Kenyatta family still have a lot they can do to advance legacy

Kenyatta family matriarch, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, at the Holy Family Basilica in August 2019 . [John Muchucha, Standard]

Six weeks ago, an organised gang invaded the Northlands property of the Kenyatta family, just off the Eastern bypass, and proceeded to destroy, pilfer and set on fire the property in broad daylight.

The raid lasted ten hours but it was twenty-four hours before police arrived. By then both the attackers together with the family's dorper sheep had long disappeared. A local daily reported that the incident was planned by two MPs and a governor while the assailants were transported to the site and each paid Sh3,000 for the dastardly exercise.

A few sheep have reportedly been recovered but neither the gang members nor the organisers are yet to be arraigned in court, thus raising suspicion that this attack was officially sanctioned and the police ordered to stay well away.

It is very disturbing to imagine that the property and businesses of former Presidents could become battlegrounds for settling political scores. More worrying still that the National Police Service can be roped into supporting the whims and criminal acts of the current regime.

The Kenyatta family must be a worried lot as they have massive investments in a variety of businesses as well as substantial tracts of land spread all over the republic. Indeed, the plans for Northlands must be cast in doubt as the megacity development was to cost Sh500 billion and eventually provide homes for 240,000. The family has every right to security and to expand their business interests.

However, they should also begin to consider what kind of legacy - beyond the material wealth - that they would wish to leave to Kenyans now that their time in power has passed.

How will the Kenyatta name and brand be regarded by the next generation? What measures can they take to establish a legacy that will benefit the poor, the young, the unemployed and the landless? Are there outstanding measures they need to take to protect their reputation and inheritance? We should bear in mind that while many admire their business empire there are others who have long standing grievances with the family especially on matters related to land.

A particular example that I am familiar with concerns its property in Taita Taveta. In 2016 the Kenyatta family took possession of a large tract of land known as Sir Ransom adjacent to their Gicheha Ranch in Njukini.

The land had already been occupied by hundreds of families for decades and mindful of that, the family donated 2,000 acres to be allocated by the Ministry of Lands. Unfortunately, the allocation was not done fairly, with hundreds of deserving families left out and many outsiders granted titles.

The community protested but the bulldozers arrived in 2018 and hundreds were forcefully evicted and their homes destroyed. The ranch managers then secured their property with an electric fence and twenty-four-hour security.

Those who were excluded in the allocation live in precarious, poverty-stricken conditions while even the beneficiaries of the allocation are denied access to the river Tsavo, which is now sealed off and only accessible to Gicheha despite it being a national waterway. This makes farming difficult in this arid land.

To add to the community misfortune the local Catholic Church is also unreachable since it is now fenced within the Kenyatta farm. Since the Northlands invasion community leaders have been questioned and harassed by the local security machinery, despite not committing any offence.

Mr Kenyatta was presented with the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report in 2013. But upon its release, some commissioners claimed that five paragraphs relating to President Jomo Kenyatta on matters of land had already been expunged.

As everyone knows, the then Jubilee government committed itself to budget Sh12 billion for the implementation of the TJRC report. But that never happened. Opportunities to address and correct the past have come and gone. It seems that governments never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity!

However, time is on the side of the Kenyatta family. There is still much that they can do to advance their legacy. They would well be reminded of what one sage said, "Legacy is not what I did for myself. It's what I'm doing for the next generation."

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