Why Moses Kuria Was Wrong On His Analysis Of Kikuyu Leadership

BY JOE MODIE

On Sunday evening, Gatundu South MP, Moses Kuria, made a post that is sure to be a hot talking point for the better part of this week.

In less than an hour, comments on the post had shot to over 2,000.
In his post, Kuria sought to explain why Mt Kenya region appears not to have a credible presidential candidate in next year’s polls.

In his words, region has become ‘an altar where many a political career are sacrificed’.

He gave the example of former Agriculture CS, Mwangi Kiunjuri, who, despite having shot into the political scene, 25 years ago, is going to fight for his old Laikipia East constituency seat.

Failed crop before harvest

He also gave the example of former Kikuyu MP Paul Muite, whose political career ‘withered like a failed crop before harvest’.

Elsewhere, he gave examples of Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu governor) and James Orengo (Siaya senator), whose political careers have continued to thrive over time.
Kuria attributed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s rise in politics to retired president Mwai Kibaki, who he said groomed the current president.

Basically, he is accusing Uhuru of failing to groom a successor from the region. On paper, Kuria’s argument is quite seductive and somewhat convincing, however, when you scratch beyond the surface, you will discover that is rather shallow and misleading.
Kuria, like most politicians, uses sophistry to good effect. Sophistry is the art of using clever but misleading arguments to drive a point home.

Now, let us unpack Kuria’s arguments, starting with Kibaki’s ‘grooming’ of Uhuru.

While it is somewhat true that Kibaki groomed Uhuru, the truth of the matter is that theirs was a symbiotic relationship, meaning that both parties benefitted. In 2002, as Daniel arap Moi was retiring, he appointed greenhorn Uhuru to succeed him, amid considerable opposition.

Uhuru; the younger man brought something on the table

The experienced Kibaki defeated Uhuru and became president and the younger man became leader of opposition, a role he played until 2007, when he ditched the opposition and threw his weight behind Kibaki. To win re-election, Kibaki required all Kikuyu’s behind him, thus it was a major boost for him when Uhuru backed him.

Contrary to Kuria’s argument, Kibaki’s was not an act of charity on Uhuru; the younger man brought something on the table, Kibaki could not resist. He had the whole of Kiambu solidly behind him.

Uhuru, on the other hand, was patient and remained loyal to Kibaki for the remainder of his term.

The Kikuyu community noted Uhuru’s sacrifice and loyalty and rewarded him with their support in 2013 and 2017. Now, let us look at Muite.

Let me explain

Up to 2002, Muite was quite an influential politician, not only in Kiambu and Mt Kenya, but countrywide. Whenever he spoke, people listened. However, his sense of importance got into his head and this eventually brought about his downfall. Let me explain.

Following Kibaki and Raila Odinga’s fallout in 2003, the later waged a bruising battle against Kibaki’s government, to a point where the president had to run to retired president Moi for backup. Kibaki was at his lowest and required all the help he would get.

He sought Muite’s help, but Muite put impossible demands on him. When Muite could not get what he wanted from Kibaki, he petulantly started fighting Kibaki’s government.
In his hubris, Muite forgot that the community was watching and taking notes. Come 2007, the people of Kabete got their chance to teach Muite a lesson.

The community needed Muite most

So embarrassing was Muite’s defeat in the hands of neophyte Lewis Nguyai that he retired from politics.
Kuria, more than anyone, else knows that when a community identifies a leader, that leader represents their aspirations; thus, while Kibaki was the president of Kenya, he belonged to the Gikuyu community.

His triumphs are their triumphs; his tribulations were their tribulations. When

Kibaki, and by extension, the community needed Muite most, he showed them the middle finger.

On the other hand, when Kibaki needed Uhuru most, Uhuru did not disappoint; he offered his support to Kibaki and the community and the community rewarded him appropriately.

Tomorrow: How Moses Kuria and other Mt Kenya Tangatanga leaders cannot be leaders of the community.

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