For the sake of anyone reading this and is non-Kenyan, or let’s just say for the sake of my boyfriend who always read my blog posts, let me start by saying that I am a Kikuyu. Kikuyu is one of the 40 plus tribes in Kenya. Kikuyu is one of the largest, so when it comes to an election, it is fair to say that it is one of the tribes that have the tyranny of numbers.
Let me explain it a little bit more. Kikuyu people can be extremely self-righteous. For example, they believe they are the most hardworking people on the face of the earth. Well, I will give it to them that the Agikuyu has a certain amount of business acumen but that is not equal to being hardworking. We cannot all be business people or farmers, we need lawyers, doctors cleaners, etc. and that doesn’t mean that people working for the government or private corporations are lazy.
Also, something else about the Agikuyu’s self-righteousness is how they look down upon other people’s cultural practices and associate other tribes with witchcraft. For example, I have heard so many times that Luhya (a different tribe from western Kenya) will bewitch you by giving you chicken. Well, Luhyas just love chicken, I have eaten chicken from my Luhya friends and as you can tell, I am not writing this from a grave. My househelp is Luhya, she is the cleanest mamma I have ever seen, kind-hearted and so far she hasn’t bewitched me. Tells you how many lies go around about people.
Kikuyus have other peoples’ traditions on their lips ALWAYS but don’t dare question their own traditions and why they do things a certain way. For example, when people are getting married or as a part of the dowry process or a man being accepted as a “real man” among the Gikuyu, they slaughter goats with certain specifications and they are cooked in a certain way. The interesting thing about it is that the Kikuyu people shed the blood of these goats on the ground. Normally, Kikuyu people use animal blood to make mutura aka African sausage. I have tried to ask around why it is so important for them to shed that blood and so far, I have no answer, I will be back in case of anything.
Let’s not go to how “sacred” the whole dowry thing is among the Gikuyu, so much so that people get a spell or a curse that can lead to death if you get dowry from your daughters and you yourself didn’t pay dowry for your wife. When we talk about such things, we call such practices sacred but when other tribes do their own things in a different way from us, we call it witchcraft. That is a little intro about my Kikuyu people.
Cultural intolerance Role in Kenya’s Political Landscape
By now you are probably wondering where I am heading with all this. Well, let me tell you a little bit about our current government. It is run by a Kikuyu man called Uhuru Kenyatta. How Uhuru got into power is a mix of things that I will talk about bit by bit. Remember, I mentioned that the Kikuyu people have the tyranny of numbers? Well, Uhuru joined hands with a man called Ruto, from the Kalenjin community which is also pretty large, and that among other things is how he got two terms as a president.
Kenyans also like to say that they are not tribal and they come up with all sorts of phrases like “I am tribe all not tribal, we are one people and one nation but at the core of Kenya’s politics lay layers and layers of tribalism that needs just a little bit of shaking to erupt.”
Anyways back to how else Uhuru got into power. So, his main opponent all this time was a man called Raila Odinga. By the way, he is still running for the presidency and I will get to that later. Raila is from the Luo community, also a very large community in western Kenya.
Because Kikuyus already had been brainwashed from post-independence Kenya into thinking that people from other tribes practice witchcraft, politicians from central Kenya capitalized on this, and not once or twice did Uhuru and his allies call Raila a mganga to mean a witch, or a muguruki to mean a mad man. Basically, they cemented the lie that has been among the Gikuyu and they posed to be the “God sent,” leaders. Well, as far as I know, the only thing Uhuru did was a handshake with Raila to show they have reconciled and shortly after, endorsed him as a good presidential candidate, he never went back to the public to clear Raila’s name.
Religious manipulation, Hypocrisy, and politics
Before I touch on this, I am writing this from a point of growing up in church and seeing everything I write here happening not only in Kenya but across the globe. Well, I love gospel music, I love the church and how much the church is able to achieve across the world when we come together and set our eyes on the things that matter. I also admit that the church isn’t perfect but I have a major disconnect when it comes to church and politics.
Let me take you back to the USA in 2016-2020. When Donald J Trump was elected to be the president of the US. So many religious people rejoiced. I follow so many church leaders and gospel musicians from the USA on Instagram and I am telling you the celebration was real. Trump stood for a few things that would appease the religious tastebuds. He was strongly against abortion and gay marriages, two very fertile religious grounds to capitalize on.
While I respect personal choices on whether to support or not support something, it doesn’t make any sense to me to “fight for” an unborn child calling them vulnerable, and at the same time, spew hateful, racist comments on already born and grown people from the minority, there is a huge value gap. I am sure you remember in 2020 when covid 19 just broke out how badly the Asian people were bullied just because Trump called it the Chinese Virus.
In my opinion, the reason why Trump was embraced and celebrated by the church was his lip service to the church and a few laws written in the Bible. In fact, one of the guys I knew from Uni told me the difference between Trump and Barack Obama was that Obama couldn’t mention God publicly. Whether or not he mentioned God publicly, I can’t tell but my Bible tells me that “we shall know them by their fruit,” (Matthew 7:16-20.) How Barack loved everyone from the vulnerable to how many times he said something to spread hate tells me much about him. He wasn’t a president without fault just like all of us, but he had high regard for humanity which if I remember correctly Love is the greatest commandment not mentioning God’s name in campaign trails.
Back to Kenya
The specific time I remember thinking about religious manipulation was after the 2017 election when Uhuru Kenyatta got to the office the second time. During his campaigns, he and his allies as mentioned earlier labeled their opponent a witch, they were the self-proclaimed God sent, to save Kenya from every known and unknown misery. Many religious leaders endorsed them, and for receipt’s sake, he prayed publicly on the last day of their campaign just before the elections.
Kenyans, remind me please, I probably miss out on the news, or I could be biased. Other than that day, when else did Uhuru Kenyatta pray in public or even show in the smallest way that he cared about God leading him to lead this country. If anything, church leaders called him out for being openly biased about covid restrictions and the church, makes sense?
Around the time of the 2017 elections, there were innumerable prophecies about Kenya and who we as believers should vote for and the “dark age” and everything else churchy. However, that stopped shortly after Uhuru won. This second term especially has been characterized by sickening corruption and stealing of public funds, inflation, and generally tough economic times for the people of Kenya, yet these two “God sent” leaders did nothing but turn a blind eye and invest heavily in 2022 politics, changing the constitution and endorsing the next “God-sent leader,” who by the way five years ago was a witch.
I do not have any problem with prophecy or whatever it is, but I am deeply saddened by the “God” that only cares about who Kenyans elect. He doesn’t send prophets when Kenyans are going hungry from inflation, he doesn’t say a thing when the University fee is being tripled and he doesn’t care when we suffer for four years. He is away and distantly removed, he shows up in the fifth year to tell us who to elect, I really do have a problem with that “God.”
“Gender Equality” and Kenya’s Politics
Enough of Uhuru, Ruto, and the church, let me turn you to Raila. A man that has done so much for this country and he still wants to do “more.” So this man because of being labeled a “witch,” has received zero compassion when he really needed it. For example, when he lost his son, Fidel, instead of us looking at him as a father, we politicized him. Some politicians publicly said that he had “sacrificed” his son so he could win the elections. I don’t know how much he has gone through as a person, but politically this man has gone through a lot!
Anyways, Raila just chose Martha Karua to be his running mate, I would say a very brilliant political move and a very subtle way of brainwashing us. I am celebrating Martha Karua because she is not only a fellow woman but she is well able. She has held important offices before and run them well, so she is qualified and she is not getting a through pass because she is a woman, she is getting something that she well deserves.
Her appointment received a lot of public reaction and excitement. As a woman, I am looking at Karua as a person who will show girls that the world is theirs to conquer whether she wins or loses. As a person that has lived through a lot of political manipulation, I am constantly finding myself wondering whether Karua is just a political strategy or if she will be allowed to actively take part in the governance of this country if at all they will win.
I recently read a book called “Promise Me, Dad,” by the president of the United States Of America Joe Biden and from the little or much he exposed, being a vice or a deputy president can be “just a title.” No distinct role, no trust by your boss, and no nothing. That is my fear for Karua is she just a refrain in Raila’s campaign song, so that he can tell us “We are bridging gender inequality,” or is Karua really a part of Raila’s plan to steer this country forward?
Having said that, and clearly showing that I am not impressed by Kenya’s politics right now, I would want to remind my fellow Kenyans of a few things,
- This country is in deep shit and let no one lie to you that they have a grand plan to redeem us overnight. Whoever wins after 9th August is not a miracle worker, they will all need TIME to strategize and start working if they want to, on the evidently dilapidated economy, our social fabrics, and trust in the government.
- Do not let anyone manipulate you in the name of God or gender equality or tribal affiliation. I am a Kikuyu and I am paying the cost of everything else similarly to my Luhya friends yet for the last twenty years, we have had Kikuyu presidents.
- Do not fight your neighbor because of any politicians. They do not care about you; they do not know you. After August 9, your neighbor will still be your 911, all your emergency calls go to that neighbor, not to Raila, Uhuru, Ruto, Kalonzo you name them.