The public altercations over the Building Bridges Initiative have created a toxic environment and negated an otherwise noble venture meant to unite the country.
Since the launch of the initiative last year, two formations have emerged, those supporting and opposing it. Lurking behind the formations is the presidential transition due in 2022 when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s final term expires.
The upshot is that the BBI is seen as a platform either to propel some individuals to power or conversely scuttle others’ ambitions.
The first BBI rally in the Mt Kenya region takes place in Meru on Saturday. It is as significant as it is symbolic.
This is President Kenyatta’s home ground. Mt Kenya is instrumental in influencing the national leadership given its numerical strength.
Three of the four presidents since independence have come from the region. Yet after President Kenyatta, it seems bereft of a unifying leader.
This vacuum is creating steep divisions. In the past few days, there have been a flurry of activities in the region.
Two camps have emerged. Governors and a crop of MPs and senators are behind the rally, while a cadre of restless, mainly youthful MPs and Senators allied to Deputy President William Ruto are stridently opposed to BBI and the rally because of political undertones.
BBI is the brainchild of President Kenyatta and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga. Supporters of Ruto – the man who has set his eyes on the highest office in the land – perceive it as a calculated scheme to block him from ascending to the presidency and therefore, it is a veritable threat that must be jettisoned.
The interest in the Meru rally is not about its resolutions but the politics of it. Mt Kenya is divided and without a common leader; itself a misnomer because crowning ethnic or regional kingpins is retrogressive, divisive and antithetical to national cohesion.
Unfortunately, that is how our politics is played. But the point is that without a unifying leader, the region is groping in the dark and presents itself as an open hunting ground for political suitors.
How the rally pans out is likely to give hints on the direction the region will take as we head towards 2022.
Whatever the case, the rally should be conducted peacefully. Previously elsewhere, we have heard some irritable speakers sounding war drums and using them for negative ethnic mobilisation. That is not acceptable.
Let those canvassing for or against the BBI do so soberly and respectfully and allow citizens to absorb, reflect and make own decisions on what they want of the initiative.