Happy New Year!
2017 is here with us.
The Constitution of Kenya informs us that the office of the President of the Republic of Kenya will fall vacant this very year. We the people, are looking for a statesman/woman to fill this position. There are several applicants who have shown interest in that position. They are Uhuru Kenyatta the incumbent, deputized by William Ruto, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula. They have been the same applicants cum aspirants since 2002 and even then, they had no nationalist vision for the Country. They are applying because they have elbowed themselves to the top of the tribal hierarchy and achieved the status of tribal kingpins and warlords.
Looking at their CVs and track record, they subscribe to no ideology, believe in nothing except the acquisition of power and can offer nothing new to the Kenyan people. Evidence of their emptiness is that between the six of them, they have hopped-stepped-and-jumped across “parties” and”coalitions” at least 35 times and they are still forming more. They are Moi-political-orphans, dyed in the wool KANUnnites and experts of politics of ethnicity, impunity and mediocrity, siasa ya ukabila, ukora na upuzi. The unsuitability of these tribal kingpin aspirants reminds us of what Mark Twain said, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often and for the same reason.”
But if we do not get new applicants, of the statesmen/women stature, these tribal kingpins will be in the ballot box and they will get themselves elected. The position must be filled on 8th August 2017.
The unmet need
Kenya is in dire need of a unifying, visionary non-ethnic political narrative that does not mobilize us as tribes but as one nation with shared ideals, hopes and aspirations. This can only be done by a statesman/woman. The current applicants in CORD and Jubilee are singularly incapable of this. They have created and sold the singular tribal narrative to Kenyans for their own political relevance and survival. They know that without tribalism they have nothing else to tell Kenyans. The tragedy of the country is that the political survival of these tribal kingpins depends on the things that divide us. That is why the country is so divided and can never unite under them.
So, incapable of being statesmen (they are all men), they are bonafide tribal warlords complete with “strongholds”, billions of looted and “hustled” monies they call “war-chests” and tribal contraptions they call political “parties” and “coalitions”. These are however not parties of any shade, and their owners know it. They are tribal briefcases that they use to haggle in the tribal political brothel which they have created. In this political brothel, your value depends on the tribal numbers you bring. There, you will find other tribal kingpins who are willing to jump in bed with you, regardless of how contemptuous they are of you. There is never a question of whether your values interconnect. There are no values in this brothel.
The principal non-negotiable qualification
The suitable candidate MUST be a statesman/woman with a new unifying, non-ethnic political narrative to inspire the country differently. He/she must be anchored in principle, moral fortitude, have a futuristic and modern vision and the ability to build consensus to achieve the vision, WITHOUT RESORTING TO TRIBAL MOBILIZATION. This is the only NON-NEGOTIABLE qualification.He/she must be able to appeal to us Kenyans across ethnic lines with a modern vision and an accompanying compelling message that speaks to our national (not tribal) aspirations, our shared humanity and our optimism for the future. Anyone who does not meet this requirement need not apply.
This is no mean task given the fact that currently, tribalism is the only and most dominant political narrative and some people have given up on ever having an alternative narrative. To displace ethnicity with a new non-ethnic narrative is a difficult proposition. The paradigm shift required is herculean. It is the job of a statesman/woman, not the tribal warlords, demagogues and charlatans who are currently lining up to apply for the job. Statesmen/women are not ordinary human beings, they are definitely not empty self-seekers, hate mongers and tribal demagogues. Statesmen/women embody the best possibilities of humanity, emerge once in a generation and in a time of strife like the one we the people of Kenya are faced with.
It is desirable that you are educated. But again it is not mandatory. If you can communicate simply, and speak to our hearts as Kenyans, that is enough. This ability can be the product of the simplicity and non-sophistication of an uneducated mind, or the malleability and adaptability of an educated one. Why I said education is desirable is because this is a very complicated modern world. A certain level of intellectual sophistication is required. None of the tribal kingpins has such sophistication. It is one of the qualifications of being a KANUnnite. The more intellectually uninspiring a KANUnnite is, the more likely he will succeed in tribal politics. KANU’s rule of the thumb was, the dumber the better.
It is necessary that you are able to communicate the new non-ethnic political narrative in a simple but compelling way that will move the masses. If you have the narrative, you could still qualify if you are an average communicator. It really depends on how compelling and appealing your new narrative is. If naturally you are not a good communicator, we can coach you on how to communicate, how to package your new narrative so that it not only appeals to the masses, but it displaces and defeats the tribal narrative of the tribal kingpins.
Age vs “newness”
The suitable candidate must be new. It is desirable that they are young but not mandatory. Young and new can be very different things. In 2013, when we were hiring for the position, we thought that ‘young’ meant ‘new’. We were wrong. We elected a self-confessed-YK92-hustler and a 2002-failed-Moi-project who called themselves new, even digital. They may have been young but there was nothing new about them. When they got to power, they did what they knew, same old siasa ya ukabila, ukora na upuzi, which they had learnt in KANU.
Prior experience in politics is not necessary. While it will not automatically disqualify one, it is undesirable. It is virtually impossible to be a seasoned politician in Kenya today and be untouched by KANUism and its siasa ya ukabila, ukora na upuzi that we are trying to get away from. Yes, cross-over, a conversion of some kind for an experienced politician may be possible, but achieving statesman/woman status is highly improbable for KANUists. But we the people of Kenya are willing to listen.
No Jokers please
To be sure, there are some young, new and even highly educated candidates besides the tribal kingpins who have expressed interest. This maybe necessary, but not sufficient. Lessons of 2013 have taught us that being young and/or new does not give you any advantages over the tribal kingpins. Those who were young and/or new then did not make any political impact in the polls against the tribal kingpins. The reason is simple. They did not have the NON-NEGOTIABLE qualification – a new compelling non-ethnic political narrative that appealed to Kenyans. But more disappointingly, they were afraid to confront the tribal kingpins and call them out on their tribal narrative. They were jokers, and we the people knew it and told them as much in the polls.
The new applicants who have expressed interest for the position in 2017 seem to be repeating the same mistakes.
Telling us there is tribalism and corruption is not a new narrative. We already know that.
Telling us that you will fight tribalism and corruption is not new. The thieving tribal kingpins have been gallivanting in the whole country saying that they will fight tribalism and corruption. They instead escalated them.
Telling us that you will build schools and hospitals and roads is not new. The tribal kingpins and their fathers before them have been telling us this for the last 54 years.
Telling us that you will implement the Constitution is not new. It is ostensibly one of the main reasons all the tribal kingpins have applied for the job. In fact, there is actually nothing else the tribal kingpins in CORD and Jubilee have been telling us since 2013, while doing exactly the opposite.
This is the reason why the young and new faces of 2013 and 2017 failed and will fail – lack of a new compelling alternative non-ethnic political narrative.
Money? Stay away from dirty money
IEBC has said that a presidential candidate should have billions of shillings. The would-be statesman/woman should ignore them. First, we the people know that you cannot outdo the tribal warlords shilling for shilling. You see, this is the same political class that has been looting from us over the last 54 years. They have enough looted dirty money. They call it war-chest, (now you know why we call them warlords). Secondly, the tribal warlords have rich backers, billionaire oligarchs who have hugely benefited from the corruption of the political class, more dirty money. But thirdly and most importantly, a statesman/woman should know that politics is not about money. Politics is about the people.
If you can give the people the new non-ethnic political narrative that unites us as Kenyans, we will do what Kenyans do best, Harambee. We will changia your campaign. This will ensure two things. First, that when you are elected, you are only answerable to us the people of Kenya. Secondly and related to the first is the fact that you will not be beholden to the billionaire oligarchs, who support corrupt regimes so that they can be beneficiaries of government largess once their candidates are elected. You will be a people’s president, answerable directly to the people of Kenya and not to any special political or economic interests.
The single most important responsibility of statesmen/women is to build nations. Yours will be no different. Nations do not just happen, they are build. Nations are not created by building railways, roads, airports, ports, hospitals, giving tenders and electricity. Nor are they created by street demonstrations, demagoguery and ideological inconsistency. Definitely, the can never be build by tribalists. They are build by inspiring a Nation towards shared ideals, creative ideas and confidence in the possibilities of their polity. As a statesman/woman we will expect you to heal and reconcile the Nation by providing a common modern non-ethnic vision around which a united Kenya can be build. We expect you to be the designer of a platform where ALL Kenyans will feel ready and confident to take up the call of our national anthem:
Let one and all arise
With hearts both strong and true
Service be our earnest endeavour
And our homeland of Kenya
Heritage of splendour
Firm may we stand to defend.
Let all with one accord
In common bond united
Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya
The fruit of our labour
Fill every heart with thanksgiving.
This requirement to unite and reconcile is even more important in a state of crisis, like the one we have been in over the last 15 years under the tribal warlords. Because the tribal kingpins have no common vision for the country, and their political survival depends on dividing the people along tribal lines, the country is divided, disillusioned, bitter and angry. Some people have even started to doubt the existence of the very Kenyan project. When such a spirit of disillusionment and anger grips a nation, fixing it and reinvigorating hope in Nationalism in all its people is the job of a statesman/woman. This will be your job. That is why we need you now. Charles De Gaulle, the great French General, talking about statesmanship said:
These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman…A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.
Charles de Gaulle
We choose life, lead the way
Our country is in a space of great necessity, a serious cross-road where the tribalists want to sacrifice the Nation at the altar of their depraved political ambitions. Great necessities call out great virtues. A man/woman of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty. This is the time that a statesman/woman must rise. The incumbent tribal warlords have warned us that they will rule for 20 years. They have read the Constitution, but it does not matter to them. They have never let the Constitution stand between them and their blind political ambitions. A competitor tribal tingod of theirs has warned us that the 2017 election will be a matter of “life and death”, and his attack dogs have warned us that Kenyans must die for him to ascend to the vacancy. He did not tell us death for who and life for who.
The good book says:
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut: 30:19).
We must choose life. So that we and our children may live, to “Build this our Nation together”.
And this means rejecting all the tribal kingpins who have already shown interest in the vacancy, they offer us only darkness, tribal division and death for the Nation. The road that leads to life has been elusive to us over the last 54 years, we genuinely seek it and its possibilities. We need a statesman/woman to lead the way. Are there any out there?
Happy and States(wo)manly 2017!