Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kenyatta Kenyatta and misunderstanding of Freedom or uhuru in Kiswahili, which is the president's first name

Fathers and sons, sons and fathers 

One day I was outside a shop in Kiambu. An old man called me. As I went close to him he took a step inside the back of the door of the shop. I kept a safe distance. I could hear him. He talked carefully, I listened. I had been driving a political process quite successfully. I thought that the old man was going to give me some tips.

I remember this man’s grayish and torn coat. He had a stick. He wore akala rubber sandals which I love and also wear.  He told me, “Daughter, you will come to hear this. Moi is going to support the son of Jomo Kenyatta for the presidency. He has acted like a man should, Moi has, he has chosen our son."  

I was utterly shocked. I told him not so. I told him that was not possible. I will always remember he was like my first radio news that day. He told me it would be so. He told me this was freedom as understood by Kenyatta when he named his son Uhuru. He told me Moi was a afraid of dead Kenyatta.  He switched off. He told me not to quote his lips which had spoken. He told me to read the mood of the people, not books. 

Moi was leaving office in 2002. The constitution did not allow him to defend his seat. He had been in power for 24 years. This act by Moi transported his succession into the realm of myth.


But Moi had been quite averse the Agikuyu in word and deed. It is documented. Kenyatta Wa Muigai did not manage to make the people see him  as a true father of all the ethnic nations within the nation? How did this come to be? With time the reason for Moi's strange decision came to be narrowed into a small legend, created to make meaning. It was Kenyatta’s wish that this son named Uhuru for freedom, the son of Ngina and Kenyatta would rule. It was a promise he had made, the people said and he was scared not to fulfill it. We are caught in myths which make community will the will of the gods. We need independent thinkers, the world, our world has changed.

There is Jomo Kenyatta wa Muigai the man, and Kenyatta the myth. Jomo Kenyatta is called the father of the nation in Kenya. He played a role. He is closedly associated with the coming of independence to Kenya but there are those who point out that he was not the strongest of fighters. Kimaathi and others were. It is written he was a betrayer who knew how to take advantage of the fighters by hobnobbing with the British whom he abused verbally but settled practically. He also freely called our parents who also fought for freedom names. They often had to switch off the radio when Jomo Kenyatta spoke dirty words.

Jomo Kenyatta made mistakes. Still he was the first president of Kenya and he named his son Uhuru in 1961 and with great intent. This does not mean we could not have had a more competent president. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga stepped aside for him to become the First Prime Minister. After that Kenyatta proceeded to become the President of the Republic of Kenya. I often complain that he lies in the maoseleum when others -especially old men- believed he never could have died.  Certainly  clear to me is that his life did not mean that his progeny will always be in politics. It is a matter of simple wisdom.

Presidential ambitions

In the world, many people have wanted to be presidents and they never became presidents. They have contested and lost. Others were favoured for the presidency but they did not become presidents. Some like the 'Bushes' seemed to inherit the presidency but all presidents have had children, most of whom never became presidents. It is not a necessary thing in anyone’s life. It is something that happens and works for some when they work for it. There are many people who would have made great presidents but did not become presidents or even politicians for many reasons.

Uhuru Kenyatta should help Kenya come to terms with a difficult time by trading his ambition for the Kenyan presidency in exchange for a stronger nation. He is a good businessman. He has been charged by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Things are not the same. The 2010 Constitution of Kenya, Chapter 6; requires moral integrity of leaders. He and William Ruto and two more are charged. But these two continue to behave like twins promising each other support. They together push to rule Kenya. They have been to their home districts together telling the people that it is Raila Odinga who is causing their woes. 

It is a time  for silence Uhuru and Ruto. Maybe one day, Kenya  will accept you as  presidents. For now, many say you, Uhuru, should resign as Prime Minister. Uhuru has many businesses and immense wealth to protect. He makes the profile of former not future African president. For sure he will live to enjoy his immense wealth and do more business.  

Moi talked these young men into believing that only smart rich males could lead Kenya. Moi made no secret that the others fell short of Uhuru. He was his best.

Today, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto should stop mixing up issues of justice and the ICC with their presidential ambitions. If they love Kenya, they should stop polarising the people, mobilising them against Raila Odinga. It is time to act more responsibly now. The Hague is not about Odinga. It is about people who were killed, raped and maimed. People who became homeless due to organised violence. It is about evidence. It is about money. Their campaign is about employing dirty machinery to keep power and protect wealth. Whereas Uhuru Kenyatta was Moi's choice, William Ruto was not and is trying for the first time for the presidency. I address Uhuru. 

Dear Uhuru Kenyatta,

In those days, headlines read that your star was rising and rising. Many people heard you and loved you. You had not actually done a sterling job with the ministry of Local Government to which Moi appointed you. You were riding on history in the minds of those who would not be critical. Your task should have been to heal the rifts Moi caused and not widen them, for to be the father of a nation does not exonerate one from error but burdens with responsibility.

I remember that on past radio talk shows you easily got support from all corners of Kenya. You looked like good currency. You looked Jomo. This went on for sometime. I remember that when Wariara the wife of Njenga Karume died you and Kibaki and Moi were at her funeral in Kiambu. There were many other people. 

I remember since you were just in front of me that the old men saw you as your father, Jomo. I remember and still hear some of them call you, “Baba!”  (Father!) and you turned back and shook the hands of many poor old men. Fathers and sons. They felt blessed. They turned to one another and said, Nota Jomo! He is just Jomo. Jomo Kenyatta wa Muigai. I too thought that was smart. You were so down to earth.

 Were you yourself? Before that it always seemed to me that you were not the one who wanted to be a politician. It seemed that- in 2001 when Moi brought you for a walk to Kiambu after the Democratic Party had lost local council seats to Kanu- it was his plans he was fulfilling. And Kenyans called you a project. I want to hasten to say, it is time to be yourself.

It is time for real personal analysis. Look, upon Moi still lies responsibility for how Kenya stands today. He nursed your friend Ruto out of poverty to political ‘success’. Even if Ruto severed his links while he lasted with Raila, he had to acknowledge that Moi made him who he is. You too were one of the dolphins that Moi was training. With you were Kalonzo, Mudavadi, Ruto and Sunkuli. Moi’s son was counted too. Sons and fathers.  

You got to believe that like your father you had to become the president of Kenya. Kibaki and the council of elders tells you the same. Many young men believed in you in Central province. Groups of youth, young men followed you. But some groups start as babies, become monsters and they eat themselves and their children. Who can define Mungiki?

In all this there is a complete misunderstanding of freedom. A denial of Uhuru or freedom. You do not have to be Kenya’s president now. Perhaps you might with years to come. It is as simple as that. If you love this country and if you want to lead it better than your father did, it is better that for now or forever, you lend it your name in rebuilding its broken down moral fiber. 

Do not hold on to Deputy Prime Minister. You have much work to do. You need to build your moral credibility. If you still want to be the president of Kenya some day, the thing to do now is to move from this desire. The tide has turned against you. It is not true that you will win by insisting. You will need to submit your whole self to the process of justice at the Hague. You have been charged with crimes against humanity. If you are not guilty, you will be released. You can then talk to Kenyans again and continue building the nation at any level.  

Read these same messages from different people. Step out of political hubris. Maybe if you understand freedom or Uhuru to be the good of us all in Kenya and beyond you will do a great service with the shredded moral credentials that you have now.

It will take humility. It will take wisdom. It will take true love for our nation that you stop jeorpadising Kenya’s future and even resign as Deputy Prime Minister and start again.

With hope that you will open your eyes and see.

P. Ikonya

Writer in exile
Philo Ikonya is a human rights activist

 This Bread of Peace, poems

 and Leading the Night, a novel

1 comment:

Duncan Nyongesa. said...

Will he hear,the son of Jomo?The country will not move on if he does not become president,this is his birth-right!stiff-naked is the word that describes them all.

2017, Kenya post- election deadlock is old; who did not see it coming did not want to, and the child is dead

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