News On The Ground
- A church with 200 sheltering people in Eldoret torched with the people still in it. Not many were able to flee
- The monument Nicholas Biwott built for his mother has been torched. So has his mother’s house
- The Central Business district apparently is a no go zone
- Government Spokesman and Information Permanent Secretary falling over themselves to describe precisely what a ban of live transmissions means.
- A armed mob of thousands was marching towards Burnt Forest a few hours ago
- It is impossible to find Safaricom airtime.
I have received hundreds of text messages, emails and comments, and have participated in several conversations about these elections. A good chunk of them are extremely bitter about the events of the past 48 hours. There are a few that are pleased with the results.
I would just like to make one thing very clear. If you are happy purely because Kibaki won, or your are angry purely because Raila lost, my friends your myopia will cost you a lot more than you think.
Why? This is going to be a long and controversial post so grab some coffee and settle down. I’ve posted some more pictures that I took yesterday of the aftermath of the unrest in my hood.
Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts, and not to be taken as gospel truth
Genesis Of A Problem
The problem (the nature of which I will get to last) began almost 5 years ago, in the hastily cobbled together amalgamation of political parties of NAK and LDP that was called the National Rainbow coalition. Analysis of the voting patterns showed a country that was solidly united behind what they believed to be the path to a change of destiny. Raila Odinga went to Central Kenya and was wildly cheered, more than most of the Central Province leaders. Kibaki went to Nyanza and was wildly cheered. People by and large ignored tribe and voted for change.
Estate gate broken by the mob
Cracks immerged shortly after the new cabinet was named. The LDP felt that they had been shortchanged, in contravention of a pre-election memorandum of understanding, the infamous MOU.
Now much hubbub was made over the MOU. People loudly wondered what the contents were. People contended that such documents made behind closed doors and out of the public eye were not binding. Such sentiments, in my opinion, are the height of naiveté. The fact of the matter is that in politics lobbying and dealing are a part of the game. These things are done well in advance in privacy away from you and me. They are done EVERYWHERE and not just Kenya. It is naive to presume that you have a say in the distribution of cabinet positions. You have none. Get used to it.
But I digress.
Security tried to lock the gate but it was just broken
The LDP felt strongly that it had been shortchanged on two fronts: consultation in the naming of the cabinet and in the number of seats allocated to them. They actually held a press conference to protest the developments. The public was largely hostile to these attempts to besmirch their rosy eyed view of Canaan.
The LDP may have kept quiet subsequently but they did not forget what they perceived to be a betrayal.
The second problem was entirely of the incoming President’s making. Upon being sworn in he sacked large numbers of civil servants who happened to be principally from the Rift Valley. Many were dispossessed of benefits like cheap housing. Many were threatened with court, and a good number were charged in court. Ministers like Kiraitu Murungi very arrogantly demanded the President Moi go to herd goats and watch how government was run.
This very fact I believe is what cost Kibaki support in the Rift Valley. The people were not about to forget what they felt were injustices done to their sons and daughters. Things were not helped by the last minute marriage of convenience between Moi and Kibaki. The people of the Rift were even more resentful of what they perceived to be a turncoat. People vividly recall the indignities Moi was subjected to on his exit, and the only way that he and Kibaki could be reading from the same script was if Moi had been promised something that he was not about to share with them.
The third problem begins with the fact that it was perceived that a disproportionate percentage of the Cabinet was from Central and Eastern Kenya, principally the Kikuyu and the Meru. A similar situation seemed to present itself in senior civil servant positions, where it was felt a disproportionately large number of the numbers were from a single region. If you recall there were email forwards enumerating senior positions staffed by members from a single part of Kenya. The Government hastily prepared another one listing positions staffed by people from other communities but it is always about perception. The fact of the matter that percentages based on regions favour one section of Kenya.
This led to the birth of the notorious term, “Mount Kenya Mafia”, who were perceived to be in control of the affairs of the country. Kibaki then, and still projects a hands off approach that verges on lethargy. This very perception of apathy actively cultivated the notion that there were a few friends and associates of Kibaki that were actually running the country, and not him.
Burnt watchman’s booth
This is the source of the infamous sentiment “It is not Kibaki. Kibaki is a good man. Its those around him that are the problem”.
A sentiment,I’m afraid, that does not wash because you can delegate duties but not responsibilities.
Bitter complaints rose from cabinet ministers protesting being denied access to the president.
The fourth problem was the sheer arrogance with which some Cabinet ministers conducted themselves. Top of the list were ministers like Christopher Murungaru, Kiraitu Murungi, John Michuki whose pronouncements on and off the camera raised the ire of the public, especially during the ill fated referendum campaigns.
This house was broken into and completely looted
The fifth problem revolved around the corruption scandals that plagued the Kibaki administration, and what, it was perceived, was its subsequent cover up. Ministers who were forced out of office by the allegations somehow ended up back in their posts.
Chickens Come Home To Roost
These taken together sowed the seeds of perception last seen in the Kenyatta area … that of one community taking very good care of itself and its interests.
Like I’ve said before, perceptions are everything. And perceptions at the top, whether valid or not, eventually trickle down to the bottom. And unfortunately what trickled down to the bottom was the perception that some communities were more equal than others, and were benefiting at the expense of others.
This house had both its cars burnt
And perceptions trigger action. If you are from Central Kenya, especially if you are Kikuyu, you must have over the past couple of years experienced increasing discomfort at the sentiments coming from other people. What used to be tongue in cheek jokes about the “Mount Kenya Mafia” degenerated into snide comments about “You Kikuyus” and today, as we are unfortunately seeing, violence.
Being in such a situation leads to discomfort and ultimately to fear.
The nabobs, drunk with power and opulence were blissfully unaware of the ugly perceptions they had created and propagated. One thing this government has consistently been is totally out of touch with the situation at the grassroots. Every time they have failed to read the mood of the people, as referendum and parliamentary results have demonstrated.
This house’s tenants threw out mobiles and money to plead with the mob not to enter
I believe that the situation of what they had created sunk home in the last 2 months of the year. Even with the formidable state resources the crowds that they were able to draw were dwarfed by those of the ODM, that seems to be the party for the “rest of the people”.
The numerous polls conducted by various bodies, whose results were at first rubbished, consistently begun to paint the grim picture that finally got the attention of the players in power — they were nowhere near being as popular as they fondly believed they were.
The numbers from several polls by several companies consistently showed that the ODM would trounce them nationally as well as in all areas but Central and perhaps Eastern (that could have gone to Kalonzo).
It is then that the grim reality sank in that they were unlikely to win these elections, and real fear began to emerge. Suddenly two and two clicked together. Suddenly the rationale behind the snide comments, unflattering forwards and hostile receptions became clear. They had created a situation where they had completely polarized the country against them, and their communities were guilty by association.
Having created an ugly perception that they were the ones in power, how would the others react if they got that power? How would the monster they had created react?
Or could they have been afraid of the embarassment, the shame of being so unanimously rejected by the electorate? Were they scared silly of the thought of an incumbent president being ejected after a single term?
I believe that one, or both of the above were the basis of a decision that was taken towards the close of the year whose effects we are feeling today. What a few at the pinnacles of power have succeeded at creating is a situation where the poor man on the ground is guilty by association.
What Really Happened #2: Exodus will be posted as soon as I write it. PNU & ODM guys you can get my thoughts about exactly what happened these elections and why it happened.
AOB: If you can’t access my contact form email me your news/feelings/thoughts on roomthinker – at – yahoo – dot – com