DEPUTY President William Ruto is on a charm offensive trip to Central Kenya to woo smaller communities behind his United Republic Party.
Ruto is headed to the Mount Kenya East this weekend on what his offices says is a follow up to the Miraa campaign but what his allies say is part of his long term strategy to consolidate smaller tribes under the URP banner.
The strategy is informed by the successful deployment of the “tyranny of numbers” theory in the March 4 poll which saw both Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta win the presidency against great odds and personal challenges.
Recently Ruto visited the Coast region with a basket of goodies and promises. He launched a water project, dished out three middle-level colleges, promised title deeds and announced a Sh500m budget to sort out area problems.
“We know why we lost the vote here, we know. We are not fools. And we will see what to do,” Ruto said during the trip to the coast.
Majority of the people at the Coast belong to one of the nine separate ethnic groups of people who form a composite tribe known as the Mijikenda. The nine ethnic groups are the Digo, Chonyi, Kambe, Duruma, Kauma, Ribe, Rabai, Jibana, and Giriama. Each have unique customs and language, although the languages are similar to each other and to Swahili. According to the population census of 2009, the Mijikenda amount to 1,960,574 and are ranked the eighth most populous community.
According to the population census of 2009, the five big tribes which enabled the ‘tyranny of numbers’ theory make up 23.8 million of the total 38.6 million total population of Kenyans. The big five are Kikuyu (6.6), Luhya (5.3), Kalenjin (4.9), Luo (4) and Kamba (3.8).
The smaller tribes on the other hand totals to 14.8 million according to the census figures. The figure includes the 2.3 million Somalis, a group which the URP leader has been keen to capture.
Others are Kisiis (2.2), Mijikenda (1.9), Meru (1.6), Turkana (0.9) and Maasai (0.8). Other smaller tribes are Tesos, Embu, Taita, Kuria, Samburu, Tharaka, Mbeere, Borana, Basuba, Swahili, Gabra, Orma, Rendille, Ilchamus, Kenyan Arabs, Kenyan Asians among others.
The total population for the small tribes added together to the Kalenjin is 19.7 million. This is before factoring one or two members of the big five who may not side with Uhuru in a political contest. The big five without Kalenjin shrinks to 18.9 million.
Ruto is not new to this kind of arithmetics and this is not the first time he is employing them. Last year, he revived the old KAMATUSA pact between Kalenjins, Maasai’s, Turkana’s and Samburu’s to prop his presidency bid and ward off the ICC threat to his political career.
Combined, KAMATUSA has a population of 7 million close to GEMAs 8.5 million. The history of KAMATUSA stretches back to pre independence days when the smaller communities coalesced around KADU party in fear of the bigger tribes.
It included other tribes such as Mijikenda and Luhya. It disappeared when its leaders merged into Kanu but was reborn in early 80’s when their foremost leader Daniel arap Moi assumed the presidency.
Ruto’s strategy of uniting the smaller tribes is also an insurance in case of any possible fallout with Uhuru.
“The history of Kenya is replete with broken political marriages. Raila’s father was Kenyatta’s buddy. He even sacrificed the presidency for him but what became of him after the old man took power?” a political analyst says,
After helping Moi clinch power after Kenyatta’s death, former Attorney General Charles Njonjo,became the first casualty of Moi. Njonjo’s political career ended in 1984.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was instrumental in former President Kibaki’s 2002 win when he rallied countrywide support with his clarion call ‘Kibaki Tosha!’ Raila was the first victim of the Kibaki presidency and has never recovered from the latter’s reneging on their MOU.
Ruto’s visit to Meru is being touted as a follow up to Jubilee’s campaign promise to support the Miraa trade through marketing and export.
During the presidential campaigns in the lead up to the March 4 general elections Ruto had on several occasions, said the government will enhance farming of Miraa as well as ensure that the construction of Isiolo Airport is completed to ease transportation of the crop to Nairobi and other international markets.
Today, Ruto will be in Embu to attend Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti’s home coming party. On Sunday, he will return to Meru to attend yet another homecoming party of the Chuka Igamba Ng’ombe MP Muthomi Njuki.
The tour comes at a time when the political tensions in both Tharaka Nithi and Meru Counties are stretched with the MPs accusing their governors of sidelining them in key decision making processes of matters touching on governance and development.
The MPs in Meru county have been criticizing Governor Munya and Senator Kiraitu Murungi for politicizing the miraa issue and failing to make their contribution to the select parliamentary committee.