POLITICS

For Mt Kenya, without Mt Kenya?

Facts are stubborn things.

In Summary

•Be that as it may, she is correct to say Mt. Kenya people never embraced BBI.

•Even today, they do not. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga lead Kenyans launch collection of signatures for the BBI process during the launch at KICC, Nairobi, on November 25,2020.
SIGN HERE: President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga lead Kenyans launch collection of signatures for the BBI process during the launch at KICC, Nairobi, on November 25,2020.
Image: PSCU

Governor Anne Waiguru has been very forthcoming in the last few days. The backdrop of her “home truths” is that she is facing an uncertain political future in Kirinyaga County, thanks to machinations by her detractors both in the government of President Uhuru and in UDA.

Be that as it may, she is correct to say Mt. Kenya people never embraced BBI. Even today, they do not. Facts are stubborn things.

For the two years President Uhuru and Raila Odinga toiled with the initiative, the people of Mt. Kenya started out as passive observers and then slowly became opposed, and, finally, hostile to the process.

This was despite the fact that Mt. Kenya mandarins in government tried all maneuvers to appease their kinsfolk.  At the height of this campaign, the government even funded village barazas with refreshments and per diem.

The Draft Bill itself had more goodies. A dubious formula used to share the 70 constituencies ended up giving Mt. Kenya more new constituencies and still ring-fenced, for eternity, the already protected underpopulated constituencies in the region like Ndaragwa, Kangema, Tetu, Othaya, Mbeere North, Murkurweini et cetera.

Yet, as William Ruto launched a scathing onslaught on the initiative, often on the pulpit on Sundays, Mt. Kenya bought Ruto’s doom and damnation gospel hook, line and sinker.

The people of Mt. Kenya did not just have a problem with BBI. Their core problem started with the handshake between President Uhuru and his arch-nemesis, Raila Odinga.

The handshake purported to end a long running ethnic feud largely between the Kikuyu and the Luo. What Uhuru underrated was the depth of this schism with its socio-political and economic undertones.

While the two leaders gave the handshake a veneer of national respectability by roping in other leaders, at its core, the handshake was fundamentally a quest to find a middle ground between Kikuyu fears and Luo hopes.

Raila handled the détente much better. Perhaps, unlike Kikuyus, Luos do not suffer from extreme paranoia of life under Kikuyu hegemonic rule, hence the fear of the unknown is less pronounced. Luos therefore became not just the earliest embracers of handshake, but also accepted BBI, with its problematic representation conundrums.

This quest has now flopped. The two torchbearers have been handed humiliating court sanctions. Mt. Kenya, adamant for drift, is holding onto old hatreds.

Yet, Mt. Kenya needs to listen to President Uhuru, and attentively so. They better go back to his Jamhuri Day 2020 speech where he appealed to them to “unshackle our nationhood from the bondage of fear; and boldly seize this moment of hope”.

That’s because there’s no guarantee that this moment will last forever. Hope, you know, is always a passing cloud.

There’s an argument now, which is whether President Uhuru can succeed in crafting the country he imagined in the BBI alongside Raila Odinga, without a broad endorsement from Mt. Kenya.

That country obviously benefits Mt. Kenya more than any region of the republic. Sadly, its creation is paradoxically vehemently opposed by Mt. Kenya.

Mt Kenya opposition is a dogmatic reaction to their fear of the Luo. This fear has now morphed into terror. You see it in their bewilderment when confronted with the fact that they hold no real charge against the Luo, or to be more specific, against Raila Odinga.

President Uhuru, unpopular as ever, has lost nearly all the by-elections in his backyard. With an economy in tatters, no party machine to translate his big money infrastructure projects into mass acceptability, a conniving deputy ascendant in his own Mt. Kenya backyard, the state of play of politics in Kenya just months to a transitional presidential election is as uncertain as ever, but not puzzling to me at all.

It ends where it begins, for Mt. Kenya without Mt. Kenya?