I have been trying to wrap my head around the idea of Uhuru Kenyatta “bridging the divide”, “reconciling”, “healing” or “uniting” Kenyans in the wake of the just-concluded re-election and I simply can’t – simultaneously amazed at the audacity of the man’s November 28th inauguration speech and absolutely disturbed by the viciousness and inhuman treatment of supporters of the opposition party NASA - by his law enforcement and security personnel.
I will not sugar-coat it:
Kenya is a dangerously fractured country and the NASA/Jubilee partisan divide is just one fault line.
The country is also facing the (other) more foreboding intra-Jubilee political power divide, this as alluded to by Daily Nation’s Macharia Gaitho in an article he wrote about 3 weeks ago.
Regarding Uhuru Kenyatta’s claim that he will unite Kenyans, let me say this:
The idea that the man responsible for exacerbating the divide Kenya and Kenyans are currently experiencing IS the same man to unite said country is a cruel joke - this even as I acknowledge the truism that politics is the art of the possible and is never about personal relationships but about long-term interests - apologies to Henry John Temple Viscount Lord Palmerston and British Prime Minister.
Somehow, even Uhuru Kenyatta realized that he needed the advantage afforded a confirmed president albeit one elected by one-third of the country i.e. two communities and a smattering of other small ones - the remaining two-thirds having decided to boycott the universally derided, illegitimate and flawed re-election exercise.
The hobbled and chastened Uhuru Kenyatta needed the isolated swearing-in so as to “enjoy a distinct advantage in any talks with the opposition chief as opposed to a situation where two presidential candidates meet in an environment where they are, theoretically, equals.”
Having cowered the Independent Electoral Boundary Commission (IEBC) and the Supreme Court into acquiescing to an October 26, 2017 re-election, then brutalizing and murdering protesting members of the opposition, it stretches credulity to postulate that the very person responsible for the foregoing will unite the groups that were on opposite ends of the brutality and murder; one group, with the tacit approval and support of the government, dishing out the violence and the other group bearing the brunt of said violence!
He may not have created Kenya’s deep political divide, but Uhuru Kenyatta has certainly exacerbated and allowed said divide to fester into the gangrenous relationship that currently exists between Kenya’s tribes.
And the unfortunate thing is that he, Uhuru Kenyatta, did so for crass political expediency and to retain power.
Come 2022, the chickens he has nurtured in the zero-sum power-by-the-barrel-of-a-gun, swing-of-billy-clubs and lobbed-teargas machination (of the last five years) will come home to roost as his ruling Jubilee Party is forced to confront the possibility of “violent internal spasms when one side that retains the threat of an irregular ethnic militia realises it has been conned” – this as offered by Daily Nation’s Macharia Gaitho in the November 13 article.
Right now, the clear and present danger is how Kenya survives the highly flawed re-election and its violent aftermath.
Short of a miracle and collective betrayal/implosion of the opposition, I do not see RAO, Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Wetangula and Joho “reconciling” with Uhuru and Ruto.
Let me rephrase that:
I hope the opposition principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula and Hassan Joho DO NOT “reconcile” with Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
I say this not because I don’t want a peaceful and prosperous Kenya.
I say this because the pain and suffering the two former crimes-against-humanity suspects and their acolytes have inflicted on the opposition and their supporters is something I am surprised the human rights’ activists/organizations and the international community - AU, EU, ICC, UN and USA - have remained silent over.
The almost deliberate disproportionate use of force by Kenya Police, General Service Unit (GSU) and deputized/armed militia groups against the opposition (protesters/demonstrators), armed with little more than stones and sticks hearkened back to the days of Alabaman Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Conner’s running battles with mostly Africa Americans agitating for civil rights and South Africa’s apartheid-era conflagrations - typified by Soweto and worse - Sharpeville circa 1960.
(Side note: Two hundred & forty years after independence AND fifty-two years after the Civil Rights’ Act, Americans are still wrestling with the aftermath of slavery and marginalization of African-American communities. South Africa for its part went through a truth, justice and reconciliation exercise in 1994 which in my opinion, ameliorated the pain and injustice suffered by the victims of apartheid.)
The narrative that Kenya’s ruling incumbencies (can) act in the best interest of the rest of the country – outside their respective (Mt. Kenya/Central/Rift Valley) bases – has been repeatedly exposed as a lie. Consider the following:
- During the run-up to independence, Jomo Kenyatta effectively double-crossed Jaramogi Oginga Odinga even after the latter (had) by-passed an opportunity to lead the soon-to-be-independent Kenya UNTIL the former was released from detention,
- After Raila had proclaimed that Mwai Kibaki was all Kenyans needed to end Daniel Moi’s quarter century despotic authoritarianism i.e. “Kibaki Tosha” (2002), the former MP for Othaya reneged on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) he had crafted with the former MP for Langata. The duplicity created the rift that metastasized into the post-election violence of 2007 - even as Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura haggled with Kofi Annan over “Kibaki’s special presidential chair” and assorted symbologies - during the former UN Sec-Gen’s peace mission!
- In 2013, the same group of individuals - Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and their aides - duped Musalia Mudavadi into believing that their Central/Mt. Kenya & Rift Valley base will throw their weight behind him for the top job. The “devil” interceded and nixed that idea!
Along the way and true to the adage “to winner goes the spoils”, the side that ascended to the top of Kenya’s political food chain has always made conscious and consistent decisions to “eat” at the expense of the losing side, their regions and supporters.
If the foregoing does not give one pause re: the sincerity of Uhuru’s offer (to “unite” all Kenyans), then consider this sobering reality:
Jubilee has a majority in Parliament and were not be shy about using it to push through legislation to garner their man a second term - after the Supreme Court invalidated the August 8th General Elections.
All told, the recent and on-going boycott of products (Brookside dairy product) and services (Safaricom, Equity Bank, CENTUM, Two Rivers Mall) owned by persons sympathetic to Jubilee mandarins has revealed the secret most already knew:
That the success/viability of most of these businesses is heavily reliant on patronage, political connections and worse and not because of the often-parroted pull-up-oneself-by-the-bootstrap narrative and/or “entrepreneurial” skills hoisted on their proprietors!
More importantly, the boycott (aided by the 5/6-year-old devolution process) has also opened up opportunities for those in the hitherto marginalized areas and communities.
The opposition strongholds of Nyanza, Western, Coast and pockets of Rift Valley and Eastern counties should take this opportunity and chart their own development agendas and if the agendas cross paths with Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Jubilee’s, so be it.
However, the man, Uhuru Kenyatta and those around him have collectively revealed to Kenya and Kenyans who they are:
We should believe him and respond accordingly.