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Best ‘revolution’ is for Kenyans to reject old order for new blood

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By MUTUMA MATHIU
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This talk of a revolution in Kenya is silly, reckless, opportunistic and dangerous. It will likely be an uprising, not against the elite, but property, however you have acquired it.

It’s the ordinary, hardworking Kenyan who will pay the price, not the super-wealthy and powerful, who will simply relocate to their estates in Europe, Asia and America and direct events from safety.

My brother, if some fast-talking embassy guy tries to sell you the idea of violent uprising to bring democracy, equality, good looks, beautiful and all the things you require in your life, always remember Libya, Syria and Iraq.

‘Revolution’ has been uttered many times in the recent past: Tremblingly by the maggot elite, wondering whether this time they had gone too far in their eating. And with greedy hope by sections of the elite — and this includes political activists, who are, by definition, politicians and an integral part of the maggot elite — that are locked out of the pig trough and which have broken out in a thin sweat in anticipation.

But what is a revolution? If you ask me, I’d say a revolution is a violent, popular uprising against a social, economic or political order, which is deemed to be oppressive, exploitative and/or incompetent, resulting in its bloody overthrow. That is my own definition, and I’m not Sun Yat-sen.

The Greeks had a much more legalistic view: If a society changed from one constitution to another or if there were changes within the same constitution, then a revolution had taken place.

If you travel that route, then you would have to conclude that Kenya underwent a revolution in 2010. The impetus for that were the events of 2007 and 2008 that resulted in death, destruction and near-meltdown of the constitutional order. The problem with our revolution is that it did not result in personnel changes and did nothing to rearrange the social and economic order. The old political order changed somewhat but only served to entrench the economic and social dominance of the maggot elite.

Politicians, ‘tenderpreneurs’, technocrats and the securitariat have come together over the past six years to mismanage the economy, damage private business, consolidate economic and political power and loot public resources at an unprecedented level.

The Anglo Leasing scandal of 2004/5 involved Sh18 billion and engulfed the entire government, resulting in the sacking of ministers. The dams scandal alone, a mere ripple in the sea of Jubilee scandals, is Sh60 billion. And, so far, folks are sitting pretty.

Hope of political change in Kenya is almost zero. There are only about five people who can win a presidential election. A fresh face can only be elected if supported by the five, who will only support a candidate they’re 100 per cent sure will do nothing to upset the status quo or threaten their dominance of society, the economy and politics.

I hardly think that looting, corruption, political and social subjugation and exploitation would create revolutionary conditions in Kenya. The youth are angry and the poor are restless, but the elite’s ideology of domination keeps them in check and pacified.

In Kenya, tribalism is a force as potent as religion and the elite wield it with skill. Today, a politician in Nairobi is reported to have eaten Sh1 billion from public coffers. Back in the village, his kinsman, whose jobless children are smoking bhang and dying from cheap liquor, who can’t afford fertiliser for his crops and can’t find a market for his produce, whose future is a bleak wasteland of hopelessness, sits back, takes a deep puff from his home-made cigarette and says: “Ah, we are benefiting. Our people in the big city are eating.”

The political elite have the country by the throat: But we are to blame. We have allowed them. We have bought into tribalism, corruption and greed. There is an alternative to a revolution, but it’s hard and requires the strength to resist the seduction of tribalism. If we can find the strength and wisdom to elect leaders on the basis of their record of achievement in politics, rather than on their tribe, then we need not start ordering guillotines. We have to replace tribalism with good leadership — honesty, ability to deliver for and unite the people — as the driving force of our politics.

However, a revolution will come to Kenya when the middle classes are edged out of business by the elite, when small business owners are driven into poverty by big corporations owned by the wealthy barons and funded by stolen public wealth, when ordinary people start losing their land unfairly to the wealthy, when the police take sides with law breakers and justice is on sale to the most corrupt, when government makes policy without regard for its impact on livelihoods.

A revolution is made when the propertied are driven into such desperation that they make common cause with the lumpen against the elite.

An uprising by the lumpen on their own will likely end up as a struggle against property rather than the ruling class.

All this is unnecessary, however. Kenyans can still create a fair and effective political system as well as prosperity for the majority. We just need to reject the same old order, and elect fresh and better people.





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