By Dikembe Disembe
If there is a problem in the Jubilee government, which there seems to be, let’s point at the new welders of state power outside Mt. Kenya. In my pedestrian analysis, this problem is a power struggle between the Kalenjin elites and somali elites.
But first things first. Jubilee is a tyranny of two tribes. The ‘larger’ Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. The larger Kikuyu encompasses the Meru and Embu in the traditional Mt. Kenya fashion.
The Kalenjin is the compact ‘tall, thin and black’ massive vote bloc that occupies the expansive Rift Valley.
In 2013, the combination of these two blocs, assisted by state institutions and the media, delivered the presidency to Uhuru Kenyatta. The other contributing factor – the disarray in opposition – only ensured the numbers were safer for Uhuru.
The Kalenjins have been all over about Uhuru victory. From these lowest ebbs where we write about these intrigues, it is easier to engage a Kikuyu in a jubilee ‘disagreement’ than a Kalenjin.
Most of us do not have the Kikuyu elites as friends, nor their children, but the ruffians and the pinheads. So we only assume how and what they think in those high places and the newly established exclusive hotels in town. However, for the lowly, we share a lot.
Because it is difficult to engage the Kalenjin in the Jubilee, unlike the Kikuyu, it is difficult to pick what they think. The other day, I was told what it is all about: “silence and secrecy”.
In this strategy, unlike the Luo or Luhya, the Kalenjin has chosen not to say much. They see a lot, in silence, and only ‘mark’ the dates, the events and the participants.
But this strategy of ‘silence and secrecy’ should be worrying to the other pair in that alliance. At least, the opposition is safer. I will tell you why in a moment.
Speaking to a young Kikuyu friend, I picked a totally different view of the ‘problems’ in the Jubilee alliance. Remember we are assuming there are in deed problems. Why shouldn’t we?
For two consecutive times, the ‘newspaper readers’ have been told to use them for meat wraps. It appears it is the newspapers which create these rifts.
We have learnt, through respectable national dailies – both the Standard and the Nation – that all is now well in the Jubilee Alliance. That one side, the URP, composed mostly of the Kalenjins, are not happy with the ongoing state restructuring.
â€œThings are not working as expected. The appointments are skewed towards one party yet our people were told this is a 50-50 power sharing plan.We meet Mr Ruto, look at him and talk. These things are discussed but he fears talking about this matter in public. He fears ridicule from ODM and Cord supporters,â€Â Charles Keter, the Senator for Kericho County, Ruto’s most trusted hatchet man, is quoted to have said.
We have also learnt that at least two cabinet meetings have ended in ‘disarray’ after failure to adopt a single cabinet position on these issues. In all these instances, the Deputy President William Ruto, the face of Kalenjin elites in the Jubilee government, has sought to cool tempers, and to his credit, has appeared in public with a very brave face!
Be that as it may, some of the people who have commented on the schisms in Jubilee are authorities we cannot ascribe rumormonger to their persons. At least, they have maintained a level of public consistency which allows us to believe them: one such person is senior Advocate Ahmednassir Abdullahi.
In an opinion penned for the Nation, Ahmednasir sums up Uhuru’s biggest challenge as thus:
“. . . the biggest challenge his government faces is the endless demands the Kalenjin elite make on his government. The community played a critical role in Uhuru winning the presidency and is rightly entitled to have its say. But the demands by its elites for goodies, offices, free land, tenders, concessions, etc, are infinite. No human being, no matter how powerful, rich or generous, can satisfy the appetite for free, stately things. Ask Raila Odinga!
It is easy to tell why Ahmednassir reminded Uhuru of the ‘insatiable greed’ of the Kalenjin elites (and politicians) to government power and control. In fact, uncharacteristically, Ahmednassir who just a few months ago saw Raila Odinga and the “west” as the biggest challenge to Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has now made an about-turn and is facing the ‘elephant’ in the Jubilee house: the Kalenjins!
Mentioning Raila Odinga, Ahmednassir sought to remind the president that the former premier did everything that was politically possible to keep the Kalenjins in his stable, but they still bolted out!
Raila rewarded the kalenjins ‘almost to a man’. He returned many of them who had been uprooted at the dawn of the rainbow Â back to their former glory. From Sally Kosgey, Henry Kosgei, Franklin Bett, Hellen Sambili, Margaret Kamar, Kipkalia Kones, Lorna Laboso, Isaac Rutto, Charles Keter, and even William Ruto himself, Odinga rewarded these characters and many others who got into planes to serve in missions abroad or parastatals here at home.
This was regardless of the fact that Odinga had been served Â a “nusu mkate”. The Kalenjins took the buttered part of that half loaf. Yet, when they fancied it was time to walk out, it was a marathon. They literally ran out. The few who remained had “nothing to lose” like Bett and Kosgei. Even then, they had given their people enough conflicting messages that only ‘fools’ believed their ODMness. Kosgei’s son would eventually be elected in a URP ticket!
Those who chose, in principle, to stick with Odinga are still with him. These were people to whom Odinga had appealed to as a person. They liked him in the traditional fashion of Railamania. I am here talking about people like Margerer Langat, the current ODM Executive Director.
So in the Jubilee, the Kalenjins found a new home, or so they thought. However, the somali bloc, often not talked about, is the next big thing in Kenyan politics.
From Migori to Kisumu to Nakuru and Garissa, the somali bloc is building a number which will be the next ‘swing votes’ before it becomes a tyranny in itself.
In government, Uhuru’s presidency is increasingly getting beholden to the Somali intellectual infrastructure than the Kalenjin. Apart from the Kikuyu/GEMA axis, the somali is the new power brokers in town!
Even as ahmednasir dismiss the Kalenjins with one finger pointed towards the Rift Valley, there are four others pointed towards him. . .and who best represents the interests of the Somali than the Grand Mullah?
There is Amina Mohammed at foreign affairs. We all know that Kenya’s foreign policy has successfully tilted towards the Arab world. That did not happen by design.
There is Adan Mohammed at industrialization and Â let us never forget the disgraced Kalenjin registrar of the Judiciary, Gladys Shollei, singled out justice Mohamed Warsame and Ahmednasir as her grand ‘fixers’, if I may borrow the word. Forget Ominde, she may have been fighting the usual women fights za jikoni.
The man who has redrawn the current divisive state bureaucracy is none other than Abdikadir Mohammed. In parliament, the somali errand boy, currently working at the behest of state house, is Aden Duale. Add to Isaack Hassan and the concoction become atomic, highly explosive.
The somali intellectual power runs at the heart of the Jubilee government. If we picked the constellation at the presidential petition and ascribed the political significance of the outcome of the petition to the actors – you will see the Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba, Kalenjin and the somali as the biggest players both in the bench and the bar. Remove the vanquished and you remain with the victors – Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Somali!
Because Kikuyus will always remain a constant – like the physicist Planck’s Constant – the expendables become the two; the Kalenjins and the somalis!
The power struggle in this Jubilee government is between the two and herein lies the crisis for the beloved son of Jomo Kenyatta.
Dikembe Disembe comments on politics, higher education and ethnicity in Kenya