Is this the end of ethnic groupings to determine who becomes king?
Kenya’s general election may have produced a lower turnout than previous ones, but it still depicts a shifting political matrix in the country where the tribe played a major role in the polls.
The presidential election between the Kenya Kwanza Alliance led by Vice President William Ruto and the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has shown that ethnic groupings are still a major factor in determining who leads the country. , but that may not be the most important. group that makes kings.
Experts noted that Kenyans vote primarily based on their socio-economic interests and social justice.
In central Kenya, home to the majority of the Kikuyu, the country’s largest ethnic group, most MPs have been replaced whether they run for a party backed by one or other of the main presidential candidates. the presidential one.
Central Kenya voted overwhelmingly for Mr Ruto, denying any influence President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had backed Mr Odinga, might have had.
But voters also swept nearly 70% of all incumbents for other elective seats, according to preliminary results data from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
Nyaga Kindiki, a senior lecturer at Moi University, had two brothers who oversaw the presidential vote count on behalf of Kenya’s two rival groups Kwanza and Azimio. He said Kenyans had voted for leaders whose ideals they believed would improve their economic situation.
“Kenyans are leaving an agrarian economy. That is why Mr. Ruto’s slogan of economic and upward freedom has gained credence among low-income people,” Mr. Kindiki said.
His brothers, Kithure Kindiki and Isaiah Kindiki, were Mr. Ruto’s and Mr. Odinga’s main agents respectively.
The researcher said Kenyans are interested in leaders’ contributions to improving the economy, regardless of their tribe, as they are now more educated than in previous polls.
“Elite and educated people come together because they do business together. Kenyans no longer care much about who will be president, but want to have the opportunity to do business,” Mr. Kindiki said.
The Kikuyus, who make up nearly 25% of registered voters, voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Ruto because they were looking for a leader who promised them economic growth, the researcher added.
“Ordinary citizens are suffering, and for economic freedom, tribe doesn’t matter. People want to form a society where they are business partners and where the only language that matters is the language of business. For reasons of social justice, the middle class feels that a few individuals weigh it down economically. The middle class feels oppressed,” Mr. Kindiki said.
In some past elections, communities have banded together to support a candidate, as politics and power determine the distribution of resources and the receipt of other benefits from the state.
The main tribes have therefore always influenced who is elected to the State House, with communities coalescing around their leaders to strengthen their bargaining power.
Since the majority of voters in Kenya are poor, the debate around the elections has gradually shifted from tribe to economic liberation.
Gitile Naituli, professor of management and leadership at Kenya Multimedia University, said the 2022 elections put an end to ethnic politics, which is good for democracy.
“It’s the end of ethnic politics. Many people voted for President Uhuru Kenyatta because he is one of them who thought he would help. They are now ready to vote for a good person even if he is not one of them,” Mr Naituli said.
Arnold Antonio, a journalism student at Daystar University, said young people are tired of tribal politics and the voting pattern for Kenya’s four presidential candidates shows the new tribes are “the haves and the have-nots”. .
“Since young people make up the largest number of voters, we have the opportunity to change the political discourse,” Antonio said.