From a guest writer, an epilogue
Thank you for your cogent posts. I admit, I admire your commitment to ensure that Kenya holds strong in spite of the contemptible actions of those who keep the entire country under the thumb of the ruling Kikuyu elite. I was often told that the term Kenya, came from an English man’s mispronunciation of the name “Kirinyaga.” As such, perhaps from it’s inception and naming as a republic, there was a sense of ownership over this country for those from Central Kenya. I remember, as a child, who had the experience of growing up deep in Kalenjin land, as an outsider, feeling the deep stigma of tribalism. To this date, this continues. You can ask the minority communities who work within the tea industry exactly how Kalenjin hegemony in demonstrated in their daily lives. Later, having moved into the city, for the later half of my primary school education I and several other non-Kikuyus got to experience an even deeper of tribalism at the hands of Kikuyu classmates who had clearly learned from their parents that they were superior to the rest of us. I particularly, pitied the poor Luos who were teased mercilessly and often isolated. “Don’t drink his juice, he is a Luo” is a phrase whose cutting pain to the six year old I saw experience it still rings true today. Of course, the true pain of the hegemony of the Kikuyu and Kalenjin elite cuts much deeper than social isolation at age six. It involved limited social advancement and developmental opportunities for those from the “wrong tribes.” Of course, if you dared raise a sound – the condescending refrain would be the same one that is expressed by dominant elites over those they exploit the world over: “We are so hardworking, we enjoy all these rewards because of merit. if only you worked as hard as we did … ”
As some jukwaaist, once said, there is a reason some of us elect to live with the potential stigma of racism in foreign countries over being subjected to the ravages of tribalism at the hands of ‘your own people.’
Why are these bitter memories from my Kenyan upbringing resurfacing today? It is because little has changed. If anything, things are worse than ever before and the elite are able to continue to manufacture consent among their ethnic masses.
I concur with you that it is probably too late for reconciliation. To be completely honest, I sometimes wonder whether it would be best if this country were divided such that counties of Central Province and Rift Valley retained “Kenya” – tea and coffee industry and all, and the rest of the country formed its own union. If Central and Rift Valley province residents want to be led by an indicted war criminal, perhaps we should let them. However, do the rest of us deserve this ? Do we deserve the ensuing consequences? It is the height of impunity and ludicrousness that the very people who stand accused of the massacre of each others’ communities, now manage to manufacture consent among their blinded ethnic masses to support their presidential ambitions. How deeply tribal do you have to be to vote for a vice president who is accused of coordinating the burning of your relatives in church where they were seeking refuge, just so that one of your tribesmen can be president?
The new system of county government presents the opportunity for self-governance and perhaps a necessary platform for seceding from the counties in Central Kenya and Rift Valley. Let’s face it, the prospect of continuing to be live under GEMA domination indefinitely is not an appealing one for most people outside the communities that have wielded power since 1963. I genuinely believe that the other counties could map out a power sharing agreement that could see a 2-4 year presidential term that rotates from county to county. In such a case, a county that had once presented a candidate for president could not do so again until other counties had the chance to hold the role.
Please note, that I am not advocating that this be done violently, but it is food for thought. I increasingly struggle with the fact that I may no longer have a strong “Kenyan” identity, Kenya doesn’t seem to be for all of us. Perhaps it’s time we think about creating a country for those of us who don’t belong. We have already heard, “Pwani si Kenya” . . . At this rater, perhaps other parts of Kenya will chime in.