It was all to be expected, in the wake of the August annulment of the Kenyan presidential election, that the incumbent son of the country’s first president, Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, was going to stand his grounds. It was quite obvious that short of any radical reforms, the results of that country’s Supreme Court-ordered rerun of the presidential aspect of the August poll was simply going to be a striking repeat of the earlier one. About the only way that Mr. Kenyatta’s main political opponent could have a fighting chance, would have been if Mr. Raila Odinga had appealed to such globally authoritative establishments as the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and, perhaps, the largely white-elephantine African Union (AU).
Then a national conference on democratic culture could have been held to ensure that radically progressive reform measures had been put into place. And then all the stakeholders in Kenya’s political culture could have been credibly assured of the proverbial level playing field. I really particularly do not care about either of the two key players in Kenyan politics, because both Messrs. Kenyatta and Odinga are the privileged children of that country’s first postcolonial generation of politicians. Mr. Odinga’s father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, was Kenya’s first Vice-President; whereas Mr. Kenyatta’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, was Kenya’s first President until his death sometime in the late 1970s.
There is therefore underneath their conflict, a patently unsavory sense of entitlement. I would rather have a non-establishment candidate or heir step up to the plate, in American baseball parlance. Now that we have seen the African military play a somewhat positive interventionist role in Zimbabwe, it is fervently hoped that any politicians on the continent who may be unwisely entertaining dictatorial and constitution-rigging tendencies may be studiously taking or might have already taken a cue from the recent dramatic events in Harare.
My interest in Kenyan politics is purely one of principles, for as a major national player on the African continent, and in particular as a major influence in East Africa, any political developments that occur in Kenya has a ripple effect in the entire East African sub-region. And except for Tanzania, the general political narrative of the East African sub-region has not been any particularly encouraging. Indeed, as Botswana’s President Ian Khama had occasion to let it publicly be known to Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe about a year prior to the latter’s forced exit from power, elected postcolonial African leaders cannot atavistically morph themselves into monarchical throwbacks of the feudal and/or medieval era. In the Republican era, leadership is clearly defined by both tenure or temporal limits and accountability. The dynastic era of divine kingship is decidedly a relic of the past.
In our time, the monarchs are clearly those corporate executives and proprietors who have been using their often ill-gotten wealth to control our power brokers or movers and shakers from behind the scenes. In his protest against poll-rigging in Kenya, Raila Odinga mentions such corporate giants as Safaricom and Airtel as only two examples of the hi-tech industry who have staunchly been collaborating with President Uhuru Kenyatta to enable the latter entrench himself in the seat of governance (See “Bid to Annul Kenya Election” BBC.com / Ghanaweb.com 11/6/17).
Targeting these communications technology firms or their local subsidiaries with massive boycotts is highly unlikely to succeed, with a dearth of competition among these hi-tech establishments on a continent with the least availability of hi-tech industries and market-oriented competitiveness. Of course, this bleak state of affairs is fast changing. The fight for a sea change of reforms must be equally envisaged both in terms of economics and culture or citizenship, an immutable political necessity.
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