By now, if you live anywhere in Kenya, you have a sneaking suspicion about who’s going to win the presidential election.
Now, having said that, it’s time for some of us to get our heads out of the sand.
Yeah, I’m specifically addressing those of you that are supporting Peter Kenneth for President. I know you mean well, and the man is photogenic and he makes sense when he’s talking about the issues blah blah blah.
|"Yeah, and I'm more handsome than Kalonzo, no?"|
But only one of two men will become president after this election.
Raila Odinga or Uhuru Kenyatta.
|"I'm totally dyeing my hair black!"|
|"My fellow Kenyans... this feels damn good!"|
Anyone voting for any of the other candidates please note that I’ve kind of ignored you. Don’t bother waking up on March 4. It will not help. Seriously.
Unless you’re going to vote for Mwalimu Abdouba Dida. That would be a serious vote against the status quo if there ever was one. It would also be good for shits and giggles.
Peter Kenneth comes across as a sober, articulate candidate with a decent grasp on the issues. He carries no tribal baggage, which is kind of refreshing in a political scene in which candidates for whatever position are first judged on account of what tribe they belong to.
He has acquitted himself quite well in his performance as MP for Gatanga for the last decade, and I’m pretty sure that as Assistant Minister over the same period, he’s done a pretty stand up job too.
When Barack Obama, a first term US Senator from Illinois announced his bid for the White House, it made for a nice, feel good story. But no one really believed that this young blood with a “… dude, that’s a weird name...” could actually go beyond the Democratic primaries.
But a number of factors served to propel his campaign, chief among them being that after two terms of being led by George W. Bush, his failed economic policies and his cowboy approach to the small matter of the war in Iraq, America was ready for change.
Also, John McCain was an old man and America was afraid he might die in office and be succeeded by Sarah Palin!
Oh, and if you’ve just woken up from a coma, Obama did become President of The United States.
But can Peter Kenneth pull an Obama in Kenya?
You see, the political situation in this country right now is not ripe for what his candidature stands for. I think his biggest problem is the perceived success of President Kibaki’s presidency. This president took over when Kenya’s economy was in a shambles, and in ten years he has been able to turn that around. And while many Kenyans are yet to realize the full potential of the fruits of our economy, we’re generally in a better place than we’ve been in a long while.
We have more money in our pockets, we have been able to access credit to start small jua kali businesses, we are laying the ground for better infrastructure, etc. We’re in a good place and even though we’re not quite where we feel we should be, we’re definitely on our way there. Kibaki has seen to that.
So, are we really looking for someone to come and save us from… something?
What people actually want is someone who will not rock the boat. Not that Kenneth will do that. Far from it. But the hard truth is that he is an untested quantity nationally, and right now voters will go for a familiar face. Someone who promises to top what Kibaki has done. And more importantly, someone who has played on the national stage.
That person is not Peter Kenneth. Not in this election.
While it’s a good thing that Kenyans are focusing a lot more on the issues this year than in previous elections, the voting patterns are more likely to be informed by ethnic considerations. That is a cold, hard fact.
And that is why we’re looking very closely at the IEBC numbers on registered voters to predict how people are likely to vote. And in a race that includes two of the biggest ethnic chiefs, Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, Peter Kenneth does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this election.
But can he actually ascend to the highest office in the land at some point?
Well, when hell freezes over and…
Heheh, just kidding!
Seriously though, I think that whoever wins this election will make a bid to defend his presidency in five years time. That could prove to be another bruising battle. Kenneth might not stand a chance in that election either, unless the incumbent is an idiot and finds a way to really screw up at his job!
But in ten years time? Absolutely!
Kenya might be a different country, with a different political landscape. Tribal arithmetic will still be important, for sure, but we’ll have a whole generation of new voters who will be more focused on the ability of a candidate to deliver on the issues, rather than which tribal constituency they command.
I suspect we’re witnessing the rise of Peter Kenneth’s political star on the national stage and if he stays relevant in the public eye, and plays his cards right (you know, like not do something really stupid that we might remember during election time) I would not be surprised if the person taking the oath of office in 2022 (2023?) is President-Elect Kenneth.
|"Wait... what? I only got one mention in this article?"|
I have been asked repeatedly for the last year or so who I am voting for. My answer is simple.
I am not voting for anyone who ran for president in 2007.
And neither am I voting for anyone who will lose this election.