SEASON OF CHANGE

Cutting noses to spite BBI reggae

Crocodiles are fleeing the road to Canaan.

In Summary
  • The BBI reggae season has entered the bandwagon stage.
  • Even those who initially shunned it are boarding, even as zealots criminalise views therefrom
Cutting noses to spite BBI reggea
Cutting noses to spite BBI reggea
Image: OZONE

To kill an idea, even a good one, give it a bad name. They did this to Ekuro Aukot's Punguza Mizigo. Building Bridges Initiative has not been spared the spite.

Some have dubbed BBI a waste of time, but the cynics cannot resist following the beats as reggae rolls across the counties. Some consider the initiative a conspiracy against Deputy President William Ruto's presidential ambition.

Some see BBI as Raila Odinga's revised roadmap to Canaan, or as ODM’s vehicle for the Uhuru Kenyatta succession. They worry crocodiles are fleeing the road to Canaan. Even the crocodiles that once occupied Meru's Kinoru Stadium, as Governor Kiraitu Murungi told the former Prime Minister, have fled. The governor presented the metaphor as a message from President Uhuru Kenyatta to his handshake ally Raila Odinga.     

Bridges are being built across River Jordan to facilitate the surge into Canaan. The imagery resonates: Regions are raising their issues. The Kisii BBI meeting spoke; Kakamega, Coast, Kitui, Narok and Garissa vented. The petition from the Mt Kenya region is a plea for proportional representation and equitable sharing of national revenue, under the 'One Man One Vote One Shilling' mantra.     

The BBI reggae season has entered the bandwagon stage. Even those who initially shunned it are boarding, even as zealots criminalise views therefrom. Weeks after the Narok BBI rally, they are still cutting their noses to spite their faces. The Maa quest for protection of ethnic homelands is an excuse to malign the initiative. Senator Ledama ole Kina gave a voice to issues of the Maa.

The incursions of non-indigenous land-buyers have transformed Maa ways. Pasture lands are diminishing. Farms occupy former grazing grounds. Towns are sprouting in Isinya, Kitengela, Suswa and Duka Moja, robbing the Maa of prime pastures.

Punguza Mizigo, reducing the load to ease the donkey's burden, was populist. But the political elite were not persuaded. They threw out the baby with the bathwater. They gave the dog a bad name, butchered it mercilessly, severed it callously, and then mangled it. The sadism did not surprise.

The settlements on the Mau Forest have destroyed the pastoral economy of the Maasai. Mau Forest, the largest water tower in East Africa, and source of many streams and rivers flowing into Lake Victoria, has been defiled. Intrusive human settlement means there is no ice on the mountains. The plains are drying out because of endangered wetlands.

Women of clout are also speaking for this majority, even as male chauvinists fault the quest for gender parity. Leadership is not a marriage, it has never been, as Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala told the Narok BBI rally. But reactions to his chauvinism showed a desire to make BBI work for women.

Development should respect the demographic structure of society. Women are the social majority, but they are a minority in leadership. Elective politics – the Executive, from Nairobi to the devolved units – is a men's club, where women play second fiddle. When women raise these issues, they are speaking for the exploited majority.  

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru champions women's empowerment through a policy that pushes for alternating gender in public offices. But this consciousness rattles machismos like Wanjala. Much like shaken politicians are criminalising BBI and the Maa quest for self-preservation.

Punguza Mizigo, reducing the load to ease the donkey's burden, was populist. But the political elite were not persuaded. They threw out the baby with the bathwater. They gave the dog a bad name, butchered it mercilessly, severed it callously, and then mangled it. The sadism did not surprise.

Aukot, the Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate, wasn't conceding. He was taking away steak from the claws of politicians. There were no concessions to a class that has always held wananchi hostage. Aukot was peeling off privileges from certified exploiters of gullible masses. A rebel document of a cutting-cost-order, would not curry favour with agents of the status quo.

Punguza Mizigo sought key changes to the 2010 Constitution. It began with seeking 1 million signatures from registered voters to set the initiative on a popular trajectory, but it did not garner the requisite support from county assemblies.

The Bill sought to reduce the number of MPs from 416 to 147, cut nomination slots, establish a one-term seven-year presidency, cap the president's salary at Sh500,000, trim MPs' pay at Sh300,000 and scrap the position of deputy governor, among other changes. The cumulative cuts would have saved the economy Sh3.78 trillion in five years.