By Dr. Vincent Okoth Ongore, PhD.
Since the day of the now (in) famous handshake in March 2018 between President Kenyatta and the Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and apparent sidelining of Deputy President Dr William Ruto from the epicenter of state power, there has been much talk, speculation and disappointment around the President’s reorganization of state functions, and positioning of the country for 2022.
The DP’s supporters have read mischief on the part of the president while Raila supporters are all over the place, shouting their voices hoarse, proclaiming that finally Baba has broken the jinx that has denied him the presidency for years.
Prior to the handshake, my Kalenjin in-laws had strongly believed that Ruto was going to be the automatic presidential candidate on the ruling Jubilee Party ticket, and given the lessons that Kenyans have learnt in recent presidential elections, his ascendancy to the top seat was consequential upon nomination as the Jubilee flag bearer.
This expectation was predicated on President Kenyatta’s own words ‘zangu kumi kumi, na za ndugu yangu Ruto kumi’, repeated several times during the electioneering period until most Kenyans believed that the President was willing and ready to mobilize his Kikuyu people and state machinery in support of Ruto’s presidential bid.
On the other, the Raila supporters, knowing very well that their trek to Canaan had stumbled only because of weak electoral system that was prone to manipulation by the state, believed that Raila’s dalliance with Kenyatta would definitely remove the hurdle to the presidency.
This, they believe, would ensure that the Central Kenya voters troop to Raila’s camp to the man and woman, as the ‘deep state’ throws its weight behind him.
So, both sides have legitimate expectations that the presidency is theirs for the taking come 2022.
The question then is: can Central Kenya vote for either Raila or Ruto?
The answer to this question is as clear as sunset after sunrise. But first, a walk back in time.
During the first independence negotiations at Lancaster House, London, United Kingdom, the British negotiators gave the Kenyan delegation time off to chose one of their own to be made Prime Minister at independence.
The delegates settled on Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The choice was supported by the British. Jaramogi surprised everyone when he turned it down, instead insisting that there would be no independence without Kenyatta and the other political detainees.
Jaramogi’s clarion call ‘Kenyatta na Uhuru’ drowned the voices of the naysayers who preferred ‘Uhuru na Kenyatta’.
In his selflessness, Jaramogi literally handed Kenyatta leadership of Kenya.
Fast forward to 1966, only two years after Kenya became a republic. Jomo Kenyatta diluted Oginga Odinga’s position by introducing rotational Vice Presidency.
Eight regional VPs were named, with the Nyanza slot going to Lawrence Sagini. Having been left without any assignment, Jaramogi resigned from government.
Once Jaramogi left, the system of Rotational Vice Presidency was removed, essentially confirming that the idea was only meant to liquidate Jaramogi, at least politically.
By undermining and removing Jaramogi from his position of VP, Kenyatta demonstrated that he was not grateful at all for what Jaramogi had done for him.
Kenyatta then appointed Joseph Murumbi in place of Jaramogi as VP. Joe Murumbi found it impossible to work with Kenyatta, and tendered his resignation within one year, thus creating an opportunity for Moi who was preferred by Kenyatta due to his presumed ability to protect the president’s land and his Kikuyu tribesmen who he had settled in prime areas of Kalenjin-dominated Rift Valley.
Moi did everything he could to diligently keep the promise he had made to Kenyatta, including protecting the latter’s young family.
Leading Kalenjin politicians such as Jean-Marie Seroney and Taaitta Toweet, protested the invasion of their land by the Kikuyu. Moi and Kenyatta responded through political blackmail and detention.
But the Kalenjin were not pacified. Since then it has been uneasy calm between the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities in Rift Valley.
The rest is history. But when it came to the Kikuyu’s turn to return favor to Moi in the multiparty elections of 1992, they showed him the middle finger.
For close observers, the blackmail of the Kikuyu against other communities was not just restricted to members of the Luo and Kalenjin communities. It applies to everyone else who is not from that region.
One thing that many people have taken for granted is the impact of oathing on the psyche of a community.
After the killing of Tom Joseph Mboya in 1969, the Kikuyu took an oath, barring the community from voting for a non-Kikuyu. That oath has never been broken.
The Good Book warns against generational curses that follow oathing. If an oath is not broken, people who are born long after the oathing took place, and who may not know about it, still find themselves bound by the same oath.
An oath gets into the DNA of a community and binds its members to observe the object of the oath for as long as the oath remains unbroken.
That’s the unfortunate situation of our brothers and sisters in Kikuyu land. Please tell me if the community has ever voted for a non-Kikuyu for the Presidency.
Our people of Central Kenya remain in slavery in their own land in the 21st Century, controlled by satanic oaths administered 51 years ago against other communities! Can you believe that?
Raila has performed ‘extremely well’ in three presidential elections without the Central Region votes, including in 2017 when the region combined forces with Kalenjin.
Many Kenyans will still remember the opposition unity under the original FORD that was scuttled when Kibaki and Matiba broke away to form DP and FORD ASILI, respectively, thus ensuring Moi win in 1992.
Again, the dalliance between Raila and Matiba in the 1990s that ended when Matiba said that his people (read Kikuyu) were not prepared to vote for any non-Kikuyu.
In 2012 when Mwai Kibaki was retiring after 10 years of his presidency (5 years legitimate, and 5 years stolen), he opted to support Uhuru Kenyatta, a fellow Kikuyu who was then facing charges of genocide at ICC, instead of Raila who had delivered the presidency to him while he was on a wheel chair, or Kalonzo Musyoka who had supported him during the botched up and rigged 2007/8 Presidential Elections that led to unprecedented Post-Election Violence in Kenya.
Of this election, the Chairman of the election body, Samuel Kivuitu, said ‘I know they are still cooking the results somewhere. All the phones I gave out have been tampered with, and I can not reach my own Returning Officers in Central region. I can reach all the others. Let them know that if they make this country burn, it will burn with all of us including themselves.’
These things are not far fetched, and any honest individual will agree that the devil of oaths still reigns supreme in Central Kenya.
I therefore, strongly think that the urgent thing is not whether or not the Kikuyu want to vote for Raila or Ruto – we know they can’t vote for a non-Kikuyu as explained by the late John Michuki – but for the Kikuyu to break away from the stranglehold of devilish oaths, and freely join the rest of Kenyans in nation building.
That will remove the stigma that hangs on their head like the ‘Sword of Damocles’.
As it is now, the Kikuyu live in debilitating bondage, constantly suspicious of, and being suspected by, all the other communities for all the sins of commission and omission in the Republic of Kenya.
It’s instructive that this bondage has absolutely nothing to do with the current generation of Kikuyu. This oath was taken long before most Kenyans, leave alone Kikuyu, were born.
Unfortunately, any slight political upheaval that occurs in this country almost invariably targets the Kikuyu, innocent as they might be.
We cannot continue to live like this in a modern society in the 21st Century. The Kikuyu must set themselves free of this suspicion and hatred. This is urgent.
Since the Kikuyu have demonstrated in deed, and through their statements, that they are self-sufficient, the rest of the country should let them be. If they can’t vote for you, the best way to retaliate is to respectfully refuse to vote for them.
That way, they will figure out whether they can continue to live without the rest of Kenyans. Give them a wide berth.
If they need you, they will call you for a discussion. At that point, there will be give and take. But for as long as you keep voting for them while knowing very well that they can’t vote for you, you create in them a false sense of superiority.
You must however, bear in mind that self-imposed political isolation of the kind that our Kikuyu brothers and sisters have chosen must not mean hostility towards them. No.
There’s freedom of choice that’s guaranteed and protected by the UN Charter on Human Rights and the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
That right must be respected by all Kenyans, individually and collectively, at all time.
For my Luo brothers and Kalenjin in-laws, I would advice you to go slow on each other, and explore the possibility of working together towards 2022.
That’s more reliable than trying to ensnare an animal that knows only too well what your intentions are.
It is a total waste of time trying to woo Kikuyu voters. They are not ready for either of you.
As you fight, they are waiting for the spoils. You had better take my word for it.
Even if the Kalenjin and Luo can’t work together for the 2022 elections, they still need each other as neighbors, relatives, in-laws, associates and men and women tied at the hip by Kenya’s national boundaries.
Were the Luo and Kalenjin to listen to me, I would advice them to stay together, or be ready to be roasted separately.
This is the strategy of BBI: keep them separate so as to manage them in 2022, It’s too risky to have them in the same camp.
Let those who have ears listen to me. This apparent hostility between the Luo and Kalenjin is needless. Please stop it. Thank you.
Dr. Vincent Okoth Ongore, PhD.