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Why Mount Kenya region is the darling of 2022 presidential aspirants

MACHARIA MUNENE
By Macharia Munene | September 12th 2021

ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi and Senator Moses Wetangula arrive at Kinyona Catholic Church in Kigumo, Murang'a. September 12. [Boniface Mithika, Standard]

There are less than 11 months before Kenyans vote to elect their next crop of leaders in August 2022. There will be a new president but since it is not clear who that will be, aspiring ‘presidents’ have mounted intense campaigns to wooers, especially from the Mount Kenya region.

President Daniel arap Moi twice described seductive politics as making unrealistic promises to a woman only to abandon her once she agrees; mambo kwisha. Voters in the mountain are made to accept that they are there for external political seduction.

The elite among the voters in the mountain, usually sure of themselves, are unsure and are therefore vulnerable to seduction. They have to face three political realities.

First, their demographic advantage is slipping fast as evidenced by the number of empty schools in the region. Second, they seemingly subscribe to the crab philosophy of pulling each other down. Third, the mountain people need clear and advanced thinking in terms of social-cultural and political self-defence in order to counter persistently combined but subtle anti-mountain hostility. 

The mountain people appear confused, dazzled by many external suitors and are at the same time worried they might be left hanging; used and dumped. Scared of the political unknowns, they are engaging in assorted schemes to join and cheer competing external suitors. Since the invasion of the external suitors has also sent shockwaves, several would-be internal suitors have appeared but they struggle to be noticed.

The ‘leaders’ appear desperate and unstable, shift to and from rival Raila Odinga and William Ruto political camps, depending on what the ‘ground’ is. For a while, it looked as if they could find an alternative in Justin Muturi, Speaker of the National Assembly. The logic behind attempts to promote the Muturi alternative was the supposed unacceptability of Ruto and Raila, given their common ‘Pentagon’ past and involvement in unpleasant experiences targeting the mountain. There has been stiff internal resistance to the Muturi alternative from other aspiring ‘leaders’ of the mountain.

The mountain's would-be leaders are curious and entertaining lot but they tend to fall along the way because they lack the excitement that external political seducers generate. They include Mwangi Kiunjuri of Laikipia, Mwangi wa Iria and Jimmy Wanjigi of Murang’a, and Peter Munya of Meru. Munya was among the first to reject the idea of Muturi leadership. Wa Iria attracts attention partly through billboards and branded vehicles. He received publicity when the police stopped his branded 70 car campaign motorcade from entering Nyandarua County. On his part, Wanjigi generates more curiosity due to his antics in attempts to run away with the youth and dislodge Raila from the ODM leadership.   

With would-be leaders in the mountain in political wilderness, the impression that a political vacuum exists encourages political suitors to increase the frequency of their seductive visits. The suitors make promises they have no intentions of fulfilling but, as Moi noted, that would be political seduction and then mambo kwisha.

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