Back at the dawn of Independence, two foreign powers spent time competing and sometimes colluding to have a say in Kenyan affairs. These were the British and the Americans.
Since then, Kenyan politicians have foolishly chased the favours of one or the other power and sometimes both. In so doing, they appear to have been blind to the fact that neither the British nor the Americans give a damn about who is running Kenya, as long as it does not adversely affect US or UK interests.
If these interests align with a particular political grouping at any one time, they will be super friendly and supportive, but they will always be ready to drop you the second they have a new plan. Our history is strewn with evidence of this fickleness.
To deal with the British you need to truly understand the phrase “Perfidious Albion.” If we had grasped this at Independence, we’d have understood that the granting of Independence was just a tactical retreat.
The British were going nowhere and would, as we have seen in the half century since, continue with their “acts of diplomatic sleight, duplicity, treachery and, hence, infidelity (with respect to perceived promises made to or alliances formed with other nation states)” through all means possible. At one time, through Kenyatta-era minister Bruce McKenzie, they even had a mole in the Cabinet.
During this half-century of Independence, whenever the British have seemed to be off the radar, rest assured they have been very busy plotting, planning and scheming.
Independence came at the height of the Cold War, and for the Americans, the main agenda in Kenya was making sure people they considered “communists” — basically anyone who leaned slightly to the left or even seemed friendly to China and or Russia — were kept well away from the levers of power.
It was in pursuit of this goal, for instance, that they supported the likes of Tom Mboya over Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who was friendly with the Chinese and the Russians. The US feared that if Odinga succeeded Kenyatta, the country would drift into the Chinese/Russian sphere of interest.
When Mboya neutralised Odinga, they immediately lost interest in their pal (it also didn’t help that Mboya’s cheerleaders the Kennedy’s had died and so lost their influence). Mboya became expendable.
Fast forward to the late early 1990s. The Cold War was at an end and the US no longer needed the services of ‘friends’ such as President Moi. As such, they cultivated new friends under the ‘restoration of democracy’ banner and used these friends to put pressure on their old pal through Smith Hempstone and his embassy crew, who cultivated opposition to Moi and Kanu.
Since then, it would appear enough politicians were fooled into thinking the Americans would always support their causes, but as we’ve seen with recent events in Kenya, the US (and the Brits) are fair-weather friends and will use and dump political groupings as when their own interests demand. If you think they are on your side now, just wait until the wind shifts and it doesn’t matter if you are Jubilee or Nasa.