Embracing diversities

YES, Uhuru Kenyatta may have won Kenya’s elections but certainly he has a daunting task lying ahead of him.

The incoming government must devise strategies, as a matter of urgency, to move the country out of the current political doldrums and focus on achieving socio-economic development for the benefit of all Kenyans.

After such a bruising campaign and election whose voting pattern was supremely influenced by ethnicity, the incumbent president has a huge responsibility of unifying the country by working together with the opposition.

Unfortunately, Kenya’s election was not based on meritocracy. Instead, it was premised on two centres of political power that were ethnically influenced by the ‘big five’ tribes which have for a long time determined who gets elected into political power, it be parliamentary, civic or presidential level.

We observe that during the just ended elections, majority of Luos supported opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga, the Kambas were behind Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula was backed by Luhya whereas the Kalenjins rallied behind Deputy President William Ruto and the Kikuyus backed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.

What is more worrisome is that even political alliances were made along ethnic lines. On one hand, the alliance of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto was backed by the Kikuyus and the Kalenjins. On the other hand, the opposition NASA was no different. It was a union of tribes led by Raila Odinga (a Luo from Western Kenya), Moses Wetangula (a Luhya from Western Kenya) and Kalonzo Musyoka from the Kamba tribe.

This is not what democracy should be about.

Ideally, democracy should be about ideology and public policy options offered by the various competing political parties but sadly this is far from reality. Much more so, democracy demands that everyone should take part in governance regardless of one’s affiliation.

Unfortunately, this quest for power in many African countries is not based on any ideological merit but the sheer determination that one’s tribe should be at the helm of the reins of power with the sole purpose to control national resources.

This kind of politics does not only promote corruption and large scale graft as the group in power directs resources to its ethnic group to ensure political survival but also breeds ethnic divisions. This is exactly the dilemma that the incoming government faces.

For instance, the opposition leaders raised various concerns among which was corruption in the electoral process, and it is just in order that President Kenyatta and his government address the scourge head on to lessen political tension in Kenya.

Much as this may not be so easy a task to deal with considering that President Kenyatta may be trying to consolidate his political power, thereby appointing his tribes men to key government positions, it is vital that decisive action is taken to address it.

However, not addressing corruption for fear of losing political support from his ethnic group and others who supported him during the elections risks stagnating the country’s development agenda. Now that elections campaigns and elections are over, the country needs to move forward.

It is imperative that government must ensure that the interest of the Luo, Kikuyu, Kalenjin and Luhya who together make up 60 percent of the total population are taken into account through executive action.

Going by the ethnic divisions gripping Kenya’s political sphere, President Kenyatta must break this trend and rise above this polarised political atmosphere if Kenya is to achieve national development.

Embracing ethnic diversity may not be neat and democratic but clearly a compromise that promotes inclusive is the solution to Kenya’s political challenges.


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