TRIBE AND POLITICS

Uhuru is right; we need a break from Kikuyu-Kalenjin presidency

What the President said but in raw politics is, “William Ruto, please forget becoming President in 2022.”

In Summary

• There will come a time when it would be okay and not wrong for a Kikuyu or Kalenjin to again go for and if legally elected, become president.

• For now, we need a break from having the presidency going to someone from either of those communities

President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI report launch at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27
UNITED? President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and other leaders during the BBI report launch at the Bomas of Kenya on November 27
Image: FILE

Is it right or fair for a country of more than 40 tribes to be led in all its history by sons from only two communities that exchange presidential leadership?

A resounding “No.”

While some of us have been making this case for years, it was quite refreshing and reassuring to hear President Uhuru Kenyatta not only embrace it but be as forceful as he was in making the case.

Some media houses reported that Uhuru “hinted” that he will support someone outside the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin communities for the 2022 General Election.

That is a journalistically acceptable, mild way to report what the President said but in raw politics, what he said is, “William Ruto, please forget becoming President in 2022.”

And if an incumbent tells you that, and you are his deputy, start living a double life, if you are not already: One in denial publicly, the other one breathlessly planning how to survive extinction from politics—at least for 2022 succession politics.

Better yet, pack up and leave the office and go tending to plant ecology if that is your area of expertise based on your questionable doctorate.

There will come a time when it would be okay and not wrong for a Kikuyu or Kalenjin to again go for and if legally elected, become president.

For now, we need a break from having the presidency going to someone from either of those communities and what a pleasure to know our president, who hails from one of the communities, agrees.

While it is not necessary to point out all the reasons why it is unfair and wrong to have the presidency rotate between two communities, it is necessary to highlight a few things that are poignant.

Domination in presidential leadership has always meant enjoyment of the national cake, especially allocation of resources, development and government jobs.

BBI attempts to address this by allocating more funds to the counties but this is a fix that does not end the disparities and inequities caused by the fact that only two communities have held power between them.

We need and must strengthen devolution, but must also remove impediments that have previously masqueraded in different forms to ensure the rotation of the presidency between these two communities.

While some of these impediments have been actions taken by those in power, others have been antiquated and backward belief among some that power belongs to one region and that no one should even bother seeking to yank it from them.

This notion is obviously a relic of the past that what Uhuru said and what he intends to do about it would deliver knockout blow to eviscerate the notion to annals of history.

Most importantly, underlying the thinking among those who hold the view that presidential leadership belongs to a certain community is this misguided and backward belief that tribe is superior to all others, which is pure nonsense

Again, Uhuru’s statement obviates the backwardness of that thinking and ditto leaders from the community who have said as much.

Indeed, it is this kind of thinking that has created hatred and animosity among tribes in many countries, most notably Rwanda where the 1994 genocide is attributed to this backward superiority based ethnic and tribal divide.

A subtle but in many cases not so subtle subset of this backward notion is these backward belief that a Luo cannot lead Kenya.

It is enough to say that is vilely backward. Anyone who thinks like that should be ashamed of themselves or, better, should shake loose the notion and join the rest of the civilized society.

That society is one where we tribalism and negative ethnicity is extinct and where we love or at least not hate another simply for being of a certain or different tribe or ethnic group. It is the least God asks of us.

Samuel Omwenga is a legal analyst and political commentator