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December 10, 2018

NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU: Mt Kenya division hinders progress

Muigai Wa Njoroge, the composer and singer of Kimendero song castigating greedy politicians. /COURTESY
Muigai Wa Njoroge, the composer and singer of Kimendero song castigating greedy politicians. /COURTESY

Last Thursday I got a text from a journalist who writes for the Daily Nation. He was working on a story on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s expected visit to Sagana State Lodge, where the finalists of the National Music Festival that had been held in Nyeri county over the previous week would showcase their performances.

The journalist wanted my reactions to whether Mt Kenya is split between pro-Ruto and pro-Raila camps. He also wanted to know whether, in my opinion, Uhuru has performed development-wise, in the region.

I told him that as far as I am concerned the region is not split between Deputy President William Ruto and Raila Odinga. Any political split is between those who are engaged in early campaigns for Ruto’s 2022 bid, and those who are saying this is not the right time to be campaigning for an election that is four years away.

Some Mt Kenya elected leaders are already travelling the country drumming up support for Ruto’s 2022 bid. This is a fact. Others, including myself, Maina Kamanda, Maoka Maore and many of the older politicians are saying this is wrong and disrespectful to the President. This is the key division that exists in Mt Kenya today.

Unfortunately, the division has affected the region’s ability to lobby for projects, which affects the question about Uhuru’s development performance in the region. Government strategic development is based on how elected leaders articulate the needs of their respective regions, and lobby government to execute them. Due to the premature campaigns, our leaders are divided and their lobbying efforts are disjointed.

The pro-Ruto group directs their project proposals to him. Those not interested in premature campaigns direct their lobbying elsewhere (to Cabinet secretaries or the President). The effect is multiple proposals on the same region’s issues. Meanwhile other regions, despite a difference in their political outlook, present joint proposals. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that their proposals will moves faster than ours.

Development is a factor of unity of purpose. This means that as much as we would like to blame Uhuru for the slow development of our region, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of current leaders. United we will stand and progress, divided we will fall. This truth applies to the region’s political, economic and social development.

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There has been a proliferation of vernacular songs that seem to be targeting political leaders in the context of the 2022 election. The latest one is by Muigai wa Njoroge and it is titled Kimendero (Crusher). I hear it has been corrupted into a version that targets the DP (Njoroge has reported this to the police). Before that there was Hatuna Deni by Turacco, who seemed to have been responding to Tulipe Deni by John Demathew.

The fact that musicians are seeing the need to produce such songs today, four years to election, confirms why Uhuru called for a cessation in political campaigns at least until 2021. However, some of my colleagues in Jubilee refused to listen to him. This is why we are discussing what are, in all honesty, political campaign songs; and they are divisive, to put it mildly. The fact that most of these songs are Kikuyu also shows where the campaigns are hottest — Central.

I urge my colleagues to heed Uhuru’s advice. Forget about political competition until 2021. Deliver to Kenyans. Help Uhuru secure his legacy. Then we can compete, at the right time. Otherwise in four years residents will send all of us home as Uhuru retires.

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