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CRUMBLING ALLIANCES

Election tension stems from changes in political alliances

We must see ourselves as one, not different tribes that only work together for each own's benefit

In Summary

• To save Kenya from tribal tension, we must free ourselves from traditional authority of tribal kingpins.

• Equal distribution of resources will solve the problem of marginalisation so that one community doesn’t feel threatened by incursion of the other. 

Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at the merger to form Jubilee Party
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BROMANCE?: Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at the merger to form Jubilee Party
Image: FILE

As 2022 succession politics gather momentum, the country’s political stability has come under public scrutiny in recent days with the arrests of MPs Johanna Ng'eno and Oscar Sudi over, among other charges, incitement to violence.

Following the 2007-08 post-election experience, ethnic relations in Kenya have become fragile – so much that it takes a coalition between kingpins to defuse tribal tension, if not violence, every election circle.

The growing concern, however, is the sustainability of politically brokered peace. In the run up to 2013 presidential elections, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto entered into an alliance to end historical differences between Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities. 

Today, some Kalenjin leaders are warning President Kenyatta against reneging on his famous kumi yangu, kumi ya William remark. Kapseret MP Sudi has been quoted on several occasions saying "we are not fools". Perhaps the legislator should define we. 

Political 'marriages' can help prevent tribal tension, but their ineffectuality is laid bare by the dynamic nature of politics. If the 2013 presidential elections were an experiment to defeat the International Criminal Court cases in which Kenyatta and Ruto were charged with crimes against humanity, 2022 elections are about character reinvention and self-preservation

To save Kenya from tribal tension, we must free ourselves from traditional authority of tribal kingpins. We must begin to see ourselves as a people with shared aspirations that can only be achieved when we come together.

We lack a shared past - because of this cracked foundation, we easily crumble due to ephemeral political (re)alignments. This is what the Building Bridges Initiative ought to fix.

When an area is ethnically diverse, the notion that particular resources such as land belong to a specific community naturally dies. Equal distribution of resources will solve the problem of marginalisation so that one community doesn’t feel threatened by incursion of the other. 

Two, we need to make democracy work at the grassroots. Negotiated democracy isn’t sustainable. We need to deconstruct ethnic solidarity that accompanies us to the ballot. Although this process would demand collective introspection and consciousness, it’s the first step towards turning our politics from an ethnic solidarity affair to a policy-based process of choosing leaders. 

 

Journalism student, Multimedia University of Kenya