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August 21, 2018

Political stalemate, economic boycott could reshape Kenya's wealth ownership

Mombasa traders sell wares along the streets of the coastal town on August 14, 2017. /JOHN CHESOLI
Mombasa traders sell wares along the streets of the coastal town on August 14, 2017. /JOHN CHESOLI

Kenyans have been treated to one of the exciting and painful economic and political moments, that have reshaped and redrawn, the wealth ownership and path.

The last 10 months have been bitter-sweet experience for Kenyans that has not only altered the political landscape but changed the view of wealth and acquisition.

For eons, the country wealth has been believed to be mainly in the hands of the Agikuyu community and the Kalenjins and lately the entry of the Somali community, who have been on buying spree in nearly all sectors of the country economy.

The rest say 80 per cent of the communities in the country have been viewed as mainly consumers while the remaining percentage have been viewed as producers.

Interestingly, the producers are poor spenders and cannot sustain their economy on their own and rely on the consumers to enhance their wealth and dominance both economically and politically.

The consumers are spendthrift and are known to live lavishly by spending the last coin they have and not investing in any meaningful projects that would bring returns.

But the consumers seem to have been woken up from sleep and have opted to seek economic identity and to be self reliant.

The economic boycott of products from the regions that were perceived as producers opened the consumers' eyes to realisations that in actual sense, they too could be producers and at the same time consumers.

WHAT DOES THIS IMPLY?

The once perceived consumers have woken up to reality that they have been slumbering on their own economic opportunities and identity.

That it is possible, that they can have economic turn around to be independent and not reliant on imported foodstuffs and commodities from the other destinations.

KITUI GOVERNOR CHARITY NGILU

The ban on charcoal burning and trade by the Kitui governor was a simple statement of fact that, we must be prepared to control our markets and dictate the prices goods in our favour.

By empowering her residents, Ngilu is politely but cunning educating her people that your destiny is in your hands. You dont have to depend on the outsiders to determine your future.

Wittily, Ngilu and others are using devolution as prism for economic emancipation and identity creation. That is why, several cottage industries are in the rise across the county.

Equally, the Ngilus are expressively making a statement that if we survived "without their commodities" during the resist period, we can as well do without them altogether.

This is a serious economic moment that the Producers and the perceived wealth owners could find themselves. The markets might be shrinking and soon, competition might be tight.

THE SLOGAN 'BUY AND BUILD YOUR OWN

In Nyanza for instance some groups have emerged with a philosophy that seek to make the locals identify with one of their own in the economic sector and the way they have been in the political lane.

By replicating the political unity to economic journey, Nyanza is likely to move away from a mainly consumer region but both producer and consumer.

Currently one such group, Tekowa (our Strength) gospel is getting a positive nod with the audience who are excited of reversing high capital flight.

DEVOLUTION

With Devolution passing infant stage to a more serious organ and player in the country's political and economic dispensation, Leaders have now been tasked to re-engineer the local economy from consumer to producers.

The first economic misfire was shot by Kiambu governor Mr Ferdinand Waitutu when they passed a bill requiring most employment in the county by organisations operating in the area to go to the locals.

This was a wrong precedent by Waitutu who opened old wounds that has prompted other governors to wage economic war on the perceived wealth owners.

Devolution is seen as the answer to years of economic discrimination and a spring board to a new economic resurgence of the once areas that wallowed in want.

However, the impact of changing economic rebirth will not be realised immediately but after 5-10 years, there will be a major shift in wealth ownership in the country.

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