Ethnic politics is an unavoidable fact of Kenyan political life.
Until that stops being a fact I think one of the best things for democracy in the country are internal critiques of the leadership that happen within the ethnic group. I could go on a long rant about that but my view of the importance of internal critiques is informed by Mahmood Mamdani’s very astute observation that because the nature of colonial rule was ethnic, the nature of anti-colonial revolt was also ethnic based and that set the stage for current ethnic politics. (i’ll do another post on this one of these days)
anyway, from Seasons and Reasons I became aware of this incredible song by Kikuyu singer John De Mathew titled uguo niguo kuri.
From what I could gidge it sounds like its a critique of the Kikuyu elite from the perspective of the Kikuyu peasantry. Its an amazing indictment of the Kikuyu elite! And even more incredible that it came even before the elections and not as a reaction to them!! As the singer says, his is not a song, its a prophesy.
At this time of crisis it is easy to think of kiuks as one unified group with no internal friction but they really are not. There are stark class differences that come out in this song.
Some of the verses that sent my spine tingling included:
-That those kiuks who swore an oath to fight for independence were duped because look at who were those left ‘eating’? Not those who fought.
Also scary is the allusion to Michuki and how those who sold out Kimathi are cursed.
He makes the point that all J.M. was fighting for was to allocate land to poor peasants.
And that had Mboya not been murdered Luos and Kiuks would have no annimosity between each other.
unfortunately, the comments about the video on youtube reflect the disappointing reality of how Kenyans deal with ethnicity.
Question is, are there any Kikuyu leaders who have a progressive message for Kikuyus preaching an end to arrogance?
by the way, I hate that myth that Kikuyus are more hardworking than anyone else. It really fails to recognize the real and material ways that, since the colonial days, Kikuyus have had access to more and better opportunities. As a country we need to focus on making sure that all Kenyans have access to the same opportunities. Only then can the myth of one community being more hardworking and others being lazy be busted.