Proceed With Caution!

Finally, those arrogant “foreigners” and their “tools” have recognized the “will of the Kenyan people!” The international community (read the West – UK, USA, EU and UN) has rightfully congratulated Uhuru Kenyatta’s Supreme Court-validated victory in the 2013 Election. It is also instructive that United Kingdom, United States and the United Nation commended soon-to-former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for his acceptance of the Court’s ruling. As expected, the public outpouring of jingoism and protestations manifested itself almost immediately around the country albeit with less fervor, certainly not with the violence and vehemence witnessed in 2007! For those patting themselves on the back because their “side won” or that the country elected a president sans violence, let me point out the intensity, rawness and very tribal tone of the passions emoted in the blogosphere as I expected. The “security” offered by the “anonymity” of cyberspace provides a cautionary view, small and blurry as it may be, into the overall mood – of the Kenyan electorate.

To reiterate two points I made in earlier posts, Kenya is a nation divided along lines that pit the two most populous tribes and “providers” of all three of the country’s past presidents on one side and the rest of the country on the other side. I will also reiterate that far from seeking to stoke an “Us vs. Them” narrative or inter-tribal animus as I have been accused of doing in the past, the fact is this election was won because the GEMA (Gikuyu, Embu and Meru) and the Kalenjin communities aligned with one another basically against the rest of the country. A look at the voting pattern of the attached electoral map fully illustrates the tribal divide: http://geocurrents.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Kenya-2013-Election-Map.png. The Kalenjin, according to the website SoftKenya.com is a term for a collection of at least ten sub-groups that used to be referred to as the “Nandi-speaking tribes”. These sub-groups, of which the Kipisigis is the most populous, created a singular tribal identity for themselves in the 1950s to gain more political power from their numbers1. I would argue that they have succeeded albeit in the true sense of the term “marriage of convenience!”

The “sons” of the Gikuyu and Kalenjin communities Messer’s Kenyatta and Ruto convinced said communities that collectively, they were all under attack by “foreigners” and their “agents”, the latter a dark allusion to CORD’s Raila Odinga.5 The irony of this claim by Jubilee’s William Ruto is that his ally and namesake Mr. Isaac Ruto was a founding member of the group of Members of Parliament (MPs) who coined the expression “Don’t be vague, go to The Hague” in the wake of the post-election violence of 2007! 3, 4 Politics is indeed the art of the possible. It also makes the strangest of bedfellows! Suffice to say, Jubilee’s argument won the day and now the “sons” of the these two communities (tribes) are the leaders of Kenya, a country of over forty (40) different tribes, a majority who voted for their opponents (Odinga and Kalonzo) based on an analysis of the vote tallies from the IEBC website (please don’t laugh!)

The 833,000 vote or ~7% margin of victory the Jubilee coalition had over CORD would be a mandate if it were spread throughout (larger parts of) the country and representative of a broader cross-section of the country. This was a regional and tribal victory, the latter necessitated by the shared misery the two – Uhuru and Ruto – share courtesy of their date with the International Criminal Court (ICC) ergo the message delivered by the US along with the congratulatory message: The White House pointed out “the importance of Kenya’s commitment to uphold its international obligations, including those with respect to international justice”, characterized by the Daily Nation as “an indirect reference to the charges that Mr. Kenyatta and Deputy President-elect William Ruto are facing at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.”2

That a larger (geographical) swath of the country representing a larger cross-section of Kenyans voted against the president and vice-president-elect should give the two and their exceedingly vociferous and jingoistic constituents pause. That Jubilee’s victory was fueled by a narrow but populous group within the country should temper their exuberance, especially now that the omni-present and love-to-hate “international community” has sent congratulatory messages to their “sons.

1 – http://softkenya.com/tribe/kalenjin-tribe/
2 – http://www.nation.co.ke/News/politics/Obama-UN-boss-praise-Uhurus-win/-/1064/1735738/-/783xmq/-/index.html
3 – http://elections.nation.co.ke/Blogs/-/1632026/1695348/-/10tq9hf/-/index.html
4 – http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Letters/Politicians-failed-Kenyans/-/440806/1690078/-/r56otj/-/index.html
5 – http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/30/ozatp-icc-kenya-idAFJOE78T01P20110930

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Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Elections, Kenya, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe

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