David Makali: The Kikuyu Problem we Must Address - The Star

Let us call a spade what it is. This country is facing a serious Kikuyu problem. We must confront it head-on if Kenya is to be a peaceful, stable and democratic country.

Call me what you will but this is the naked truth. We prefer to couch it in so many words to avoid being tagged as tribalists. Someone must be screaming "kikuyu bashing" but this is not about purveying hatred of a community. It is an honest reflection about what is wrong with our country's politics.

And the problem is pure ethnic chauvinism. Here is why. For selfish reasons, politicians want to make our constitution an aggregate of diametrically opposed, competing communal interests. That's a sham because every holder of a national ID knows that you are a Kenyan citizen as an individual, not a community. The rights granted in the constitution are to individuals not regions or communities.

Yet whenever they speak, politicians are flashing out ethnic cards. Some of them are products of the rotten past in which communities and ethnic affiliations were passes for personal advancement, employment in public service, access to privilege or national resources.

We need to disabuse ourselves of the erroneous belief that unless someone from "our" community is in the top echelons of this country's leadership or an organisation then "our" interests are not represented.

While all Kenyan communities are caucusing and planning how to take or retain power, none is as intensely obsessed as the Kikuyu political and economic class. Favoured by historical circumstances and Kenyatta-era privileges, they have elevated their political stakes to some kind of entitlement.

Since Mwai Kibaki was elected President in 2002, there has been a secret determination by the Kikuyu not to let go of power again, which significantly contributed to the 2007 electoral fiasco and the aftermath.

The same cabal is putting the machinery in place for 2012 with patronage from the very top.

The president is not as innocent as we tend to think. Listen to his close allies and read the man's lips. From the haphazard creation of districts and provincial boundaries, there is evidence of a conspiracy afoot.

While the idea of one-man, one-vote system is a legitimate imperative of universal democratic suffrage, the clamour and the timing is extremely suspect.

For a man who never sticks his head out into any controversy subject, Kibaki's October 20 pronouncement that the Boundaries Review Commission be guided by the equality of the vote fits squarely in the succession plot.

It is on the cards that the Kikuyu community, or some of its members, are extremely terrified about losing the Presidency and want to do anything and everything to have a finger in the pie.

The cause of their paranoia is as unclear as the extent of their schemes. The subsequent threat by Central Kenya MPs that there will be no new constitution without first sorting out the constituency and provincial boundaries, which has become their new avenue for retention of power, is truly telling.

The two reviews have different timetables and tying the two together is a sneak attempt to sabotage the constitution review. No community should be allowed to hold others at ransom for its interests, however deserved, which can be arbitrated amicably and independently. Judging from their behaviour, it is clear what their mission is.

The application of the principle of one man, one vote must be tempered with social, geographical and economic realities. If we accept that we are one country, and we are all equal, then we must also agree that every square kilometre in this country counts for the same.

Urban constituencies that are overpopulated and yet cover a very small area must be reconsidered in a special way that also reflects in resource allocation. It is unfair to allocate Marakwet East constituency the same amount of money for roads as Lang'ata, for example even though the later has more people. Or same bursary funds to constituencies with different populations.

But the political advantage that the MPs are seeking through numerical strength in Parliament to bully other areas and communities should not be granted. If political power translates automatically into economic power, it will be a recipe for an undemocratic country.

Meanwhile, the vocal Kikuyu leaders should begin getting accustomed to the idea of Kenya being led by people from other communities to diffuse the ethnic tension and hate that their bigotry elicits.

Makali is a media consultant.

This entry was posted in , . Bookmark the permalink.