By Juma Akwayera
When a dog barks, the saying goes, look for its owner. The genesis of the row over Prof Laban Ayiro’s appointment as Moi University vice chancellor is next year’s elections. Eldoret University VC Prof Teresa Akenga faced similar opposition. It is no coincidence that the two are from the former Western province, where Jubilee is waging a campaign to wrest the electoral bloc from the opposition. Nothing wrong with that.
What is happening in the Rift Valley is sad, given that the cycle of poll violence in the past two decades was triggered by a misplaced sense of entitlement. The scars of the 2007-08 post-election violence are still etched in our collective memory. The manner in which the Rift Valley’s multiple versions of American Jim Crow are inciting their followers to clear the region of other communities is a replay of 2007, when the Kalenjins worked out an ideology to get rid of madoadoa – blemishes – a code word for non-indigenous communities.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and Elgeyo Marakwet’s Alex Tolgos led protests against Prof Ayiro. Fear-mongering is a political strategy that has become synonymous with a region that hopes to produce the country’s president in 2022. The two are Deputy President William Ruto’s loyalists, which makes it difficult to delink him from the open resistance to Ayiro’s appointment. Ayiro was at the centre of growth of all schools owned by retired President Daniel Moi – Sunshine, Kabarak and Sacho.
The sense of entitlement demonstrated by Mandago and company was ever-present when Moi was in power. Leaders from the Rift never demonstrated outstanding achievement in most of the institutions they headed.
Moi appointed his kinsmen to the helm of th Kenya Commercial Bank, National Bank of Kenya, Post Bank, Kenya Farmers’ Association (later Kenya Grain Growers’ Co-operatives Union), Central Bank of Kenya, Kenya National Assurance Company, Kenya Medical Research Institute, and Kenya Seed, etc. Mediocrity was the byword of this inept leadership that ran down national institutions.
The reaction to the Rift Valley jingoism was telling. ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi said, “It is on record that the same leaders interfered with the running of the University of Eldoret by attempting to remove Prof Teresa Akenga as the VC on flimsy grounds and now the unwarranted rejection of Prof Ayiro, who has been appointed in acting capacity to head Moi University. It is sad and unfortunate that the governors, MPs and senators have all replaced the Constitution with their own versions of ethnic apartheid in the region.”
It is difficult not to think of the mythical character Jim Crow, who in the US’s long history of civil rights activism symbolised racial segregation and abuse of Blacks. Even after the abolition of slavery (in our context promulgation of the 2010 Constitution), the Jim Crow laws still defined interracial relations in America.
The Jim Crow character originated in the battered South during the Civil War. Wikipedia sheds light on what transpired: “Many whites refused to welcome blacks into civic life, believing them to be inferior and resenting northern demands in the era of reconstruction, especially the requirement that southern states ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which would abolish slavery. Southern states initially resisted by passing so-called Black Codes, which prohibited former slaves from carrying firearms or joining militias. More hostility followed when Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guaranteed blacks access to public facilities. As the federal government pressed the South to enfranchise blacks, a backlash developed in the form of state regulations that separated whites from blacks in public facilities.”
It echoes the isolationism being pushed by Mandago and company. The risk of inflaming ethnic hostility because the concept of Ubuntu (humanity) has never been strong in Rift Valley politics is looming large.
SOURCE>>> The Star Kenya