A key event last week was a meeting convened by certain GEMA leaders. This meeting was held in Kiambu County, under the umbrella of the GEMA Cultural Association (GCA); an association that usually misrepresents itself as being the socio-political home of the entire Gikuyu, Embu and Meru communities.
What was quite clear from even before the meeting started was that it was meant to result in certain pre-agreed upon declarations. It was therefore well choreographed and saw such amazing statements as an assistant minister calling the ICC a slaughterhouse.
Even protocol was sacrificed and the Deputy Prime Minister spoke before other Cabinet Ministers and ordinary MPs; while the MC did not see the irony in telling my good friend Maina Njenga that protocol dictated that he (Maina) would only speak after Assistant Ministers and MPs had spoken!
Due to my past experiences with this group I had taken the step of penning a caution, not to do what they always do; advice that was unfortunately ignored. This means that despite GEMA Cultural Association and/or Mt Kenya Foundation having the right to make any declarations on behalf of their members, they again ended up misrepresenting their decisions as being the decisions of an entire group of communities.
The result; a lot of us from these communities who have no idea what these guys were up to have been forced into public debate on the decisions reached in that meeting, that they were not involved in.
For example, we are being forced to debate the decision to endorse Uhuru Kenyatta as the group’s leader because though expected, it is clearly an attempt by this group to undermine the democratic right of an entire community to choose a leader of their choice.
There is also the issue of leaders like Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, Mutava Musyimi and Paul Muite, who are GEMA members and presidential candidates, who have to keep clarifying that they are not part of that declaration and their presidential campaigns are still on track.
There is also the discussions on how/why we would want to raise money to support an individual’s personal legal fees, especially when such individual is arguably the richest man in the entire group of GEMA communities; rather than raise and use such monies to re-settle poor GEMA IDPs, help the hundreds of thousands of GEMA youth and women suffering from poverty, fight against the scourge of illicit alcohol affecting the GEMA boy-child, and/or establish solutions to the GEMA youth bulge (which easily supports the establishment of criminal gangs).
Meru political leaders like Gitobu Imanyara, Mithika Linturi, Nthoitha M’Mithiaru and Mburi Muiru have had to take to public podiums to denounce the declarations and I am sure Embu leaders like Joseph Nyagah are suffering in silence.
On social media GEMA technocrats, media owners, business people, professionals and especially young people spent the last weekend debating on exactly who the people at Limuru were speaking for. Personally, I have had to explain to friends how despite being actively involved in raising 1.4 signatures nationally in support of the ICC process, I would now want to raise 2 million GEMA signatures to postpone the same process!
What is quite clear is that the declarations in Limuru are a mischievous attempt by a small group of leaders to manipulate an entire set of communities. Even Maina Njenga has had to tell them that communities are not bicycles meant to carry individuals to particular destinations!
However the politicization of this Limuru meeting’s declarations especially by members of other communities (and the media) requires a response, for the sake of Kenya’s peace and inter-ethnic cohesion.
I am therefore suggesting another ‘GEMA’ meeting; convened by mainly younger leaders like Ken Njiru, George Thuranira, Alice Nganga, Paul Mwithaga, Evelyne Kimathi, Wanjira Maathai and/or Maina Njenga, etc. This meeting should also be convened at Limuru, as ‘Limuru 3’.
I envision a ‘Limuru 3’ that will start by discussing the issues mentioned above, that plague ordinary GEMA members; i.e. poverty, unemployed youth, historical land injustices, etc. However I also see a special emphasis on the role that members of the GEMA communities can play/will play in the ongoing reforms of the Kenyan nation state, especially during the implementation of the new constitution, fight against impunity and inter-ethnic cohesion. Limuru 3 would also include young leaders from other communities, invited as observers (so that they can go and do something similar in their communities).
I am also certain that any declarations from such a ‘Limuru 3’ would reduce, rather than increase, national inter-ethnic tension. This is because they would be declarations that clearly show other Kenyans that this generation of leaders from GEMA communities understand that GEMA interests are best fulfilled in the pursuit of Kenya’s interests.
If you would like to participate in such a process please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am even happy to contribute to make it happen.