Is David Ndii paranoid? I have been to Sudan twice, in 2010 and early 2011 before South Sudan became a Republic. In both occasions, it dawned on me that of the African countries I have been to, Sudanese are the most hospitable, most friendly. They care, always ready to help a stranger. During my visits though, it also occurred to me that if there is a group of people the Sudanese hate, they are the Southerners.
The Sudanese I talked with considered Southerners as lazy, leeches, people who wanted opportunities to be given to them in silver platters. According to them, the South Sudanese were the reason Sudan was not progressing as fast as she could as the Southerners were draining the little resources out of the hard working Sudanese. Then I asked them what they thought of South Sudanese pushing to have their own country. None of them were in support. They wanted to hear none of it.
A few months after the three Sudanese opened up to me on how exactly they felt about their South Sudanese ‘brothers and sisters’, South Sudan seceded from Sudan to form her own Republic of South Sudan in July 2011. Sadly, it didn’t take long before South Sudanese started killing themselves. Interestingly, the Dinkas, Acholi, Anyuak, Nuer, and Shilluk who form majority of the inhabitants of South Sudan and are fighting one another are all members of the larger Luo nation.
When David Ndii calls for a divided Kenya, one cannot help but draw parallels between the current feeling in Kenya and the feeling I witnessed in Sudan shortly before their secession. I am not sure if the Luo and the Kikuyu hate each other in the same breath as Sudanese hated the Southerners, but the feeling amongst the Luo that they are not welcomed in Kenya is real – has been real ever since Oginga Odinga split ways with Jomo Kenyatta, GEMA took oaths to swear that the presidency will never leave Mt. Kenya, and the subsequent assassination of Tom Mboya.
The feeling of not being wanted in Kenya has not been limited to the Luos alone. Kenyans living in the northern part of the country including the Rendille, the Somali, the Turkana and many others have for decades not even known that they belonged to a country called Kenya. Most of these Kenyans, it is said, that whenever a member of their community planned to travel to Nairobi, believed that the traveler was going to Kenya.
The coastal communities have also over the years felt sidelined as far as Kenyaism is concerned. As recent as 1999, the communities of the coast formed a movement they called Mombasa Republic Council that championed for separation of coastal communities from Kenya. They became so popular that in 2013 they would disrupt elections in Kilifi and Mombasa. They were however silenced after the elections but their grievances haven’t been addressed to date.
The grievances the Luos have had with the Kikuyus, the feeling of entitlement the Kikuyus have had over the Presidency, the feeling of marginalisation of those inhabiting the northern and the coastal regions of the country, the historical injustices including mass killings, political assassinations, and land grabbing either directly or through willing buyer willing seller ideology, haven’t been addressed.
Some of those who have lived with these grievances feel that Kenya should be divided into Central Republic of Kenya and the People’s Republic of Kenya. Supporters of status quo however see the call for a divided Kenya as a matter of incitement, that those like David Ndii who are championing this cause have completely lost their minds and should probably be arrested.
The people afraid of separation see separation as costly, not financially though. They say that separation can only happen after a prolonged civil war as happened in Sudan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and the attempted separation in Nigeria during the Biafra war. Since DAvid Ndii is the on the forefront of those calling for secession, those against separation have asked whether David Ndii is ready to put his wife and children in the front line for this looming blood shed.
Although the call for separation has been seen as a call for civil war, those against separation haven’t considered that elsewhere there are those who have separated peacefully where separation of Sweden and Norway have been cited as an example. Most recently, Scotland attempted to separated from the United Kingdom through a referendum, whereas United Kingdom successfully separated from the European Union also through a referendum. Such a referendum approach could also be used here in Kenya – if need be.
Back to the paranoia of David Ndii, it is important to note most of those speaking loudly that David Ndii has lost his mind are those who voted for Jubilee in the recently concluded elections, who happen to be majority Kikuyu and Kalenjin. Not long ago, in 1998, the Kikuyus themselves through the leadership of Mwai Kibaki wanted to form their Republic in 1998 that would comprise of “Nakuru, Laikipia, Meru, Embu The five Central Kenya Counties and Nairobi”, Kenya-today wrote.
During the NARC Government, the Rift Valley Politicians also called for a form of separatism where Rift Valley Province would exist as a semi-autonomous state, “A group of Kanu MPs from the Rift Valley yesterday threatened to agitate for Majimbo (a regional government system) if the Narc Government continues to persecute the Kalenjin community”, reported David Mugonyi and Geoffrey Rono on Sunday February 23, 2003 in Daily Nation.
* * * * *
Interestingly, on mass action, in the years preceding the deletion of Section 2A of the former constitution which had barred multipartism in Kenya, majority of Kenya demonstrations and riots happened in Nyeri, second only to Nairobi. In the clamour for independence, those who went to the streets to fight with the police were the Kikuyus, and they too were killed by the police.
Chicago Tribune reported on July 10, 1990 that “Police were told Monday to use whatever force is necessary to quell anti-government demonstrations that have spread from Nairobi to other cities. Five people were reported killed in rioting, bringing the three-day death toll to eight.”
“Monday was the first day the violence spread outside Nairobi. Demonstrators looted stores, stoned cars, and clashed with security forces in Nakuru, Murang’a, Nyeri and few smaller towns.”
“One of the the five people killed Monday was an elementary school student hit by bullets when the police opened fire on demonstrators in Ndenderu, 10 miles north of Nairobi.”