There are four things that are never satisfied, the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert and the blazing fire.
Perhaps it is time experts added the top Kenyan leadership class.
The presidential race has for eons been the preserve of a select few. After Independence , through some deft political moves and the eventual banning and detention of Kenya Peoples Union Party members, Jomo Kenyatta held on to power tenaciously and was elected unopposed in all subsequent elections. Then Vice President Daniel arap Moi learnt ably from his master and employed the same devices to retain power until 1992, when a combined force of civil society organisations, multiparty crusaders led by men such as the late Kenneth Matiba, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and the international community forced him to restore multiparty democracy. He, however, argued that laws do not take effect retrospectively and some subtle horse-trading bought him a further and final 10-year term.
In 2002, the Kanu government then fronted by Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi and Wlliam Ruto was finally removed by a landslide after Raila Odinga endorsed Mwai Kibaki through the famous ‘Kibaki Tosha” declaration. Did Raila love Kibaki? Hardly! It was a well-designed move to create a clear path to the presidency for himself by uniting the elusive Luo-Kikuyu vote bloc. An elaborate MoU was crafted in which Kibaki was to be a one-term President with Raila Odinga as Prime Minister. Within the space of one year, Kibaki reneged on the MoU and appointed Raila’s nemesis Kijana Wamalwa, Vice President to act as a bulwark. I daresay he knew he would renege all along but was sheepishly playing ball to ascend to the presidency. Once firmly at the helm, he knew he could tell them to take a hike, perhaps not in as many words.
After various entreaties to Kibaki to “honour the debt” of the 2002 memorandum were met by a stone-faced Mwai Kibaki, Raila, Uhuru, William Ruto, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Najib Balala and Charity Ngilu, amongst others, formed the Orange Democratic Movement out of a protracted battle for political reforms. ODM was put to test in the 2005 constitutional referendum, in which they emerged victorious, much to the chagrin of the Kibaki and the Narc team. Emboldened by the overwhelming victory, ODM was transformed into a political party. Uhuru, however, left ODM shortly thereafter and in retrospect, it proved to be a very smart political move.
The 2007 General Election was the most acrimonious and heavily contested in Kenya. The resultant post-election violence after Kibaki was declared the victor is testimony. It is only after the intervention of UN special mediator the late Dr Kofi Annan that peace was restored. There was massive loss of lives, property and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
In the run up to the 2022 General Election there is the same talk regarding dishonoured debts and betrayal. The cast of politicians is exactly the same save for retired President Mwai Kibaki and the contested issues are not any different. One would be naïve not to sense that the impending election is fraught with danger. What is there to stop it going south like the 2007 election? If any in the current cast of political leaders is capable of stopping a conflagration, why did they not do so in 2007?
Blaming the political leader is only one side of the coin. How about the Kenyan voter(s)? Is he or she so ignorant and inured that they cannot sense when they are being led like sheep to slaughter by the same herdsmen? Don’t we have other leaders that we have to keep on recycling the old and tired?
The recommendations of Agenda 4 in the Annan-led National Accord and Reconciliation Act, 2008 has been left to gather dust in some government office. This herd mentality and policy of see no evil; hear no evil may eventually land us in a dark place.
Mwenda is a communications consultant