Former Minister for Lands and Settlement and current Senator for Laikipia Mr. Godfrey ‘GG’ Kariuki has fired an opening salvo on the one issue that will define the legacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Jomo Kenyatta, the very person who, in my opinion, created the issue in the first place: the Pandora’s Box that is land ownership in Kenya.
Mr. Kariuki articulated, at the highest level ever by an influential and living Kenyan politician, a sentiment that has been echoed by millions of ordinary Kenyans across ALL tribes and regions since independence but until recently were deathly afraid to discuss publicly.
Said GG; “(T)here’s no reason why (President) Uhuru should not change this country forever. He has the power; he doesn’t need any other power. He has the wealth; he doesn’t need any other wealth.”
The context of the fore-going comment by Sen. Kariuki was Kenya’s history of land grabbing and suspicious accumulation of wealth by its presidents, politicians and the sycophants around them. The senator pointedly blamed the country’s history of corruption and impunity for the fore-going; an opinion broached by Charles Hornsby in the book KENYA: A history since independence, when he writes about “the monarchical nature of ‘King’ Kenyatta’s ‘divine’ rule…” (Pge. 107) once the country gained its independence from the British. Mr. Hornsby also argues that it was during this time that Jomo Kenyatta started to amass his personal fortune (Pge. 108) that was then inherited by his family. In short, the evidence is compelling that the current president is the beneficiary of ill-gotten gains courtesy of his father and is therefore uniquely positioned to address said subject.
Godfrey Gitahi Kariuki, who according to the website http://www.kenyahistory.co.ke/personalities.php?pg=personalities&id=76 was “at one time arguably the third most powerful man during the first four years of President Daniel arap Moi’s rule” is spot on with his assertion regarding President Uhuru Kenyatta’s unique position in resolving Kenya’s enduring issue of land ownership. Mr. Kenyatta can and should confront the sins of his father Jomo and those of his mentors Daniel Arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki. Were he to do that, even symbolically, Uhuru would forever endear himself to most Kenyans who will at least give him partial credit for confronting the subject of land ownership and by default corruption; subjects that his predecessors have avoided like vampires avoid sunlight. Son of Jomo will not only cement his place in the country’s history, but rather than relying on the bi-tribal support that won him the 2013 elections, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta will garner support across a grateful and relieved country. Even more importantly, the self-proclaimed Christian and man of God would have done the “right thing” in the eyes of ALL.
Mr. Kariuki, as already mentioned, ministered the docket that oversaw all matters related to the subject at hand – land – at a time in his long political career when government ministers unabashedly lined their pockets with corrupt deals and outright theft! I doubt whether Mr. Kariuki, his proclamations to the current president notwithstanding, is an exception. He has therefore exposed himself to scrutiny and criticism by potentially “living in glass house AND throwing stones” so medoubts that his challenge to Mr. Kenyatta is a publicity stunt nor would I mind being wrong if it were one! The country needs to address the issue of land, plain and simple.
I will never understand how Jomo Kenyatta could have amassed and “bequeathed” his family land the size of Nyanza Province http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&v=wUgnetCkEbw&NR=1 while millions of Kenyans struggled to eke out a living within a stone’s throw of the splendor that is “Mzee’s” home in Gatundu! And the silly mantra of “willing buyer/willing seller” regurgitated by his son as recently as early this year during the presidential debates http://allafrica.com/stories/201302260131.html has been rubbished by several independent historians and historical analyses, the latest being the just-released Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report that “accused all post-independence governments of having failed to honestly and adequately address land-related injustices that started with colonialism”.
By accusing the colonialists (missionaries) of trading their Bibles for Kenya’s land and turning around and doing the same thing to the good people of the Rift Valley and Coastal region, Jomo Kenyatta may have amassed enough wealth to make his third wife Ngina Muhoho and their children the wealthiest family in the land. Unfortunately the very greed that amassed said wealth set the country on the ruinous path that exploded into the post-election violence of 2007 elections and in a bit of poetic justice, landed his son at The Hague for violence against Kenyans!
I am, and continue to be a strong proponent of letting the International Criminal Court process play out to its conclusion. In a previous article titled The Loyal Opposition and The Fruit I offered that Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy may yet beat back the charges they face at The Hague. I will offer that the one way the suspect can assuage those calling for Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Ms. Fatou Bensouda to figuratively off his head (and that of his deputy Mr. William Ruto) is by tackling head-on, the root cause of the tribal animus, ergo post-election violence of 2007, that got the “digital duo” in trouble in the first place – land ownership.
The septuagenarian senator from Laikipia has given President Uhuru Kenyatta an opening on an explosive issue that the “young” president should grab with both hands and turn to his advantage; much like he turned the ICC issue to his advantage during the elections of 2013. Mr. Kenyatta should not minimize or offer platitudinous responses to the issue of land ownership and by extension, the plight of internally-displaced people (IDPs) as he has done in the past via claims that his family’s land was acquired in transactions between “willing buyers/willing sellers” or the sophomoric Econ 101 lecture that “land is a factor of production.” Being an astute politician and I would imagine student of the country’s history, I doubt whether Mr. Kenyatta actually believes that li(n)e! Additionally, he should not do what his mother Mama Ngina did when offered the opportunity to act sympathetic and magnanimous to the plight of IDCs – internally-displaced children – in front of cameras. The former first lady literally fled when the subject was brought up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcKY-t0CkZo by a reporter even as an aide offered the rather curious “hiyo politics ita fanye akose kurudi tena” (that politically-loaded question will prevent her from returning). Mama Ngina, as the former first lady was called, who had led massive prayer rallies for her son and Mr. Ruto after the ICC confirmed charges against the two, reacted in a cold, callous and un-Christian way towards the interminable suffering of God’s children. Ms. Muhoho missed an opportunity to do for the least of God’s children, something she asked Him to do for her son and Mr. Ruto and in so doing, she failed to turn the millstone hanging around her family’s neck into a humanizing and positive moment.
Her son and current president should not do the same.