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‘Old Kenya’ a threat to constitutional gains

By | April 12th 2012 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Okech Kendo

Kenya under the new Constitution is yet to achieve a critical mass of new Kenyans who are committed to moving the country forward. Forward in a direction that builds nationhood and citizenship in line with the philosophy of the new Constitution.

Sadly, even some lawmakers have not understood that ganging up along tribal lines to acquire power belong in the past. It is a past of impunity and historical injustices.

Many MPs are yet to understand that hankering for patronage from a presidential aspirant from "our tribe" or who can buy loyalty, undermines the new Constitution.

It is not surprising that "hiring" MPs is a budget item for one of the high-ranking presidential aspirants. Which means he can ‘hire’ your MP to rant against perceived enemies in much the same way chairs are rented out. MPs call it "facilitation" to hide the fact that some of them have sold their souls. They have been "hired" to confuse you. They want you to be afraid of a future without patronage, impunity, and tribalism.

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Tribalism – some call it "negative ethnicity" for political-correctness – has always fed the power elite. Tribalism has always been fodder for attaining and retaining power for foxy tribal chiefs.

While the power elite makes hay by manipulating ethnic emotions for opportunistic and provincial solidarity, wananchi have always been used and abused.

While a few gain from ethnic solidarity around power, the majority have always been victimised for sharing kinship with wielders of State power.

Millions of Kikuyu-Kenyans are impoverished, even though the power clique – under the Jomo Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki regimes – have always used them during elections to fortify their survival.

Now they have again appropriated a presidential aspirant, whom they are pushing as scion of Gema. They have identified a ‘community project’ for president of a country, which yearns for republican ideals.

Ethnic warp

Yet even under a president from "our tribe", not everyone would graduate from a charcoal seller to gold. The Njenga Karume model works for those with direct links to State power.

The late Karume would probably have remained a dust-washed charcoal dealer if it were not for his proximity to State power. Or without the Gikuyu-Embu-Meru Association, which he patronised for decades, across regimes.

But not every community in the Gema consortium – the Meru and Embu – have hard their presidential turns. Yet others want a third, and further helping.

Millions of the Kalenjin people remain poor Kenyans even though "their own" was in State House for 24 prime years.

Now William Ruto is trying to revive Kamatusa (Kalenjin-Maasai -Turkana-Samburu) to give the Kalenjin the impression that only "their own" can guarantee their protection.

No lie can be more blatant; and deception should not be a trap for the gullible. The Maasai, Luhyia, Luo, Digo, Ogiek, Choni, Kamba, Abagusii, and others should avoid the snare of opportunistic propaganda.

The Luo should not be deluded into imagining that only a Raila Odinga presidency can salvage them from the abyss of want. Kenyans just need a cat to kill the mouse. It does not matter whether the cat is black or white, Gema or Kamatusa, Kuria or Maasai.

What matters is a leadership that builds Kenya for Kenyans.

Presidents Kenyatta and Kibaki miserably failed this test of leadership. Kenyatta turned to his kinsmen for company after isolating his compatriots within three years of independence.

President Kibaki, who promised the public service under him would reflect the face of Kenya, is caught in an ethnic warp, with his chosen kinsmen controlling critical security, financial, and energy sectors.

President Moi never had a Kalenjin as Minister for Finance during the 24 years he reigned, and he had feelers across the width and bread of the country.

Ethnic skew of leadership serves a few who have direct links to the power clique.

Majority of the Agikuyu toil like any other ordinary Kuria or Ogiek for survival.

Kenyans should look for a Kenyan to lead Kenya in the right direction. Tribal mobilisation is a ruse for those who have gained from corruption.

They want to use you to protect proceeds of impunity.

Right thinking Kenyans should be ready to get it right after decades of deception. You should reject politicians who sponsor tribal meetings yet still aspire to lead Kenya.

The matters of the International Criminal Court, the General Election, and the Kibaki Succession are events that shall come to pass, while Kenya lasts. Indictment of two individuals should not override building Kenya for posterity, otherwise sacrifice for the national good would be meaningless. Don’t burn the granary once you are fed.

Shared kinship

Again, truth be told, other Kenyans would behave like hardcore Gema and Kamatusa if they found their ambitious children in similar circumstances, which is sad. But tribalisation of individual indictments would still be wrong.

Wananchi should not worship leaders because of shared kinship. We should not identify more with tribes than with Kenya.

You should not be more Luo than you are a Kenyan; more Nandi than Kenyan; and more Kikuyu than a citizen of a country, which is struggling for liberation from the stranglehold of ethnicity.

For the new Constitution to make national sense, there should be a new thinking that places Kenya ahead of tribal solidarity, which is why a patriotic leadership is a national imperative.

Writer is The Standard’s Managing Editor Quality and Production.

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