So what’s there to celebrate? We mark a day appropriated for the personal aggrandisement of one man. Kenyatta Day was established to perpetuate President Kenyatta’s mythical role in the armed struggle for independence.
As it turned out, as aptly captured in Bildad Kaggia’s Roots of Freedom, Kenyatta was nowhere near the top of Mau Mau high command. He was not even Mau Mau in strict sense of the term, but merely tolerated as the political symbol of the struggle.
Well, he went on to become the founding Father of the Nation, and once safely installed in office, did everything he possibly could to erase the history of Mau Mau.
The freedom fighters who had been robbed of their land became non-persons, and those who had collaborated with the colonial occupiers to put down their own people became the new landed gentry, the wenyenchi.
Kenyatta also put in place the national philosophy of a small elite exploiting its position of power and authority to grab the national wealth for itself, dismissing the poor, hungry, dispossessed masses as lazy and foolish.
He passed on the baton to Daniel Moi, who accelerated the wanton plunder, and in turn passed the mantle to another worthy successor, Mwai Kibaki.
Now that is the real enigma. Once in power, President Kibaki honoured the leader and symbol of the Mau Mau rebellion, Dedan Kimathi, with a bronze statue on Kimathi Street. That was it.
He also allowed otherwise forgotten Mau Mau remnants to grace national day celebrations, to the seeming discomfort of the perfumed classes who flinched at being seated on the dais next to some rustic villagers. That was it.
The Kibaki whose own brother was one of the victims of the infamous Hola Massacre, when nearly a dozen Mau Mau detainees were bludgeoned to death by colonial forces, had no room beyond the token recognition to do anything serious about redressing the injustices crafted by his predecessors.
I’m not here talking about merely giving Mau Mau survivors some land, a stipend, or medals, but about righting some basic wrongs in this dysfunctional society that are ultimately responsible for our national crisis.
In his comfortable zone at State House surrounded by flunkies and an entire security battalion, President Kibaki, like Moi and Kenyatta before him, is simply incapable of understanding that Kenya, as pronounced by Chinese premier Chou en Lai so many years ago, is a country ripe for revolution.
Kibaki is happy to preside over a country where the gap between rich and poor is about the highest in the world.
HE IS INCAPABLE OF REALISING the edifice he helped build is a ticking time bomb he sits astride. We can grapple with security problems wrought by Kalenjin warriors, Mungiki, Baghdad Boys, Sungu Sungu and so on, but no Luis Moreno-Ocampo nor army on earth will resolve the issue of desperate, hungry, hopeless, youth pouring out of every pore.
The conditions for ethnic-political violence exist in this country because of the millions of idle, jobless youth ready to do the bidding of politicians in exchange for some paltry handouts.
It is also the hopeless and desperate who are most vulnerable to the brainwashing and propaganda spewed by the criminals that are our political leaders.
You are hungry? Jobless? Landless? That other fellow is the problem. His people took our land, took all the jobs and got all the education. We must teach them a lesson and reclaim our rights. Kill them! Chase them out of this locality! It is our turn to own the big farms and houses and to drive the big cars they have been showing off with.
Those are the socio-economic conditions government by a small, ignorant, arrogant elite can never begin to comprehend and address.
Occasionally they will throw some small morsels like those infamous scams called youth funds or women’s funds, or Kazi kwa Vijana, but often they are just political slush funds, and at best amount to treating a gaping, cancerous wound with elastoplast.
The landed classes who run this country can celebrate Kenyatta Day, hopeful they have everything in control and that the country will soon recover from the descent into post-election barbarism.
A power-sharing agreement, however, is not even a single step towards repairing the deep schisms in society.
We may craft temporary ethnic alliances that buy us a little time, but the next implosion might be based not the interests of competing ethnic chieftains, but on the class divide.
When the downtrodden masses rise up in revolt, there will be no ethnic chief to strike a deal with. By refusing to address the real concerns of poverty and the class divide, President Kibaki is helping Chou en Lai’s prophecy come true.