Peter Kuguru - Why the Kikuyu Elite Back Raila

The question was not whether but rather when the xenophobic interrogation would show up.

And when it did, in October 2007, it was manifestly clear that there was no love lost at that time between presidential aspirant Raila Odinga and the business honchos who run East Africa's biggest economy.

Odinga faced the choreographed grilling at the Nairobi Stock Exchange where the dominant cabal was drawn mainly from the numerically strong Kikuyu community. On this day the NSE deputy chairman and business magnate was holding fort.

"What type of President will he be? Is he a socialist, a communist, a democrat, a social democrat? Is he going to be a man of revenge or peace or reconciliation? Is he likely to take over assets which we have succeeded in building? Is he likely to nationalise privatised buildings? Is he likely to take wealth from others? How certain are we with a Raila leadership?," asked James Wangunyu.

Days before, Finance minister Amos Kimunya had intimated that members of the Luo community were untutored in matters concerning money markets.

"Many of the opposition politicians do not understand how the Nairobi Stock Exchange operates. It is not a fish market... its much more complicated," said Kimunya.

The " fish market" description was subtly targeting the Luo who are historically associated with
fishing as a commercial enterprise. But Odinga, a seasoned and hardened politician, remained unfazed and cordially went ahead to answer the uncharacteristic queries.

"I have come here as a friend of the Nairobi Stock Exchange and as an investor, who owns shares at the stock market and I am a businessman and owner of a successful company which manufacturers gas cylinders for the East African market.

"I have an advantage that I lived in both communist and capitalist countries so I understand the issues better," he said.

He told the businessmen that he was a Social Democrat, like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.

"Social democrats believe in Capitalism with a human face," he explained.

Invariably as the country gears up for the next election scheduled for March 2013, a seismic change of hearts and minds has engulfed the House of Mumbi aka the Kikuyu. This has not escaped the notice of the political and business elite of this entrepreneurial community.

As Kenyans are deeply aware, leading lights from the community have opted to do what was previously unthinkable and are supporting Odinga rather than Uhuru Kenyatta, a popular Kikuyu candidate but currently facing the Herculean task of defeating charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC.

Why this switch?

The group of which I am a member believes that we hold our country in trust, not as an entitlement. We believe in progressive politics that deal with real issues that affect our people irrespective of ethnic origin.

Since Kenya achieved its independence in 1963, members of the Kikuyu community have disproportionately been targeted for all sorts of evils. As a consequence, whenever ethnic clashes occur, the Kikuyu again suffer the most pain.

The Kikuyu unwittingly are their own worst foes. The Kikuyu elite mistakenly preach the divisive politics of ethnic superiority with of course the Kikuyu community placed on top of the pedestal.

Were the venerable patriarch Jomo Kenyatta alive today, he would certainly be cross with his community.

"The spirit of independence, love of freedom in thought and action and hatred of autocratic rule, are ingrained in the minds of the Kikuyu people...In their highlands and mountain homes, the people cherished the system of democratic government, the principles of which have been passed down from generation to generation," he wrote in his popular book My People of Kikuyu in 1942.

Were Kenyatta alive today, he would support those members of the Kikuyu elite currently batting for Odinga, for practicing in word and deed the cultural beliefs of the community.

The so-called Limuru 2 talks held last Friday ostensibly endorsed Uhuru as the preferred political leader of the Kikuyu community. The gathering was archaic, anachronistic and divisive.

It only accentuated the belief that the Kikuyu community was disinterested in engaging the rest of the 42 communities who form the tapestry of the Kenyan nation

The thinking of these Kikuyu leaders mostly affects ordinary members of the community who suffer the brunt of impunity triggered by other communities who understandably feel slighted.

We, the Kikuyu elite who have opted to go to bed with Odinga, are not enemies of Uhuru as a person but only that this time round we strongly have believe hat Odinga offers the best possible option as a leader.

As economically well endowed, hardworking Kikuyus, can we possibly vote in a candidate who will go ahead to wreck, confiscate or nationalize assets we have so strenuously taken time to build?

As a sincere Social Democrat, Odinga puts the interests of the country first and not the self aggrandisement of ethnic chieftains.

I thank God that the intelligentsia from the community has eventually seen the light, and like Jeremiah of old are counselling on the way forward.

Peter Kuguru is NWSC chairman and author of Trailblazer.
Courtesy of The Star

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One Response to Peter Kuguru - Why the Kikuyu Elite Back Raila

Anonymous said...

"No Raila! No Peace!" You conveniently forgot to mention the boycott list published in the media and promoted by Pentagon during calls of mass action.