Individual quests for power, the people be damned

Individual quests for power, the people be damned

BY Shadrack Muyesu

I have never been interested in politics in this country and honestly, while I respect their freedoms of thought and expression, I pity the men who put much thought into it. In his best element, a politician is an ethnic entrepreneur and an intellectual whore. Not that it should be held against him; like every Kenyan, his is merely a quest for survival. As King Kaka says, if this country is rotten, the principal culprit is you, the faithful voter and consummate consumer of politics who continues to give him credence never mind the numerous alternatives the Constitution allows you. The politician may be a dog, but if you lay down with dogs, how can you complain when you become infested with fleas?   

There is a long sad history attached to the sickness, all of it packaged in glorious terms such as Mashujaa, the independence struggle, the second revolution and so forth, yet the truth remains that there is nothing glorious about this country’s past or its political future. And while there is a sprinkling of honest Kenyans, statesmen, and genuine heroes of the freedom struggle, a vast majority of the so called Mashujaa, Rubia, Matiba, et al were just other selfish politicians keen on self-advancement. It is true that there was a clamour for political freedom and that great sacrifices were made but most of these people were interested not so much in the democratic process or policy issues than the chance to occupy State House.

In May 1990, Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia teamed up to demand a return of multipartysm. Matiba and Rubia were prominent Kikuyu businessmen who occupied powerful cabinet positions before being ousted in the rigged elections of 1988. And while their banner creamed, “we want democracy” their actual grievance was Daniel Moi’s persistent discrimination against Kikuyu business interests, most of them illicitly acquired during the Old Kenyatta era: they wanted to break the mould. 

What followed thereafter is in the public domain. The opposition united under FORD only to later breakdown into the Kikuyu based FORD Asili led by Kenneth Matiba and the Luo dominated FORD Kenya led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. A third party, DP under the stewardship of Mwai Kibaki, who had served diligently under Kenyatta and Moi only resigning from the latter at the height of Moi’s purge against the Kikuyu, further split the Opposition vote allowing Moi as smooth sail to victory.

Among the founding members of FORD Kenya were Moses Wetangula, Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, James Orengo and Raila Odinga. And of course, as the story goes, they were not so lucky in the elections that followed and to this day, remain stuck in the opposition. But this doesn’t paint the whole picture. With Nyong’o and Orengo in tow, Raila continues demonstrate his ability to sleep with despotic governments when it suits him. In 1997 he joined Moi under the false impression that he would succeed him (Moi): today he is the de facto second in command in a Uhuru Kenyatta-led government that is not only guilty of every sin of bad governance but also tainted with blood of Raila supporters and other soldiers of the continuing freedom crusade. 

Moi: The former president opposed multi-partysim and thrived on ethnic manipulation.

One of the fruits of their union is the ongoing Building Bridges Initiative. Those who believe in the process credit Raila as the instigator of another reform process. Many more see otherwise and they are right when you consider that, by association, Raila and his friends cannot even respect the current Constitution of Kenya, 2010.

Moses Wetangula is even more obvious; after indulging in the scraps of opposition politics, Wetangula joined Kibaki where, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, he was accused of selling the Kenyan Embassy in Tokyo. It may also be remembered that alongside Amos Kimuya, John Michuki, Uhuru Kenyatta and Martha Karua, he parroted a cynical clarion call of “go to court” when (Kibaki) had obviously and shamelessly stolen the Presidential election of 2007. 

They stopped bothering once the tribe came to power.

Among the non-Luo members of Ford Kenya was Kiraitu Murungi. Among his stripes are two years of exile and together with another colossus of the freedom struggle and his partner in Law Dr Gibson Kamau Kuria, service as counsel for political prisoners of the Moi government including Wanyiri Kihoro. The Kihoro matter in particular was so tender that it forced Gibson Kuria to also flee for dear life. Kiraitu would later decamp to the more accommodating DP. Today, Kiraitu carries water for the equally sinful Jubilee government. Dr Kuria meanwhile retreated quietly to lucrative private practice. And now that the shoe is on the other foot, you’ll never hear him speaking out on behalf of current victims of government excesses.

Not that the fate was any kinder to Rubia and Matiba . A mash up of renewed government strength and a weakened opposition thanks in no small part on Odinga’s decision to follow Moi and (Moi’s) continued assault against the Kikuyu ensured that they never reached their proverbial Canaan. Weighed down by sickness, they drifted into oblivion. 

Karua joined Ford-Asili party Before decamping to DP at the behest of elders. She would rise through the political ranks to serve as the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs under her old friend, Kibaki. But sadly, her legacy will defined by the gusto and panache with which she prostrated herself naked before the whole world to defend her benefactor against blatant election theft. Granted (albeit feebly) she speaks out against government excesses, but its only because her hand is no longer in the cookie jar.

Since the tribe came to power, Koigi wa Wamwere, the distinguished Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the Rev. Timothy Njoya have also stopped speaking. Njoya’s new-found calling is a research on the marvels of the clitoris. The others have retreated to their private lives.

Kamukunji MP, Yusuf Hassan, was the founding chairman of Umoja wa Kupigania Demokrasia Kenya (Ukenya) back in the late 80s. Ukenya may be remembered as the Godfather of modern opposition (parties) which, through one hard hitting press release after the other, facilitation and resource mobilisation, fought hard against Moi’s despotism and the harassment and exile of opposition leaders. Ironically Yusuf Hassan is now a staunch member of Jubilee whose equally despotic tendencies he frequently appears on television to sanitise. 

The examples of false revolutionaries are legion but the short point here is that politics is about self-aggrandisement; the rest is poetry.

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