Its been said that Kenyan politics has the tendency of bringing out the worst in people.
Take any rational being, put them into the Kenyan political arena, and they quickly transform into warlords, thieves, demagogues, nihilists and even rapists.
Last weekend’s weird happenings in Meru, involving cabinet minister, Kiraitu Murungi and the Meru Council of Elders exemplifies the downward trend of a person previously respected as a national democrat. The fact that he had to beg and bribe his way into the Njuuri Ncheke, even after they had explicitly rejected him makes it more pathetic. In the end, his gift of a bull and two goats won him admission into the rather bizarre meeting.
Not too far from where Kiraitu was sweltering in the hot sun at the edges of the Njuuri Ncheke, another group of Meru politicians were declaring the formation of a Meru political party. Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria led several Members of Parliament in announcing that they wanted to shift political attention from Central province to elsewhere in the country. Perhaps, they want Meru to be the new pivot point for Kenyan leadership
For those who may not know, Kiraitu is (was) an internationally respected human rights lawyer. During his time in the opposition, fighting for multipartyism, Kiraitu was considered a possible Attorney General for Kenya. Kilemi Mwiria is a PhD holder who used to lecture in one of the public universities.
The question is: if search learned personalities are shamelessly retreating into the politics of ethnicity, then what should be expected from the common man or woman?
The list continues. Former champion of democracy, Martha Karua is launching her presidential campaign website a full five years before the next scheduled presidential election. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Kenyans displaced during post election violence are rummaging garbage dumps in a desperate search for food. Karua is busy fighting for the NARC-Kenya party, perhaps in the vain belief that she single-handedly secured President Kibaki’s position during the Koffi Annan peace talks.
Anyang’ Nyong’o sacrificed his ideals when he bullyied his way into the Kisumu Rural parliamentary seat last year. He lost the party nominations but was rammed through by his party’s top command. As though that wasn’t enough, some controversial statements he made regarding ethnic relations in Kenya have cast doubts on his political principles. As a cabinet Minister, his appointments of senior officers has been questioned.
Of course, there are those who will say that Kiraitu, Mwiria, Karua and Nyong’o do not possess the monopoly of political debauchery in the country. True enough, but these are the people that Kenyans idealized as the epitome of democracy, fairness and nationalism. If they have failed, what hope do Kenyans have?
There are politicians who have all along been bad people. They have incited violence, plundered state corporations and filled government positions with unqualified cronies. That does not excuse them but such people have, at least, maintained a certain amount of consistency through the years. That is just the way they are.
But for the democrats of yesteryears to take the same plunge is really pitiable. We used to call people like Kiraitu and Karua the “Young Turks,” who would take Kenya to paradise after removing former President Daniel arap Moi. Well, they have become worse than the people they used to fight against. From the look of things, Kenyans are likely to witness further decline in the quality of our politics.
Its been rumored that Karua may be planning to join Prime Minister Raila Odinga, in a move similar to William Ruto’s rebellion against Daniel arap Moi last year. Its difficult to say whether her people – the Kikuyu – will move with her. Recent history is still fresh in the minds of many.