Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Majimboism & Tribal Clashes

Hot Issues of the 2007 Elections in Kenya: Majimboism is a Time Bomb!:

Though they will not publicly accept it, almost all the political parties in Kenya are made up of powerful tribal leaders who command immense despotic powers in the areas of their origin. Indeed the genesis of ODM was an open tribal meeting between Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin elders representing Raila Odinga , Musalia Mudavadi and William Ruto who agreed to cooperate in order to snatch political power from the people from Mount Kenya region. The idea of Majimboism is popularized by the notion that it will encourage the distribution of the national cake more equitably throughout the country, as opposed to the perception that the present day government financially benefits a small Mount Kenya group of tycoons close to Mwai Kibaki, more than it benefits the people outside the Central Province.

When thinking of economic benefits that can come out of Majimboism, as it is preached by the ODM, many Kenyans support the policy; but when they think of tribal clashes that could possibly originate from the same policy, they don’t want to touch it with a barge pole. The success or failure of Majimboism as a policy in Kenya will depend entirely on the manner in which its two conflicting interpretations are delivered to the people. So far all sorts of propaganda are spread by both camps and the powerful Catholic Church has openly decided to condemn it.
Those words were written last October by Joe Kadhi a veteran Kenyan journalist and Professor at USIU in Nairobi. Yesterday he added these words
The country is torn between ODM and PNU followers ready to die for their political parties without caring much about the fact that none of the two are more than personal properties of Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki.
It is interesting to investigate the link, if any, between the Majimboism (Federalism) debate, with the associated rhetoric of resources being taken from non-GEMA communities to the center, and the clashes that erupted after the voting. Many people, and entire communities, feel that the getting into Statehouse gives communities exclusive, or at least, priority access to the feeding trough -- where they literally take food from the mouths of poor Kenyans -- including from their own communities. This opinion has been reinforced in the blogosphere this week when many Kenyans from various communities have asked "when will it be our time to eat."

Now I am a firm believer in devolution, in fact, I am a believer in Federalism. I think that government services should be performed by government that is close to the people and the central government should only take those responsibilities that are best handled at a macro level, for instance, defense and foreign affairs. I will even go so far as to say that I am somewhat enamored by the American concept of enumerated powers where functions that are not expressly ceded to the Federal Government should be performed by state governments.

That said no government should ever infringe on fundamental rights of citizens (and non-citizens too). We all have a right to live, work and own property anywhere in the Republic. In the event that a local or regional government (or thugs wielding bows and arrows made in South Korea) ever attempts to deny these civil rights to any citizen or group of citizens then I believe that everybody else (Center and other states) should do everything within their legal power to put an immediate end to that action. This to me is more fundamental, more important than any devolution or Majimboism.

So when I hear myself think and say that I will never live or own property outside of Nairobi or my own ethnic homeland, I feel sorry for our country and think of what we have lost.


At Monday, January 21, 2008 at 12:55:00 PM EST, Blogger Ben Mkamba said...

I have read your blog with great interest.
I believe that the issue of majimboism has been greatly misinterpreted both by those propagating it and those against.
Devolution of power and the bringing of Government closer to the people indeed is a most admirable and desirable goal. This is what federalism is. It does NOT mean that only those resident of certain areas can own property or conduct business in that area. The constitution and the protection it affords all to travel live and work in any part of the country is and should remain paramount. However the use of tax and other local resources should be put in the hands of the local leadership who are more closely attuned to their own unique needs.


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