Only in Kenya! Only in Kenya can someone run for President in 2013 and then run for governor in 2017 and convince themselves there is nothing wrong with the move. This is what happens to a country where we are under siege from a political class that has no principals and is simply driven by politics of ethnicity, impunity and mediocrity, siasa ya ukabila, ukora na upuzi. . They stand for nothing and will change positions in the most unorthodox of ways and still try to justify themselves. This is upuzi if ever there was any.
They will call it “democratic right”. I agree. There is nothing new about Kenyan politicians exercising their democratic right to be ridiculous. Martha Karua has since exercised this right. I will deal with that in another article. My concern here is the reasons that Peter Kenneth gave for demoting himself. The reasons are not only untrue, they are diversionary but more importantly, disrespectful and demeaning to the people of Kenya. They cannot pass without being challenged.
First, he claimed that Kenyans desire change but seem not ready for it when it is offered to them. In his own language he thinks when it comes to change, Kenyans hawawesmake.
This is total nonsense.
He cannot sanitize his premature, misinformed, uninspired and more importantly failed run for the presidency in 2013 by saying that Kenyans are not ready for change. We are. We have been since before he ran for the presidency. It is utter contempt for the people for PK to make such a claim. This is because the road to change in this country must begin with the unwavering believe in its good people. I have consistently responded to those who would belittle the people that these same people are the only hope for change in this country anyway. There is no other means. To want change and demean and dismiss the people in the same breath is self-defeating, even foolish.
PK’s assumption is that we have been offered the change and refused to take it.
We have not.
And if he is to be believed, he imagines that he was that change.
He was not.
His argument is that since Kenyans rejected him, we are not ready for change. This is the kind of argument that you get from a self-righteous politician and not of the inspiring type. Kenyans rejected him because he had nothing to offer them. They know emptiness when they see it.
Politics is about narratives. He had none.
So, my question to him would, what change did he offer?
He was not a change candidate and he did not have a change message. In fact, he did not even have a unique message leave alone a change one. I cannot remember what he stood for because he either stood for nothing, or for the painfully commonplace. You cannot tell us that you are running for president to fix roads, bring us water, education, electricity and end corruption. That is what politicians have been telling us for the last half a century!
I have consistently made the argument that politics is about narratives. For you to make an impact, you must have a compelling new narrative that resonates with the people, a sizeable base, a constituency big enough to take you past the finish line to victory. I have argued that in 2013 only two presidential candidates had a political narrative, Uhuru and Raila. And their narrative was tribe. They were presenting themselves as tribal kingpins at the top of two tribal coalitions. The tribal coalitions gave them an identifiable, countable base, a constituency to take them over the line. Not only did PK not have a narrative, he did nothing to confront the tribal narrative of the two tribal kingpins who were his top competitors. How do you expect to trounce tribal kingpins without deconstructing the tribal narrative that makes them front-runners and provide an alternative non-tribal narrative?
That he couldn’t do this does not mean Kenyan’s hatuwesmake, it means he had nothing substantial to offer, hangewesmake! He should not justify his own failure to present himself as an alternative by claiming Kenyans do not want change. We do. He just wasn’t it!
The second reason he gives is even more annoying. He claims that the 2017 elections is a closed race between Jubilee and CORD tribal coalitions and there is no space for anyone else.
Nonsense. Utter nonsense.
First, anyone calling the 2017 elections a whole 10 months ahead is a stranger to Kenyan politics. We cannot yet tell how the tribal configurations of the next general election will look like. One would expect PK to know this.
There is no guarantee that the two coalitions will remain intact until 2017. Jubilee might. But it will disintegrate thereafter. Jubilee party is what one pundit calls nonsense in stilts. As for CORD, there is a stand-off and we are yet to see how things unravel. I am not sure things will unravel nicely. It is premature to say what will happen. To claim that these are the only two coalitions and there is no space for anyone else is naive and premature.
I am not critiquing this move by Peter Kenneth just because it is unprincipled, amateurish and pretentious. I am critiquing it because as I will demonstrate, it has very serious implications to the political psyche of the people.
First, some background. My position in this blog has been very clear. That we are captives of a degenerate political class in CORD and Jubilee who are driven by politics of ethnicity, impunity and mediocrity, siasa ya ukabila ukora na upuzi. Many people agree. I have argued that we need to get rid of the tribal warlords at the top of the CORD and Jubilee kakistocracies. Many people agree. But they add a rider that such an enterprise is impossible. In their defence, they quote Peter Kenneth and others who ostensibly tried in 2013 and “failed”. This is where I have a problem with Peter Kenneth and the others.
Do you think that someone who ran for President in 2013 and is now running for governor was a serious presidential candidate in the first place?
I don’t think so.
Can they then be used as an indicator of whether the tribal overlords in CORD and Jubilee can be defeated?
I do not think so.
This is the problem I have with PK. He has made people believe that the tribal kingpins in CORD and Jubilee are not defeatable and yet it is he who was incapable of defeating them. To prove the extent to which he has bought into the tribal narrative, he has joined Jubilee where “his people” ostensibly are. I find the move rather cliché and pedestrian. By abandoning the search for the presidency in favour of his tribal overlord, PK wants Kenyans to believe that the tribal narrative is the only option, that the tribal warlords are undefeatable and that the best thing to do is to support “yours”. For a country that is desperately in need of a new non-ethnic political narrative, this is in my book is the greatest disservice that PK has done to Kenyans after running a rudderless and doomed presidential campaign. He would have done better to stay out of the fray. He would have in future managed to convince Kenyans that he is a Kenyan candidate. With his move, he has confirmed that he was a tribal candidate and that he is angling himself for space in future in the tribal narrative.
So, let PK not blame Kenyans for his failures. We want change and tunawesmake. His actions of demoting himself from a presidential candidate to a gubernatorial candidate, disdain for the people and capitulation to tribal overlords have simply demonstrated that he is not the change we are looking for. A confirmation that he was never a change candidate, was never presidential material, hangewesmake na hatawesmake.