Toxicity and divisibility in politics: The most divisive politicians in Kenya

A recurrent perception runs in the mind of those who remotely relate to politics: That divisive politics is toxic.

On the contrary, every aspect of politics, especially progressive politics, has materialised due to the divisibility factor. Therefore, the division is not entirely undesirable in politics. It’s through divisive politics in Kenya that such individuals as Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga, Wangari Maathai, Chelagat Mutai et al have managed to organise ideologies and achieve fair success in advancing them.

Politics works around numbers. Therefore, success at divisibility requires a strong conviction point targeting the politician’s core constituency. Be it ethnic-based mobilisation or ideology-driven organisation, divisive politics is a strong political currency that has made sense to politicians since Athenian living times. Politicians carry an incentive to actively participate in divisive politics.

Beyond the positive factor of raising politicians’ profiles, divisive politics on fragile democracies such as Kenya has sustained ethnic mobilisation and turned citizens into eternal voting robots. At no single election in Kenya have voting patterns extended beyond ethnic balkanisation.

Ethnic regions have created persistent kingpins. Tribal chieftains crisscross the Kenyan political environment with hubris, bravado, and an attitude that could humble revered emperors of ancient Greece. The current episodes around the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the revenue sharing formula are extended seasons of ethnic play.

If you want to fully understand the extent of political divisibility in Kenya, look up for the profiles of Raila, Charity Ngilu, Simeone Nyachae, William Ole Ntimama, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kalonzo Musyoka, William Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi. Every ounce of visibility attributable to the individuals traces its origins to ethnic manipulation.

The social learning theory dictates that behaviour is largely absorbed through observation or imitation. The reward factor equally reinforces this learning mechanism and accelerates the process. Behind established ethnic mobilizers lies thousands of young people salivating for political attention and allied largesse.

Having confirmed that ethnicity is a one-way ticket to a heavenly political status, the amateurs will certainly subscribe to the full course. Get used to ethnic rhetoric for another couple of decades.

This message goes to those carrying hopes on a changed Kenya on all matters political. Tether and manage that hope as a preventive measure for depression, and cardiac conditions.

Divide & Rule/COURTESY


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