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February 19, 2019

Drop this mkate mentality


Nusu mkate’ is a metaphor the ‘digital’ regime uses to protect its claim to the whole. The thinking is an official approval of exclusion from the national breakfast table. This is a dangerous barrier to national dialogue and reason.

See this, oh no, we cannot talk about national challenges because you are interested only in our ‘mkate’. It is the rivalry you expect when Daddy brings home a rare loaf of bread. Naughty children won’t want a fair sharing of the loaf. They will fight over it. The stronger boychild will flee with more slices. This happens in families where fairness is alien. Or where there are many ravenous mouths to feed with too little.

The country is rich enough to satisfy our needs, but our greed is tearing it apart. It may crash under the burden of greed for more than our fair share of the national cake.

Personal ambitions for power are rated above national interest. President Uhuru Kenyatta wants to secure his legacy, but Deputy President William Ruto hopes to fortify his 2022 presidential ambition. There is bound to be a ruckus in the citadel.

Thinking of national leadership as an occasion to ‘eat’ confirms the fears of right-thinking people, especially in a multi-ethnic country. Exclusion becomes official policy.

Nusu mkate got a metaphorical boost, and official endorsement, during the burial of the Maasai laibon William ole Ntimama in Narok in 2016. One part of the country are meat eaters. The others are saliva swallowers.

Political correctness earns you a meal ticket. Opposition gets you the wrong end of the stick. Protests attract police brutality to protect stakes and the steak.

In the current partisan political power parlance, a country of great potential is considered a loaf of bread. The slices are too few, but the demand is too high. Fairness is frowned upon; justice is considered divisive.

When a power clique claims the whole, it excludes others who also have a legitimate right to a share of the bread. The excluded, who peep and salivate from the outside, will be disenchanted.

This bread is the total wealth of all Kenyans. Whoever controls the cake is a trustee of the national interest. Power of control, given through free and fair elections, or grabbed through electoral anarchy, is not a licence to appropriate the whole for the gain of a few, at the exclusion of the many.

The genesis of this imagery is interesting. The Nusu Mkate government of 2008 to 2013 was intended to reconcile the country. Kenya was falling apart, following the 2007-08 post-election violence.

The 2008 post-election National Accord is the seedbed of the current stalemate. President Kibaki did not have a clean hand when his Party of National Unity agreed to dialogue with Raila Odinga’s aggrieved Orange Democratic Movement. Dangerous cards remained under the table.

Before then, a deflated Kibaki had baited the Wiper Democratic Movement of former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. But the plot to inflate his depleted parliamentary troupe did not bestow the legitimacy he craved to wobble through a second presidential term.

With 50 per cent of the Cabinet in his column, Kibaki was controlling the entire state machinery, weapons of violence and the Treasury. He also had other government ministries, which the power clique considers ‘meaty’.

The subsequent ‘nusu mkate’ government of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga was a coalition of blame-sharing. PNU retained power to misbehave.

The skewed power equation undermined the 2013 presidential election. It also compromised free and fair elections last year. Kibaki, who was elected President in 2002 through the united will of the Kenyan people, is the architect of the ascendant, divisive, ethnocratic mendacity of the post-Kanu-Moi era.

History will be brutal with Kibaki. But the former Othaya MP can redeem his legacy by playing the statesman Kenyans expected him to be in 2002. Kibaki can help the National Super Alliance and the Jubilee regime to resolve the stalemate, or he shall forever remain the President who returned and retained power in the ‘House’ through electoral fraud.

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