In Summary
  • The situation in Kenya today is that we have been held hostage to a family feud dating back half a century ago.
  • If any change is going to come that will get this country’s politics on course, it will only happen once the political framework has been radically altered.

I attended a discussion hosted by the BBC at the University of Nairobi on Tuesday.

The key discussants were Nerima Waqo of Siasa Place, Joy Mdivo of the East Africa Centre for Law and Justice, Gladys Wanga of Nasa and Kipchumba Murkomen of Jubilee.

They are all generally intelligent and well-spoken people whom I have encountered personally at different forums in the past, apart from Ms Mdivo.

Hearing her analysis of the political situation was a breath of fresh air.


She outlined how the current crisis has been framed as a conflict between key political players (the National Super Alliance and Jubilee) and ethnic groups, when, in reality, the conflict is between the political elite and the masses.

The masses are the lot that lose every time the political elite fight.

They do not, however, see that they are the firewood that is thrown into the kiln.

Instead, they consider themselves “worthy” soldiers, fighting their communities’ causes. A cause whose cost is much higher than the payback.

The situation in Kenya today is that we have been held hostage to a family feud dating back half a century ago.

Because Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (I have a lot of respect for him. I was even once a national official in the party that he founded — Ford Kenya) and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta disagreed many years back, their sons feel entitled to pull the entire nation into their fights.

Certain sides may say that it is about democracy, and others will say it is about ensuring the country is ruled well, but all these mask the reality of the situation.

The current crisis exists because of a historical narrative that has been peddled over the years and is running the country down.

It does an injustice to the intelligence of the people of this nation to continually watch it play out year in, year out.

It does an extreme disservice to the people of this country to have to live according to its tenets, where it declares that certain ethnic groups are the enemy, because of things that were perceived to have happened in the past.

The BBC discussion, which focused on the current crisis, had each group taking positions that were unsurprising.


Ms Waqo and Ms Mdivo, the civil society folk, took the ground of sobriety; Ms Wanga and Mr Kipchumba, their party paths.

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