Ushenzi na Tanga Tanga politics: the true war being fought in Central Kenya

I have been living in Kenya as an expatriate from the UK for almost 12 years now and it never ceases to amaze me the complexities involved in Kenya’s politics. Never mind the reality that politics in Kenya is completely intertwined with everyday life but the deeply rooted belief system where certain individuals acquire almost godlike reverence from their supporters baffles me, and when the reaction is hate it is a total hatred that can spark off a civil war if not carefully managed by brinkmen masterminds who litter either side of the political divide. But what intrigues me most about politics in Kenya is the behind the scenes wars fought from one election cycle to the next.

There are almost always two forces behind these wars: sustaining corruption networks and selecting a winning candidate for the next election. In Kenya, like most nations around the world, diversionary tactics are used to distract the collective national attention from a serious issue. Right now there is a serious effort mounted by President Kenyatta to develop the region while combatting historic corruption. Many casual observers say that this campaign against corruption is widening a rift between the President and his Deputy, William Ruto who has been adversely mentioned in several newspapers and tabloids as a corruption czar. The truth of these claims will be examined later.

However, this ongoing push by Kenyatta is likely to see many of the old guard involved in corruption exposed or out in the cold by the time the next elections come around. So they have begun election mongering early and by doing so united themselves against the President on just about every issue.

A few years ago, the expression ‘kutangatanga’ was introduced to political speak by President Kenyatta. It was a coded reference to DP William Ruto who was at the time touring the country in a campaign mood. The word itself means to aimlessly wander about and it displayed perfectly that while the President was focusing on development (he was issuing title deeds to disenfranchised local residents at the time) other politicians were focusing on the wrong agenda for the time since the next election was 3 years off. With the next election from today being 4 years away, it would be premature for anyone to tanga tanga discussing the 2022 presidency. And yet, for the last two weeks in Kenya that is precisely what has been taking place. And this has had, perhaps, the intended impact on the anti-corruption and development agenda; no one is talking about it.

So what do the tanga tanga politicians really want? The first aim is to discredit President Kenyatta in his own Mt. Kenya backyard. It is no secret in Kenya that the region overwhelmingly supports the President and any open opposition to him could be suicidal politically for anyone in the region. The main thrust of this plan is to blame the President for the apparent lack of development in the region. Like any other pedestrian observer I was shocked to be told that the area is barely developed. But yesterday afternoon I sat with a friend of mine, Mwangi Kimani, who shed some light on this propaganda.

Ever since Kenyatta took office, Mt. Kenya region has received over Ksh. 174 Billion earmarked for development projects. These include roads, dams, irrigation, electricity connection, hospitals and schools. The region is more developed that Western Kenya and North Eastern region combined. Kiambu County alone has more kilometers of tarmacked roads (1,385) that the entirety of Kakamega, Bungoma and Vihiga combined (700 for all Western Kenya counties). There are 1,145 primary schools in Kiambu to 289 primary schools in the entire North Eastern region. There are more hospitals in Central Kenya than you can find in Rift Valley region.

So it is not that the region is not developed. Central Kenya is so grossly over developed compared to the rest of Kenya that an examination of the facts and figures makes you appreciate the conscious effort made by President Kenyatta to fast track development of the rest of the country.

So what is the development fracas all about? Do Central MPs believe that only Mt. Kenya is entitled to development?

No. This is just a symptom of a silent war. This war is being waged not in the Kenyan Parliament where it can be muted easily by fact but in tanga tanga territory; public rallies, funerals and fund raisers (It still confuses me how Kenyans mainstreamed politics at funerals). The speakers at these events are familiar faces including Moses Kuria and Kimani Ngunjiri. They will almost always be in the company of DP William Ruto and the bosom topic will be the 2022 election (the distraction) and the launch of a mundane project that will scarcely be remembered by the press in a weeks’ time. A cursory glance of the headlines reveals that these MPs have launched 68 ‘development projects’ in 2018 all of which have vanished into thin air at the time of writing this.

The projects of course are a smoke screen. The main agenda is popularity of a candidate long before they need to campaign. It is common knowledge that William Ruto will be a tough sell to Central Kenya but it is also calculated that by securing him as a president, those who will have aided his rise will be allowed special favors in the new administration. More often than not, these new favors are linked to protecting corruption empires which have been under the spot light thanks to President Kenyatta’s war on corruption.

The latest coup in the tanga tanga politician’s favor has been a public address where President Kenyatta termed this group of politicians ‘washenzi’ (Swahili for imbeciles). Sensing an opportunity, they have ignited public rage by misinterpreting the President’s speech to mean the common Kenyan is an imbecile for having elected President Kenyatta. The reaction was intense but short lived. Kenyans are not the political ignoramuses of a decade ago where anything said by a local mheshimiwa was gospel truth. A majority of Kenyans actually know that the push for local development comes from local leadership and the devolved government system. The real ‘washenzi’ are the leaders who politick without a development track record.

The real war being fought behind the curtain of this washenzi and tanga tanga is an anti-development caucus against a President who has realized Central Kenya cannot hold a monopoly on development, a President for all Kenya to develop on an even footing.

While an unoccupied minority screams on social media, it would be a good time to keep your eyes on the bigger picture. Kenyan drug dealers have fingered the judiciary as complicit in the drug trade in Africa, 4 mega-corruption cases are working their way through the court system (and threaten to take down some well-connected politicians some of whom are tanga tanga members), a governor is facing a murder trial and a conspiracy is taking shape to cripple investigations carried out by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

These are the facts and realities you can never get used to about Kenya’s politics.

By Mark McCline

Ushenzi Season 55 Episode 109.

Most tiring series of this karne.


And now for the whether forecast.

Experts are wondering Whether the new buzzword in the lower educated and below see-level regions will be ‘diversionary tactics’
Expect highs of regurgitated speeches and lows of critical thinking.

Tupe link

As a lowly educated Kenyan, I find this document to be very informative, maybe you should counter it with facts, then we can see for ourselves how Complex your mind is.

Big words saying nothing you carry meffi in that pot you call a head

Is this the season every Kenyan becomes a political analyst?

I guess we all have opinions.

Very cosmetic analysis, huyo aconcentrate on his expatriate duties, he doesn’t understand the nuances of Kenyan politics, but he believes he does that’s why he has published an hogwash article under an ‘expert’ tag.

He he he…eti “grossly overdeveloped”!

Kwa ufupi amesema nini?

Okay, the analysis was written by no expatriate.

Nice read… You write well…

He neglects the fact that perception is more important than facts in politics

Exactly, instead of someone trashing it just for the sake of saying something.

If an executive pit latrine can cost as high as 20 m , is that a sign of poverty in some so called 'under developed ’ counties , is that an indicator of underdevelopment ?

More hospitals in central Kenya than in Rift valley.:meffi::meffi::meffi::meffi::meffi:

Yes, poverty of leadership and accountability.

He is dreaming if he thinks the shenzi hype has cooled down. He needs to visit mt Kenya or even easier, visit their social media or even uhurus own twitter or Facebook page to know just how much it has ‘cooled down’. People are not rational and right now it’s all about ’ dynasties must come down ’ . Any attempt to bring Ruto down whether through facts or lies will be seen as a propaganda to impose dynasties in his place. If uhurus group really want to ‘betray’ Ruto, then my advice would be to bring forward a new corrupt free person. Otherwise right now even those who are turned off by Rutos perceived corruption says better the loyal corrupt Ruto than the alternate corrupt dynasty mafias

When an article is too hot to handle due its precision at penetrating the minds of the so called 'lower academic stratum, how else do you expect the critics to pour cold water on it to dissuade the ‘lowly educated’ Kenyans from further interrogating it’s content : but just pouring trash on it for the sake of trashing …yani ku-meffi meffi .

Thanks @Patrome for the tag word, meffi