At independence, all of post-colonial Africa promulgated democratic constitutions. In no time, all but one state had reverted to authoritarian rule. Why? In the market of public choice, it is the self-interest of the players, not their benevolence, that creates the rules. Thus the logic of the ethnic chief, the tribal baron - and the hostage voter electing them while lamenting their existence. So, wither democracy? DAVID NDII, on the calculus of power-sharing.
From the theoretical underpinnings of the National Youth Service’s as an institution aimed at enhancing national cohesion and security it has travelled a path including technical training, access to the national defence forces and more recently – has provided vital inroads for the elite to enrich itself. The stigma that now attends to the NYS is compounded every passing year meaning it has never come remotely close to fulfilling the mandate for which it was created and rebranded. It has now become, for a venal elite a powerful tool of plunder while feeding off the desperation and aspirations of Kenyan...
Kenya’s history has, since KADU merged with KANU in 1964, been about elite pacts. Controlled behind the scenes by old and new imperial masters, these politics effectively came to an end on March 9, 2018 when Raila Odinga bequeathed Kenya with the last betrayal. Has a new leftist politics been birthed? By WILLY MUTUNGA.
In an act of gratuitous self-hatred, the American rapper’s comments on slavery open the wounds of a painful debate. In the Age of Trump, racism is now normalised, enabled even by its victims: Well-heeled Kenyans scrambling for a Ksh 1 million seat to watch a very British royal wedding on a TV screen in Nairobi; a liberal white woman looking for a black lover to erase her guilt. RASNA WARAH surveys the psyche of a very global scourge.
In Kampala, as elsewhere on the continent, the status parade celebrating the tiniest successes costs a fortune. What if those resources were turned to more profitable pursuits? MARY SERUMAGA, musing on Millennials, the informal sector and a Twitter exchange, has an epiphany in a matatu.
Returning to play her part in changing Kenya after years abroad, MIRIAM ABRAHAM encountered cynicism and greed from her age mates among the professional elite. Yet it paled in comparison to her experience in an independent public body. Back in her adopted home, she reflects on the March 9 handshake, a deal sealed for the survival of a treacherous elite.
Historically Kenya’s politics has witnessed elite pacts that typically rob the nation of its own progressive ideals. Leaders reputed as progressives sometimes abruptly abandon, for sometimes unclear motives, the very ideals they purport to champion and enter into alliances with their erstwhile political foes. This inadvertently perpetuates a dissatisfied and energised population that isn’t easily convinced that its sustained ‘hungers’ can be so easily cast aside. We should be worried, cautions L. MUTHONI WANYEKI
Inequality and tribal politics have been Kenya’s bain for generations and Raila Odinga’s proposals for constitutional reform – introducing a proportional representation system in Kenya would go a long way in assuaging these. The ‘handshake’ between Odinga and Kenyatta could be the start in making the important changes Kenya needs to correct some of its most persistent governance challenges, PROF. YASH PAL GHAI argues while urging caution.
History is alive around us. Deep complex relations with Sub-Saharan Africa, this rich history and a recent apparently currently truncated revolution – the so-called Arab Spring - continue to make the Maghreb still among the most fascinating and consequential regions on the African continent argues L. MUTHONI WANYEKI
Millennials should be the biggest beneficiaries of the demographic dividend, that virtuous cycle of rising savings, investment, growth and lower dependency. Instead, one in four want to leave and almost 70 percent cite unemployment as their biggest challenge. Here’s why - and how we can reverse the trend. By DAVID NDII