By Fred Gori
THIS IS HOW KENYA IS STRUCTURED AT THE MOMENT:
1. At the very top, you have the west, led by our colonial masters, Britain. Then you have the United States and China. They have deep economic and cultural interests in Kenya. Deeper than many of us imagine. Their control over our economy is made easier by the fact that we speak their language, adore their lifestyle, consume their media and live their culture. Sadly, some of us even dharau our mother tongues but love English, French, German and increasingly, Ching Chong.
Kenya is their play ground. They use divide and rule tactics along tribal lines, freely. They play mind games ala Cambridge Analytica, making some tribes feel special and others disadvantaged.
It is virtually impossible to become President in Kenya or any other African country, for that matter, without the tacit support of the west. Believe it or not, it is a fact.
2. Just below the west are the local oligarchs/owners of capital. They work closely with their western counterparts. They control Kenya’s formal (and sometimes informal) economy. They own financial institutions, media, manufacturing, everything. They are the players at the stock market. They have been at it for more than 50 years. They have grown in power and influence and impunity. They don’t like disruptions in the way the state is managed. They love it the way it is. The Jubilee Vice Chairman, David Murathe, let the cat out of the bag the other day when he stated the opposition don’t have a stake in the economy.
Again, it is virtually impossible to become President through constitutional channels without the tacit support and approval of these oligarchs. In fact, the President is their representative in government. Technically, the President does not represent you. He represents them. They are the ones who “elect” him. If you thought your vote counts for anything, think twice.
3. Below the Oligarchs are the upper middle class and workers (so called middle class). This group include owners of medium sized businesses that are closely linked to the large businesses owned by 1 and 2 above. It also includes individuals employed by 1 and 2 to run their businesses in exchange for a “small” pay. Because these workers come from among poor people and peasants, they are, inadvertently, the representatives of the Oligarchs among the masses. They temper the anger and discontent among the masses. They give the masses hope that they, too, can make it to the third tier if they work just a little hard. The workers are comfortable. They have regular income. They can afford some luxuries, have medical cover and may take a holiday or two in a year. They have a vehicle, may own a home in the city or rent a nice apartment. What distinguishes this group is that they don’t want any disruption in their lives. They fear losing the little that they have. Consequently, the peace narrative appeals most to them. Not that peace is a bad thing. But many workers are only a job loss or a hospital admission away from poverty.
4. The voters/masses. These are the vast majority. Although there are significant variations here in terms of economic wellbeing, most of them don’t have much. They have no medical cover (except may be NHIF), they struggle to educate their children and they are the ones who are most passionate about voting.
Do you think the oligarchs detest the tribal hatred between the Kikuyu and the Luo or the suspicion coastal communities treat non coastal communities with? No. They love it. They worship it. They created it. It is the surest way for them to maintain status quo. The ordinary Kikuyu (and Kalenjin to some extent) is conditioned to feel special and entitled. True, they may receive more goodies in terms of jobs and infrastructure projects. But the bottom line is the same. When the economy is struggling and inflation is high, they suffer greatly like everyone else. Interestingly, an ordinary Kikuyu believes and feels he/she is more special than a Luo County Governor. That’s how deep it is.
The ordinary Luo and Luhya and Kamba and Mijikenda is made to feel disadvantaged and oppressed. The funny thing is that they feel oppressed by a Kikuyu or Kalenjin who also struggles day and night to make ends meet. Funny, isn’t it? By now, we know the real oppressor. He is polished and looks harmless. He sits in a posh office in Westlands or Upper Hill. Sometimes he responds to needs in the community and has a good name. The oppressor also sits in Washington, London or Beijing. From their taxes, their governments lend money to Kenya which we pay for generations at high interest rates. That way, we remain their slaves, for generations.
The Oligarchs need the Kikuyu and Kalenjin votes to validate their choice of President. They may as well do without them. In return, they create a false impression that the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin are getting more than their Luhya, Luo and Kamba counterparts. The reality is that it is the oligarchs and the upper middle class who benefit from state largesse.
So how can the masses cause real change in the way they are governed? Not merely by voting in a general election presided over by IEBC. We can only cause real change by uniting without being prompted by the tribal chiefs. We will have to come to the realisation that we are being exploited. It is more like a rat which massages a man’s toe while gnawing at it. We must learn to vote with our heads rather than with our emotions. The masses must pick their own candidate, finance his/her campaign through small donations and vote for him/her to a man during the elections. When this happens and the people mean it, the days of oligarchs peeing on the masses will be over. In fact, even a revolution would be very easy when people are united. One week of massive demos all over the country is enough to bring down a government. Wonder why the short lived unity post Kibaki election in 2003 was scuttled? Now you know.
Sadly, the masses are not aware that they are being played and that almost every narrative from mainstream and social media is designed to keep things as they are.
Is Raila Odinga and NASA aware of this? Of course they are but they, too, are happy to exploit the masses to remain relevant as they prosper and wield power over the people. Now you understand why IEBC is always in the eye of a storm. The problem is not and has never been IEBC. IEBC is a small toy that the oligarchs use to validate their choices. They may as well do without it.
My parting shot: if we are not going to unite, all 45 million of us against a few hundred oligarchs, we must cease complaining about the state of the nation. We must stop fighting people whose votes don’t even count because of a silly narrative perpetuated by every medium platform. Instead, let us enjoy being screwed. Because it won’t end soon.
NB: I am not charging anything for this advisory.
“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7