Dynasty talk rubs President Uhuru the wrong way

President Uhuru Kenyatta, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka during the memorial service of the founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta at the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi yesterday. [John Muchucha, Standard]
President Uhuru Kenyatta says politics of dynasties will not get anybody into power.

Speaking  Thursday during the forty-first — and the last public commemoration of the death of Kenya's first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta — Uhuru said leadership was not about where one is born. The race to succeed him has been portrayed, particularly by Deputy President William Ruto's supporters, as a clash between dynasties and hustlers.

Speaking yesterday at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi Uhuru said it was the possession of the right qualities of leadership and not one's background that mattered.

“You know, I don’t know if I will be told that I am speaking politics, but I am not, I promise. I have no such intention, but you know when you hear people out there, you know, they talk, ‘Oh, this person, dynasty this, oh dynasty this’…it is not about that," he said

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He continued: "Leadership is not about where you were born.  It is not about where you came from.  It is not about the colour of your skin.  It is not about your tribe. It is just about a desire to serve — a desire to do good, a desire to make a difference in the lives of people, and anybody can do that."

The head of state called for "decent" politics in an apparent rebuke of the acrimony that has been building up in the lead up to the 2022 General Election.

Uhuru's political truce — commonly referred to as the handshake — with opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is a son of one-time vice President Jaramogi Odinga, has been a target of attacks by Dr Ruto's supporters who allege it is a scheme to block him from ascending to the presidency.

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Jaramogi's vice presidency was, however, characterised by bad blood between him and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who preferred capitalism to Jaramogi's Socialism. Jaramogi would resign the position and form the the Kenya Peoples' Union as opposition to Kenyatta's Kenya African National Union, Kanu.

Kenyatta would place Jaramogi under house detention after a violent confrontation between the two giants in Kisumu where Kenyatta had gone to open a Russian-built hospital in 1969.

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Jaramogi's supporters heckled Kenyatta after which the presidential guard opened fire on them.

Prominent family

The deputy president prides himself as a hustler -  meaning he risen through the ranks by sheer hard work and that he is a beneficiary of ascription.

“Even as we engage in our politics, let us do so in a decent manner, let us do so realising that you’re here today and gone tomorrow. Mzee is gone… 41 years ago. Kenya hasn’t stopped on its tracks, Kenya has made massive strides in between those 41 years," Uhuru said.

"We have moved forward and we shall never go back, just as today there will be others who will come tomorrow. But what spirit do they carry on for future generations to hold on to and so that this great nation that we were given continually moves to improve itself? That is our objective, and I will engage with anybody who has that desire, that positiveness in society," he added.

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The President also told off politicians who use negative words.

“Don’t do something to hurt your brother and sister. Some of the words people spew and forget that there are families behind those words that you spew, lakini hiyo ni shauri yenu kwa sababu kila mtu ako na haki ya kufanya vile anataka (but that is up to you because everyone has the freedom to do as they wish)”.

Uhuru further spoke out against individuals who are motivated by self-gain.

As for Raila Odinga, opinion is divided as to whether he owes his position to his bloodline. He is unquestionably one of vthe top heroes of what is commonly known as Kenya's second liberation and for that, he was in and out of prison for a total of seven years. He will also be remembered as the politician who tipped the scales and ended four decades of Kanu rule.

Away from politics, Uhuru reflected on his father's death and the toll it took on the family.

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“I remember this very early morning 41 years ago still very very vividly, and to some of us, it looked as if it was the end of the world because we couldn’t imagine life without him. But 41 years down the road what still carries some of us forward is the time we were able to spend with him, to listen to him, to see what he was doing,” he said.

"He laid a firm foundation, through the Harambee spirit of pooling together, leaving no one behind, and forging a nation built on us working together," Deputy President William Ruto said of Jomo Kenyatta.

In an unexpected move, President Uhuru also announced that yesterday's celebration served as the last public commemoration of the death of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, a ceremony that has been held each year for the past 41 years.

“As President, I have consulted the family of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and after consulting them we have agreed together that this is going to be the last celebration of mzee in this manner," he said

"We will each celebrate him as we remember him and in the manner in which we will be doing our things going forward,” Uhuru added.

He noted that remembrance of Mzee Jomo did not require a congregation.

He thanked his predecessors former presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki who commemorated the anniversary each year without fail as well as the Catholic Church for hosting the celebrations at the Holy Family Basilica.

Yesterday’s celebration began with the laying of wreaths at Parliament Buildings and thereafter a service.

Other heroes

Generations of the larger Kenyatta family also thronged the church where the celebration was held, led by the matriarch, Mama Ngina Kenyatta. 

President Uhuru's brother Muhoho Kenyatta, speaking on behalf of the family, also mentioned that it was important to remember and honour other heroes who were instrumental in fighting for independence and building the country, including Tom Mboya.

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President Uhuru KenyattaDynastiesPolitics