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True meaning of representation seems to be lost on Kenyan leaders

Monday December 17 2018

Gatitu MCA Simon Muturi

Gatitu MCA Simon Muturi and his bride Eunice Gichohi arrive at their wedding reception in a top-of-the-range vehicle. Mr Muturi could not afford to hire a car when he was campaigning for a ward seat in 2017 but rode his bicycle to victory. PHOTO | GRACE GITAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The objective of political representation is to agitate for the needs of the masses. That is the primary role that the political class is constitutionally mandated to do. In this context, the masses comprise the electorate and the non-electorate.

Unlike in Africa and the rest of third world, where political representation is seen from a different purview, it has never been a source of self-enrichment as demonstrated recently by an MCA from Nyeri.

Like any political tyro, Simon Muturi’s rags-to-riches story reads like a Hollywood thriller. In the run-up to last year’s General Election, Mr Muturi campaigned on a bicycle. He easily sold his political vision to the residents of Gatitu Ward on a one-on-one interaction. Owing to his humble background, his supporters contributed a paltry Sh30,000 for his campaign.


However, the trajectory had changed during his recent grandiose wedding. The high-end cars at the ceremony were a great contrast to the humble village boy who became a darling of the hoi polloi during the electioneering period.

Questions arise: Did Mr Muturi abandon his socialist ideologies, which formed the platform for his campaign? Has his vision been since ‘swallowed’ by mingling with the political elite?


Mr Muturi represents the rise of any ordinary African politician. At the onset of their independence from former colonial masters, most African nations anchored their socio-political visions on socialist ideals that aimed at championing a spirit of equity and egalitarianism as a basis for social transformation.

Most of the countries crafted progressive economic visions that envisioned a socially stable society, where everybody could afford basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

The commonality of these visions rebuilt the spirit of Pan-Africanism, which had been formed in the 1950s by anti-White activists and crusaders for Black Emancipation. This saw African statesmen such as Kenya’s Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kwameh Nkrumah (Ghana), Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Senegal’s Leopold Senghor sell socialism as the basis for the continent’s political unification.


But these dreams were cut short by the rise of a political wave of a capitalist class that was characterised by corruption, individualism, assassinations and ethnic political organisations. The real meaning of political representation was altered, leading to discontent and political pessimism.

But what is the real meaning of political representation in Africa?

Africa’s hope seems to have buried with its foundational statesmen, who had pushed for its unification.

It’s time we de-constructed the notion of politics as the pathway to material prosperity which has nearly crippled our socio-economic progress. Our leaders must adopt the politics of revisionism — re-evaluating Kenya’s econo-political progress since Independence. By correcting this notion, we will avoid a looming societal Armageddon that threats to tear apart our foundational values.

As Nicollo Machiavelli aptly puts it in The Prince, civic representation is meant to act as a bridge between the rulers and the masses. Does ours?

Mr Kamau is a reporter with ‘Taifa Leo’ newspaper. [email protected]