By George Jakoyo
Recently, I met a man in Nandi North District of Rift Valley. The man was frank to admit that people in the region have been yearning for a democratic governance since the time of legendary leader Mr Koitalel arap Samoei and later Jean Marie Seroney.
He regretted that leaders in the region use their wealth and influence to coerse voters to keep the status quo.
Unfortunately, the politics of coersion and selfishness started even before independence.
A closer look at some of those who “agitated” for change shows they were by driven individual ambitions.
An article titled “Masinde Muliro” in a series under Makers of Kenya’s History edited by Professor Simiyu Wanddiba, shows personal interests superseded national interests when it came to selection of political parties.
Muliro founded the Kenya National Party (KNP) instead of popular Kanu led by James Gichuru, Oginga Ondinga, Tom Mboya and Arthur Ochwada. Why come up with a different party when there was need to marshall popular support and speed up the attainment of independence?
Wandiba notes: “It is clear from the KNP’s timetable that Muliro did not want independence immediately. His main argument was that Africans needed to prepare themselves thoroughly before taking over from the colonialists in order to avoid chaos.”
In addition, Muliro was reluctant to work with others. Jaramogi Oginga in his autobiography Not Yet Uhuru, says Muliro played on the emotions of the minority to get support.
However, Ronald Ngala was brought on board and joined Jaramogi to launch the Kenya Africa Democratic Union to federate the Kalenjin Political Alliance, Maasai United front, Coast Political Union, and Somali National Association.
Muliro’s attempt to sell his KNP party was met with hostility from political activists allied to Mboya during a rally in Nairobi. Wandiba notes: “Muliro was convinced that these people must have been sent by Mboya. On why Ngala snubbed Kanu, Odinga reports: “Ngala was a different case. He though appeared to be sincere, had always been susceptible to settler propaganda and once captured he could be relied upon to deliver the goods better than his settler mentors.”
At the time when Kenyans were eager to be free and negotiations for independence and release of Jomo Kenyatta were in top gear, it is alleged that Mr Daniel Moi was concerned more with forming a government even without Kenyatta. Kadu almost formed a government but public sentiments were against the move. The events mentioned took place about 50 years ago. This year, Kenyans go to the polls to either usher new leadership or keep the old one.
Since independence, Kenyans have agitated for change, but how come we never get the leaders we want?
In his book, Jaramogi says: ” Political intrigue, caucus decisions and ambitions for office cannot thrive side by side with a vigorous popularly based party machine, or democratic decision making of any kind.”
Do our politicians have a conscience?
Read Odinga’s resignation letter from Kanu government to form KPU.
“You have not given any consideration to me as your number two in State matters. I have a conscience and this in fact does prick me when I earn public money but with no job to do. I consider this a waste of public money and I am worried lest the future generation questions my sincerity, when they would learn that I allowed myself to hold a sinecure post in the midst of poverty and misery in our country. With this realisation I cannot continue to hold this position any longer and I hereby tender my resignation.”
Back to Muliro. He dissolved Kadu ” he wanted a chance for top position”.Masinde’s move mirrors selfishness that has characterised our leadership. Once, Jomo Kenyatta asked Bildad Kaggia before a crowd a very suggestive question. He asked: “What have you done for yourself?” Now the question is extended to, ” what have you for yourself, family and your tribe?”
In his book, Jaramogi warns: “We may not score immediate victories but we ought to ensure that at no time in the history of this country should we leave the Government and wealth in the hands of an elite, worse an elite that is taking power to itself. This is welling to plunge the country into pain and tragedy.”