Mutahi Ngunyi: Who will midwife the new Kenya?

Whenever I think of January this year, I get the shivers. Not because it scares me, but because I cannot process the madness we went through as a country.

On my part, I considered buying an illegal gun – even a bazooka. I was prepared to decimate any aggressor on my path, seriously!

Then I realised that I was not alone; most of my friends had the same ‘‘evil’’ thoughts. The intention, I must clarify, was not to protect our tribes. We wanted guns to protect our children.

But this good intention did not make us less mad. My buddies and I were as kukus (chicken) as the fellows who burnt a church in Eldoret. There is a twist to this logic though.

Are there chances that the country was not mad after all? That what we are calling madness was plain evil?

I ask this question because in politics, nature does not abhor evil, it actually embraces it. By extension, therefore, it assumes that all men are evil. And, given a dark opportunity, men will kill and maim illogically. In sum, men never do good except out of necessity.

If this is true, therefore, we must ask this question: was our January experience inspired by evil? In my view, it was.

But borrowing from the Roman experience, there was nothing wrong with this. Rome was built through riots, ruthless killings and savage confrontations between opposing camps.

In fact, lasting states are founded through violence and Kenya is no exception. Unlike Kenya, however, the Romans did not appoint irrelevant commissions to investigate the causes and effects.

Their focus was on the good generated by the violence. And this is where we have missed the point.

Despite the violence and the shake-up, nothing has changed. The January turmoil has not taken us to a higher ground as a country.

And this is probably because we stopped the struggle prematurely. Maybe the country was pregnant with something; a new order of things. And maybe the political shake-up was a sign that something new was afoot.

But we had to abort the emerging order in favour of power sharing. Now we have a ‘‘ceasefire’’ government that passes for a grand coalition; a forced ‘‘unity of opposites’’ that pretends to be one.

In other words, we are just buying time with this coalition. Should anything snap, we will degenerate to the January acrimony.

More so because the issues that drove us to a near state of war have not been resolved. Where am I going with this?

In January, something happened and it has to be concluded. This was not about including Mr Raila Odinga and his buddies in the Cabinet. There was a higher ideal than that.

In my view, what happened was the abortion of a new Kenya. And the problem is that, although painful, moments like these are very rare and precious.

But because our leaders were hungry for positions, they squandered it through power sharing. Their lack of statesmanship made them rush for a half-baked coalition with no legs.

Now we have to start all over again in search of a new order. The question now is this: who will midwife the new order? Who will deliver the new Kenya? A Kenya with a new constitutional and economic order; one with an equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities?

Let us begin with President Kibaki. Can he be the midwife? The answer is an absolute no. End of discussion.

What about his blue-eyed boys -- Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka? In my view, the two represent the old Kenya. The apparent Kibaki plan is to have Mr Musyoka succeed him and Mr Kenyatta to be Prime Minister.

This is not a deviation from the Kibaki strategy of 2007 in which he gunned for ‘‘one-tribe-and-abit’’. That is, so long as he had the Gema vote, all he needed was ‘‘abit’’ of support from everywhere.

In the current case, the idea is to have the Gema vote teaming up with the Kamba vote. This formula is home and will not bring healing to our country -- let alone a new order.

The other possible mid-wife is Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The man has potential, but I have some beef with him. One, I have studied him for the last six months and I have absolutely no idea what Mr Odinga stands for.

If there is someone out there with an idea, I beg to be educated. Two, and like Mr Daniel arap Moi, he is more of a tactician than a strategist.

For the short time he has been PM, all he has engaged in is ‘‘rocking chair politics.’’

Like a rocking chair, the intention is to keep us busy, take us nowhere! A good example here is his recent stunt at the barbers – completely ‘‘Moish’’ and charming.

And most of his stunts abroad and here have been like this. However, I do not see a plan or pattern to them. They can only be described as higgledy-piggledy. This is what makes me doubt his ability to deliver on a new Kenya.

What about the opposition, can they midwife a new Kenya? In the words of Voltaire, the French philosopher “… I would rather be led by a lion than by a hundred rats.”

And this is how we must consider the opposition. Although many, they are like a hundred rats; no co-ordination and no oomph!

In my view, the person to midwife a new Kenya does not have to be a politician, a Kenyatta or an Odinga. It could be a simple guy out there with a passion and vision.

If you are that person, can you stand up and tell us your name!

Mutahi Ngunyi is a political scientist with The Consulting House, a policy and security think-tank for the Great Lakes region and West Africa



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4 Responses to Mutahi Ngunyi: Who will midwife the new Kenya?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ngunyi, you write well and we appreciate it. I want to respond to this article in a simple, direct and honest manner.

The post election violence was triggered by the rigging of presidential vote. There were no devils or evils involved: a desperate population violently rejected Kibaki. This resistance against an illegitimate leader will probably go down in history as one of our most glorious moments. If your reasoning is that ODM should have refused to share power with an illegitimate president, then I am with you-all the way.

Secondly, I agree with you that the causes of the PEV have not been addressed by the political class which apparently wants to midwife another bloodbath, come 2012. But I disagree with you when you suggest that the way forward is some kind of a proverbial Noah, stepping forward to lead us to some "higher moral ground"

On the contrary, I believe that our road towards political stability and economic progress lies in building strong, inviolable institutions. The urgent task is therefore a radical constitutional dispensation, a parliamentary system of governance and making certain corruption cases punishable by death, yes by death! You obviously read what happened recently in China regarding the matter of corruption: this method is definitely effective.

With a new constitution, a transparent electoral commission and a simple method of fighting corruption, it does not matter who will rule the country!The "angels"
you are calling upon to stand forward and "deliver" Kenya will be corrupted within weeks if they inherit an imperial presidency. Again, you must have heard so many times that power corrupts ...sometimes, absolutely. Let us not personalise matters which are institutional!

Awuor Ochola
Boston, U.S.A

HUDSON said...

Sir,
I tend to figure out what intrigued and orchestrated the bloody PEV,and it comes out that were it not for some greedy big shots,nothing of the sort could have ever found it's way to Kenya.We try to reason and behave as if nothing happened,some loudly rejecting the Hague proposal but;what of the orphaned children,the raped girls and women,the maimed,landless & homeless ,widows & widowers and many other occurences that left deep painful marks ,that will forever haunt those carrying them.

HUDSON NGUNYI NGATIA said...

Sir,
I tend to figure out what intrigued and orchestrated the bloody PEV,and it comes out that were it not for some greedy big shots,nothing of the sort could have ever found it's way to Kenya.We try to reason and behave as if nothing happened,some loudly rejecting the Hague proposal but;what of the orphaned children,the raped girls and women,the maimed,landless & homeless ,widows & widowers and many other occurences that left deep painful marks ,that will forever haunt those carrying them.

March 18, 2009 2:14 AM

Anonymous said...

Mutahi,
I used to follow your writing and thinking well, but nowadays you have gotten muddled up. You are a pale shadow of yourself...remember when you spoke like a Kenyan at heart that fateful day (28th Dec 2007). I will never forget that day. I voted like you and others, and I was ready to go back to work in a few days' time. Read the experiences of others (www.sumaku.wordpress.com)to understand why you should never throw feces at Kofi Annan or Speaker Marende. Maybe you are having selective amnesia!
amkeni mwenzangu!