We do ourselves a disservice when we deify politicians who can only use us

Tuesday January 5 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta receives a bouquet of flowers on arrival at their residential hotel in New York, US. President Kenyatta may command the ardent following of legions, but he is still an ordinary human being. PHOTO | PSCU |

President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta receive a bouquet of flowers on arrival at their residential hotel in New York, US. President Kenyatta may command the ardent following of legions, but he is still an ordinary human being. PHOTO | PSCU | 

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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Mr Uhuru Kenyatta is not God. That he is President of the Republic of Kenya is not in dispute.

He may command the ardent following of legions, but he is still an ordinary human being.

It is, therefore, time that the Kikuyu people who follow him blindly abandoned the muthamaki (saviour) moniker and found something more appropriate.

Same applies to Raila Odinga. The opposition leader is indeed a legend of Kenyan protest politics.

His name is firmly etched in history as a crusader for freedom and justice and can never be deleted.

But those who so fervently believe in him, particularly the Luo base, must similarly acknowledge that he is a mere mortal. Mr Odinga is not God.

Ditto William Ruto. The Deputy President has lifted himself up by the bootstraps to dizzying heights as kingpin of Kalenjin politics.

However, his followers must recognise that looking up to him as the champion of their political aspirations does not confer on him supernatural status. Mr Ruto is not God.

Neither do the puny pretenders to Luhya supremacy such as Mr Moses Wetang’ula, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, and Mr Eugene Wamalwa deserve such status, nor their counterparts in contention for the Kamba kingship, including Mr Kalonzo Musyoka and Dr Alfred Mutua.

I would have preferred to wish all a Happy New Year as I pen my first column of 2016.

However, wishes are one thing and reality another.

It is going to be a political year, and Kenyan politics is loud, messy, dirty, and often violent.

RESILIENT PEOPLE
The seat belt signs are on. Pull your seat backs up, snap on your safety belts, and be ready for some serious turbulence.

And just be prepared to take the brace position and say your prayers as we approach the end of the year.

I am neither doomsayer nor negative pessimist.

If anything, my sunny optimism always puzzles the fretful foreign fellows who every election countdown make inquiries about Kenya’s survival.

Yes, our politics is loud and prone to dangerous ethnic mobilisation, but Kenya always pulls through.

This is not just a fatalistic “God will help us” attitude, but a belief that we know when not to cross line.

Sometimes, of course, we go too far, as was the case with the 2007-2008 post-election violence, but even them we mercifully stepped back from the brink.

In any case we cannot prevent the inferno unless we first recognise the risks ahead and deliberately work to forestall any such eventuality.

For the countdown starting now and leading on to the General Election in August next year — presuming that the eating classes in Parliament do not successfully conspire to get themselves more illegitimate time at the feeding trough — it is incumbent upon all of us to firmly reject the deification of fellow human beings.

We may admire and support the likes of Kenyatta, Raila, and Ruto, but let us all remember that they are all politicians first, and their first instinct would be to use us for their own gratification.

Maybe they carry some of our hopes and aspirations, whether as Kenyans or as Kikuyu, Luo, Kalenjin, or whatever ethnic nationality we owe fealty to, but the fact is that they are all motivated primarily by individual quest for power, wealth, and privilege. Not the communal or national good.

OPEN YOUR EYES
It is when we recognise that we have been used as expendable cannon fodder in ethnic wars and as stepping stones to political power that we will cease helping ethnic kingpins and warlords ascend to power and glory.

Hero worship and the elevation of tribal tin gods is probably the worst enemy of democracy in Kenya.

If in 2016 we can say “never again” to idolatry, we will have taken the first steps to liberating ourselves from the stultifying influence of those who employ mind control to win the votes of entire ethnic populations.

We will have freed ourselves from the straitjacket of ossified ethnic blinkers and secured the sacred right to vote in leaders who have our best interests at heart, and the best plans, policies, and programmes towards a unified, progressive, and prosperous nation.

This is the year we must all secure our independence from greedy, selfish leaders who would drive us to hate our neighbours and wage war against other Kenyans simply because they hail from a different culture and language.