In 2007, some politicians engaged in campaigns which were by and large divisive in nature. Two top politicians and one radio journalist are currently on trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity that occurred during the PEV. Many speculated that the Kenya ICC proceedings deterred a reoccurrence of violence in the 2013 general election.
But today, the political temperatures have once again risen. The country is charged, and one may be tempted to think that there will be another general election tomorrow.
When the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) captain, Raila Odinga, came home from a sabbatical vacation in Boston, he charged the nation with political rhetoric that some allege have bordered on divisive sentiments. In the second month of Railaâ€™s stay in Boston, he warned, through his Twitter account, of an impending â€˜stormâ€™. And on his return to the country, this is what Raila said during a rally at Tononoka grounds in Mombasa:
Â “Ukiona mwenzako akinyolewa, tia chako maji. Usipotia utanyolewa bila maji.â€Â (when you see your colleague being shaved, dub your head with water. If you donâ€™t, you will be shaved without water.)Â [Read Daily Nation: Raila: I am not scared by threats of arrest]
His statement, allegedly, was a warning to the presidency and a reference to the turmoil in neighbouring countries. At the moment, South Sudan is still burning.Â Questions linger about the exact meaning of the â€˜stormâ€™ Raila has been constantly warning about. This comes on the backdrop of a failed call for national dialogue by CORD, which has also further confused and divided Kenyans who are uneasy about the upcoming Saba Saba rally.
The National Alliance (TNA) politician, Moses Kuria, through his personal social media accounts, allegedly posted a series of statements which have heightened ethnic division in the country. For instance, following the 16th May grenade attack on the Gikomba open air market in Nairobi, Kuria allegedly posted the following statement on his Facebook page:
â€œI think it is only a matter of time before Kenyans start violence against perceived terrorists, their sympathizers, their financiers and those issuing travel advisories without intelligence. I am not sure I will not be the one of those Kenyans. When you touch Gikomba, the nerve centre of our economic enterprise, you really cross the line. Brace yourself. Choices have consequences.â€ [Read The Star: Moses Kuria released on a Sh2 million cash bail over hate speech charges]
Some of Kuriaâ€™s social media activity pushed the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) to demand for his prosecution, and the government – through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – has now started proceedings against him.
After more than 50 Kenyans were brutally killed in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, the debates in the national assembly and the senate featured some reckless utterances. Starehe Member of Parliament, Maina Kamanda, was on record allegedly uttering divisive sentiments. According to The Starâ€™s publication on 18 June 2014, Maina said this during a rally at Muthurwa Market:
â€œI want to tell Raila that all members of the Kikuyu community will protect Uhuruâ€™s presidency by all means necessary, even if it means shedding blood. The fact that we are silent does not mean that we donâ€™t know what is happening. I urge you all to be ready to respond when we sound the warning. We must defend the Uhuru government.â€Â [Read The Star: Wetangâ€™ula claims Kamanda threatened to kill him over Mpeketoni attack]
CORDâ€™s Mombasa Women Representative at the National assembly, Mishi Mboko, also stands accused in Kenyaâ€™s law courts of hate speech. It is alleged that during the June 1, 2014 public Madaraka Day celebrations in Mombasa County, she said: â€œKenyans are going to bring a revolution for this country. Enough is enoughâ€¦ There are two tribes that think they own this country and we want to tell them thatÂ chuma chao tunacho.â€Â [Read Standard Digital: Mombasa Woman Rep Mishi Mboko charged with incitement]
The governmentâ€™s continuous assertion that the Mpeketoni assault was politically instigated has caused further confusion and division, solely because al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. â€œThe attack in Lamu was well planned, orchestrated, and politically motivated ethnic violence against a Kenyan community, with the intention of profiling and evicting them for political reasons. This, therefore, was not an al-Shabaab terrorist attack,â€ said Uhuru in his statement to the country following the attack.
The narrative that persists now is that some communities have started eliminating other communities. If we are not careful, our country will once again disintegrate. Is it high-time we hold our politicians responsible for their divisive political tactics.
*AkubaJandiko is a pseudonym for a Kisumu-based journalist. Adapted from Hague Trials Kenya