Allowing violence to take root in any area a threat to the rest

We approach the August 8 General Election not sure whether to be more scared of the political terror those seeking leadership may incite, or the resurgence of terrorism that puts a lie to the claim that Al-Shabaab has been neutralised.

As long as the terrorist group can strike with impunity in Garissa, Mandera and Lamu counties, and the general eastern region, this presents a clear and potent danger to peace and security across the country.

Our false comfort zones in Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa, Nyeri and other towns and regions should not delude us.

We are, indeed, in a fool’s paradise if we feel protected and secure simply because the terrorist attacks we hear about occur “far away”.

That “far away” is a part of Kenya. Those distant outposts are not in Somalia or somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The people who bear the brunt of those terrorist attacks, both civilians and security forces, are not foreigners.

They are as Kenyan as any Nekesa, Njoroge and Akinyi, and they deserve exactly the same citizenship rights to security, food, medical care, education, roads, electricity and other basics.

The terrorists who have literally been allowed freedom of movement in the aforementioned parts of Kenya also have the freedom to travel to Nairobi and anywhere else they may wish to carry out their depraved missions.

The shame is that our so-called leaders are all busy trying to reap political capital from this cancer in our midst.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival, Nasa’s Raila Odinga, have both recently taken their vote-hunting missions to Lamu County.

They have also been to some parts of the north-eastern region that is similarly afflicted by the terrorist threat.

Of course, they were very well protected when parachuting into those troubled regions to seek votes from those who live daily under the threat of Al-Shabaab guns.

They went to campaign amongst a people who have no reason to be proud to be Kenyan.

To make matters worse, they offered absolutely no solutions to the scourge of terrorism, both of them seeking to exploit the security threat for votes.

If I had the power, both President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga would today be behind bars for colluding and conspiring with Al-Shabaab for personal gain.

Let us never forget that when we allow the extremist religious ideology of hate and violence to take root in any part of Kenya, it will surely spread to the rest of the country.

We will not tackle the terrorist menace when our priority is votes.

It’s the silly season, and I appreciate that President Kenyatta must go on a binge launching anything he can.

If there are not enough railways and roads to go round, we can boast a phantom international stadium in every village playground, and elevate a footbridge into a “non-motorised transport facility”.


But launching a ‘tribe’ takes the cake. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when the President actually signed an official proclamation making the Kenyan Asians the country’s 44th tribe.

The fact is that tribes are not proclaimed by the President. They simply exist.

There is no Kenya Gazette notice anywhere, proclaiming the Maasai, Duruma, Celts, Luo, Giriama, Nandi, English, Luhya, Arabs and other Kenyan communities as tribes.

The other thing is that our Asians have always been Kenyan, with passports, national identity cards and full citizenship rights.

They do not need to be given anything else by one who has no such constitutional authority.

The truth is that the Asians did not ask for this special favour.

It was one self-seeking individual pretending he could deliver the community.


The danger now for them is that one who assumes the power to give can also then assume the power to take away if they don’t vote as promised.

I suspect that even the President knew it was all so ridiculous that he was too embarrassed to present the proclamation himself, instead sending some hapless Cabinet secretary to do so.

Finally, there is nothing like a 44th Kenyan tribe.

If there is, there would also be a first tribe. That mythical number of Kenyan tribes — that used to be put at 42 until the Makonde were granted citizenship (not tribalship) last year, and now the Asians — must be put to rest.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho

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