Die-hard and even some moderate jubilee supporters from among the Aagĩkũyũ community have accused me of hatred towards their tribal kingpin, H.E. Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta, as they like to call him. My reader knows that I am highly critical of the tribal political class in both CORD and jubilee, and their supporters don’t like it. CORD supporters dismiss me as a demented, paid jubilee sycophant. I can understand. But there is a special kind of venom and bile reserved for me by fanatical (and the not so fanatical) Gĩkũyũ jubilee supporters. They see me as a mũũgĩkũyũ, and they cannot understand how I can criticize Ũhuru when “ũthamaki nĩ wiitũ”, (rulership is ‘ours’). Some have even gone as far as suggesting that my criticism of jubilee (most cannot distinguish criticism of jubilee and criticism of Ũhuru) is tantamount to self-hate! Numerously, I have been asked, amid unmentionable insults, “Why do you hate Ũhuru?”
I just have a fundamentally different view of the nation and I am (strongly) opposed to the ethnic narrative that he (and the other tribal kingpins) represent.
I would like to remind my reader that Ũhuru did not become the Gĩkũyũ supremo through superiority of intellect, sophistication of ideas, unique contribution to society, exceptional personal achievement or possession of remarkable skills and talents. No. He was part of Moi’s tribal arithmetic and grand plan for the preservation of KANU hegemony. He has not disappointed.
In this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G87EaLz9qlQ, he advised the Aagĩkũyũ that they need a tribal kingpin, whom they should follow blindly and who should negotiate with other tribal kingpins on behalf of the Aagĩkũyũ. He then presented himself as that kingpin. When the proper un-doctored history of the making of Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta is written, it will have to take into account this fact and his own admission to it.
Consequently, majority of the Aagĩkũyũ who support him, do so in the mistaken belief that he represents their interests as a community and that this and this alone should absolve him from the mess that is his clueless, corrupt and tribal regime. To my knowledge, he has not done anything to dissuade his followers from owning him as a tribal kingpin, rather than hold him accountable as a national leader. Many central politicians support him because he has made good his threat in the video that anyone who does not support the defense of Gĩkũyũ interests should know that his political career in Kenya is finished. To the extent that he considers himself as representing Gĩkũyũ interests and by acts of omission or commission encourages his supporters from central province to see him as such, I will remain opposed to him. As a public intellectual who happens to be mũũgĩkũyũ, it would be remiss of me to fail to point out the contradictions in the narrative of the Gĩkũyũ fundamentalists and their tribal overlord, Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta . I have not failed to point out the contradictions in other narratives.
I can understand the extent to which Ũhuru sees this position as safeguarding his (essentially Moi-an) and the community’s short-term political interests. I nonetheless submit that his short-term political interests and thinking are diametrically opposed to the long-term interests and political realities of the Aagĩkũyũ, the same ones who hail him as their king. I contend that for so long as Ũhuru is a tribal leader, and he is, he is the greatest threat to the long-term political and economic survival, progress and prosperity of the Aagĩkũyũ and the Kenyan nation.
I will explain.
Politics is about narratives. The old man Jomo’s narrative was Uhuru, (independence not his son Ũhuru) and acquisition. Moi’s was himself, grabbiosis and KANU, and Kibaki’s was acquisition and economy, in other words produce even if you steal. For the three, tribe was a sub-narrative. For the current political class in CORD and jubilee tribe is the dominant political narrative. Acquisition and theft is only its corollary. All of them have no new ideas to modernize the country. They only have ideas about how they can form tribal coalitions, propel themselves to power and loot the country.The only reason CORD are overshouting is because they are out and jubilee is in, and overeating.
What I will say next is important, very important. It is not for the faint-hearted or the feeble-minded. If you cannot handle truth, stop reading , now.
Now listen…and more so the Gĩkũyũ fundamentalists, listen good, and understand. As the great singer Makibi James warned you, “…nĩ niĩ ngwĩkĩra mũkonde, riũa nĩ mũguoota, mwaaga kũigua rũũrũ mweterere hiti iria ikamũrĩa”. (I am confirming/difficult times are at hand/ if you fail to listen and understand this, disaster beckons, may you wait for the hyenas that will consume you)
In all narratives, there are the bad guys, the guys and the good guys. In Proppian terms, (can all of my students whom I taught Vladmir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale at the University raise their hands…), all narratives have the villain, the victim and the hero (for the initiated, Propp calls them, the villain, the victimized hero and the seeker hero).
Like all narratives, so is the Kenyan ethnic political narrative, it has to have all three.
The Kenyan tribal political narrative has been cast so that the Aagĩkũyũ are the villains, the other tribes (including the Kalenjins) are the victims and Raila is the hero. And this is a problem, a huge problem. For so long as the political narrative in Kenya is tribal, the Aagĩkũyũ will remain the bad guys, the villains, the hunted. Those tribal tin-gods from other tribes will always thrive on the narrative of rescuing the victims from the villains, rescuing “their tribes” from the Aagĩkũyũ, and they will be heroes. The more they pronounce the Gĩkũyũ villainy, the more heroic they will be among the “victimised” non-gĩkũyũ. Put differently, for so long as the political narrative is tribal, the Aagĩkũyũ are doomed.
If you have not understood this, please read it again and again.
Now, knowing this, I have several questions for the Gĩkũyũ fundamentalists and the fanatical supporters of Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta who have been hurling insults at me. These questions dramatize the problematics of the tribal narrative to Gĩkũyũ politics and the place of the Aagĩkũyũ in the Kenyan tribal political matrix. These are questions around which I am willing to debate any Gĩkũyũ fundamentalist and Ũhuru himself, at a place and a time of his choosing.
- Why should you hold on to a narrative that condemns you and your children to the role of the villains and the hunted much less prostrate yourselves under the feet of anyone who does?
- Why would you be so fanatical in supporting someone who thrives on a narrative that marks you and your children as hunted villains? Isn’t it like believing that the doctor who feeds you on poison will eventually heal you?
- Do you think that any Mũgĩkũyũ or non-gĩkũyũ riding on and championing the tribal political narrative is doing you and your children any favors or safeguarding your interests whatever you consider those to be?
- Don’t you think that any mũthamaki (King) working for the good of the nyũmba, as you like to call yourselves, has the singular onus of making sure that the tribal narrative is not only deconstructed and dismantled but replaced with a new non-ethnic narrative for the long term survival of your nyũmba and the bigger nyũmba known as Kenya?
- Understanding the tribal narrative this way, do you now understand why you have a pathological fear of Raila Odinga?
- You claim that Luos worship Raila. What is the difference between that and your belief that any Mũgĩkũyũ who criticizes Ũhuru and jubilee is traitor? Has he become a god? Would their sins be lesser if Luos “worshiped” Ũhuru instead of Raila?
- But more importantly, do you understand why Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta represents a concept more dangerous to you than Raila can ever do? In fact, do you now understand that Raila is a creation of the very narrative that Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta represents?
You mistakenly believe that your problem is Raila. It is not. It is the tribal narrative that he and Ũhuru represent. Narratives are very enduring things. If we do not find a new non-ethnic political narrative, a repeat of the 2007 strategy of 41 Vs 1 which was constructed along the tribal narrative is not inconceivable, despite the current jubilee tribal arrangement which cheats you it is. I have even more bad news for you. Even if Raila vacates the role of hero in the tribal narrative, another hero will arise to continue the narrative.
He must. It is the nature of narratives.
According to what I can see and hear, you ought to be afraid of the talk about some coast political honcho who is eyeing national politics. He is a perfect character for the new hero, post Raila, in this tribal narrative. You may now dismiss him as a nobody, (I have even heard some dismiss him as a drug dealer. Your own tribal king was a nobody in 2002 and you called him worse). Be ye warned. The “drug dealer” will ride on the plot of rescuing the victims, (other tribes) especially the long suffering and marginalized coast ones from the evil grip of the villains, the Aagĩkũyũ. He will easily take over from Raila on that narrative and become the new hero. There is already trouble for watu wa bara in coastal politics. Like the good book says, “let he who has understanding decipher”!
In the hopeless insults from nyũmba that I get when I criticize Ũhuru and jubilee, I see a desperate attempt of a besieged and sinking community holding onto the pants of a tribal King desperately shouting, “Save us”.
He is a product and a beneficiary of the same narrative that has you besieged and hunted. He is using the narrative to protect the spoils of his father’s narrative of acquisition. Many regular Aagĩkũyũ need no protection, because they have nothing to protect. They have worked their way to any little they may have, and therefore no one should begrudge them. I would like to know how many Aagĩkũyũ have 30,000 acres of land in the coast to protect. I know of one. I am a Mũũgĩkũyũ, and he does not represent my interests.
I have advocated for a new non-ethnic political narrative as the only way to rescue those who feel villainized/hunted or victimised as tribes and to forge a modern Kenya. Yet Ũhuru fanatics have called me names. They think I am a traitor and that if I had interests of the community at heart, I should support Ũhuru. I have the interests of the country at heart. And the Aagĩkũyũ are part of the country. And I have said that the interests of the country can only be addressed by a new non-ethnic political narrative that gets rid of the tribal kingpins, including Ũhuru the King of the “villains” and Raila the hero of the “victims”. We need to understand the real narrative. Which is this: the political class and the tribal overlords Raila, Ũhuru, Mudavadi, Ruto, Wetangula and Kalonzo are the villains, the Kenyan people are the victims and we need new heroes to rescue us from the villains.
The new heroes will establish a new narrative for a truly Kenyan project, a spirit of nationalism grounded on a new dispensation of patriotism, accountability and productivity. This new Kenyan vision is not opposed to the survival of the Aagĩkũyũ or any other tribe, as the fundamentalists may think. It is not only good for the Aagĩkũyũ, it is the only one that will free them from the current role as villains that they play in the tribal political narrative that Ũhuru and Raila represent.
I believe that because of the unique villainy position that the Aagikũyũ occupy in the ethnic political narrative, the search for a new non-ethnic narrative must come from them. It will be liberative and more enduring than anything that Ũhuru can ever offer the Aagĩkũyũ. We cannot fight the ethnic narrative without looking like we hate Ũhuru, it is what he represents. I represent a search for a new-non-ethnic political narrative that seeks to free all of us from the shackles of tribalism and plots that create heroes out of hating on or fighting the other tribes. The Aagĩkũyũ must however see their own survival as being served by a new non-ethnic political narrative and intertwined with the survival of the greater Kenyan nation. Great, even exceptional wisdom is required here. And I will refer again to Makibi James, who ends by saying:
Ciana ciitũ nĩ ithomithio ũũgĩ wa mabuku, ũũgĩ urĩa wa muciarĩre uumaga kwĩ ngai, tutikanakĩrio nganja nĩ mbari ya njitha, yanjagio ira ni mwene yo, nyũmba nĩtumeei toro. (Let’s give our children book knowledge/and wish them natural wisdom from God/ so that we are never outsmarted by those who wish us ill/ the one with the challenge must take the lead in seeking the solution/ nyũmba let us come out of slumber)
It is not just slumber that the Aagĩkũyũ are in. It is deep stupor that borders on hypnosis.There is no other way of explaining their fanatical attachment to a narrative that marks them as villains, and a clueless tribal overload, who is personally invested in the same self-destructive narrative. The fundamentalists have accused me of self-hate for criticizing their King, they themselves have swallowed a self-destructive narrative, and are following its tribal champion to self-damnation! A true leader does not lead his people unto darkness and death, he leads them unto life and prosperity. Your survival as a people and as Kenyans, is tied to a new non-ethnic political narrative, which is incompatible with what your tribal King stands for.
I will remind the Aagĩkũyũ fundamentalists of Martin Luther King’s famous quote, “we must learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools”. The tribal narrative with its villains, victims and heroes will make you perish. It is tragically the narrative of the political class including your Ũhuru Mũigai wa Kĩnyaatta. I do not hate Ũhuru, I am fundamentally opposed to this tribal political narrative that he represents, and so should all Kenyans.