Opinion polls conducted to gauge the likely voting patterns of Kenyan voters have, over the last few years, consistently shown that the next President of Kenya will emerge from a list of five candidates.
The presidential contest, if we believe these opinion polls, has narrowed down to a contest between Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka and William Ruto.
These five candidates, it seems, have in the eyes of ordinary Kenyans crystallised into the Big Five of Kenya’s presidential electoral politics. The same opinion polls have consistently shown that the minnows of Kenya’s electoral politics have no chance becoming Kenya’s next President.
The minnows include candidates like Martha Karua, Eugene Wamalwa, Raphael Tuju, Peter Kenneth, Najib Balala and former Permanent Secretary for Education James Kiyiapi.
This stratification and classification of the candidates into two categories provides an unfortunate political reality which, in a number of ways, is both a political irony and even a tragedy.
The tragedy is that all the members of the Big Five have been principally catapulted into potential presidents solely because each one of them has, over the years, ensured that he has the total support of over a million voters from his tribesmen.
In other words, each of the Big Five has consolidated the ethnic base of one of Kenya’s five big tribes and lays a claim as a potential tenant of State House on that basis.
So the candidatures of all the members of the Big Five are, to a great extent, an expression of tribal quest for power. Each of the five candidates is principally being propelled by huge tribal movers. Their prominence is thus a reflection and testimony of the preeminence of tribal politics in Kenya.
The minnows, their dismal poll ratings notwithstanding, are the more national and credible candidates.
The candidates in this category don’t have a tribal platform to launch their candidatures. On the contrary, they all stand on a national platform.
Their candidature is neither founded on nor is it an offshoot of their ethnic communities’ tribal quest for power. Candidates like Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth and Raphael Tuju are espousing national issues and agenda that are quite attractive to the objective non-tribal voter.
So, with the elections just a few months away, are we doomed to elect a presidential candidate who is principally anointed by one of the big five tribes or should we take a national pose and reflect on a more rational and national criterion? Shouldn’t we be very suspicious of a candidate whose prominence is principally defined by the numbers of his tribesmen?
Don’t members of the minnows club truly look attractive? Should the Kenyan voter really look at the candidates with tribal clothing and judge them on the issues that are being pushed by the minnows?
We must never lose sight of the tribal reality in Kenya for it is what informs and defines our country. But in the coming elections, there is a national imperative for the Kenyan voter to be more informed, rational and knowledgeable.
The Kenyan voter must move away from the tribal agenda of simply finding a presidential candidate attractive for the sole reason that he is a tribesman.
If we were to judge some of the Big Five candidates critically on their acts and commissions for the past decades, they would not be that attactive. But we don’t even think on those lines. The minnows, on the other hand, are quite attractive. They don’t have a tribe behind their candidature. They don’t have sponsors pushing them from behind. Their candidature has a tribal antithesis. Their candidatures are issues based. Their agenda are quite attractive.
Let us move away from the politics of big tribes and appraise candidates rationally.
The writer is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly email@example.com