Pass kingpin mantle to DP Gachagua, Mt Kenya elders tell Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta after he was made a Kikuyu elder in 2014.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A section of the Kikuyu Council of Elders wants retired President Uhuru Kenyatta to hand over the community’s instruments of power to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua

It is now emerging that the issue came up during the end-of-the-year prayer meeting held in Ol Kalou Arboretum in Nyandarua County on December 31 2022.

The traditional instruments of power were handed over to Mr Kenyatta in 2012 in the run-up to the 2013 General Election at the Bomas of Kenya.

The tools include a traditional mace, a sword, a traditional seat, a hat, a knife, a bag, a whisk, a traditional garment, sandals, a needle and a tweezer.

These are the same instruments that were handed over to Mzee Jomo Kenyatta by the elders before former First Lady Mama Ngina returned them to the elders after the death of Mzee Kenyatta in 1978.

Instruments of power

The elders want to reconcile Mr Kenyatta and the deputy president before a smooth handover of the instruments of power to Mr Gachagua.  

Mr Gachagua and Mr Kenyatta fell out during the August 9 elections which left the Mt Kenya region divided.   

The deputy president attacked the retired President's administration just moments after he took the oath of office in September last year. This has not gone down well with some of the elders.

Council chairman Wachira Kiago, Kiama Kia Ma national chairman Ndungu Gaithuma and Nyandarua Governor Kiarie Badilisha have urged the two leaders to unite.

"We need to think about our unity as a community. Mr Gachagua, Mr Kenyatta and all governors in the central region must unite," said Mr Kiago

"We pray for unity in our community in 2023," said Mr Gaithuma. 

Some elders say their push for the two leaders to unite emanates from the fear of a possible falling out between the DP and President William Ruto like the one that happened between Dr Ruto and Mr Kenyatta before the 2022 General Election.

A senior leader who sought anonymity said: “Some of the council elders don't trust the political arrangement in Kenya Kwanza."

"We are worried that the Kenya Kwanza administration might abandon Mt Kenya region," said another elder.

He added "Chances are that our community may not play a critical role in President Ruto’s government and we don't want to take chances. We want to tread carefully and support the DP."

Blind political faith

"The rest of the Kenya Kwanza coalition members have written Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) but our community has no such arrangements. We're relying on blind political faith in this union," he said.

The elders warned Mt Kenya region that failure to unite ahead of the 2027 General Election, would be tantamount to signing a political death certificate in advance.

“Our community is sharply divided. Failure to unite under Mr Gachagua is like signing our political death certificate awaiting confirmation of our political execution in 2027,” said another elder. 

They cited the recent tiff between the DP and Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja over his plan to relocate matatus from the CBD to GreenPark Terminus where he was attacked by members of the Kenya Kwanza coalition.

"We want to defend Mr Gachagua and we would not like to see him being attacked. Our political future as a community is tied to his future," said an elder.

The elders expressed optimism that the two leaders will soon iron out their political differences.

Some of the elders said Mr Gachagua had expressed his willingness to talk to the retired president.

"He [Gachagu] has promised to buy a healthy ram to be slaughtered by the elders as they reconcile the two leaders," said an elder.

However, some of the elders admit that it will be difficult to convince Mr Kenyatta to hand over the traditional instruments of power after Mr Gachagua humiliated him in public.

“We still recognise Mr Kenyatta as the community leader. We have never asked him to return the traditional instruments of power. We're looking for ways to reach him although he looks like he got angry due to persistent attacks by Mr Gachagua," said an elder.

"It is going to be a tough task as getting hold of Mr Kenyatta from his busy schedule will require a lot of patience and time is not on our side as we want to have a community spokesperson occupy his rightful position," said an elder.

Mr Kenyatta is the facilitator of the East African Community led Nairobi Peace Process that is trying to bring peace to the war Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

But some of the council members blame the retired President for not picking his successor as Mt Kenya kingpin after he was elected as President in 2013.

The elders said that the Mt Kenya region has to rally behind the deputy president whom they described as a brave politician who cannot be intimidated.

“Mr Gachagua can fight for himself and the community,” said an elder.

He added: "Mr Gachagua is credited with helping his brother former Mathira MP Nderitu Gachagua clinch the Nyeri governor seat in 2013. That is a leader that we want the community to rally behind."

Dr Michael Ndonye a communications expert at Kabarak University said: "The Kikuyu Council of Elders is not working alone. There are forces working behind the scenes. The council members are testing the waters to gauge what Kenyans would say about the new reunion."

He added: "These two leaders [Kenyatta and Gachagua] will work together again ahead of the 2027 elections. The DP is a long-time personal assistant of Mr Kenyatta. They built a strong relationship built over years. They are well-known political bedfellows."