October 27, 2014 Mad Hatter


“These two formations though, are morphing into entities that will pose the greatest challenge to Kenya; Jubilee; a ruthless machinery, keen on preserving its hold onto power, but dangerously unconscious to the need of nationhood; CORD, a scheme of frustrated ambition able to give a shot at their dreams at any expense”

With the high court ruling that only three political parties will benefit from the 205 Million Political Parties Kitty, smaller parties must be wondering how they will survive. Indeed, some have already started moving from expensive offices in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi to way humbler locations. With funds obtained from party nominations exhausted, pilfered or mismanaged, a familiar circle of party deaths is coming full circle. Such has been the predictability of our politics, a certain gifting of each electoral cycle.
The elections of 2013 managed to realize another goal though, a resurgence of the Oginga-Kenyatta rift that seems to defy each political cycle. These two cleavages have then gone forth to cement cliques around themselves and Jubilee and Cord were born. Each drawing their depth from shared distrust, and fueled by a burning pursuit of political power.
Any political contest is founded on a desire for power. A people centered political contest will add a hope; that with power one can influence a society to better ends, to that desire. Jubilee and Cord are formations that have shown that they ascribe to the former, a raw pursuit of political power with the real issues affecting people playing an impressively peripheral role.
As I write this, I have just concluded reading the National Development Party (NDP) 1997 manifesto. NDP then was a Tinga affair, and I must admit I am impressed. That manifesto, unlike anything glossy today had a real touch of what truly affected people. And indeed, many items it bore today have been anchored in the constitution. In comparison, ODM as a party is miles away in thought to be close to what NDP espoused. How time can kill real leadership.
Raila’s inability however to hold onto the spark that once characterized him is not a surprise. The man has criticized and dined with the system. He has sought it, grasped it before it was snatched away. He has been in the system, betrayed it, and destroyed it, before he was again ejected out. This mix would create a natural confusion I must admit.
But with this confusion, as the chief protagonist, his brigade finds itself frustrated by an evasive quest for power that they have started following the very paths they castigated. Indeed, if there is a fear I nurture today, is the impatience of Kenya’s opposition. Their acts, strategies and initiatives point to a nearing of desperation. Probably, an acceptance that belief in the idealism is not paying off, and that perhaps it is time for raw politics; value-less, just politicking.
So Kenya is at interesting times; a government that is struggling to find the heart of its people; consumed by raw pursuit of individual advancement, and an opposition that is impressively blank, unable to offer any credible alternative.
Yet, we have been lumped into these two formations politically. Our taxes only recognize them, as the sole representatives and bearers of the Kenyan dream.
It would be hypocritical to paint a picture that nothing is working. I mean we have seen quite some progress. Recently, we reviewed our data and pushed ourselves into lower middle level income nations; beautiful statistics. Even though it has no correlation with my daily bread, it attracts a certain pride to be told we are among ‘top-ten’ economies in Africa. This ‘top-ten’ business was such an issue in my primary school days. We at least have very high literacy levels, a president who takes selfies, so yes, a few things are working.
Both the current and past regimes have invested in real pieces of development. The road network is set to be upgraded and funds set aside for the youth. Whether the fanfare around this translates to real results is another question; likely, in my opinion to be answered in the negative.
But a country’s leadership must always know the season of its people. There will always emerge a single problem in the development of a country where if overcome, a trajectory of sustained growth becomes irreversible. Kenya’s at the moment is our inability to pull together as a people.
I have held an opinion that Kenya’s best moments occur when we pull together. In my own view, the independence government before rifts emerged, the initial stages of the NARC government and the grand coalition government offered real hope that Kenya would take off. Their collapse also necessarily meant a halt to the real progress towards a sustainably stable country.
A fundamental question therefore that we need to ask ourselves is whether the current two formations have the ability to rally Kenya together.
The faces leading the two formations are unable to unite us for many reasons. The fact of Kenyattaism and Odingaism is just as dividing to the opponents as is unifying to the supporters. The two graves excite love and hate in equal measure, and so whether their sons desire a united country or not, they just can’t be the vessel towards that unity.
This is not an entirely new notion. Even Biblically, even though David desired to build God a temple, the fact of him was too controversial for God to allow it.
But whether Raila or Uhuru truly wills a united Kenya is equally a fact in this. The two and their immediate brigade draw their support from their ethnic enclaves. If politics transcends ethnicity in Kenya, the very existence of the two dynasties becomes threatened. And so, it is in their interest to have a nation polarized, and that informs the political rhetoric that has characterized the two fronts.
Admittedly, CORD and Jubilee have several people who will be willing to commit to national unity. But the shadows of the dynasties will always overshadow any of this initiative.
These two formations though, are morphing into entities that will pose the greatest challenge to Kenya; Jubilee; a ruthless machinery, keen on preserving its hold onto power, but dangerously unconscious to the need of nationhood; CORD, a scheme of frustrated ambition able to give a shot at their dreams at any expense. And sadly, all of them are recruiting youthful vigor into the callousness and desperation they are.
A normal Kenyan, who would like to belong, and have their struggles and prosperity found in a stable nation may not find their aspirations expressed here. A Kenyan who dreams of unity, shared challenges and shared dreams will rarely see the expression of this hope in the two formations. A Kenyan, who hopes that public good can characterize the pursuit and exercise of power, knows that Jubilee and Cord does not represent their hope.
So certainly, there must be a third persuasion. There must be a politics that truly deserves the honor of our taxes. There must be a leader not tarnished by the baggage of yesterday, or so deep a prisoner of interest who can inspire us to nationhood.
When Uhuru Kenyatta became president, I thought his stature would have overcome the confines of the system. History has a few examples of leaders who are nurtured by the system, but ended up disobeying them to the good of the people. Beyond the charm Uhuru has brought to the presidency, is certainly still chained to unfortunate interests.
Further, the interest that jubilee is rekindling in the presidency, casting it as central to everything revives the very ghosts that Kenya hoped to run away from by decentralizing power. Why, the presidency would re-emerge in this new dispensation as a powerful player to everything points to two things. A mindset that is deeply rooted in the past unable to transition to Kenya’s aspired spirit and secondly a deliberate dismissal of the intentions of the drafters of Kenya’s new order.
And while the opposition should have taken this chance and demonstrated what true belief in institutionalized reforms would look like, it has started a new clamor for change of system of government; a politically expedient quest. Merit notwithstanding, no society can afford the luxury of such frequent transitions.
And so Kenya is yet again with a politics that is not in sync with her aspirations. And I as a young Kenyan fail again to see a leadership that expresses my aspirations. I think it is time to for a Third Persuasion.

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