Machage out of order, out of sync and out of tune
He is the genuine reform champion with a cause. Or a publicity-seeking politician keen to throw a spanner in the quest for a new constitution. Or both. Or neither. Of those four options none could probably best describe Wilfred Machage, the medical doctor who quit his practice and plunged into the murky world of politics.
Yet if his utterances after President Kibaki gave him the boot last week, could be taken in context, the second option could best describe the Kuria MP.
Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed at not understanding goes a Chinese saying.
For all his good reasons to object to the Proposed Constitution, the suspended Roads Assistant Minister rues the dominance by bigger tribes, should the Proposed Constitution be adopted as it is. Obviously those that have keenly read the document have a different interpretation of the provisions altogether.
What is not lost is that Machage and those on the wilder fringes of the ‘No’ camp want the country divided into a patchwork of counties to fracture tribes and smash the sense of national pride.
Actually, Machage was not suspended because of that, rather for advocating for the purging of tribes from areas that have been hitherto hotbeds of ethnic rivalry.
Bearded like an Old Testament prophet, many would have expected kinder words to roll from his lips. But alas! Not so.
Deal with bully
No doubt, certain sensitivities inform the debate to increase the counties.
In Bungoma, for example, the Sabaot dread the days of yore when most of them, they claim, were disenfranchised and robbed of their identity.
Yoking them again to Bungoma County is to open up old wounds.
Most of other communities too have a chip on their shoulder but have elected to move on. Not because they have a county of their own, but because they have realised that they have to first deal with the system that made the bullying possible.
It is as true of the Teso as it is of the Kabras. It is as true of the Njemps as it is of the Marakwet. It is as true of the Embu as it is of the Rendille.
It is as true of the Gabbra as it is of the Indians and Jews. It is as true of the Gisu as it is of the Ndorobo and other minorities dotting the country.
Broadly speaking, Machage’s reference to his group as minority is not only limited in meaning, but self-defeating.
What about the Kenyan Indians who are hardly represented yet most of the decisions we Kenyan Africans make have serious bearing on them especially economically? Don’t they need a county too?
Yet it is not Machage’s skewed interpretation of the document nor the perceived weak links in the Proposed Constitution that rankles.
Rather it is his flabby argument that the provisions in the Proposed Constitution perpetuate the dominance of the smaller tribes by the bigger ones and his reckless belligerence.
Despite his opposition bearing genuine concern, his message has been tinged with tribal sentiment that eggs on murderous tribal gangs that wreak havoc at every electoral cycle.
He reinforces the feeling that it is the ruling elite’s desire to meddle, often malevolently with the lives of their subjects.
The writer is Editor Foreign News at The Standard.
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