Nakuru Senator Susan Wakarura Kihika has lots of spunk. She’s an articulate, well-educated, and rambunctious woman. She can duke it out with the worst political brawlers. She reminds me of a junior Martha Karua, the Narc Kenya leader dubbed the Iron Lady.
But that’s where the similarities end. Unlike Ms Karua, Senator Kihika was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. The former has had to fight for every scrap she’s got in life, while the latter has been given everything on a silver platter.
In Hustler Nation lexicology, Senator Kihika is a true blue-blood dynasty. Which begs the question – what’s a princess doing with hustlers? Either she’s a class betrayer, or she’s an opportunistic hypocrite. Let’s dig deeper.
I take my hat off to DP William Ruto and his brain trust for coming up with the iconography of “hustlers” versus “dynasties.” Hustler Nation, in particular, is a seductive and easily digestible term that common folk can grasp without exercising mind muscles.
The political clash of hustlers against dynasties is a demagogue’s magic wand. Every propagandist would love to come up with such a compelling head fake. The hoi polloi – masses of simpletons – drink that sweet Kool-Aid all week long, and twice on Sundays. That’s the genius of Mr Ruto’s brand.
However, like most illusionist brands, there’s no there “there.” You will come up empty if you peek under the skirt. That’s why it’s a big tent.
Moi's political scion
I have debunked the mythology of the Hustler Nation in this column before. Today, I want to demonstrate through Senator Kihika why it’s all flapdoodle – utter jibba jabba.
The central argument by Mr Ruto and his brigand is that Kenyans have had enough of the oppression of the ruling “dynastic” families – the Kenyattas, Odingas, Mudavadis, Mois, and their ilk. Mr Ruto has called on the poor – the so-called “hustlers” – to rise up and tear off the chains of the “dynastic” families.
He’s asked peasants, workers, and their children to cast off their leg restraints and follow him to the proverbial Canaan. He, like biblical Moses, has promised to lead the huddled and gullible “wretched of the earth” to freedom.
It’s a very clever turn of phrase. But political revolutions aren’t simply built on snake oil. Liberators must show a history of fighting for progressive causes. That’s not all. They must come to equity, as we say in law, with clean hands. That’s why a liberator can’t steal from the same people she, or he, is trying to free.
A liberator must show the “down payment” that they have paid to be taken seriously by the downtrodden. You will know a liberator by the company they keep. My mother used to tell me always that I couldn’t expect not to get a rash if I “slept with” a person with a rash. You are indeed your friends.
I will show you why Senator Kihika is at home with Mr Ruto. Let’s stipulate she hasn’t betrayed her class by joining the Hustler Nation. Mr Ruto fancies himself to be a political powerhouse who rose up by his bootstraps from a miserable peasant chicken-seller. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr Ruto is the political scion of the Moi Dynasty.
Mr Moi “adopted” him at a tender age because of his cunning and quick wit. Mr Ruto amassed his wealth early under the Moi regime. He’s reputed to be one of the wealthiest Kenyans although the source of his vast riches remains unknown. Tellingly, Mr Ruto refused to disclose his wealth when pressed on BBC’s Hard Talk.
Crocodile among crocodiles
Senator Kihika herself is no hustler. Her father, the late Kihika Kimani, was one of the most powerful, richest Kikuyu-Gema kleptocrats under Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. A vile Kikuyu tribal chauvinist bigot, Mr Kimani ate life with a spade, not spoon. He married many women and sired 41 children.
In 1976, he led the Change-Constitution Group that sought to block the late Daniel Arap Moi from succeeding Mzee Kenyatta. He couldn’t fathom a non-Kikuyu ascending to State House. Stories were told of how the illiterate but ruthless Kimani would stalk the halls of State House occasionally slapping Mr Moi. He was a prolific land-grabber possessed with the primitive accumulation of wealth. Senator Kihika was a beneficiary of his vast estate.
When children of the hoi polloi hit educational dead ends, Senator Kihika had the privilege of earning BA and JD (law) degrees in the United States. It didn’t take her long to assume the family mantle of leadership in Nakuru upon her return from America. She has no history of ever fighting for democracy or human rights in Kenya, or elsewhere.
Senator Kihika sees DP Ruto as her best bet for higher political office. No one should pretend she believes in the “hustler nation.” She’s in there with other unsavoury characters like the disgraced former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and the flip-flopping Senator Isaac Mwaura — a crocodile among crocodiles.
Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Margaret W. Wong Professor at Buffalo Law School. He’s Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua.
Source: Sunday Nation