Unravelling the fallacies behind the popular anti-Kikuyu sentiments

Unravelling the fallacies behind the  popular anti-Kikuyu sentiments
Alfred Mosoti In as much the vice of tribalism and negative ethnicity cuts across all tribes in Kenya and is, by extension, universal, nevertheless, anti-Kikuyuism has been a most conspicuous narrative in Kenya’s socio-political history. The bone of contention is the misconception, among other Kenyan tribes, that that single community has hogged national political leadership, thereby denying them political opportunities. Subscribers to this school of thought have accused the Kikuyu of domineering other ethnic groups with respect to political leadership, particularly the presidency. Among their mega grievances is the “crime” of fronting presidential candidates in each successive general election and religiously voting for them. Let’s dissect these claims and separate facts from fallacies. The decision of fronting a presidential candidate is more of an individual than a communal affair. In fact, any eligible Kenyan is free to vie for the top job in the land. The question dissatisfied non-kikuyus ought to be asking themselves is; why they have not declared their candidature, instead of why Kikuyu candidates are always in the presidential race. The fact is that most Kenyans would sooner vote for a leader from their respective tribes, and this is not a uniquely Kikuyu trait; it is a natural human inclination or weakness. However, since Kikuyu candidates have always vied, non-Kikuyus have always assumed that they are more tribalistic than others. The point is that it is the other communities that have been playing double standards and not the other way round. To drive this point home, lets consider general elections in Kenya from 1992 to date. During the 1990s, when Moi’s administration was facing determined “anti-Nyayoism”, the Kikuyu were falsely blamed of twin mega evils, namely: having stolen land from native communities in the Rift Valley, and failing to politically reciprocate the generosity of host communities by voting against their preferred candidates! Unfortunately, this fabrication culminated to the forceful eviction of Kikuyus and other non-natives from the then Kanu strongholds of Rift valley and Coast provinces. In as much as this dangerous lies were specifically meant to increase Kanu’s chances of winning the 1992 and 1997 elections, poisonous anti-Kikuyu seeds grew and were propagated far and wide. In 2002, the hitherto anti-Kikuyu President Moi, metamorphosed into a pro-Kikuyu by fronting Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred successor, a move that agitated most Kanu stalwarts, and split the party down the middle! Surprisingly, those that fled Kanu under the outfit called Liberal Development Party (LDP) ganged up with opposition parties and unilaterally endorsed another Kikuyu, Mwai Kibaki as the National Rainbow Alliance’s (Narc) flag bearer. Ironically, one Simon Nyachae, a non-Kikuyu, was branded a lone ranger by non-Kikuyus, and was only voted for by his Gusii people. Paradoxically, towards the middle of Mwai Kibaki’s first tenure, those politicians that were in the forefront in proposing his name as a formidable NARC candidate in 2002 rebelled against and accused him of dishonouring the power-sharing pact. They alleged that he could not be trusted since he had shown preference to his tribesmen at the expense of the others. Astonishingly, the same rebels teamed up with those in the then official opposition party, Kanu, whose leadership was still headed by a Kikuyu, Kenyatta. This move was meant to triumph over the state-sponsored and supported the proposed draft constitution, dubbed The Wako Draft. Capitalising on their victory over the Wako Draft in the November 2005 referendum, then opposition movement ODM aspired to use its popularity to win the impending 2007 polls. Again, at this point, the “cockerel party”, Kanu, was once more split down the middle. Former president Moi and his preferred candidate Kenyatta, as well as the old guards – the likes of Nicholas Biwot – decamped from Raila’s ODM and threw their weight behind PNU, Kibaki’s political vehicle. Meanwhile, William Ruto, Henry Kosgei, Sally Kosgei, Musalia Mudavadi and a majority of former Kanu generals revolted against their political father and mentor, Kibaki, and joined with Raila Odinga in the ODM bandwagon. After highly charged campaigns, the controversial 2007 polls outcome gave Kibaki victory over Raila. The grave consequences of that Kibaki “win” are well documented. Anti-Kikuyu choruses were sung leading to their violent eviction and massacre, along with their perceived sympathisers, after which retaliations against the aggressors were organised. After a truce was reached and a grand coalition government created, investigations were launched into the cause of the post-election violence. It was at this point that six names were presented, three from each axis. The prominent individuals, informally referred to as “The Ocampo Six ‘ were destined to the dreaded ICC courts over the grave charges of initiating, sponsoring, co-coordinating and propelling the violence. As the lengthy international prosecution of the suspects begun, the journey became tough and unpredictable. The ICC case greatly transformed the political landscape as allegiances were shifted, not only among the political class but also among their respective followers! A substantial segment of the anti-Kikuyu ODM brigade metamorphosed and begun aligning themselves to their hitherto political enemies, the Kikuyu, through the Kikuyu-Kalenjin alliance. This expanded to a short-lived Kikuyu-Kalenjin-Kamba association, then G-7 and finally the Jubilee Alliance, which won the election in 2013. Amazingly again, two political giants who had stood by the pro-Kikuyu PNU, former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka, and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula (Foreign Affairs minister in Kibaki’s government, made an about-turn and begun singing anti-Kikuyu songs. The two then joined their sworn political enemy in 2007 – and former Prime Minister Odinga in the grand coalition government – and narrowly lost to Jubilee. Recently, in another show of solidarity, the ruling coalition convinced smaller opposition political parties to dissolve and join the Jubilee Party, launched in Nairobi last month, in readiness for next year. Whether the new coalition carries the day and the new army, its major, generals and foot soldiers stays together to fight the 2022 war is a question only time will tell! What this elaborate lesson in history tells us is that the so called anti and pro-Kikuyu choruses we often hear are just one big lie meant to hoodwink gullible Kenyans. And we are stupid enough to fall for it every time. Anti-Kikuyuism is a chorus or cliché of convenience that politicians employ to their favour. The whole narrative also attests to the all too familiar political tenet that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies; just a constant shifting interests. ^

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