An “Open Letter” to My Friends from Central and Rift Valley Provinces

At the end of the day, we are all Kenyans suffering collectively under the different capitalist ruling classes

At the end of the day, we are all Kenyans suffering collectively under the different capitalist ruling classes

Whether you are based in Kenya or Diaspora, we have been friends for a long time now and thanks for your friendship. During the last three elections, we have been in constant touch and the mutual exchanges have been very refreshing. Because of circumstances, I have been unable to reach all of you through the available communication channels. The issues at hand are so huge that it would take me ages to articulate them satisfactorily if I were to do so personally. It is in this context that I have resorted to this open letter.

The anticipated 2013 elections are over and, to be honest, the contest was cutthroat. Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu from Central province, has been sworn in as President while William Ruto, a Kalenjin from Rift Valley, is his Deputy. There are Kenyans who have vowed not to recognize these two leaders, arguing that elections were rigged while others have chosen to accept them as the legitimate leaders of the Republic of Kenya. This letter is not about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of Uhuru as the current occupier of State House with Ruto as his Deputy. It is about the exact position where the 2013 election has left the majority of the people of Kenya. Specifically, the letter is an interrogation of my friends from Central and Rift Valley provinces especially those who feel that they are now better off because Uhuru and Ruto were sworn in.

Following the announcement of results and the Supreme Court decision which upheld the election of Uhuru and Ruto, you went on a wild celebration. This was natural because your candidates were announced as winners regardless of the circumstances. If Raila Odinga had carried the day, it could have been natural for his supporters especially those in Nyanza, Western, Eastern and Coast provinces to celebrate wildly. You simply exercised your right to vote and there is nothing wrong with celebrating your percieved victory. This letter is aimed at those of you who think that because a Kikuyu and a Kalenjin are at the helm, Kikuyus and Kalenjins are better than other Kenyans. The 2013 election has obviously deepened the ethnic divide in Kenya but, as a Kenyan who simply voted, how will your political, economic or social well-being improve because one of you is in power after a highly contested election?

When Uhuru’s inauguration was being celebrated at State House, you were not there to be part of the “new eating” order. Just like millions of Kenyans, the price of Unga has not been reduced for the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin because your sons are in power. In the slums of Mathare, Kibera, Korogocho, Kariobangi and other filthy suburbs in Nairobi, you will, most likely, continue to be a permanent member alongside other Kenyans “who lost” the election. Although you are hysterical about the victory of your ethnic group, chances are that you will continue to suffer under the Jubilee government, just like other Kenyans. In fact, you have not even understood that you never won the election and that your vote was simply used by a new Kikuyu-Kalenjin ruling class to get to power. At the moment, you are basically alone, probably hustling for a living and this is the way it’s going to be in the next five years so what have you gained?

Although a close friend of mine, you are basically unemployed back in Kenya. Jubilee told you that jobs will be created for you but let us wait. The Standard newspaper reported a few weeks ago that the government had officially stopped hiring new staff because the monthly wage-bill of over Ksh 3.5 billion “was too much” so where will the government jobs come from? The truth is that if you do not try to help yourself, you will be more frustrated in the next five years as light at the end of the Jubilee tunnel becomes a real mirage. This is not to suggest that Cord could have done better and provided them jobs. We had two rival “ruling classes” competing for power and, if you can take my word, they were the same at the Manifesto level. The two classes belong to the rich class of wealth grabbers and in the 2013 election, the Jubilee wealth grabbers carried the day. Your status as an unemployed Kenyan will remain static until the next elections so what will you have gained during this period because Uhuru Kenyatta is President?

My Working class friend
As a worker in Kenya, you have been a very good friend of mine despite the fact that we belong to different ethnic groups. Here in Sweden, I am just like you, a worker. As a poor civil servant, or as an exploited private sector slave living from hand to mouth, you might actually be suffering more than me. At least, I can afford an air ticket for a holiday in Kenya. When did you last go for holiday even within Kenya, say Mombasa? Uhuru, your tribesman, is the president but honestly, how will Kikuyu workers benefit from a Kikuyu presidency? Kibaki has been president but workers have been in the streets almost weekly (including Kikuyu and Kalenjin workers) demanding higher wages. Have you forgotten?

If you are a teacher, I can predict, almost with certainty, that your Union will soon be threatening a strike action because the Jubilee government has refused to honour that old Moi-Kibaki agreement of a pay hike. If you are a Doctor or a Nurse from Kikuyuni or Baringo, there is zero chance that your wage will be increased as wages of colleagues from other ethnic groups are left to stagnate. It is most likely that you will soon find yourself demonstrating in the streets with Luos, Luyhas, Kambas, Kalenjins and other professional colleagues from other ethnic groups to demand better working conditions in hospitals so what exactly have you gained and why should you feel proud that “one of your own” is occupying State House? Despite your education, have you also allowed yourself to be led into the pool of collective stupidity by the dark forces of ethnicity?

As a student friend of mine, you have been making a lot of noise about the Kikuyu-Kalenjin victory. However, have you thought for a moment that sooner rather than later, you will no longer be a student as you join the army of unemployed Kenyans? If you ask members of the newly formed “Movement of Hustlers” (MOHA), they will tell you that they are fighting for the abolition of “experience” as a condition for employment. When they were in school, there was no subject called “experience”. As a student, you are heading for the job market and since it is official that the government will be closing down its labour offices, how will you gain because a Kikuyu or a Kalenjin is in power?

Back in Stockholm
Let me get back to my friends in the Diaspora. Your case is even worse because as a Kenyan citizen, and if you were not in Kenya during election, you did not even vote. Although you are a Kikuyu or a Kalenjin, the IEBC violated your Constitutional right to vote and effectively disenfranchised all of us regardless of your ethnic origin. We all paid the price of injustice and here you are, chest-thumping that as a Kikuyu or a Kalenjin, you are better than me because a Kikuyu is president and a Kalenjin is his deputy!

After elections, and after wasting a lot of time following the elections, the petition and spending a huge amount of money buying drinks “to celebrate”, you are back to wira at the wazee joint or doing the rounds at MacD. You are changing bed-sheets in hotels, doing 5,000 plates per day (kupika machapoz) or burning energy on the road, transporting goods up and down for a living. You clean at the Office or at the local school but after work, you get busy on the phone, yapping about a Kikuyu victory! Sometimes, you might be driving a taxi, a bus or the train to pay your bills but at the end of a hard day’s work in Stockholm, your mind-set is that the Jaluo has been defeated! You might even be unemployed or paperless in Stockholm yet you think that you are better off because Uhuru, an ICC suspect, is President. Is there any better word for this state of mind?

Uhuru will never pay your bills so you are no better than any struggling Kenyan in Stockholm. As you wrestle with huge loans every month and send money to save the lives of starving relatives in Kenya, the Kikuyu and Kalenjin ruling class you worship will continue to eat alone in Kenya. You are isolating yourself from your long-term friends because someone you have never met (and whom you will probably never meet) is sitting in State Hous? If Uhuru was your big brother, you could not be here in Stockholm or in Diaspora so grow up!

At the end of the day, we are all Kenyans suffering collectively under the different capitalist ruling classes whose main agenda is to grab wealth. My good friends from Central and Rift Valley, we have come a long way and the just concluded elections should be a source of soul searching and solution finding to our common problems as the people of Kenya. As the different ruling classes come and go, it is the people of Kenyan who continue to suffer under the illusion that the situation will get better because “one of us” is at State House. For how long will this backward thinking continue?

Okoth Osewe
To be Continued…  

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