Category Archives: Tribalism

Becoming THE Solution

This weekend I spoke with someone I had not spoken with for over twenty years. We met when I lived in Southern California in the 80s and had been Facebook friends since 2010 but had yet to talk. Juliana (not her real name) is also from Kenya. Her mother is from Nyeri and her father is from Kiambu – someone definitely crossed the Chania River! We caught up on what has happened in our lives since we last talked almost two decades ago. She waxed maternally about her two beautiful children – Julianna (with two “Ns” instead of one – there is a big difference I was told – forcefully) and Julian (Juliana sans the “A” at the end). I listened and concurred with her description of her offsprings knowing that I expected her to do the same when I started babbling about my equally beautiful son. As presciently as I had imagined, Juliana and I both agreed that fortunately, Malo, my adorable ten-year old had inherited his mom’s looks! I shamelessly plugged my upcoming book Wuodha: My journey from Kenya to these United States. I also told her about my blog, once again with little shame! It was at this point that our conversation took a sharp turn and focused on the just-concluded presidential elections and the postings on my blog.

Juliana and I blamed everyone and everything for the dysfunctional nature of present-day Kenyan politics. She decried the gloating of “her” people from Central Province (over the election results), “their domination” of Kenya’s socio-political and economic life since independence and their perceived sense of entitlement. I lamented over the “herd” and “victim” mentality of “my” people from Nyanza; wondering about the wisdom of their near-permanent status as the mainstay of Kenya’s political “opposition”. We both blamed the politicians from Kenyatta Pere to Kenyatta Fils, Odinga Pere and Odinga Fils, not to mention the sycophants around them, for the country’s halting socio-political and economic development since independence; economic development whose trajectory, especially in the late 70s, was on par with that of the Four Tigers – South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong – or so I argued in my senior thesis in 1989 in a paper well-recieved by my advisor Professor Chalmers Johnson, a noted political economist and expert on Asia. We did not forget the role M1, as Daniel Moi was called back in the days, played in exacerbating the tribalism, corruption and human rights abuses set in motion by Kenyatta Pere. We mused over the third crossing of the Chania River by one Emilio Mwai Kibaki. A development I described as Kenya’s Camelot Era that started with so much promise only to fizzle in an orgy of post-election violence in 2007: His “re-election” birthed the post-election violence that forever tarnished Kenya’s image as an “oasis of peace” surrounded by the Idi Amins and Siad Barres of this world; the same PEV that Messer’s Kenyatta and Ruto are answering for at The Hague. Our pride was unmistakable as we marveled at how the half-Kenyan Luo Barack Obama rose to become the first black (and bi-racial) president in America no less – a country whose past is similarly marred with deadly violence between its citizens – blacks and whites. We then laughed uncontrollably as we wondered how he would fare were he to vie for Kenya’s presidency. All told, it was a heartwarming conversation. It felt great to reconnect with a long-lost and dear friend.

The one thing Juliana and I started to discuss albeit not as vociferously as we did when assigning blame for what ails Kenya was OUR role in contributing to the dysfunction. The two of us spent more time casting aspersions at all save us for Kenya’s problems.

I have to admit that I have offered more criticism than solutions to the problems facing the country of my birth; an admission and realization that brought me to the quote below from a YouTube clip titled “Bull’s Eye: Life after the elections.”

wallace Gathungu 2 days ago

It is my prayer UK/Ruto reach out to Luo Nyanza no matter how many times they may be rebuffed. UNITE KENYA.

I did not support Uhuru Kenyatta’s candidacy because I believe that he is the poster child for all that has been at the heart of Kenya’s socio-political problems: Corruption, nepotism, entitlement, privilege, patronage, impunity etc. and because he is facing charges at the International Criminal Court for crimes against fellow Kenyans. Maybe it is just my quirkiness or maybe I have been away from Kenya for too long but there is something morally wrong when a presidential candidate and his deputy are both facing charges as heinous as the charges facing Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto.

Having said that, I recognize and respect the fact that Mr. Kenyatta was duly elected by the majority of Kenyans, Supreme Court-confirmed and finally inaugurated as President of Kenya. I will give him the honeymoon period he deserves even as I continue my critique of his presidency. However, I also want the criminal proceedings at The Hague to continue to their conclusion, if for no other reason than to provide some semblance of justice for the thousands of Kenyans brutally murdered and hundreds of thousands more displaced from their homes because of actions allegedly fomented by Mr. Kenyatta and his VP.

Though I am not familiar with the series “Bull’s Eye,” I think of it as political satire addressing current events in Kenya. It is, I believe, the equivalent of two shows that air stateside on the TV channel Comedy Central featuring Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert. The comedic respite of the YouTube clip aside, the comment from Mr. Gathungu was timely and extremely instructive. I would, however, replace the words “Luo Nyanza” with “their opponents” thus the comment would read: It is my prayer that UK/Ruto reaches out to their opponents no matter how many times they may rebuff their efforts (to unite Kenya).

It is my sincere hope that President Uhuru Kenyatta takes Mr. Gathungu’s advice to heart. It is also my hope that as Kenyans, we take Mr. Gathungu’s words to heart and become the change we want in Kenya to wit: Anyone interested in adopting an IDP?

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Presidential Elections, Democracy, Governance - Kenya, Justice, Kenya, Life, Politics, Tribalism, Tribe

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: The Kalenjin, according to the website 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 –
2 –
3 –
4 –
5 –

Leave a comment

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

On Leadership and Governance post-New Constitution

In an earlier piece, titled “The Loyal Opposition and The Fruit”, I offered the idea of Raila Odinga accepting the results announced by the IEBC on March 9, 2013 declaring Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the 2013 Presidential Elections. I then suggested that Raila channel his energies and extensive experience being a mentor to aspiring social and political leaders of the next generation. I also proposed that he become the loyal, constructive and respectful opposition to the Kenyatta Administration. I opined that unless CORD lawyers led by Mr. George Oraro have more evidence than the seemingly generic charges of “unfair and flawed handling of the elections by the IEBC,” it is highly unlikely that the High Court would rule to overturn Mr. Hassan’s proclamation that Uhuru and his Jubilee Coalition were the victors in the 2013 Elections. I still hold that belief that barring evidence of election fraud of titanic proportions, the numbers point to an Uhuru presidency

Once Uhuru is safely ensconced in State House and the generational leadership change supposedly prophesized by the felled Mugumo Tree is fulfilled, then the hard work of leading and governing a divided and polarized Kenya begins. I say hard because of recent activities and utterances, not only by those tasked with leading the country including both Messer’s Kenyatta and Odinga, but by the general public as well, as reflected by the tone of the many comments posted in cyber space. The fact is: The manner and style of leadership and governance Kenyans have endured since independence has not reflected leadership and governance designed to build consensus between independent and co-equal branches of government. At the risk of incurring the wrath of some readers, I will further add that based on some of the comments in cyber space; it is not unreasonable or illogical to argue that the very notion of consensus-building and working across the aisle for the common good is “foreign” to the country!

The post-election violence of 2007 caused by the rigged and manipulated presidential elections brought Kenyans face-to-face with ethnic violence and to the edge of a full-blown civil war. That dalliance with Rwanda-like violence compelled the international community in the person of Koffi Annan to force Mwai Kibaki to take on a governing partner in Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Prior to that, Kenya’s presidents – Kenyatta and Moi – ruled by fiat and diktat sans any opposition or dissent. After independence and through the early 90s, Kenyans and their politicians were a bunch sycophants who either “harambee’d” or “fuata’d nyayo”. Some did so because it was “their turn to eat” while others wanted to continue gorging at the trough of power. Still others sang the praise of Mzee or Nyayo because they did not want to be marginalized, demonized, detained, threatened with bodily harm, tortured or assassinated! Some, including Raila and Hezekiah Ochuka sought to overthrow the government because they believed that a coup d’etat was the only way to bring about an open and fair political system!

The promulgation of the New Constitution in 2010 and the push towards devolution of power offers Kenya the opportunity for an open and fair political system. In this new system, complete with independent institutions headed by independent and quasi-political appointees, Mr. Kenyatta will be facing a socio-political environment that is markedly different than the one faced – make that enjoyed – by his predecessors! Rather than govern as his father and Mr. Moi did, by brutally quashing opposition, Uhuru will have to find a way to build consensus and work across the aisle including with people who strongly disagree with him. Mr. Kenyatta fils will have to govern the country without the literal “bully pulpit” and impunity (which is very different from immunity) enjoyed by his predecessors, including Kenyatta pere. Uhuru Kenyatta will also have the laser-like focus of the international community, not to mention the International Criminal Court (ICC) trained on him.

Leading a diverse constitutional democratic country divided along tribal lines is a challenge Mr. Kenyatta appears to have embarked on in fits and starts. The “warning” he issued to Mr. Odinga was presumptuous and reminiscence of his father’s numerous admonitions to his political opponents during his reign, including to one Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Raila’s father! While Uhuru’s warning was necessary given the heightened tensions that gripped the country after the IEBC announced the election results, Mr. Kenyatta’s stock as a leader of ALL Kenyans would have risen significantly had he issued, magnanimously methinks, the warning to ALL Kenyans. I am glad the High Court stepped in and cautioned both principals and by extension, their supporters and surrogates against litigating the pending petition in the court of public opinion. I would add that the exemplary behavior of Kenyans as they cast their votes on March 4 notwithstanding, the High Court’s caution speaks to the collective inability of Kenyans to responsibly exercise their democratic rights at the next (higher level) of the democratic process – governing a disparate polity. That inability to disagree without letting the disagreement degenerate into violence is indication of the still-budding maturity and nascence of said democratic process. While the significance of Gatundu in the annals of Kenya’s presidential history is unquestioned, indeed unparalleled, Uhuru’s visit to his ancestral home, coming around the time the elders of Giakanja Village in Nyeri proclaimed that his court-pending victory fulfilled the prophecy of the felled Mugumo Tree was insensitive and tone-deaf because it reinforced the myth that the Kenyan presidency is the sole purview of some but not others. Political leadership is about timing, symbolism and perception. Mr. Kenyatta could have waited before making the pilgrim to Gatundu.

He is yet to be sworn in as POK (President Of Kenya) and in all fairness, it is way too early, indeed unfair to read much into the president-elect’s early moves but it is my hope that Mr. Kenyatta will steady his “sea legs” and find firm and steady footing as Kenya’s 4th president.

Leave a comment

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Kenya, Politics, Tribalism

Jubilee – Kenya’s GOP – and their Southern Strategy

As I watch the unfolding political drama surrounding the just concluded 2013 Elections from here in the US, I realize that Kenya, like America, is becoming a nation divided between “old thinking” and “forward thinking” and not in the way presented by Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta. Mr. Kenyatta, the poster-child for Kenya’s entrenched establishment courtesy of his stock as son of the country’s first president and wealthiest family famously urged Raila Odinga, a key player in Kenya’s fight for reforming the very entrenched interests Uhuru and the Kenyatta family embodies, to step down and let the younger generation i.e. Uhuru and Ruto implement said reforms! It should be noted that Raila’s pedigree is nothing to sneeze at. His father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was Kenya’s first vice-president, the country’s first true opposition leader and Uhuru’s father’s nemesis!

The “old thinking”/“forward thinking” divide refers to the tried and true politics of “divide-and-conquer” first originated by the British colonialists. The same “divide-and-conquer” meme, also known as tribalism was then perfected by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta during his presidency and re-loaded in its full glory during Daniel Arap Moi’s quarter century reign. I would argue that tribalism as a way to govern was quasi-mothballed by Mwai Kibaki, especially going into his first presidential term in 2002 when the slogan “Kibaki Tosha” was all the rage and a nod towards a broader base of progressive-thinking Kenyans who came together under the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) banner to face Kenya African National Union (KANU) headed by none other than Uhuru Kenyatta, the centerpiece of “old thinking” President Moi’s “Uhuru Project”! Unfortunately, the politics of tribe reared its ugly head again in 2007; this time with fury and vengeance not previously seen in the country as neighbors turned on one another. The post-election violence (PEV) of 2007 was caused when the “old thinking” sought to manipulate the election results in their favor and in so doing, miscalculated the public’s reaction and resolve. Finally, the “old thinking” that sought to divide-and-conquer Kenyans along tribal lines was revved up and executed to near-perfection by Jubilee’s Uhuru/Ruto during the 2013 race!

At the end of the day, democratic politics is about the hard numbers and hats off to Jubilee for realizing that and ruthlessly capitalizing on it but at what price?
At a very tertiary level, I would say that the current socio-political dynamics between the top two political parties of the country of my birth Kenya mirrors the socio-political dynamics between the top two political parties of my adopted country America. I would argue that Coalition Of Reform and Democracy (CORD) is to Kenya’s political landscape what the Democratic Party is to American politics. Similarly, Kenya’s Jubilee Coalition is the equivalent of America’s Grand Old Party (GOP) also known as the Republican Party. CORD’s Raila Odinga may be chronologically older than Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta but the socio-political history and perspectives offered and practiced by the two candidates is completely reversed with the latter not only offering a campaign strategy that mirrored the divide-and-conquer/tribal-based agenda of yesteryears, but rhetoric that sounded eerily like that of his late father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta replete with “warnings to political opponents”, the occasional use of coded language (via use of tribal dialect) at rallies and the myriad “blessings” in church! Conversely, Raila offered a campaign strategy that sought to and succeeded in bringing together a broader cross-section of Kenyans only to be done in by the “tyranny of numbers” and possible skullduggery the “old thinking” has mastered!

Here stateside, the Republican Party successfully run the same “old thinking” playbook against the Democratic Party for several years. Candidates from Richard Nixon in the 1960s to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and most recently George W. Bush, especially during the GOP Primaries in 2000 flawlessly executed the “Southern Strategy” by exploiting the racist and xenophobic instincts of white Americans in southern states such as Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky etc. By accentuating the racist and bigoted views white voters had of non-whites, the GOP religiously won these southern states and patched together enough votes in the “battleground states” of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania to win the White House 7 times from the late 1960s through the 1980s and again in 2000 and 2004. The potency of racism and bigotry in the political calculus of the southern states is illustrated by a quote attributed to Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic President from 1964-1968. President Johnson famously said that “the Democrats just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come” shortly after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) that outlawed discrimination against African-Americans and women, including all forms of segregation. The Act terminated unequal application in regards to voter registration requirements and all forms of racial segregation in schools, in the workplace and by facilities that offered services to the general public. In short, the CRA opened up the socio-political process, previously denied to women and African-Americans!

In 2008, a “forward thinking” presidential candidate, one Barack Hussein Obama, building on his famous keynote “One America” speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston, called out the cynicism and division embodied in the “Southern Strategy” for what it was: A racist, xenophobic and crass political tactic that played to the negative stereotypes Americans had of one another. By challenging Americans to look beyond race, gender, cultural and economic differences, then-Senator Obama swept to victory, first in the 2008 Democratic Party primaries against Hillary R. Clinton – until then the prohibitive favorite and establishment pick with privileged upbringing. Obama than walloped an “old thinking” son-of-privilege Vietnam Vet and GOP candidate Sen. John McCain in the presidential race. In 2012 he defeated yet another “old thinking” and son-of-privilege Mitt Romney. The Republican Party is currently going through some soul-searching as it asks the question: What went wrong , especially in the 2012 Presidential Election when it was cocksure that the faltering US economy and the oftentimes racist and xenophobic tone of its campaign/candidates would send the Kenyan-born Muslim and Wuod K’Ogelo” from the White House back to – K’Ogelo?
The long and short of President Obama’s candidacy and victories is this: He cobbled together disparate groups – women, minorities (Blacks, Latinos, Asians), young and old educated ergo open-minded Whites – previously marginalized, demonized, caricatured and/or taken for granted into a Democratic Party whose main message was simple but universal:

We are in this together.

The polling numbers from Kenya’s 2013 Elections between Jubilee and CORD tell a story that mirrors the divide between America’s two main political parties: GOP and Democratic Party. The numbers, taken from IEBC’s website and analyzed in a previous post on this site, reveal the following:

1. Kenya’s 2013 vote map looks like America’s 2012 vote map albeit along tribal/regional lines with Mandera in Kenya’s north-east mimicking Alaska in America’s north-west as a Jubilee enclave in the CORD dominated Eastern/Coastal region of Kenya, to wit, Jubilee’s appeal among voters was concentrated in the central region of the country. CORD’s appeal was more spread out –
2. Jubilee got almost 60% of its votes from one region – Central. CORD got just over 50% of its votes from four regions – Eastern, Nairobi, Nyanza and Western.
3. Of the 291 constituencies that voted, 157 (54%) voted for CORD vs. 134 (46%) for Jubilee. Note: The 291 includes votes from the Diaspora who voted 52.5% vs. 41% in favor of CORD.
4. CORD won eight of the ten most populous cities/towns in the country (, by a margin of 2,079,331 (59.6%) vs. 1,408,961 (40.4%). The figures include figures from the constituencies proximal to the city/town. Trans Nzoia figures were used for Kitale.
a. Nairobi, arguably the most “diverse” population center voted in favor of CORD: 691,156 (49.4%) vs. 659,490 (47.2%).
b. Mombasa County, another “diverse” population center voted 70.5% vs. 24.1% in favor of CORD.

These foregoing figures tell a compelling story about Kenya and Kenyans. They also tell a story about the two campaigns. One campaign ran a race based on pure unadulterated tribal arithmetic; the Kenyan version of the “Southern Strategy”. Jubilee knew that with the two most populous tribes in the country – Kikuyu and Kalenjin – forming its core constituents, they had the numbers just as the Republican Party of yesteryears knew it did because the most populous (white demographic) formed its core constituent. Jubilee played that hand to the hilt, throwing in demonization of the very (ICC) process its vice-presidential candidate, Mr. Ruto, voiced full-throated support of for good measure! Politics is indeed the art of the possible; it is also a contact sport! The Uhuru/Ruto rallies took on a John McCain/Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan vibe as the two crimes-against-humanity suspects successfully characterized the charges facing them as charges brought on by “them”, by “foreigners” including Raila Odinga against “us” i.e. the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities even though the summons from the International Criminal Court (ICC) clearly and succinctly identified each suspect by name: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Kipchirchir Samoei Ruto not by tribe or community! Think Sarah Palin blaming Obama for endangering America by “palling around with terrorists” or John Sununu attributing the moribund US economy to Obama’s “laziness” and the fact that he does not know how to “be an American”.

CORD on the other hand sought to make their failed 2013 campaign a choice between the entrenched establishment and the progressives in the country who want power and resources distributed equally throughout the country – devolution. As illustrated by the numbers, the CORD coalition, like the “forward thinking” Obama/Biden ticket of 2012 sought and garnered support across communities large and small. Unlike the Romney/Ryan rallies whose images consisted of faces that all looked alike, the Obama/Biden ticket was a collage of Americans; indeed colorful and beautiful!

At the end though, democratic politics is about the number of votes received and Jubilee received enough votes to be declared the victor, this time. As was the case with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bush pere et fils, the “Southern Strategy” worked for the GOP in the short term. The strategy also alienated the patchwork of groups that form the American quilt: Women, minorities (Blacks, Latinos, Asians), young and old educated ergo open-minded Whites thereby setting the stage for Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012. The racially-tinged tone of the GOP message finally caught up with the party and has put it on life-support unless it can re-brand itself into a “forward thinking” and inclusive party able to share power WITH all groups!

The clock is ticking for Kenya’s Republican Party – Jubilee.

© [WashingtonM.Osiro] and [], [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [WashingtonM.Osiro] and [] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a comment

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Kenya, Life, Politics, Tribalism

The Loyal Opposition and The Fruit

According to George Oraro, CORD’s lead attorney, he “is confident of a strong case” after filing the petition challenging Jubilee’s victory in the just-concluded presidential elections. In part, CORD is accusing the IEBC of negligence and failure to conduct free and fair elections.

I am not a lawyer nor do I have access to the information CORD’s legal brain trust has pertinent to their case but accusing a government bureaucracy of negligence and failure to perform its functions fairly and effectively i.e. oversee a “fair” and “free” election is akin to accusing high-powered Kenyans of being corrupt, the US/West of being hypocritical or Uhuru of being the beneficiary of ill-gotten gains – land!

To quote my ten-year old son, “dad…..square duh!”

Let me offer the following:

• Bureaucracies by their very nature are ponderous, inefficient, and indeed negligent! The question for CORD is whether or not Kenya’s institutions have matured enough to independently deal with the claims of inefficiency and fairness without political interference and influence. Even more important is whether Kenyans have matured enough from the ugliness of 2007/2008 to respect the verdict of the High Court.
• Transparency International ranks Kenya as the most corrupt country in the former East African Community and the fourth most corrupt country in the regional development organization IGAD. Two of the eight countries in the organization – S. Sudan and Djibouti are unranked, the former having gotten its independence in 2011 and the latter in 1977 compared to Kenya that become independent in 1963!
• The US and the West long ago patented hypocrisy!
• The president-elect is the beneficiary of vast tracts of land his father amassed legally and illegally!

As much as I did not want the president and vice-president of the country of my birth facing charges at the International Criminal Court, Kenyans have spoken and the majority voted for two people facing charges of crimes against humanity. I believe that we get the leadership we deserve: The majority that voted for the Uhuru and Ruto ticket have the leadership they wanted AND deserve.

Which brings me to Raila Odinga.

Given the vote count put forth by the IEBC, it looks like Raila fought the good fight and lost. That is the reality of the just-concluded elections. Democracy can be torturous and as the late British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill is rumored to have said, “(I)t, democracy, is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Be that as it may and like they say stateside “It is what it is.” Raila lost the elections the complaints filed with the High Court notwithstanding.
Depending on the High Court’s ruling on CORD’s petition, the numbers (votes) as they currently stand favor Uhuru: 6,173,433 vs. 5,340,546 – a gap of 832,887 votes. The other six candidates (Musalia, Kenneth, Dida, Karua, Kiyiapi and Muite) garnered a combined total of 707,064 votes, one hundred and twenty-five thousand, eight hundred and twenty-three (125,823) votes less than the difference currently separating Uhuru and Raila. The hard numbers favor Uhuru. Raila would have to get ALL the votes cast for the six candidates PLUS an additional 125,824 to overcome Uhuru’s current total. I honestly do not see that happening. Given the voting pattern displayed by Kenyans on March 4, I can see the majority of Musalia’s vote going to Raila and those of Karua, Kenneth and Muite going to Uhuru. The two front-runners would split the votes of Dida and Kiyiapi. The end result would be Uhuru with 6,349,598 votes vs. 5,824,527 for Raila: A 478,153 margin of victory for Uhuru. To quote former US President Bill Clinton, “the arithmetic just does not add up” for Mr. Odinga. Damn the tyranny of numbers! This article does not delve into why the 50%+1 voted the way they did nor does it challenge the veracity of the final votes, It accepts both the totals of the vote and their accuracy.

Given the reality of the numbers as they currently stand, it is my hope that Raila becomes what he has been his entire political life: The political opposition, albeit a loyal and constructive one, to Uhuru’s government. It is my hope that RAO offers, indeed mentors those aspiring to become the next generation of political and civic leaders in Kenya. To quote the current Chief Justice Willy Mutunga: “(G)iven the crisis of political leadership in Africa, and the burning quest for alternative political leadership on the continent, Raila Odinga…provides an interesting case study …and food for serious thought on both issues.” (Babafemi Badejo, Raila Odinga: An Enigma in Kenyan Politics, Back of book).

This a role Raila should embrace regardless of the outcome of the petition. Kenya needs an effective and respected counter-weight to Kenya’s “masters of impunity” of which I hate to say but Uhuru is one! It is Jomo Kenyatta, the president-elect’s father who perfected the art of co-option, demonization and assassination of political opponents in the nascent “democracy” that was Kenya in the 60s (David Lamb, The Africans, pp. 63, Colin Leys, Underdevelopment in Kenya, pps. 235-236). It was also Mzee who set the stage for the current animus between Kenya’s tribes by playing them against one another in a colonialist-like master stroke of “divide-and-conquer”? (Michela Wrong and John Githongo, It is our turn to eat, pp. 50) It was Mzee who turned on Jaramogi even after the latter told the Brits that release of Mzee from detention was a pre-condition for continued talks toward Kenya’s independence? Oginga Odinga, Not Yet Uhuru: An Autobiography, pps. 155-156).

Given what transpired between Uhuru and Mudavadi during the run-up to the March 4 elections, methinks it is safe to say that Uhuru learnt his politics from two of the best, his father Mzee and his father’s vice-president and former president Daniel Arap Moi. It is combination of the Machiavellianism of the president-elect, the charges he faces at the ICC, the kshs. 9.2Billion “computer error, typing error or whatever” under his watch as Minister for Finance, the building sycophancy around the president-elect and the adage “the fruit does not fall far from the tree” that creates the crisis of political leadership the current CJ alludes to and makes the need for Raila in Kenya’s political scene extremely pressing, indeed vital.

© [WashingtonM.Osiro] and [], [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [WashingtonM.Osiro] and [] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a comment

Filed under Kenya, Politics, Tribalism

The Enemy Of My Enemies

So China and Russia, two-fifths of the UN Security Council have come out in support of Uhuru’s presidential victory. Additionally, the March 13 edition of The Standard has a picture of the president-elect and his VP meeting the Cuban ambassador Raul Rodriguez. I am waiting for presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Bashir al-Assad of Syria and Omar Bashir of Sudan to schedule facetime with Uhuru, not to mention Kim Jong-un of North Korea! Unfortunately for Uhuru, Fidel Castro is on his death bed and Hugo Chavez IS dead as is Khadaffi! Uhuru is playing a tried-and-true game: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It is a game that may give him short-term gains as he deigns for legitimacy of his presidency given the charges he faces at the ICC.

It is my opinion that Uhuru will get legitimacy, not by cavorting with the Chinese, Russians, Syrians, Cubans or other countries that are eager to thumb their nose at the west or are pariahs, but by being exonerated of the charges he and his VP face for the sickening crimes against the very people who provided the two with their margin of victory in the just concluded preisdential elections! Beyond being cleared of the charges at The Hague, the legitimacy of Uhuru’s presidency will come once the High Courts have heard and ruled on the complaints of vote-rigging and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) bungled management of the elections lodged by Raila Odinga’s CORD Party. Finally and even more important, legitimacy of Uhuru’s presidency will rest on how he governs Kenya, a country still reeling from PEV of 2007 he, Uhuru, and Ruto are accused of fomenting and the culture of corruption and impunity first put in place by Jomo Kenyatta, his father!

And make no mistake about it folks, Kenya is a highly divided country; one divided along tribal lines. For those quick to pounce on me as one of the people fomenting the very tribal division I allude to, let me point you to the election map and the actual votes cast. Visit this blog for an up-coming analysis of the voting trend during the elections but suffice to say, there was near-perfect voting along tribal lines by the Luos and the Kikuyus. Uhuru’s votes came from Central and Rift Valley – homes to the tribes of the president-elect and his VP. Raila’s votes, while comparatively less tribal-based, came from Nyanza, Western, Eastern and the Coast – home to the Luo, Luhya, Kamba, Arabs, Swahili, Taita and Mijikenda respectively. Furthermore, a casual reading of the various blogs – Daily Nation or The Standard – addressing the election results reveals an under-current of tribal jingoism that is very worrisome and portends a disturbing future.

The “warning” Uhuru issued to CORD re: raising the political temperature of the country should have been issued to ALL Kenyans, including supporters of the victorious Jubilee Coalition. The biggest mistake Uhuru would make is to perceive his High Court-pending victory as a “sweeping” mandate. To do that in the politically-charged atmosphere that is Kenya would be the height of hubris and a dangerous lurch into the unknown.

© [WashingtonM.Osiro] and [], [2013]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [WashingtonM.Osiro] and [] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a comment

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Kenya, Life, Politics, Tribalism