Mt Kenya voters should beware of political ‘Jacobs’ out to sell their birthright
By Muthoni Ngunjiri
With the 2022 general election fast approaching, presidential contenders are training their eyes on Mt Kenya region, hoping to lay hold of its massive votes.
The vote-rich region has turned into a theater of war for outsiders seeking the presidency as well as for local leaders who want to take over from President Uhuru Kenyatta as the region’s kingpin.
Since Uhuru is expected to exit active political arena after his second term, the region appears to be unsettled with no obvious heir.
The impending exit has created a perfect opportunity for politicians to flock to the area in a bid to try and win all or part of over five million votes. According to the 2017 IEBC register, there are over five million registered voters across the 10 Mount Kenya counties; namely Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Embu, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Meru and Tharaka Nithi, as well as Nakuru.
But amid the canvassing, the Mt Kenya leadership must safeguard the region’ votes or history will judge them harshly. They must not sell cheap. They must not be like Biblical Esau, who sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for just lentil stew.
The present day Esaus have something Jacobs want; Jacobs are desperate, they don’t care about your core interests now or in future; all they want is to use you to get what is not theirs. They buy your future comfort with the temporary comfort they give to you. Jacobs are opportunists, they use your temporary uncomfortable state or condition to trick you to get your future position or put you in a state of regret later in life.
The Esaus of Mt Kenya region understand little about their birthright, and risk treating their political traditions and their political supremacy with contempt, giving up their voice for a bowl of food, or selling their votes too cheaply for empty promises and make-believe short term gains.
Such people do not have much appreciation for the long term but maintain an immediate focus on pleasure and today’s bread and butter issues. They are, therefore, easily robbed of their birthright and political power.
A case in point is when MP Rigathi Gachagua flocked Tanga Tanga cronies from Mt Kenya at his home in Mathira. His only agenda was to draft irreducible minimums to be presented to their Master, Deputy President William Ruto.
In their memorandum, they questioned how they stood to benefit after they deliver the Mt Kenya vote to ‘Hustler’. They even had the audacity to demand that Rigathi be crowned as Ruto’s running mate.
Gachagua is a former junior administrator in the Kanu era who “secured” two ward by-election “victories” in opposition Central Kenya in the Kanu days. He is an expert when it comes to such make-believe political games.
Politicians should not meet in hotels, or their well landscaped mansions or elsewhere then claim to make political decisions for 10 million Kenyans from Mount Kenya. The region has an estimated five million voters and no single person can claim to give away those votes in a hotel meeting.
In addition, some rogue journalists cum bloggers or ‘washenzi’ as Uhuru referred to them, have, due to hunger and temporary satisfaction, sold their conscience, integrity and dignity for peanuts, to some of these political Jacobs.
They have no idea that there is power in both spoken and written words. For a few pennies, they engage in character assassination through their slandering reports.
During the Madaraka Day celebrations in Kisumu early this month, there were stories making rounds on social media platforms of how President Uhuru has abandoned Mt Kenya region and is channeling billions of development money to other regions. These are outrageous lies, cheap propaganda drafted by the Tanga Tanga political ‘Jacobs’ who are very good in political trickery and handlings.
Among them is Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, an ardent Ruto supporter who is on record claiming that Jubilee administration had neglected the Mt Kenya region in matters development.
Another Jacob, though in a woman’s body, is Gathoni wa Muchomba. Her recent defection to Ruto’s camp has nothing to do with benefits for the Kiambu people she represents. It has everything to do with oiling her 2022 election machine. The millions she netted after the buyout can tell her story better.
Wa Muchomba, who is also grappling with a hostile ground over her past political mistakes, is cautious she might not be elected again and is looking for a soft landing should Ruto succeed Uhuru.
However, Uhuru’s development agenda for Mt Kenya region is double-checked. He has achieved much in the infrastructure sector through mega roads and railway projects while massive reforms are happening in the tea, coffee, milk, maize, pyrethrum, dairy, horticulture, miraa and sugar sectors. But the Jacobs of our time - just like the one of old - give you sugar-coated pepper munchies.
Once you bite off the surface, you will encounter the bitterness but by that time, the swindler has vanished after causing severe damage.
Mt Kenya political leaders must thus unite and showcase unity of purpose as they restore the river back to its course.
The competition in the region to inherit leadership from Uhuru only fuels dangerous political division, and they should be very careful not to plunge the region into the miasma of the so-called “elusive unity”.
The story of Esau and Jacob is rich with meaning, and offers a good reminder that political rivalry is not just between superpowers or nations, but is sometimes much closer home that we sometimes care to admit.
Ms Ngunjiri is an economist and political analyst. [email protected].