The devolved system of government was rejected outrightly, fought fiercely and opposed vehemently by Mt. Kenya political elites throughout the whole constitution-making period from the Bomas Draft, Wako draft and onto the post-Wako Grand Coalition constitution.
Yet, when it succeeded and became one of the radical provisions of the new constitution, the same Mt. Kenya embraced it and is using it to transform lives in the region.
Indeed, thinking of the wonders of devolution in Mt. Kenya vindicates those who say the devolved system was opposed not on its merits but for the human fear of change.
Central Kenya held firmly to the idea of centralised development dished by an imperial seat of power, perhaps, in the false belief that they would never again lose the presidency. Some parts of it, represented by reactionaries in the National Assembly still think counties should be abolished. But history is on the side of those who want devolution strengthened.
And yet, the stories of devolution from Central Kenya are, surprisingly, some of the best success stories of the new system. Two counties are worth taking note of: Murang’a County under Governor Mwangi wa Iria and Kiambu County under Governor William Kabogo.
While Murang’a story of Integrated Development incorporating the Muranga Investments Cooperative and Muranga Child Can is a widely applauded success, the success of Kiambu County in the area of healthcare remains largely untold.
Today in Kenya, Kiambu County has the most advanced healthcare infrastructure, a testament to the governance priorities of Governor William Kabogo. And, of course, the President comes from there.
The County is also one of the most stocked, in a country where drugs long disappeared from the shelves of hospitals.
The County has over 30 advanced life ambulance which it prides itself as the only county with such, and will by end of this year complete the construction of a 270 bed capacity reproductive health hospital bloc at the Thika Level Five Hospital.
Kiambu Level Four hospital and Gatundu District hospital have all been modernized with state-of-the art health equipment. Added to hundreds of normal ambulances in every ward, an ICT integrated health records system in every dispensary and health centre, Kiambu is today one of the safest places to give birth in.
Much can be said of other counties but the success of this new system of government, when historians sit down to document it, will be placed on the priorities of the first crop of governors.
Already, the story is not so rosy in Luo Nyanza, the birthplace of devolution. Twisted priorities and the rush to primitively accumulate by a long isolated Luo political elite has seen some of the worst rip-offs, if reports coming from Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu and Siaya are anything to go by.
So yes, devolution is working, in places no one imagined it would have a chance. Kiambu is one such places.