BY KIBISU KABATESI
National cohesion and integration ought not to be just words on the political platform. It needs leaders’ deliberate and consciousness commitment and resolute actions.
Amalgamating a people into a national consciousness requires promoting the value-based system on meritocracy, gender, ethnic and regional balance enshrined in the Constitution. Public perception is important; it qualifies leadership actions.
A conquering army, an occupation force, can do all the nice things of providing services, but it remains alien if all those who provide it are foreign. People like to see their likeliness in others; the familiar wins the day. It is the reason colonialists were fought despite their nice ‘civilising’ services of religion and education. This is why I have been hinting to the Jubilee leadership that they must not pay lip service to providing ‘services to all people’.
The invocation will remain hollow unless it is followed through to create a sense of belonging through participation by all corners of the country. Every so often, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are fond of saying their government is committed to promoting integration.
I even liked it when Ruto told off his kinsmen that government jobs and contracts are not there for only the Kalenjin and Kikuyu to share; that there are other Kenyans, too, whom they must serve.
I am convinced Ruto was drawing inspiration from the Constitution he swore to defend and uphold as a bulwark against incessant demands from his constituents. But that was all.
Negative perception continues to dodge public appointments. Inherently, the partners continue to hog prime appointments in favour of their constituents whether they qualify or not. Their twin slogans of I believe (for Uhuru’s TNA) and Kusema na Kutenda (for Ruto’s URP) must be seen, not just heard to convince the sceptics of Jubilee commitment to integration.
And sceptics are legion. The lack of kutenda fuels fear and distance from likely allies desirous of co-operation. That is why Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma was heckled at a Cord rally ostensibly for being at the airport to welcome Ruto to Kisumu. Ranguma was doing what protocol demands; the DP was passing through and it is only decent, nay, respectful that the county CEO be at hand to say karibu. Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero was berated too for his tea and lunch sessions with Uhuru.
Governor Alfred Mutua of Machakos was also not spared the poisonous venom. It did not escape recalling that both Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga are the fast in queue when it benefits them to hug Uhuru. You get the bile swelling that the Cord couple is jealous of their minions and covet the pie for themselves. But in the convoluted nature of deceit in Raila, he allows hecklers do his bidding on Ranguma only to turn round to say he encourages co-operation between county and national governments.
Such are the loopholes – the disconnect between kusema na kutenda – in integration created by Jubilee and exploited by destructors. Scepticism even takes on ridiculous hues.
Apparently, fear of association, the idea of being seen in the company of ‘the enemy’, governs actions of would-be associates. Last week, I was witness to the comedy of Vihiga Governor Moses Akaranga choosing to absent himself and Senator George Khaniri feigning ill-health to skip the homecoming of their friend and kinsman MP for Vihiga Yusuf Chanzu.
Whatever their reasoning, it did not escape my instinct that fear of being seen to associate with the chief guest Ruto occupied them more than the courtesy of paying homage to a colleague. The irony is Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, who is making a bid for an ODM top seat, was brave enough to attend! Chanzu, for all his homilies in attending both Akaranga and Khaniri’s extended homecomings, was victim to inferiority complex, snubbed by the two out of fear their associates in Cord would be offended.
Ridiculously, this is happening in a region where Cord wave is fading fast. The gravitas to fear association is not in the best interests of the ‘government of the day’. For as long as Jubilee seeks acceptance, it must shift gear from the inert fluency of kusema to the more practical kutenda to reconcile and keep faith with various constituencies.