After the new Constitution came into effect, the country is in quest to redress the myriad challenges bedevilling it since Independence. This is indeed a defining moment in the country’s history, a time to reflect on the original ideals espoused by the country’s founding fathers.
It is also a time to decisively address the recalcitrant problems of tribalism, corruption, inequality, disenfranchisement, exclusion, division and insecurity, that have burdened the country since 1963. An opportunity to reassert nationhood and surmount barriers that have made unity, prosperity and equity such elusive dreams.
I am talking about the Building Bridges Initiative, which seeks to tackle the fundamental issues the country faces. BBI has been touted as an attempt to heal and reconcile a nation riven by toxic ethnic politics and endemic inequalities.
These are ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, insecurity, corruption, human rights and prosperity for all. If not addressed, these problems will continue to fuel a perpetual cycle of mistrust, division, violence, insecurity and social decay.
Let us not delve into the nine points of reference. The point is that this is a conversation that requires honesty and courage given the seriousness of the issues involved. This is the time to rally the country into a candid and sober discussion about the past, present and future relative to the challenges facing the country.
This however entails confronting a painfully bitter and divisive past. BBI is essentially about re-imagining Kenya as a Nation-State and recreating a Republic the present generation can proudly bequeath to posterity. That is why BBI should not be seen as a political campaign. Instead, we should all embrace it as an attempt at healing and uniting a nation that is still struggling to find its soul after emancipation from colonial rule.
A struggle in our generation to reclaim national identity and infuse a collective ethos of patriotism, unity, hard work and integrity among our people. We should learn from the experiences of the 2005 and 2010 constitutional referenda, when partisan interests nearly derailed the quest for a new Constitution.
BBI is also not a dress rehearsal for the 2022 elections. In fact, BBI is a litmus test of patriotism and statesmanship among our leaders. Those who genuinely desire a better future for Kenyans will be known as will those who are hell bent on holding us back to the past.
Kenyans must be alive to three important facts. First, BBI is a unique opportunity to reset the country’s direction in light of the frustrations and failures the country has endured since 1963. Whatever the outcome, BBI will have accorded us a historic chance to shape the destiny and direction of our nation for generations to come.
Second, BBI is a major step toward consolidating the gains achieved under the new Constitution. Though hailed as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, ours has been acknowledged as having certain shortcomings requiring urgent remedial measures to ensure it lives up to its original promise to deliver democracy. The BBI process provides a platform to anchor such reforms on a broad-based national dialogue involving all citizens.
Third, Kenyans should rise beyond 2022 election politics and use BBI to evaluate their leaders on the basis of commitment to addressing the fundamental problems afflicting every citizen regardless of tribe, religion, gender, race and status.
In so doing, we must resist attempts at derailing the process or being swayed by certain narratives that only serve to exacerbate the very problems we want cured once and for all. Let us honour our forefathers who fought so hard that we may be a free nation by doing the right thing.
Deputy President William Ruto appears to have shown all his aces ahead of the 2022 presidential polls. And like a bullfighter who has seen a red flag, he must now brace himself for the consequences.
Like a gambler determined to make a kill, Ruto has been casting his cards daily to the dismay of onlookers, giving the impression that he is prepared to lose all to gain all. Now the Bible-quoting self-declared hustler must await the verdict of the gods and the will of the people as Jubilee’s tumultuous reign nears its end.
In his race to succeed President Kenyatta, Ruto faces formidable political forces that could easily scatter his ambitions to the four winds.
Jubilee’s decision to lock Ruto out of party headquarters was the latest spanner in the DP’s political works. It adds to a long list of hurdles planted in his way, ranging from accusations of undermining his boss through early presidential campaigns to compromising the fight against graft.
The DP’s critics have been laying traps around him, making him work hard for the Presidency; a feat he earlier assumed would be a walk in the park. Ruto’s political future is bleak after he made costly political miscalculations. He also casts doubt on his ability to woo the Central Kenya vote without Kenyatta’s backing.
It would be difficult for the Ruto to outmanoeuvre Raila in any political contest. Ruto is not as smart as Raila. Remember Raila has the brand behind him which he has built over the years. He is also able to rise from political ashes and reinvent himself, just like he did with the Handshake.
Ruto’s political goose is cooked. Not so long ago an air of triumphalism reigned in Harambee Annex, more of a hedonistic Happy Valley than a mythical El Dorado. But in the words of John Donne I now say, Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee,” wrote the senator.
The DP’s political fortunes are in limbo. He is one who has created these landmines. He has demonstrated that he is not keen on the future of the country so long as it serves him. He is also the author of a lot of problems we have faced in this country such as bad governance. He is not going to sort out anything because he has created all these problems for himself.
Ruto is a bitter man who is fueling chaos with his money and he must be stopped. This spectre of violence and vandalism in the name of a presidential election should be a serious cause for concern to all peace-loving Kenyans.
If this continues, and it easily can, it could spiral out of control and we will stagnate as a country, as the government will not deliver much in the remaining two years.
August 27, 2010 was a momentous day. Thousands of Kenyans thronged the city as they looked forward to that gratifying event that would usher in a new dawn for their country and communities.
The scene was set at Uhuru Park. The guests of honour were the freedom fighters and the object of reverence, the Constitution, 2010.
We had witnessed the worst before this day. The quest for equity and equality had seen us kill and maim the innocent amongst us and our greed for power and resources had hardened our hearts towards the poor and the marginalised.
The promulgation of the Constitution was thus a pilgrimage to our true north and the promises contained in it have since changed lives across families and counties. In it we have a robust chapter on Bill of Rights that encompasses a myriad of socio-economic and cultural rights. It has defined our national values and principles and made clear our intentions on the protection of the vulnerable and marginalised.
The decentralisation of power and resources within the Constitution has ensured that citizens are able to exercise their inalienable rights to self-actualisation. The provisions relating to democracy are promoting a more vocal and self-aware community; as Kenyans now more than ever, are speaking up for themselves without fear of retribution.
Yet, there are still a number of challenges that affect its implementation. Many are yet to fully enjoy the promises of the Constitution as poverty, tribalism and corruption threaten their socio-economic welfare.
Thankfully, development blueprints, such as the Big Four Agenda, address most of the poverty shortcomings and ensure that every Kenyan has access to quality healthcare, employment opportunities, adequate housing and adequate nutrition. Similar documents such as Vision 2030 are bolstering parts of the Constitution to propagate sustainable development for future generations.
The question of leadership is however, still a pointed issue for us despite this new dawn.
In particular, the debate on how and who governs us continues to evoke sentiments of marginalisation and victimisation as personalities and communities demand greater representation within our Executive structures. Reaching a consensus on this issue has occasioned the drafting and redrafting of varied constitutional documents aimed at striking the right balance.
The 2014 Bomas Draft for instance recommended a parliamentary system of governance with a President, Deputy President and Prime Minister. With this model, the President would be elected directly by the people, would be a symbol of national unity and safeguard the interests of the country and its people. The PM would be responsible for the Parliament and work hand in hand with the President in realising our national values and principles.
But these recommendations were not favoured in the development of the 2010 Constitution. Our current presidential system of governance provides for the President as the Head of State and Head of Government. The President has both Executive and ceremonial powers and represents a strong, authoritative and legitimate mandate having been elected by the people.
After the 2017 elections and following the establishment of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) many Kenyans are still puzzled as to which system of governance will cure the real and imagined shortcomings surrounding national level leadership. The BBI has consequently recommended a review of the constitutional provisions relating to our Executive structures.
The reasons behind it, as provided by citizens, include that the current system continues to disenfranchise sections of the community. Many do not think it is inclusive enough and see it as the basis for continued divisive elections. They want a more unified country, a stronger Opposition and greater accountability within the Executive.
It is based on this that the BBI report recommends a more representative governance formula, one that would facilitate stronger checks and balances between Parliament and Executive and ensure a mixed Cabinet of technocrats and political genii. Of course, these recommendations have been met with mixed reactions.
There are those that feel that such issues should be nothing more than political agreements before the next electioneering period. There are, however, some who feel that such serious issues herald a constitutional moment, no matter the social, political and economic costs that executing this moment would herald.
Regardless, it is the citizens’ voice that must be heard and respected. With talks of a referendum in the offing, it is the people that must once again decide on the fate of their Constitution.
Always looking, always scavenging, and always salivating for opportunities to steal through undermining and underpinning others; that is the undesirable life of a hustler that Kenyans shun away from. The life of a hustler that Deputy President William Ruto strongly advocates for.
Being a hustler is not only undesirable to a society but also a recipe for a country’s destruction and disaster. The road and life of a swindler is always about cutting corners to unlawfully obtain wealth. For this matter, it is stealing hard earned money that Kenyans pay for through taxes to enhance the country’s development. However, the hustler is always looking for the opportunity take advantage of others’ vulnerability, even children that Ruto has stolen land from, as he seeks for more opportunities to steal, kill and destroy.
This is the very reason why communities such as the Agikuyu embody the life of having dynasties which basically translates to working hard to lawfully obtain wealth and live a decent life that will ensure multiplication of wealth for a sustainable future. A desire that is shared by many Kenyans across the country. However, Ruto being the number one hustler in the country, is him saying that he is unperturbed by his unrelenting theft of public resources.
He is communicating and has already shown Kenyans that he will gag them to silence for the sake of billions. He will destroy livelihooods as those of maize farmers in Uasin Gishu and replace with cartels that constantly report to their master with their bounty as required and guided by their hustling mentality. A mentality that is full of malice and characterized by a life of scavenging with those who operate for Ruto doing so without reasoning as they have been arguably brainwashed and shackled to a life of thuggery, murders and greed for money.
It is the hustling mentality that has been drilled to their heads to the extent that they are unable to think for themselves. These are the Ruto foot soldiers who believe in the hustling mentality.
A hustling mentality is a dangerous mindset that should be shunned by all Kenyans including those who have unfortunately been brainwashed and resigned to that kind of lifestyle of swindling money, resources and life out of other Kenyans. Countless number of people who got into Ruto’s way have paid dearly and with their life.
People who appeared as road blocks to theft of billions of shillings such as Sergeant Kenei who was a Ruto aide who was killed before he could give his testimony on the arms scandal, the ICC witnesses who were ready to testify against the Deputy President but never lived to do so; individuals like Jacob Juma who had a lot of information that would have implicated Deputy President William Ruto in a number of scandals, but whose life was cut short as he was shot severally in cold blood.
A hustler is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. A swindler. Flee from the antics of the devil. Flee from William Ruto and his hustling mentality.
As much as we may deny it, one of the reasons Kenya’s Senate could not hold a healthy conversation over revenue allocation is ethnicity.
Defined as ‘the state of belonging to a social group’, ethnicity remains the biggest threat to our progressive Constitution as a nation. But it is not something to wish away because it is part and parcel of our diversity. In fact, expression of ethnic identity is protected by the same Constitution alongside other rights and fundamental freedoms.
How do we get out of this dilemma? How do we celebrate our ethnic diversity without stoking ethnic tensions?
Multicultural societies such as Kenya’s call for careful management of ethnic relations through the Constitution and strong institutions. This is part of the reason devolution allows the semi autonomy token to 47 regions of the country.
Unfortunately, and probably inadvertently, these Counties were defined in ethnic terms, with boundaries neatly coterminous with ethnic boundaries. The effect of this is that County representatives who are Senators find it difficult to transcend the ethnic warp to which they are hostage. In the current dispensation, being a Senator comes with the risk of having to be an ethnic ideologue whose political survival depends on how vigorously they wave the tribal card.
Fortunately, there have been proposals here and there to get us out of this social problem. Some leaders strongly feel our governance structure needs to revert back to the old provinces so as to de-ethnicise regions, having come to terms with the fact that diffusing power to many small units – as devolution Act does – comes with the backlash of ethnic demands.
Others have proposed a third level of government comprising 14 regional units as the solution, and with it other attractive incidentals like abolition of County Assemblies and reduction in numbers of Governors and Senators.
Whichever way it goes, impending constitutional changes must dissipate the legacy of tribalism in governance and politics of Kenya. Success of nation building initiatives in multi-tribal nations depend on management of ethnic diversity and relations, with key enablers being cohesive legislations and policies.
Case studies have built a body of evidence as proof that unity in diversity is only possible within a framework of social justice and political equality. Kenyans are already aware of this; that is why they are suggesting a range of alternatives in achieving the “ethnic balance” ideal.
Yet not much progress can be made with building bridges or uniting ethnicities without reference to challenges other societies have faced in an attempt to address the ethnicity problem. Traditional ways of ‘suppressing’ ethnic bigotry such as Franco unleashed on ethnic communities of Spain are a flop.
South African minoritised black people celebrated their freedom, representation and “participation” with the collapse of Apartheid and with successive ANC regimes yet ethnic issues persist. In Canada, simmering tensions between Francophone and Anglophone communities around Quebec would have been resolved by means of the strong institutions and norms put in place.
Unfortunately, Francophone Quebec has been quietly considering secession from Canada regardless. And despite being “the land of the free”, the USA has been struggling with poor and often acrimonious ethnic relations for centuries. Bottomline, ethnicity is difficult to eliminate, but it can be managed. Since Kenyans move, mix and settle freely, ethno-cultural diversity has increased.
The sense of plural civic community is possible to achieve the moment neighbouring communities have equal and equitable access to resources. Since the President himself has made it clear that he favours constitutional reforms, we are looking forward to a draft that slays the ethnicity dragon.
On August 30, 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta held his first Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting for all elected MPs and Senators at State House, Nairobi. They had not even been sworn in and this was to happen the next day, 31st August.
This was the same PG where Aden Duale and Kipchumba Murkomen were made Majority Leaders and from where many of Ruto’s allies were later made powerful Parliamentary Committee chairs. In this PG, the President thanked all elected for campaigning for a Jubilee win, and then specifically asked for the help and support of all leaders, including the DP who was seated next to him to enable him consolidate his legacy as he was on his second and final term in office.
He particularly asked leaders to focus on delivering what they had promised Kenyans during the just ended and very divisive campaigns, and to do whatever needed to do to unite all Kenyans, now that the elections were over.
One thing the President made very clear: If he were to achieve and cement his legacy by 2022, leaders had to avoid premature campaigns. He was very specific. Campaigns by their very nature are socially divisive.
This means that if leaders start premature campaigns for 2022, which was 5 years away before leaders had achieved what they needed to achieve, they would divide Kenyans and he needed a united country to deliver his agenda and legacy.
He specifically asked leaders to reach out and bring those who had not voted for Jubilee on board so that all Kenyans would work together beyond their 2017 political affiliations to build one nation moving forward.
He then very specifically promised that if all agreed to what he was asking of them and committed to working with him for the next 4 years without divisive politics, he would personally lead the campaign for the election of DP Ruto as the 5th President of the Republic of Kenya from 2021. He made this assurance directly to the DP, who was seated next to him.
Unfortunately, as soon as Kenya settled down after the again very vicious and divisive repeat election process, Ruto immediately started organising and positioning himself as the next President after Uhuru. And he did this with absolute arrogance and contempt and without any fear of what Uhuru would have thought about it.
When the President reached out to his 2017 rival Raila Odinga in the famous Handshake so as to bring down political temperatures and unite all Kenyans around him, Ruto was the first person to fight this Handshake. Again he did this deliberately.
When the President initiated the BBI process that he hopes will be the opportunity for Kenyans to speak to each other about what makes politics so divisive, Ruto was the first person to reject it. Ruto has thus become the source of the political divisions Uhuru asked us to try to reduce in 2017.
Finally Ruto has also personally introduced and is strongly pushing the ‘Dynasties vs. Hustlers’ political narrative, a very dangerous rich vs. poor political ideology which would cause chaos that would easily make 2007 post-election violence (PEV) look like child’s play.
This narrative is also a direct attack on President Kenyatta due to his personal family background. Ruto also does not shy away and, publicly and privately, speaks very contemptuously about the President.