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Thursday, April 18, 2024
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President Uhuru Kenyatta and The Dangers of Political Appeasement

President Uhuru Kenyatta and The Dangers of Political Appeasement
President Uhuru Kenyatta and The Dangers of Political Appeasement

Since Kenya’s independence, our first president, Jomo Kenyatta, tried to harmonize the nation through education.  Any young person who qualified through merit could attend any major high school in Kenya. And any person who graduated from college was hired by the government and became part of the civil service. Education was the new bond that united all Kenyans: poor, rich, western, eastern, northern or southern.  All Kenyans were united via Jomo Kenyatta’s education system. No one was appeased.

 

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Any person who attended national schools in Kenya can testify that when we arrived in high school, we found ourselves learning together with people from other tribes. It is in high school that I first experienced the joy of harmony. Those multi-tribal friends I met remain engraved in my historical development. Even when I attended the Kenya Polytechnic University to study accounting, our accounting classes were composed of people from every part of Kenya.

 

In every class at the time I attended high school, a picture of the current members of Kenya’s Cabinet was on every wall:  A British-born man by the name Bruce Roy McKenzie was the Minister for Agriculture; and also James Gichuru, Ronald Ngara, Paul Ngei, Daniel Arap Moi, Robert Ouko, James B. Nyamweya, Masinde Muliro, Daniel M. Mutinda and more. This picture reminded Kenyans that the first Kenyatta’s Administration was committed to tribal harmony from the class room, to the highest offices in the country. General Mulinge was the Chief of the General Staff, while the first Kenyan chief justice was Kitili Maluki Mwenda.

 

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This is not to say that there were no tribal connotations within the society. There were.  However, Jomo Kenyatta was trying to establish a society where people were hired in the government through merit, not based upon tribalism. The person who destroyed this projection was Daniel Arap Moi.  When he became president, Moi eliminated that sense of harmony. He also introduced a formula of Majimboism in education where young people were encouraged not to go forth from their tribal cocoons venturing out to experience tribal harmony.  Those who could have been rescued from tribalism in Kiambu by being transplanted to Shimo la Tewa high school in Mombasa were denied that opportunity, instead they stayed in Kiambu, or Khuhumsalaba, or in Kosirai Nandi.

 

In broadcasting, some of us who had a ‘prophetic’ eye raised concern that President Moi’s introduction of broadcast liberalization without proper legal foundations would result in tribal broadcast networks, which would destroy the harmony that the Kiswahili, and English service of Kenya Broadcasting Service (KBC) had brought. Media houses like Inoro, Kameme, KAS FM and all kinds of tribal trumpets silenced our voices. Today in broadcast journalism, even though the majority of Kenyans speak English, Kiswahili, and a tribal language, the country is nothing but a den of tribalism in broadcast journalism.  There is no voice of multi-tribal unity in the country. My father, Pastor Timothy Kamau, complained to me when Moi rejected the idea of registration limiting tribalism in broadcasting. He argued that his popular KBC program Wimbo Niupendao testified on the need to have non-tribal broadcast.

 

We in the Church, though still submitting to worship and ministry within our rural village communities, have tried hard to harmonize and welcome all to faith in Jesus Christ.  If you attend the church service of my Pentecostal friend Francis Musili on Temple Road in Nairobi, people from all tribes come to seek mercy and grace from a Savior who knows no tribalism. Whether it is All Saints Cathedral, the Presbyterian church next to Nairobi University, African Inland Church Milimani or the Holy Family Basilica next to Hotel Intercontinental, we the clergy continue to proclaim Christ within His purity of invitation to: “come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” We emphasize the nondiscriminatory, ALL!

 

It was therefore sad—and hopefully the consequences of this will be overcome by the grace of God—that President Uhuru Kenyatta, after enjoying 10 years of multi-tribal support has decided that the most important people in his presidency were the Kikuyu people.  In a meeting in Sagana, a president, who should, like his father, portray a picture of multi-tribal leadership, stood in front of Kenya in a national broadcast and declared that the most important people in Kenya are the Kikuyu. He also implied that his role as the president was not to defend the rights of all Kenyans, but the Kikuyu tribe. In fact, the president showed incredible lack of statesmanship by inviting to the meeting in Sagana only the Kikuyu tribal community and spoke Kikuyu to a national televised audience, insulting every other tribe.

 

His argument that his handshake with Raila Odinga was to bring peace to the country and that only by electing Raila Odinga can the country have peace is to admit that Raila Odinga is a privileged child who, unless appeased through Kikuyu-ism will throw childish tantrums and cause chaos in Kenya, is insulting to all Kenyans.

 

If there is bloodshed in Kenya in the coming election, it will be because President Uhuru Kenyatta sought to appease Raila Odinga through an invocation of tribalism.  While his Deputy William Ruto was driving around to every tribal village calling for a national unity under the idea of empowering the poor, our president reduced himself in Sagana to a tribal King-pin. If this is not sad to every Kenyan, we are doomed. The Kikuyu community should not vote for Raila Odinga to avoid bloodshed, rather, they should vote for a leader who follows Christ’s example by washing the feet of the poor, the hungry, the sick, and who shows mercy to widows and orphans.

 

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)

HTBluff Associates

Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta and The Dangers of Political Appeasement

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