What you need to know:
- President Kenyatta and former opposition leader Raila Odinga and their joint command structure must right now be chortling after handing successive defeats to Deputy President William Ruto.
- In kicking his henchmen out of key Senate leadership positions, they have shown that Dr Ruto’s vaunted control of Jubilee Party troops was built on quicksand.
- Chances are that the anti-Ruto coalition might now feel emboldened enough to go directly for him, either through impeachment or criminal charges.
Kimeumana! This term from the ever evolving glossary of our modern lingua franca is not yet in my copy of the Kenyan Urban Dictionary. It probably is not even a genuine Sheng term, seeming to have originated from military parade grounds rather than the crowded suburbs of Nairobi’s Eastlands, where the wonderfully subversive language grows and the revolution will erupt from.
A video that has been in circulation for some time shows a Kenya Army regimental sergeant-major barking “Sema (say) kimeumana!” at troops who appear to be rehearsing for a national day parade.
“Kimeumana” has since become the stuff of a series of Internet memes depicting a wide range of instances where things spiral out of control. This could be anything — from a public officer caught pants down, literally, to a natural disaster that kills hundreds.
As with any other words in the Sheng lexicon, the meaning and usage of kimeumana is so clear yet impossible to render in accurate translation into English or any other language.
Kenya’s army of social media wags have translated it into ‘It has bitten itself’, probably as in a dog biting its own tail. An easier translation might be in ‘Things are thick’, also borrowing form local parlance. One could also take kimeumama as an evolution or mutation of the earlier term kumethoka (Wait a minute... that needs its own translation. I kiff up!
Anyway, kimeumana! The sad thing is that I don’t say this in reference to the coronavirus pandemic spreading mayhem across the world but to the state of our politics.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and former opposition leader Raila Odinga and their joint command structure must right now be chortling after handing successive defeats to Deputy President William Ruto.
In kicking his henchmen out of key Senate leadership positions, they have shown that Dr Ruto’s vaunted control of Jubilee Party troops was built on quicksand. All he had was a bunch of mercenaries in it for the money but with no commitment to his cause, and ready to turn tail and flee at the first sign of trouble or enticement from a fatter wallet.
No doubt, Dr Ruto is mortally wounded. The presumption that he would be Jubilee’s automatic candidate to pick up the baton once President Kenyatta serves out his final term in 2022 has gone up in smoke. Chances are that the anti-Ruto coalition might now feel emboldened enough to go directly for him, either through impeachment or criminal charges. Or both.
But to what avail? What we are witnessing is just the same hollow, mean, petty, selfish and divisive politics that has been the curse of our nation since Independence. An impeachment Motion or criminal charge motivated by political skulduggery adds absolutely nothing to the campaign for a just society.
I don’t hold brief for Dr Ruto. I know that he came into high office carrying a lot of baggage dating back to his emergence through the notorious YK ’92 organisation, and throughout his career has carried the noxious whiff of scandal. However, any move to impeach or charge Dr Ruto would be foolish, dishonest and an unmitigated disaster.
The DP may well have been projected as the poster child for corruption but the fact is that he is just a single individual within a Jubilee Party and wider political system that stinks to high heaven.
The problem is not just Dr Ruto but a venal and irredeemably corrupt system that must be completely and totally uprooted if we are to solve our existential issues.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga sold us their Building Bridges Initiative as the ultimate quest for lasting solutions to the corruption, tribalism, nepotism, crime, violence, poverty, inequalities and other ills that ail Kenya.
They promised an end to the divisive politics of ethnic balkanisation that every electoral cycle hurtle Kenya down the path of dismemberment.
This obsession with cutting Dr Ruto down to size at a time when we all should be focussed on surviving the coronavirus exposes the big lie. It undermines the BBI ‘handshake’ promise of a great new society built on justice, peace, equity and shared prosperity.
So it was not about inculcating political hygiene and a country where all have a sense of belonging but about throwing ashore one individual?
But they will soon find out that punishing one individual for the national ailment is no solution.
Deputy President Ruto came as a package with President Kenyatta. They remain tied at the hip and jointly culpable for Jubilee’s criminal misrule. If one must be thrown over the precipice, the other must follow. Then, we can start uprooting the system.
[email protected] www.gaitho.co.ke @MachariaGaitho