The secession dilemma

Forget election disputes; the reasons for separation are deep-seated and historical. A Raila presidency would be our best shot yet at healing what ails us

Dr. David Ndii

By Kenyatta Otieno

Immediately IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced Uhuru Kenyatta as president elect on August 11, several things happened. Jubilee Party strongholds went into celebration frenzy as NASA strongholds reacted in two ways. One side went into a silent sulky mood while the Luo dominated areas burst into protests, which was met by the full force of police brutality. Raila Odinga and Nasa maintained that they were not going to court but promised to give a way forward on August 15. Come that day Raila announced that they are going to court to give Supreme Court a chance to redeem itself, but maintained that they were open to exploring other options.

Meanwhile just like Raila was not leaving his fate in the hands of a seven-judge Supreme Court bench, Nasa supporters started calls for secession on social media. At first I thought the calls were part of the denial stage of mourning. Then they grew louder and someone posted a map dividing Kenya into Central Republic and the Peoples Republic – Jubilee strongholds clustered into Central Republic and Nasa stronghold counties into People’s Republic. That is when I took the debate seriously. I soon realised that Jubilee Party supporters, especially the Kikuyu, found the idea unpalatable.

Last year, Nasa strategist and economist David Ndii opined a controversial piece titled, Kenya is a cruel marriage, it is time we talked divorce. I can confidently say of all the people who got a chance to respond to Ndii in the local dailies, none matched the argument that he put forward. Popular USA preacher TD Jakes once said in one of his many sermons that by the time a spouse files for divorce, it is often too late because the marriage ended a while back. The fact that a section of Kenya has the courage to call for secession means that project Kenya failed a while back. The disputed elections are just an excuse.

I would like to state that self-determination by a section of a country due to grievances is acceptable in International Law. However, actualising it is a complex procedure. The threshold set by International Law is high but that has never deterred a group of people from seeking to break away from a country. What I know is we have not heard the last of this. In 1970, the late Lt. Col.-turned-General – and first President of the Republic of Biafra Odumegwu Ojukwu – fled to Ivory Coast to end the Biafran civil war in Nigeria. Nigeria thought that then the Igbos would lie low like envelopes and continued with their mistrust and marginalisation, until Nmadi Kanu came out in 2015 to ignite secession talks again.

Chinua Achebe gave the world the Igbo proverb, “a man who does not know where the rain began to beat him cannot say where he dried his body.” I would like to add that disappointment is the middle name of a man whom, upon drying up, finds himself in the rain again. I will not dwell much on when the rain started beating us because by then I was not yet born, but I was there when we basked in the sun to dry ourselves in 2003.

The great misfortune that befell us as a country is when Moi era corruption cartels found new friends in the Narc regime. That is when the rains started beating us for the second time and now a section of Kenya is talking secession. Just like divorce in marriage, a section of a country cannot just wake up one morning and say they want a way out of the solemn arrangement. If we thought David Ndii had smoked something strong last year, we better think again. The communities that coalesce around Nasa are not high on something.

In a conversation with a friend who works for the government after the election results were announced, I shared how my strong patriotic ideals have been shattered. I told him even if Jubilee Party found a place for me in government, I would turn it down because I don’t want to serve my country half-heartedly. His response did not help the situation; he opened up how if you are not a Kikuyu or Kalenjin in this government, you can forget about promotion and other opportunities to advance in your career.


The current states in Africa are a product of a rush by colonial powers to share resources rather than create states at the tail end of 19th Century. Upon formation of United Nations in 1945, the General Assembly upheld the sovereignty of the regions as held under their colonial powers, thus legitimizing a flawed process in an attempt to avoid confusion. As a result, some African communities found themselves divided by imaginary lines they could not define or understand. Then our independence leaders got more concerned about consolidating power and inheriting colonial privileges than righting such wrongs.

The second…

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