Last week Moses Kuria wrote a piece titled ‘Who Will Replace Michuki, Karume.’ He spoke of how intriguing it is to listen to some of the narratives coming from Central Kenya; a region that I also agree is in a state of a shock following the death of these two wazees. Moses took the position that the region feels rudderless and confused. He concluded with the view that the most fitting tribute that Central Kenya can pay to Michuki and Karume is to focus seriously on developing a new progressive, intellectually competent and broad minded leadership.
Moses Kuria and I very rarely agree on anything that relates to the political direction of the Kikuyu community; however on this one I completely agree with his sentiments. The deaths of Michuki and Karume have exposed the (very soft) underbelly of the Central Kenya political leadership. Our strength as a political region is based on a leadership capacity that is threatened by natural attrition; with no effective transition processes for the next generation.
During Hon Karume’s funeral the retired President Moi got caught up in this discussion and, I’m sure based on best intentions, offered his advice on what the Kikuyu community and Central Kenya region should do. He advised the region to unite under Uhuru Kenyatta. The former president most probably took his cue from the late Michuki, whose funeral he had attended a few days earlier and who had publicly stated, on more than one occasion, his personal preference that Uhuru should take over as Kikuyu leader after Kibaki.
As for Moi’s advice. As a retired Head of State Moi understands clearly what an international judicial process means. He has also been quoted advising Kenyans to take matters pertaining to the ICC seriously, because they are bound to have a tremendous effect on the careers of anyone adversely affected by it. It is therefore ironical that despite all this he would advise Kikuyus to unite behind an individual who has been indicted by the same court for the greatest crimes in the world, especially when the court has ruled that there is substantial evidence to commit Uhuru Kenyatta to a full trial.
However let us even look outside the ICC indictments; Is Uhuru Kenyatta the leadership the Kikuyu community deserves, at a time such as this? Are his politics good for where the Kenya of this generation, needs to go?
I agree with those who speak about Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership capacity. In my opinion Uhuru is one of a very small handful of politicians in Kenya today with the capacity, pedigree and platform to take Kenya forward to the next economic and socio-political level. As the son of Kenya’s founding President and one of Kenya’s wealthiest individuals, he even has a name identified with the formation of the Kenyan nation-state. Uhuru is a national brand that is recognized all over, locally and internationally. He can literally walk into any kiosk in any part of Kenya, and be recognized.
Uhuru Kenyatta’s social and educational background, as well as economic activities and formative political life, are also defined outside his Kikuyu identity. He is a wealthy businessman with investments in every part of Kenya, (one of the companies he is associated with even sponsors Gor Mahia!). This is a guy whose money can be defined as ‘international’ based on reports that he has investments in Europe and America.
Uhuru’s political debut in national politics was his outstanding performance as presidential contender against Kibaki, at the relatively young age of 42, in 2002. This is also when he made the impressive statement conceding defeat for the sake of unity in Kenya. In his entire campaign towards that 2002 general election he sold himself as a Kenyan leader, and in return he received support across the entire country to become number 2.
Uhuru Kenyatta is the epitome of what being ‘Kenyan’ is or should be, in this generation. He belongs to our generation; a generation that has not lived under the tribal identities; that has gone to school, done business, socialized and disagreed, within and across ethnic identities. He is a real part of the ‘i’ generation; (iPhone; iPad; etc).
Unfortunately, despite the opportunity he has had to comfortably build a successful political career as a Kenyan; Uhuru has decided to practice the politics of the older generation. Whereas he could easily use his immense capacity and brand as a young Kenyan (despite being 52) to unite Kenyans and rally them to national causes, he has chosen to use these resources to support a socio-political strategy that if successful, would ultimately divide the entire country into ethnic bastions.
This is why I believe Uhuru is not the leader I am looking for, whether as a Mugikuyu, or as a Kenyan; not unless he changes his entire political brand. Kenya really cannot afford another generation of divisive tribal politics. ‘Hiyo ni siasa mzee’ & we need Siasa Mpya.