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TWO BULLS

Community-based leadership behind Ruto-Gideon supremacy wars

In Summary

• Since DP Ruto and Gideon come from two smaller communities within the bigger Kalenjin ethnic conglomerate, the conflict is not just one between two individuals but between the Tugen and the Nandi.

• If people have been community leaders, they should not be national leaders without giving up the former.

Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator at the burial of Grace Kipchoim on May 5
Deputy President William Ruto and Baringo Senator at the burial of Grace Kipchoim on May 5
Image: COURTESY

The ongoing conflict between Deputy President William Ruto and Senator Gideon Moi, which has been unfolding for some time and likely to continue playing out is a rivalry for leadership of the Kalenjin between two leaders who believe they need it as a ladder to the presidency.

Because Ruto and Gideon also come from two smaller communities within the bigger Kalenjin ethnic conglomerate, the conflict is not just one between two individuals but between the Tugen and the Nandi, from which they hail from.

The genesis of this conflict is rooted in negative ethnicity, the ideology of all our ethnic community politics that propel leaders to seek the leadership of their ethnicities and clans as a base of reaching national leadership.

 
 

Here, I would like to clarify, the ethnic conflict is not just within the Kalenjin but amongst all Kenyan communities. Worse, the ethnic malaise is not considered as a weakness that leaders should avoid qualifying for national leadership, but as a strength that leaders seek as a stepping-stone to higher leadership embraced as ethnic diversity.

It is also a repeat of history between two Kalenjin leaders fighting it out for the leadership of an ethnic community.

Once when I was detained in Shimo La Tewa Prison, then Vice President Daniel Moi came to see Jean-Marie Seroney, who was a popular leader of the Nandi community.

When Moi reached Seroney’s cell, he called out, “Hallo Seroney.”

“Hallo, who is it?”

Moi replied, “Are you not yet dead?”

Seroney kept quiet.

He did not know what to reply to this shocking ill-wish.

Moi then told the prison guards who were escorting him in Seroney’s hearing, “Make sure he does not come out of here alive.”

They said, “Yes Afande” and Moi left.

Seroney was so shocked by the incident that he hardly ever spoke again throughout his detention at Manyani Maximum Security Prison, where he was kept in total solitary confinement.

After our release on December 12, 1983, Seroney was given a job by President Moi as chairman of the Industrial Bank of Kenya. Soon after, Seroney died in hospital from a short illness, leaving Moi as the undisputed leader, not just of Kenya but also of the Kalenjin community.

All Kenyan communities have leaders who claim their leadership. The leaders of those communities seek their total and unchallenged leadership driven by the ideology of negative ethnicity that hardly brooks opposition. Worse, ethnic leadership is boosted by ethnic dictatorship, which does not tolerate democracy.

 Like the Kalenjin, the Kikuyu has also had President Jomo Kenyatta as its supreme leader.

As the Kikuyu leader, Kenyatta was unchallenged except by JM Kariuki, who, for his challenge, was assassinated in 1975. He left Kenyatta as the unchallenged leader of the Kikuyu until his death. After Kenyatta, President Kibaki and Uhuru have also been crowned as ethnic leaders of the Kikuyu, beyond any challenge. Even though Kikuyu leaders have been presidents of Kenya, they did not relinquish the leadership of their community, which should have been the case to ensure one does not interfere with the other.

If people have been community leaders, they should not be national leaders without giving up the former. Only this will diminish the influence of negative ethnicity upon national leadership, where ethnic leaders think they are presidents elected to serve their own communities.

KIKUYU LEADER

Like the Kalenjin, the Kikuyu has also had President Jomo Kenyatta as its supreme leader.

As the Kikuyu leader, Kenyatta was unchallenged except by JM Kariuki, who, for his challenge, was assassinated in 1975.

Like the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin, the Luo community has also been under the leadership of ethnic leaders – Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son Raila. These two leaders have been at the helm of national leadership buttressed by ethnic leadership, which has not been surrendered at the acquisition of national leadership.

Ultimately we have been doing politics of ethnic bulls that fathom no internal competition but rather encourage internal ethnic conflict, which upon accommodation nationally, tears the nation apart because no effort is made to eradicate it.

At the national and community levels, two ethnic bulls cannot live in the same kraal.