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Who will lead Kenya out of this abyss?

Saturday October 24 2009

 

By PHILIP OCHIENG

Should Kalonzo Musyoka and William Ruto vie for State House in 2012? That, clearly, is not a legitimate question. For – barring only a few special constitutional provisos -- the field is open to every Tom, Dick and Khalwale.

Moreover, in terms of ideo-moral promise, who is better than the Vice-President and the farming minister? Nay, who is worse? The answer is that Mr Musyoka and Mr Ruto will be run-of-the-mill candidates among those who will be asking us to vote them into ultimate power.

So take your choice because they are all pesa nane politicians. No, I am not fatalistic. I accept that, at the end of Mwai Kibaki’s tenure, we shall need a president. So we have to make do with whichever candidate the political market may latch onto.

I also accept that some of the candidates may have positive gifts up their sleeves. Moreover, I am prepared for the possibility that the successful candidate will not come from my ethnic community. If any Kenyan has any problem with that, something is the matter with his education.

My only problem is that, up to now, neither the old nor the new candidates appear even aware of this need to move Kenya rapidly out of the deep mental attunement in which, on all political questions, individuals exuberate only when the leading candidate for a national office comes from their tribe.

As I approach the grave, it would greatly enthuse me to see a morally and intellectually new breed of candidates committed -- kuga na guika -- to taking bold new steps to lead Kenya out of this abyss of tribe and the abject poverty of thought to which it perennially condemns us.

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I would like to see a national political party which seeks our votes on the basis only of how to become one nation, how to heighten the production of abundance in our technologies and other goods, services and ideas with which to create long-lasting general leisureliness.

I would like to see a presidential candidate who perpetually moves from community to community to exemplify the exploitation of our soils and atmosphere in such a way as to make them permanently able to yield for us our bodily and mental wherewithal in ever greater quantity and quality.

I would like to see somebody who is always under way preaching a new philosophy of education and upbringing, a new kind of organisation of social production, a new system of thinking and doing things so we can achieve our objective goals in the shortest possible time.

Yet, I do not see any sign of such leadership emerging. Even as we move deeper into the 21st century, our most educated national candidates remain in the grip of Stone-Age thinking. Their minds continue to be moored to the ground by the most primitive tribal scheming, the most bellicose ethnic war-chant.

There is nothing more disappointing than to see intelligent individuals younger than myself completely unable to offer Kenyans any real platform of collective development. Every time they open their mouths about their interest in leadership, it is nothing but how to grab power.

Nobody ever talks about what he will do with the power. And, from our experience since 1963, it is for good measure that they are silent about this aspect of power. Where they do, it concerns only abstractions that can be flouted without much ado.

Their only concern is how to exploit the lowest sentiments of their tribes in order to play them against other tribes. Even on an extremely volatile issue like Mau, Mr Ruto prefers to promote his personal ambition by exploiting his own people’s environmental ignorance.

And that ignorance – their false belief that he is serving their best tribal interest -- is what Mr Ruto will carry with him when he meets Uhuru Kenyatta -- carrying the same deception from Central Province -- for both to pretend that what they are organising is a “union” of two tribes (Kalenjin and Kikuyu).

Mr Musyoka does even better. He guns for a “union” of three whole tribes (Kamba, Kikuyu and Kalenjin). Does it ever occur to these worthies that, if “unions” between selected tribes are necessary, then the other tribes must be the enemy -- and will be provoked into taking up arms?

However vehemently the VP may deny it, a Kamba-Kalenjin-Kikuyu “pact” will, by its very definition, be a union against the rest of Kenya. It will be as jingoistic as President Moi’s Kamatusa (Kalenjin-Maasai-Turkana-Samburu) war-formation once upon a time.

Yet these are mere demagogues. They do not aim at real tribal unions. They seek merely to channel ethnic mass psychology into personal political bank accounts in readiness for polling day. Thus, by keeping the engine of tribe revving nonstop, they are the chief enemies of our nation-in-the-making.

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