One of the results of my articles is that Kikuyus and non-Kikuyus alike are always trying to pigeonhole my political leanings. On the negative side I have what I call ‘dedicated haters’: a group made up of individuals associated with Central Kenya’s status quo politics of rallying my Agikuyu community around the ‘Uhuru-For-President’ banner. This group is convinced that I am on payroll by Uhuru’s rivals to wreck their agenda.
On the positive side I have attracted a considerable following among the independent-minded Kenyan across the tribal and social spectrum. These are the individuals who believe that we must break the political monopoly that most of our current politicians are desperately taking us back into as they prepare for 2012. They are therefore convinced that I am on the right path for calling for credible alternatives to compete for our votes in the various regions.
What has stuck out however is how both groups believe that I must be an ODM supporter. It seems that to some, local wisdom dictates that you cannot fight against status quo politics, especially the Central Kenya version, unless you are running an ODM agenda.
The truth however is a lot less exciting. I am not a member of ODM, and I will share my reasons why I have not joined this party, in the context of my home region.
My first reason is unmitigated fears. Right at the top of my list of concerns is the whole idea of the ’41 vs 1′ political campaign that ODM is perceived to have run in 2007, which directly and indirectly led to the 2007-08 Post Election Violence (PEV). Then there are the recent public appointments where the party seems to have a problem with any qualified candidate as long as they are Kikuyu.
These and other concerns are unconfirmed indications that an ODM government might not wish us well. I hope that ODM sees the need to engage us on these fears soon otherwise we will have to accept that we should genuinely be afraid of an ODM-led government.
My other concern is based on my expectations. I just cannot seem to see an ODM agenda for Central Kenya. This is interesting because when one watches ODM in action in any of the other seven provincial regions of Kenya one hears about their policies on equitable resource distribution, justice, representation of the weak and historically disenfranchised, etc. However, and I am again ready to be corrected, ODM somehow seems to have no such policies for Central Kenya.
The impression I get is that ODM expects support from the region as a form of gratitude because Raila said ‘Kibaki Tosha’, or maybe as prove that we are not tribalists! Unfortunately this will not work because we are more interested in the future and ODM’s challenge is to show us a future that is better than what we have now.
What the party might also be interested in learning is that my interactions with opinion leaders in the region indicate that my views above represent a wide majority from the region. I should also advise them not to be fooled by the hype that is political rallies: anyone with resources can mobilise a crowd of even 100,000 in a country with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
One hundred thousand people in a room, even assuming they were all voters, is actually less than two percent of the entire five Million voters in Central Kenya! As of right now all these votes are in our pockets, and they will go to the party and candidate that best meets our fears, and surpasses our expectations. This they can take to the bank.
This is the new politics that comes with the new constitution. We, as the voters, are now in charge. Apart from the few lost souls who will vote with their surname, i.e. along tribal lines: and the other few who will vote with their stomachs, i.e. for the person who gives them the most money: majority of Kenyans will vote with their heads, i.e for whoever offers the best solutions to their life needs. This is the silent majority that know their vote is their negotiating currency for better services from their government.
We are the voters whose votes do not belong to any tribal king, warlord or charlatan: and who will not vote based on fear, or gratitude. We will vote as the holders of Kenya’s sovereign power as per Chapter 1 of our constitution. Incidentally the points above, with a slight twist as regards context, can be applied against PNU in Nyanza: or UDM in most regions in the country. Parties like Narc-Kenya, Safina, etc seem to have a head-start in this new kind of politics, and hopefully ODM-K will catch up. After 2007 we now know that each party to invest in reducing our fears, and then share their policies, everywhere.
Whatever the case all parties and candidates should be informed that our votes will go to whoever draws us the best and most positive picture of how Kenya would look like under their government, whatever their tribal, class, or religious background: whatever their age or gender.
This is ‘Siasa Mpya’ and we, the Kenyan voters, are in charge. (You can join in the Siasa Mpya Campaign by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org)