Monday, 27 April 2009

Different voices on challenging the Kikuyu Oligarchy

Despite Mwai Kibaki's stated commitment to operate a meritocracy with regard to the diversity of Kenya, his appointments to the most sensitive and crucial offices have been biased towards members of a Kikuyu oligarchy, write Maina Kiai and Paul Muite.

Calling for their fellow Kikuyus to abandon 'blind ethnic loyalty to decisions made by some wealthy old men' who have 'nothing but disdain for the majority of Kikuyu, who are poor and struggling', Kiai and Muite reject the elevation of ethnicity 'beyond all other identities and interests' in favour of a national outlook and perspective. 'For us, it does not matter what ethnic group the leadership comes from: We expect and demand a government which has the interests of the nation at heart, which is fair, honest, effective, accountable and transparent. And we expect the government to follow the law, especially with regard to human life, and fundamental rights'.

Consider the following. It is during the time of a Kikuyu president, with a Kikuyu minister for internal security, a Kikuyu intelligence chief, a Kikuyu head of CID (Criminal investigation department), a Kikuyu PS in internal security, when there are extra-judicial killings of poor young Kikuyu men, claimed to be Mungiki. More than 600 cases are documented of these deaths in 2006, and hundreds more disappeared. For the sake of argument, lets assume they were Mungiki, despite the fact human rights defenders are sure that more than two-thirds of them were not. There are laws that govern these matters. Why were they not used? Killing poor young Kikuyu men, illegally, does not solve the problem of Mungiki. It shows utter contempt for the poor. It shows us that although we are expected to 'speak with one voice'; the Kikuyu community is certainly not one. There is the powerful, old class and there is the 'other' Kikuyu.

Quotes from Challenging the Kikuyu Oligarchy by Maina Kiai and Paul Muite.

Maina Kiai,Paul Muite, and John Githongo (who is not mentioned in the article), are seen as traitors by some Kikuyus.

I wonder why there is an expectation from some Kikuyus that they should all speak with one voice.

I feel that the violence towards Kikuyus after the rigged elections, was because some people believed all Kikuyus spoke with one voice, and took it upon themselves to harm them, which is wrong.This was a tragedy. The culprits were sitting in their ivory towers untouched, while other innocent Kikuyus were butchered.

Joe Ndungu in his post Maina Kiai, Paul Muite autophobia extreme, on his Kikuyu nationalism blog takes things further by stating Maina Kiai, Paul Muite and Binyanvanga are Kikuyus who suffer from self hatred.

Joe Ndungu acknowledges that Kibaki and co, may have failed in some areas.


However,I struggle with his view that Kikuyus who challenge the Kibaki style of government, corruption, theft etc have self hatred.I cannot see the link at all. As far as I am concerned John Githongo, Maina Kiai and Binyanvanga, are Kenyans first.

They are serving their country, and because they will not collude with the Mt Kenya Mafia that amounts to self hatred?

He also adds that these individuals are out to destroy the community.

What I am unsure of is what is Joe Ndungu's definition of the Kikuyu community, and would all Kikuyus, accept his definition?

I am not sure about his comment, that these men loathe everything Kikuyu. I have met some of these men, and have no recollection of them hating all things Kikuyu.

To draw a parallel if you are a parent, and you find out that your child has raped, or murdered someone, would you turn them in?

It is a tough call, and we are programmed to protect our families. However some parents will turn their children in, and others will not.

The big family is Kenya in this instance, and in my view these men are out to protect the family, ie Kenya first. If one child chooses to take all they can get at the expense of the others, some other members of the family will step in and challenge that behaviour. By challenging the behaviour, and trying to see that each child is accepted and valued does not mean that as a parent, you are trying to destroy the child who had attempted to take everything. You are modelling that things should be shared within the family, if you are to live in harmony.

My view is that constructive criticism is healthy,and expected, in all relationships.

Clearly if we are living under a dictatorship, then that is not going to happen.

I shudder at the thought of living in a society where individuals challenging leaders from their own tribe is seen as unacceptable.

No freedom of speech or justice.

I appreciate that Joe Ndungu may be experiencing hurt,anger and rejection by the positions that Binyanvanga, Paul Muite, and Maina Kiai have taken. My sense from his blog post, is that Kikuyus should not behave in this manner.

I question his need to be a part of a community where it is not acceptable to challenge your leaders who try to destroy our country,if they come from your own tribe.

However I accept that this may be his idea of Kikuyu nationalism.

Related article: This is not about Uhuru, its about a contemptuos Kikuyu Kingdom


hadassah said...

Why dont you just challenge the Kikuyu leaders directly? Why isolate and demonize a whole community? Is that correct to you?
Moreover, ethnocentrism and a sense of entitlement is not confined to the Kikuyu. It is well spread out among Kenya's different tribes. This is common knowledge. It is unclear WHY they picked on the Kikuyu.

Kiai and Muite should drop their dishonesty and instead hit the road and persuade those Kikuyus they are critiqueing that theirs is a view worth considering. Short of that, its all just hot air and attention-seeking.

Anonymous said...

"I question his need to be a part of a community where it is not acceptable to challenge your leaders who try to destroy our country,if they come from your own tribe."

Actually, I think he makes a completely different point thus: Why isolate and demonize a whole community? Why not just confront the leadership directly.

There are GREAT dangers to isolating and demonizing any community, and we saw that with elections 07 into PEV 08.

Moreover the lack of sincerity is well illustrated in the fact that the ills for which Muite and Kiai demonize the Kikuyu are ills ( eg sense of entitlement) that are abundantly found in other tribes in Kenya, including especially the Jaluo. It is not confined to the Kikuyu and there is no real reason why the burden should fall solely on the Kikuyu.

If these two men are to be taken seriously (i.e. beyond hot-air and attention-seeking); if they are truly concerned with solving problems, they need to hit the road and sell their view to people out there.

KenyaLuv said...

My problem is why some Kenyans think Kikuyu's are the cause of all the problems in Kenya? But its nothing new, Jews are also blamed for all sorts of things. When Kalenjins filled government to the brim no one wanted to kill why Kyuks all of a sudden? Some Kenyans feel Kikuyus are wealthy(or at least perceived to be) through some mythical advantage they got in the past. Kikuyu-haters can't swallow that most Kikuyus got what they have through sheer hard work so they are trying to bring Kikuyus down(through genocide etc) The thing is Kikuyus wont go down easy, because their house is not built on sand(corruption) but entrepreneurship and hard work, thats why even Moi tried to finish them but they got back up.

Tamtam said...


No I do not believe it is correct to isolate and demonize a whole community. However, I don't think Kiai, Muite or Binyanvanga are doing this do you?


I am for confronting the leadership directly ,too.Why should innocent Kikuyu suffer for what the leadership are doing.


I hear you. Well the Kenyans who believe that Kikuyus are the cause of all problems need a reality check. That is a denial of responsibility.

I think that what caused most of the POV violence in 2007, was a perception that the whole Kikuyu community were to blame, for what happened. This view is mad, and dangerous as you know.

'G' said...

The gist of the argument in my opinion can be summarized into two major points:

1. That there exists a number of Kikuyus who actually loathe themselves:

Joe clearly demonstrated this aptly. Indeed there exists a class of Kikuyus who loathe the fact that they were born Kikuyu. They actively engage in talk that suggests that Kikuyus are thieves,land grabbers and the greediest people in Kenya. Am surprised you castigate him for this statement. Njonjo once said “I feel ashamed to have been born Kikuyu”. Many black people in America for a long time actually believed that black people were stupid and prone to criminal behaviour. Thus the phenomenon of self hatred is not knew but, as the author argues, unique to certain (not all) members of the Kikuyu community.Contrasted to other communities, Only Kikuyu leaders or persons in high position have spoken ill of the communities.

Now can you show me a single Kalenjin,Luo,Luhya or Kamba leader who has PUBLICLY condemned his own community? Even worse has any ODM leader come out clearly to apologise to the members of the Kikuyu community who lost loved ones,property and livelihoods?

Joe has aptly shown that the words of Muite,Kiai and Githongo clearly condemn Kikuyus and exhibit a sense of ethnic guilt.
I quote
“……But this attitude is not just the prerogative of powerful politicians, it has also affected the middle class and ordinary Kikuyu.There is a dangerous sense of victimhood and entitlement. The feeling of victimhood is now deeply entrenched in the community, and understandably so, given the colonial emergency, the clashes in the ‘90s, and the post-election violence in the Rift Valley, but it is coupled with a sense of entitlement and superiority over other communities, expressed in attitudes that the Kikuyu are somehow superior; that they work harder than other Kenyans; that they have more financial and entrepreneurial sense than others; and able to govern better than others.

It is also expressed in derogatory assumptions and stereotypes about other communities………………..”

The above statements read in the entirety of the article have the implicit meaning of Kikuys having a superiority complex yet nothing is further from the truth.

2. The Failure of Leadership in Central Kenya
I believe there is no need to belabor this point. Joe ties this with the first point very well stating clearly

“Yes, I agree with your Opinion that the older generation of Kikuyu leadership has failed.Failed to deal with poverty that is destroying us.Even worse is that they failed to protect the defenseless in the Rift Valley and in IDP camps , but the solution Mr Kiai is not to side with those our leaders have failed to protect us from by promoting their propaganda and agenda.

We can move on as younger Kikuyus without having to bow down to these forces or their stale ideas.”
With this statement he not only goes to the heart of the matter but also provides a solution.

Indeed I suspect your misreading of his article leads to your mistaken conclusions.I tell you Peter ODM propaganda machine is as efficient as that of Goebbels and has convinced other communities that the problem of Kenya is Kikuyus. Thus the thrust of Joe’s argument is that the statements of Kiai and his ilk only serve to oil this machine.

Let me finish by saying the saddest thing is that if Muite and Kiai lived in Eldoret in Jan 2008, their property would have been burnt and they would have been killed regardless of their “hallowed exhortations” to fellow Kikuyus

Tamtam said...


I do not deny that there are some Kikuyus in Kenya who are internally opressed.

What I do not believe, is that Kiai,Muite, and Binyanvanga are in this category.

Internalised oppression is something that I am familiar with, and something that I encounter in my workplace, on a daily basis. It is also something that I am trained to assess.

During the election, and immediately after the election, there were some Luo MPs who had issues with their community.That information was in the public domain. I cannot remember the names at the moment,but remember reading about them.

I believe that there are people in every community,who do not support their leaders. The press has just not focused on this, and I believe the Kikuyu in this instance feel this is a problem unique to their community. Yes, it has been amplified, by the press, and we are not being told about other communities.

My understanding is that during the violence in 2007, most ODM leaders condemned the violence.

You are entitled to your opinion, however I can only point out how I interpreted Joe's blog post. We will all have different perspectives on this issue.

To give you an example, you could go to a movie with your mates, and at the end, have different takes on the plot.

Maybe it is a case of each individual argument, supports each individual's position.

G, who is Peter, I have lost you there?

Am I supposed to know?

Tamtam said...

All four responses have come from the same IP address. I would have posted your comments had you posted as the same person, you need not have gone to so much trouble.

Anonymous said...

By the way if there is one guy I have always admired is Maina Kiai. Heis very open minded and fair and I think we need more people like him in Kenya from all communities to get rid of the sensless hatred amongst ethnic groups. Paul Muite is intelligent but tends to say the right thing when it suits him. I really think time has come for Kikuyus to ask themselves why they can only trust a Kikuyu presidency.What harm has the ordinary Kikuyu done so that they can only feel safe under a Kikuyu presidency. Nothing! it is a misplaced fear.

Anonymous said...

TamTam, We all know the dangers of demonizing an entire family, just 'cause they have a black sheep in their midst. It is the same thing with Kiai-Muite talking a whole lot of smack, getting people riled up, and KNOWING VERY WELL they will be on a plane to another country when the isht hits the fan. Besides, no amount of self-esteem (here called sense of entitlement) can justify the killing of a person, just because they are from a certain community. They were clearly not taught how to be responsible men, those ones.

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