Why Kenya is starting 2024 on wrong footing, politically

President William Ruto. [PSCU]

Kenya has started 2024 wrongly, on a downward slide in the economic, diplomatic and mostly in political zones.

It promises to sink Kenyans into deep socio-economic and political misery that will be tragically concocted. While former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga wrote of a looming revolution, University of Nairobi law lecturer Harriet Njoki Mboce warned that “the country is slipping down the grease pole into a dictatorship” as she asserted “We Must Defend Our Constitution.”

They are not alone in being concerned. The source of such anguish is President William Ruto’s attitude towards the country as he, Nero-like, watches it sink.

Having once threatened to ‘slap’ his boss, President Uhuru Kenyatta, he seemingly is ready to slap the country into the shape he wants. Like Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, he is imbued with a ‘saviour’ mentality.

Kagame and Museveni rescued their countries from devastating wars; Ruto appears willing to ‘save’ Kenya from the ‘generic peace’ that it enjoys. His evolving signature attire blends Mobutu Sese Seko’s dressing fashion without the leopard skin hat and pretensions of British aristocratic ‘airs’.

In symbolically combining the two contradictory sartorial images, Ruto is a lone showman and wants to be unquestioned in Kenya. Since he dislikes history, he fails to see that over-taxation threatens states and empires.

Taxation caused the American and French revolutions, prompted Harry Thuku’s hyperactivity in challenging Governor Edward Northey, and spurred Gandhi’s nationalism in India.

Ruto threatens people and institutions into conformity, promises to use the sword on critics, attacks the Judiciary, and wants to know which ‘legislator’ would vote against his desires. His courtiers cheer him, imitate his attire, and engage in blatant conspicuous consumption amid poverty that attracts the attention of the insulted public and EACC boss Twalib Mbarak.

Ruto also gives the impression that he wants the Western capitals to accept him as leader of the Africans, and of a good ‘Pan-Africanist’ in the service of the Conceptual West.

Since this impression does not amuse other African leaders, his emerging role as a diplomatic ‘nyapara’ tends to isolate him even in Eastern Africa; Kenyans are not happy.

The growing state of ‘un-peace’ in the country has political scattering effect, particularly in the Mt Kenya region. The mountain has lost direction and is mesmerised by its contentious past that is split between heroism and opportunism.

Opportunists always outstrip the heroes at the point of success. In pre-colonial times, Waiyaki wa Hinga gave way to opportunistic Kinyanjui wa Gathirimu. In colonial times, the Mau Mau yielded to the home guards who got the ‘Uhuru’.  

There is a nostalgic throwback to Mau Mau heroism which rekindles interest in Agikuyu essence and Godfrey Muriuki’s work as the chronicler of Agikuyu pre-colonial history.

This interest is exemplified in the increasing popularity of the Mau Mau Chronicles and in the heated contestation over the Mau Mau legacy. In the colonial times, especially in the Mau Mau War period, official was to empower ‘home guards’ and favoured politicians to make people collectively poor.

William Murgor, for instance, acquired fame as ‘Bwana Firimbi’ in Eldoret by harassing the Kikuyu.

The contestation over the Mau Mau legacy has Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua competing for attention with desperadoes. He touts his Mau Mauness to get accepted as ‘leader’ but youthful desperadoes see things differently.

They turn Kariuki Kiarutara’s Kungu Maitu into an anthem, singing it even in police cells. The song praises Mau Mau prowess, solidarity, and love surpassing wealth.

In struggling to defend the indefensible, Gachagua appears insensitive to the plight of the pulverised. The future is not bright in 2024 which started badly, with Kenya sliding into potential abyss.

Ruto talks rough mainly to tighten his grip on the country. Gachagua, politically disoriented probably cares about Ruto’s ‘slapping’ ability. Watching leadership in the mountain slip from his fingers, Gachagua also started and fairs badly.

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