper, middle and lower classes.

The upper class is the owners of capital as well as the other factors of production.

They are the ones who conceptualize and run industries in Kenya.

The middle class are the ones that drive the visions of the upper class.

They implement and manage the aspirations of the owners of capital.

The lower class are the little cogs that drive the big wheel of production.

They are the majority that can be dispensed with without any detrimental effect to the well-being of the first two classes.

As a rule of thumb, revolutions usually emanate from the middle class.

Public problems

The Orange revolution in Ukraine succeeded on the backbone of this group.

However, the middle class in Kenya are still in their nascent stages of growth.

They are a narrow band with no significant voice in the affairs of the nation.

Furthermore, they are too preoccupied in servicing personal loans, creating private solutions to public problems and generally eking out a living in tough times.

They are thus, unconcerned about the foibles of the upper class or the predicament of the lower.

Finally, the multiplicity of Kenya’s ethnic groups works against any intended revolution.

From independence, politicians have exploited atavistic fears to subjugate citizens into tribal enclaves.

These have such strong holds on communities who would not countenance a rebellion against their own, even in the face of economic and political oppression.

Despite the seeming improbability of a revolution taking place in Kenya, it will not do for the political class to take citizens for granted.

For one, the quality of life for many has fallen so deplorably low that the misrule of the Jubilee administration may no longer be expiated by promises of a fight against corruption.

It is also possible that youth who are not ensorcelled by ethnic loyalties may rise to the occasion and take charge of movements with ramifications on a national scale.

As much as it is the least favourable way to effect necessary change, a revolution may just be the unstoppable idea whose time has come.

Mr Khafafa is the Vice Chairman, Kenya-Turkey Business Council

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KhafafaKenya-Turkey Business CouncilPresident Uhuru KenyattaCorruption