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The Third Way – Part II

The First Way

Click here for the full .pdf version of this speech

The people of the First Way hold political and economic power. It is difficult (nay impossible!) to distinguish between those who hold political power and those with economic power. In fact, they are one and the same group! Now let uss look at the First Way in the context of the above principles.

1. On rejecting personalization of politics; and requiring all politics to be predicated on national interest; and espousing politics of principle rather than searching for power to dominate, plunder and eat!

The First Way aims at monopolizing power and wealth within its elite few; as some would say, isn’t it their right (not a privilege) to govern as they deem fit? Once in a while, they will rattle so-called gains “we” (effectively “they”) have made since independence: the African being in charge, the top dog Africans in Kenyan companies, senior managers that are African, the road and hospital networks, the schools and education infrastructure, etc. Their point of reference: pre-independence days!

The First Way elite are largely a product of the elite colonial education; education whose aim was to create servants that would carry out the colonial will. Many believe in the superiority of the colonizers and demonstrate clear bias against even their best brains. Many in this class are Anglophiles, indeed white men in black skin! And if two people: a local Mr. Black Man and (local or foreign) Mr. White Boy were up for opportunities before some First Way power, Mr. White Boy will almost invariably win over Mr. Black Man! This is even when Mr. Black Man might be much smarter, more qualified and overly experienced!

For First Way politicians, it is about power (economic and political) and the fact that they hold it; power allows them to maintain an intricate client-patron system composed of similar interests across the country. They arrogate themselves the right to arbitrate in matters of how the national cake should be distributed! And indeed, they end up with most of this public wealth in private hands!

The First Way is an incestuous class of economic and political interests whose priority is their well-being as opposed to nation-building!

2. On seeking the institutionalization of political parties in the true sense of political parties, and parties competing on alternative ideas of development rather than rhetoric and platitudes;

Wikipedia defines a political party thus:“an organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. Parties often espouse a certain ideology, but may also represent a coalition among disparate interests.

Our political parties are no more than vehicles for attaining political power by the wealthy and influential; they have neither ideology nor a coalition of interests other than to get power for the elite! Just look at Narc and now Narc-Kenya; and there is ODM-Kenya; before that we had NAK, DP, LDP, Labour Party, Ford-K and Ford-People, name it! And there used to Ford, Ford-Asili, NDP and Kenyan Socialist Congress (now dead and buried with the passing of its founder, George Anyona) and many more!

There is more! Currently we have a clamour for minimum constitutional reforms; at the centre of this is how to divvy up power among the expected top dogs in a future administration. Missing in the equation is Wanjiku, the Civil Society, the Youth and Religious interests! And they claim it is in the nation’s interest!

3. On standing for zero tolerance for corruption no matter the perpetrator, in other words, there being no sacred cows

For the First Way, tribalism, corruption, cronyism and nepotism are its lifelines! Money, power and influence course veins of their client-patron networks! Corruption is hush-hushed, if not embraced in toto!

The First Way does things with impunity, as if it has a God-given right to do so! It perpetuates corruption and when others question them, it circles to protect their own. And we know this is true because some, notably the late Dr Robert Ouko (God rest his soul) have paid with their lives; and for what? For asking simple questions about misuse of power for personal enrichment!

The First Way cooks schemes like Goldenberg and Anglo Leasing, and continually works to cover its tracks.

4. On justice, fairness and equity (note the term equity) for all Kenyans no matter their stations in life;

The First Way is a selfish elite whose intent is to stay power for the gains power brings. Aggrandizement, economic and political domination/subjugation of others appears to be the norm; platitudes about serving the people form its rhetoric. It cannot heed Mahatma Ghandi’s wisdom that “earth provides enough for every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed!”

Through a convoluted network of individuals, First Wayers manipulate the economy, government and the justice system for their own benefit! The judiciary, which is supposed to be independent, is part of the power elite. Remember not too long ago there was an extensive purge of the judiciary! And we expect justice from this entity?

The First Way seems to care less about Wanjiku’s suffering: lack of health care, poor access to education, lack of employment opportunities, rampant crime, poverty, hunger and (at times) famine!

5. On celebrating diversity and rejecting tribalism, nepotism and cronyism; and exploiting the strength that comes with the diversity of our people and natural resources and for the benefit of all Kenyans;

The First Way elite rides on the word tribe; many elite trumpet the superiority of their own and discriminate openly without shame. Many of us recall remarks by late Kuguru, at the time a Minister in the Moi government, that the Kikuyu cannot accept a kihi for president, a clear reference to then Ford-Kenya presidential candidate the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a Luo! Recently, we have heard subtle tangential remarks on Jaramogi’s son Raila Odinga. Good people, this is the 21st century! And as far as I am concerned, what lies in a man’s pants is business for his wife, girlfriend, mistress or concubine!

Tribalism for them is a means to the Mecca of national eatership!

For the First Way the rich culture of our nation doesn’t seem to matter: the foods, the music, the varied tales from times gone, the wide-ranging traditions (marriage, rites of passage, songs and dances) across the country, the diverse thinking and different approaches to issues and more!

The First Way forgets that monocultures soon die off! It is diversity that is the strength of the survival of species/ideas/interests/and more.

6. On reason over passion, i.e. logic over emotion and sound and structured approach to national challenges;

Some in the First Way talk of the glorious years of their past, and how things would have been if they hadn’t worked hard! Didn’t they (though this is a dying breed!) fight for and win independence for Kenya? Haven’t they brought development since we won Uhuru? Look, as some would say, at the number of roads, hospitals, schools, urban centres! Si hayo ni maendeleo? They would ask? And rightly so! But it is from an antiquated point of reference!

Some talk of their detention in the Kenyatta and Moi eras; and wear this as a badge of honour and call this their ticket to power. Ask them what they would do for the country when in power and the answer is convoluted. Hawana mpango! Hawana Plan, as the kids would say in Sheng.

We must divorce this emotion from the search and exercise of power; we need the reasons they want power; we need the logic to elect them to power; and we need to know how they would exercise power. For these people, I offer this quote:

The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not to be worshiped. It is our future in which we will find our greatness. Pierre Trudeau. Canadian politician (1919 – 2000

We don’t want to hear the vote seeker merely articulate the issues we have! C’mon! We all know them. I had  rather hear about the solutions, the strategy, the means and the viability (how realistic? How affordable) of the solutions they propose.

7. On thinking globally and nationally and acting locally;

One can think locally & act locally; one can also (in the least likelihood) think locally and act globally; also one can think globally act locally; and can also think globally act globally.

The First Way thinks locally and acts locally. Their knowledge and actions are informed by the least common factors possible to maintain their privileged position. In fact, they gain advantage by keeping the people backward! And the more backward the people they lead, the greater their chances of maintaining their position.

We live in the age of globalization; we need to make sure we think globally! We must learn from others that have faced and continue to face similar challenges like us and the ways and means that have made them successful.

8. On Public Accountability in all endeavours-

The First Way cares less about Wanjiku and her interests; they trample mwananchi and get away with it using the systems they control; and systems they have been perfected in protecting themselves. And yet Wanjiku pays the bills even as she struggles with the mess created by the First Way.

Do you recall how, with impunity, members of parliament have been increasing their emoluments? In this scheme where they are judge and jury, a clear conflict of interest, who looks after Wanjiku’s interests?

9. On being driven by the need to make our country Kenya, a great nation! We could become first a regional giant, a continental powerhouse and a global tiger!

First Way elite cares less whether Kenya becomes a regional midget, an international dwarf or a local nincompoop! All they seem to care about is that they have power and control the levers of the economy. They want to swim in the tiny pond that is Kenya and yet there are many lakes and seas out there that we could all possibly swim in!


The First Way elite cannot understand the agitation for change; many think things are going well and that as long as they are in power, all is fine.

The First Way occasionally appears to have solutions for the intricate Kenyan concerns. Their approach appears limited to tinkering, with a bone or so thrown at their challengers, those of the Second Way. In some cases, their rhetoric suggests they are aware of what solutions should be in place. However, they appear unwilling, if not unable to implement those solutions!

Ask them how to deal with crime and their answer is “shoot to kill”! Yet the divide between haves and have-nots, and lack of opportunity are factors they don’t want to speak about! Ask them about land disputes in the Rift Valley and they will ask people to return to their ancestral lands! So a child born (say) in Molo in the 1970s/80s would be asked to go back to an ancestral home in Kisii, Kiambu, Nyeri, Kakamega or some other such place! Good God! The person’s only known home is the place s/he was born and raised! Ancestral lands my foot! This is the 21st century!

The First Way resists change for fear of loss of power, fear of loss of domination, fear of loss of the status quo!

Look at what they did with the constitutional reforms.

First, it was the Moi regime. Instead of saying: “let’s talk and see what is best for this country”, people lined their short-term interests into the reforms process in delegate selection and draft constitution crafting.

In comes Kibaki and he perpetuates the same! And because the delegates were not stacked properly to cater for his class interests, the process had to be scuttled! It is simple: the Bomas process was rotten from the beginning! It was naive of us all to expect miracles out of this process! It was flawed! It was bound to fail! And the failure happened with the referendum of November last year.

But I digress!

Now the Second Way!

Click here for Parts III & IV

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