Explaining “Class Politics” to Sikwekwe Without Sounding Academic
Sikwekwe: Nice to see that the ethnic hardliners are sticking to their guns. Even a ethnic breakdown of the cabinet has been made available, courtesy of one Jared Odero (surprised?). What tribalists, all their observations have to have an ethnic hue. Shame!
KSB: I might be accused of holding brief for Jared here but let me have my say. If you are living in a racist society, analyzing racism in all its forms does not make you a racist. What Kenyans have at the moment when it comes to politico-socio-cultural manifestations is ethnicity. The other side of the coin that has not found effective expression in society but which also exists with ethnicity side by side is class differentiation. Apart from belonging to an ethnic group, every Kenyan also belongs to a specific class. The class perspective is more advanced than the ethnic perspective because of the known element of ideology in say class politics or a class-based interpretation of society.
For example, if you are a Luo and I am a Kikuyu, our ethnic origin would be of little significance if we both recognize ourselves as say, workers, peasants, students, unemployed or even the thieving ruling class. Uhuru and Ruto belong to different ethnic groups but they are working together for mutual benefit because they are all members of the thieving wealthy class aka mavulture class. Uhuru has cheated millions of gullible Kikuyus that his Presidency will benefit them when the reality is that as I write, millions of Kikuyus will continue to rot in the slums with other ethnic groups living on “hell on earth”. Ruto has done the same and many Kales are very proud that their man is the Deputy president even if they continue to skuma mkokoteni in Eldoret with fellow jaluos and kikuyus.
Jared has used ethnicity to differentiate members of the Cabinet line up and he did come up with different ethnic groups appointed to the Cabinet. It is obvious that the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin are more represented in the Cabinet. Why? If we now decide to use “class” to try and differentiate members of the Cabinet, we end up with only one class – the “ruling class” with the heap of Wakenya (from the 42 tribes) comprising the “exploited classes”.
The reason why ethnicity continues to feature prominently in the analysis is because the alternative of “Class analysis” is missing in action because classes are not represented in national politics. Ethic groups are. The working class is mainly represented at the Union level. If the Unions were to vie for power, they will have to set up a Workers Party because Union regulations does not allow Unions to vie for power. The reason why the Unions in Kenya cannot set up a Party is because their leaders do not know anything about “Working class politics” at the electoral level. They only understand working class politics at the “strike level” to demand for higher wages. Working class politics could put workers on the road to power with the possibility of the rich class being overthrown by workers’ power! KRA knows exactly how workers can seize power and run society in the interest of Wakenya but this could be taken up another day.
We have ethnic political parties and as long as “class parties” remain missing in action (Workers Party for example), the commentary and analysis will continue to be instructed by ethnicity especially in public discourse. These dimensions must be explained over and over again otherwise Kenyans will continue to be stuck with ethnicity, thinking that life begins and ends with Wajaluo na Wakikuyu. This explanation is what we call “political education” and it should be the responsibility of all Kenyans who understand this dimension to explain it to our people. Sorry for this long lecture but I do hope that it increases your understanding without sounding academic. Regards.