By Macharia Gaitho
The images of camaraderie as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga shared a podium in Kisumu on Monday said a lot.
Though the two may come out as mortal political enemies, there is more that binds them together than pushes them apart.
President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga lead competing political outfits and trace a blood feud back to their parents in the earlier generation of Kenya’s founding fathers, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and pioneer opposition chief Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. However, they come from the same stock of Kenya’s moneyed political elite that has ruled and feuded since independence.
The President and his opposition rival know that at the end of the day they are birds of a feather, joined at the hip by the same interests common to the wenyenchi; the owners of capital and the political space who, when push comes to shove, will band together to ward off wananchi threats to elitist dominance.
Those pictures were not contrived. President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga displayed genuine warmth and mutual affection. They respect each other and know that anything that threatens the economic and political interests of the ruling classes is a threat to them both and their extensive family enterprises.
They will often publicly snipe at each other and encourage their noisy bands of supporters to unleash verbal broadsides and missiles, but when the decibels get too high both have been known to quietly call off their respective attack dogs.
That is the reality that should cause the motley band of fellows — from senior politicians and business figures down to garrulous youth activists, lumpenproletariat in the slums of Kibera or Kiandutu, and peasant farmers blindly following ethnic chieftains —to pause for thought. All should understand that they are no more than cannon fodder putting themselves at the service of causes they do not understand.
A few crumbs thrown their way in terms of jobs, political offices, and cash handouts will still never allow them to penetrate the curtains that separate royalty and the lower classes. Even an occasional seat at the high table as a key political ally is just temporary accommodation for political purposes. However, I can bet my last cent that few will make sense of that as we head to 2017.
President Kenyatta will retain the hordes of automatons who swear by him under the illusion of shared power and access to State largesse. Mr Odinga will retain the equally mindless fanatics who will support him through thick and thin under the delusion that if he becomes president, it will their long-denied turn to eat.
If they take time to study who owns Kenya, it might dawn on them that they simply do not fit into the equation. The ruling classes in Kenya eat together and dare not entertain interlopers who will upset the established pyramid of a feudal state where a very tiny group must lord it over hungry, clueless, desperate, ignorant masses.
Meanwhile, some recent ongoing politics must remind us once again that the Jubilee coalition is made up of Kanu’s children.
In Kisumu, Machakos, Kakamega, and elsewhere, groups of opposition governors and MPs are welcoming the Jubilee gravy train and betraying their sponsoring parties with the hackneyed song of “development politics”.
From the reign of Jomo Kenyatta to Daniel arap Moi, morally bankrupt politicians were paid to parrot that only by supporting the government of the day would development come to their areas.
And today we are seeing equally spineless politicians regurgitating those same old songs that elections are over, so it is time to put politics aside and concentrate on development.
Who said that development is a government favour? Are national budgets and development plans drawn up on cheap political considerations? And don’t they wonder why the regions most loyal to Kanu — most of the Rift Valley, including Baringo, the entire North Eastern region, and contiguous regions in the former Coast and Eastern province, the Ukambani and the upper eastern region — have historically been the most marginalised, neglected, under-developed, and denied their rightful share of resources?
Food for thought as our bankrupt politicians intent only on lining their own pockets roll out red carpets for the next arrival of the false gravy train.