No apologies for associating with Maina Njenga

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NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

Since the aborted Limuru 2B meeting last month I get challenged by friends, allies, committed foes and even strangers in the street about my association with former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga. The two main questions are what do I have in common with him and why am I risking my profile associating with him, especially publicly.

The answer to the first question is actually quite simple. It starts at the GEMA meeting in March 2012 where Maina Njenga was denied an opportunity to address the gathering of political leaders despite being invited as one of them. This led him to the decision to step out from being perceived as anyone’s follower politically, and chart his own independent path. It led to my decision to invite him to Limuru 2B where we intended to condemn tribal politics and call for nationalism.

Maina Njenga and I therefore find ourselves in a common fight for democratic space in a region where a small clique of leaders have abrogated themselves the right to decide who the rest of us should vote into public offices.

This is a region where artistes can put a video song like ‘Mwaka Wa Hiti’ (year of the Hyena) on ‘Youtube’; a song that implies that national leaders competing against this clique’s preferred candidate are hyenas. The same candidate can launch a party on a weekend and within the week MPs from there are falling over themselves to associate with this new party; despite being members of the current president’s party (who is also from our region), and without even having read the manifesto of the new party!

Resisting this political irrationality being deliberately created across the Mt Kenya region is what has made Maina Njenga and I natural allies.

It has also driven me to be sympathetic to the challenges national leaders like Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth, Mutava Musyimi, George Saitoti and Paul Muite are facing within the region. Ironically this environment would also make people like us natural allies of Raila Odinga at national level especially if we are to borrow the ideology ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ from Sun Tzu’s book Art of War. Whatever the case Maina Njenga and I find ourselves in the kind of position where we either work together, or we will be hanged separately, one by one.

The second question about me risking my ‘public profile’ is slightly more complicated. First I believe that whatever profile I might have, has developed because I have consistently stood for something; i.e. independent thinking in a region being strategically manipulated into ‘herd mentality’ thinking by some selfish leaders.

My association with Njenga is consistent with my desire to enhance this independent thinking and increase democratic space in our regions. Finally am a Christian and the son/grandson of religious leaders; I do not believe that profiles are built deliberately;-at least I know I never went out to create one, so I will keep being consistent and not worry about maintaining what I have.

We also live in a country where suspects of crimes against humanity at an international court can run for president on the argument that one is innocent until proven guilty. It is ironical that those associating with the ICC suspects are the same ones portraying Maina Njenga as an ‘untouchable’.

But allow me to push even further.

Jomo Kenyatta was jailed for seven years by a legal government on suspicion of leadership of a proscribed group that had also committed grievous atrocities especially on its own community. He was called a leader unto darkness and death by the then head of state.

Political leaders especially those from Central Kenya where he also came from, disowned him publicly whenever they got a chance. He still ended up as the first President of Kenya. Similar association with a proscribed group did not stop Nelson Mandela or Jacob Zuma from changing and/or becoming presidents of South Africa.

I would also urge us to stop being hypocrites, especially those of us from Central Kenya. After the post election violence local Kikuyu folklore has it that were it not for ‘the boys’ the Kikuyu community would have been eradicated. This propaganda of needing to protect our own has been used to create a political platform for the regions status-quo preferred candidate and build fanatical following in the region. We cannot have our cake and eat it; either we admire all of them, or demonize all of them.

Finally, again starting with Central Kenya; we all admit that Maina Njenga has a dedicated following of literally thousands of young men and women, who are also our brothers and sisters; sons and daughters.

The late John Michuki tried using deadly force to eradicate them; they are still here and he is gone. It also quite clear that the police are unable to arrest all of them otherwise we would have truckloads being carted to prison. These young people are therefore with us to stay and, like with the MRC we must figure out what to do with them. A place to start is to deliberately rehabilitate them back into society.

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