What return of patriotism says about the Kibaki era
Posted Saturday, June 9 2012 at 17:31
Two things stood out for their awkwardness during the two-day peace conference that came to an end in Mombasa on Saturday.
One was President Kibaki’s gaffe-fest on Friday which saw him mangle the conference’s theme from MKenya Daima (Kenyan forever) to Mount Kenya Daima.
Then there was that moment just before the speeches when MPs and other participants performed a passionate sing-along of Mwalimu Thomas Wasonga’s Kenya Kipenzi Changu.
President Kibaki’s handlers will be hoping that Kenyans don’t read too much into the gaffe and understand it as a slip of the tongue instead.
But coming from a President who has hardly distinguished himself for his anti-tribalism credentials, I doubt they will get their wish. I, for one, thought it was one of those days when an unscripted Kibaki finally found himself speaking from his heart or from the subconscious.
The moniker ‘Mount Kenya’ and its related appendages like ‘Mount Kenya Mafia’ actually got into our national political parlance during the Kibaki administration.
They denote a uniquely Kibakian rule of, for and by an ethnic elite. The spontaneous outbreak of patriotism at the conference was even more significant.
One has to flash back to the peak of Moi’s Nyayo era in the 1980s to see a Kenya where public profession of patriotism was a national fad.
After the 2002 revolution vanquished Moi’s Kanu and swept Kibaki’s Narc to power, optimism replaced despair in national life. So how did the sense of despair displayed at the various peace campaign meetings across the country creep back?
My take is that Kenyans feel more divided than they were during the Nyayo era. It is a damning commentary on the Kibaki era.
If the Moi regime gave us a false sense of peace (remember the ‘Kenya is an island of peace in a sea of turmoil’ refrain amid tribal clashes), the Kibaki administration shattered our hope for peace.
A legacy that was supposed to be defined by massive infrastructure developments, free primary school education and economic growth will forever be tainted by the blood shed in the 2007/2008 post-election violence and the widening ethnic fault lines it left in its wake.
I could be wrong, even harsh, in my judgment of President Kibaki’s legacy. I even wish history would be kind to him. But I’m afraid it won’t.