With Jubilee Asili, Ruto could face the risk of impeachment

A warm and hearty welcome to the newest political baby in the world: Jubilee Asili. While we do not know much about the new arrival yet, we have received the most interesting and important information: the newborn’s name. 

We Africans are so annoying when it comes to naming traditions. The community wants to be involved and gets very uneasy when they think that naming rules have been broken. 

For instance, some traditional people are already declaring young Jubilee Asili’s case a misnomer.

They are wondering why a faction that is seemingly breaking away from the original party, leaving behind its original party leader, and moving away from its other original members, would call itself original. 

Perhaps a more accurate name would have been ‘Jubilee ingine’ (another Jubilee), with the tagline, ‘Tumeenda’ (we are out of here!). For purposes of distinction, the Jubilee that has been ‘left’ by Asili must also add a suffix to its name, perhaps it should now be known as ‘Jubilee mzee’; the old Jubilee. 

In my view, a new name is a brilliant move on the Deputy President’s part. The dignified name, ‘Jubilee Asili’ is also meant to serve another useful purpose. It will replace and finally get rid of the degrading Tangatanga label forever. 

After all, no one wants to be known as the Tangatanga group, which translates to ‘those who wander around aimlessly’. But if we are to be very honest, the ‘hard-headed’ enemies of Tangatanga will still use that name at every opportunity. Those ‘wachokozi’ enjoy it too much to stop. Anyway, the first steps to making Jubilee’s break up official are neither new nor surprising.

Since 1992, party breakaways have not only happened but have also retained the ‘trademarks’ of the mother party. In August 1992, the main opposition party, Forum for the Restoration of Democracy, or Ford, founded by Jaramogi Odinga and Kenneth Matiba, broke into two parties: Ford Kenya and Ford Asili, much to the pleasure of President Moi. 

Just like DP Ruto, the first thing Kenneth Matiba did was to look for premises to house their new faction. He moved the new Ford to Muthithi Road in Westlands. And for a while their new party was called Ford-Muthithi, finally becoming Ford Asili. 

Coalition formation

Today’s Jubilee-Kilimani has adopted the clever naming strategy from Ford, because the name Asili has a legitimate ring to it, and as a bonus, it has an accusatory tone.

The addition of the word Asili says “Although we are the ones moving out, we are the original ones and you are not”. That was the message Matiba and Shikuku were sending not just to Oginga and Wamalwa, but to the country. 

So what next for Jubilee-Kilimani? Coalition formation, of course. As easily as we can predict the behaviour of those who will vote, so can we also predict the actions of those who will be asking for votes come 2022. 

It appears that for the first time in our electoral history, the two front-runners will have the same ‘family name’. 

In Kenya, joining the right dots politically means creating an appealing party brand, and using it as an electoral vehicle for votes. That is the logical order. And if the party you are in does not suit you, you create a new one, preferably with a related name, signs and symbols.

But in creating a new Jubilee, two years to the elections while still sitting as the deputy president, is Ruto joining the right dots in the wrong order? Before we answer that, here’s a short story. 

There was once a confident scientist who claimed that it was the movement of the trees that created the wind. And that this was evident because when the trees move their branches, there is always wind. Just as when someone flaps their hand around, they create a breeze, but when they are still, there is no breeze.

His conclusion was that since wind is the movement of air, something must be moving it. This makes sense, because it is logical. But just because it is logical does not mean it is true.

The guy joined the right dots, in the wrong order. We know that the wind moves trees, not vice versa. Is Ruto doing the right thing using the wrong approach at the wrong time? Is he attempting to create the wind by moving the trees? And in believing in this inverted logic, is he setting himself up for the impeachment James Orengo promised him a year and three months ago?

– The writer is a PhD candidate in political economy at SMC University. [email protected]