In essays from the ‘Nick of Time: Reflections and Refutations’, Mark Slouka could not have put it better when he observed, “History resists an ending as surely as nature abhors a vacuum; the narrative of our days is a re-run sentence, every full stop a comma in embryo”. A narrative of our time has been conceived, condensed, preached and is in the process of being internalised that the political landscape is a dichotomy of “dynasties” and “hustlers”.
The dynasty are the skilled, connected, experienced, powerful and rich individuals with blue blood running in their veins whereas the hustlers are the struggling, powerless, disconnected and poor individuals with green blood running in their veins. The aim is to whip the ‘hoi poloi’ to overthrow the skilled hands in the land and install a new set of individuals who are raw, malleable and spineless in order to create a new “dynasty”. Retrogressive, vindictive and antagonistic times are here with us.
However, John Lukacs in ‘The Hitler of history’ wrote: “History means the endless rethinking –of the past. History, in the broad sense of the word, is revisionist. History involves multiple jeopardy that the law eschews: people and events are tried and retried again”.
A quick retrying and retrial of the people considered as “dynasties” by the hustler nation point to a situation where, if a revolution were to happen, the greatest loser perhaps would be the high priest of the Hustler nation.
First, the Kenyattas: Jomo Kenyatta was the Prime Minister for one year (1963-1964) and the President of Kenya for 14 years (1964-1978). Thereafter the Kenyatta family went into political oblivion up to 2002 when Uhuru Kenyatta made an appearance though it took him 10 years to become the President of Kenya. This was three generations after the death of his father. He was a reluctant prince in the political pool until Daniel Moi prodded and pushed him into the deep end. He had to learn how to swim in the turbulent sea of politics. Where are the dynastic tendencies in this family?
Second, Jaramogi Odinga Oginga became the first vice President of Kenya for a brief two years (1964 -1966). Thereafter he went into political Siberia until the advent of multiparty politics in 1992. His son, Raila Odinga, was detained without trial for many years. In 1992, he became the MP for Lang’ata Constituency. In 2008 under the “Nusu” Mkate government, he became the second Prime Minister of Kenya for four years (2008 – 2012). If Raila Odinga were to become president of Kenya in 2022, it will be four generations since his father was vice President. The historical preview of Kenya points to the Jaramogi’s as a struggling, persecuted and hardworking family. Again, dynastic blood does not run in their system.
Third, Daniel arap Moi, a long serving politician and the second President of Kenya did not attempt at any time to hoist his family members to power or privilege. For many years he was the lone ranger in the pinnacle of power. His eldest son Jonathan Toroitich attempted four times in vain to represent the present Eldama Ravine Constituency in Parliament. It is only when he retired in 2002 that his last born son Gideon campaigned vigorously to capture Baringo Central Constituency, which he represented for one term.
Later in 2013 Gideon managed to represent Baringo in Senate after an epic duel. In 2017 everyone agrees that Gideon fought hard to retain the Senate seat in Baringo. If he contests the Presidency in 2022, it will be two generations since the retirement of his father as President of Kenya. Again dynastic tendencies and orientation do not run in the blood of the Moi family. Selfless service to humanity and nation for common good run deep in their psyche.
Fourth, William Ruto has been in politics from 1990 – a record 29 years. More than Uhuru Kenyatta and Gideon Moi. He has served three Presidents as an activist, Member of Parliament, Assistant Minister, Minister and Deputy President. He was moulded, shaped and inducted by three- isms; Moism, Odingaism and Kenyattaism into a crown Prince, yet tragically he embodies the imperfect aspects of the three leaders.
He still remembers when he got his first shoes yet Daniel Moi, Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga too, put on shoes the other day. Did Jomo Kenyatta even ever put on shoes? Ruto holds the dubious title of the longest serving Deputy President of Kenya. Through politics, he amassed power, wealth and influence. For all practical purposes he is a ‘pedigree dynasty’ with deep blue blood running in his system. His tangible and intangible assets litter the countryside and cities. Those who live in glass houses should not, therefore, throw stones.
Fidelity with the truth and hard facts is the hallmark of a great nation. Arthur Koestler in ‘The darkness at noon’ was right when he wrote: “Experience teaches that the people must be given for all difficult and complicated processes a simple, easily grasped explanation. According to what I know of history, I see that mankind could never do without scapegoats”. If we agree, and we will not, that the world is made up of dynasties and hustlers, then the following groups of leaders must sign up as dynasties: All two and three term members of Parliament, two term governors and long serving public servants.
Meanwhile the hustler platform has become “the new Shrine” and the chief celebrant is William Ruto. The sacrifice on the new shrine is symbolic of something that is a profound deformation of the old complex civil order. For all the troubles I agree with Albert Camus in ‘The plague’, that “On this earth, there are pestilences and there are victims – and as far as possible, one must refuse to be on the side of the pestilences”.
Mr Chesang is a historian