My fingers are crossed that the talks have really not fallen apart. I can’t even wrap my brain around what PNU is trying to pull off. What exactly is going on within the ‘party’? I would give anything to be a fly on the wall in their meetings. Who are the powerholders within the organization?
As Kalonzo’s ODM-Kenya threatens to fall apart I must admit i’ve been impressed by ODM’s ability to hang together. I confess I didn’t think they would last this long especially in the face of the ongoing crisis. Perhaps, just perhaps, for Kenya’s sake, we have a political party that is not just a ‘matatu’ for various political interests. Hopefully they are the beginning of a political culture of effective Political Parties in Kenya.
While PNU never, and ODM-K now offers me no hope, I continue to wrestle with my relationship to ODM. On one hand they are making amazing contributions to democracy in the country. PNU needs strong opponents and to be challenged on their crap. They have shown remarkable resolve in standing up to PNU oligarchs, have built a truly impressive national machinery, and provided Kenyans with a much needed space to articulate the need for true democracy.
But on the other hand ODM is seriously undercutting the future of democracy in the country. My frustrations with them are in not working hard enough to avoid targeting one ethnic group. In my view ODM has been too comfortable framing the issues plaguing the country as those of ethnicity and not those of class.
I really appreciated the way in which this author articulated the problem of ethnic politics as they are playing out in Kenya. He writes,
“This may not come out very clearly in the talks mediated by Mr Kofi Annan, but it is obvious that one of the most sensitive issues on the table will, in effect, be how to ensure that one group never again comes to dominate the political and economic landscape by dint of its wealth, numbers and geographical spread.
This in any multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nation is a legitimate quest. But the way in which it is being couched raises questions. This is because the debate is not about addressing inequalities or injustices, but simply about cutting a community down to size, as my friend William ole Ntimama unabashedly put it”.
The whole article is a fascinating read as indeed, all Kenyan ethnic groups are ‘originally’ from somewhere else.
Why then, can’t we articulate a Kenyan identity that is not based on ‘ancestral land’ but rather on justice and fairness by targeting those who clearly have gotten land illegally allocated to them. Kenya will be a better country the day we figure out how to wage a class politics instead of an ethnic politics. oh the day!