Tuesday, 15 January 2013

8 FACTS about the intrigues of KENYAN POLITICAL games

Kenyan politics have a way of mesmerizing someone until you just desire more out of the game regardless of whether you are political or not. Kenyan politicians have mastered ways of hooking up the modern Kenyan society with their political games where the most active and diligent players gets rewarded with a post in one of the highly desired public offices in Kenya, whether to sail into everlasting prosperity and wealth or to enhance the lives of Kenyans who appointed them into those post in the hopes that they will make a difference and enhance the general lives of citizens through enhancing the status of the society as per their solemn promises once they attain those positions.

But politics in Kenya is a game where victory is determined by myriad of factors which may work in favor of a politician or general public, or may just lead to woes and misery if the victors are people who do not deserve the hard earned victory. So what am I talking about here? Is Kenyan politics a real entertaining game? What is involved? Can the rules of the game work for or against us? What part are you playing in this game, a spectator, a player or whatever you are? Read on…


What is euphoria? Extreme happiness: a feeling of great joy, excitement, or well-being. Kenyans are renowned for political euphoria and politicians have mastered the magic behind it, they know how to excite euphoric feelings amongst the people and this works magic for them. I just love the way Raila Amolo Ondinga moves the public with his “Vitendawili” and exctiting speeches whenever he is addressing a public rally. But do people look beyond the riddles? Hardly, people only get ecstatic and love RAO for the same. Look at people like Chirau Ali Mwakwere aka Dzipapa, Danson Mungatana, Kiraitu Murungi etc, they are so nice in this they can even compose a song out of the whim to entertain their audience. What about the outgoing president Mwai Kibaki with his famous humorous quotation?

With Kenyan people, to get their maximum attention and have a real following, drive them to the state of euphoria, capture their attention with humor and let everyone have something to talk about you, engage the masses with what excites them and you are so sure you are heading somewhere. Someone like Peter Kenneth has real and tangible agendas for Kenyans but has not exploited the potential of engaging the masses thus his manifesto is mostly known to the learned elite while majority who just loves to chitchat about politics and politicians, they have little to talk about him or from him. Kenyans are notorious for voting personalities driven by euphoria, and other factors discussed below but rarely vote based on real issues.


Am not endorsing tribalism, but truth must be told. Kenya is highly tribal with so many distinct tribes scattered across the country. We have major and minor tribes. Kukuyus, Kisiis, Luos, Luhyas, Kalenjins, Merus, and Kambas, can be termed as major tribes while Mijikendas, Taitas and Maasais come in between, some tribes like Pokomo, Rendille, Turkana, and Oromas can be termed as minor tribes in Kenya due to their numbers.
A Graph of Kenyan Tribes by numbers. (Click to enlarge)

Politics is a game that has in it the ability to recognize the power of tribal blocs where should one manage to capture attention and faith of major tribes, the road to political success is wider than the modern Thika Superhighway, especially the presidential hopefuls. Politicians also are known to have political strongholds in places where the majorities are from their tribe. Tribal politics are not new in Kenya. Some people are predicting the winner already basing on tribal blocs; this is wrong as it only serves to heighten ethnical tension and incites negative ethnicity.

In themselves, tribal blocs are not bad as they may also determine Kenyan social capabilities. The governments in order to distribute major resources like education; it must give into account the tribes in Kenya with their various cultures and beliefs among others. Trouble brews when negative ethnicity arises due to tribal distinctions and differences. Politics are also to blame for inducing negative ethnicity but other factors play role too.


Herd with respect to people means a large group of people, often with a common interest, purpose, or bond. Kenyan politicians have perfected the art of tapping into the potential of pooling people into a herd while some followers are just there just because most people are there but not as per their own initiative. “If you can’t beat them, join them.” This is true in Kenyan politics to many people.

There is a tendency for people swaying by general populace destined for a certain political destination without questioning the actual reasons for heading that direction. The problem is made even worse by our politicians who keep on hoping from one political party to another.

Herd mentality is highly psychological and tends to gather many people into one major group in total disregard of issues at hand.
It is common to hear people saying that they will vote for someone where they are sure  their vote will count rather than waste their vote on someone who "they are sure he/she will lose the elections.". Is this not herd mentality?


The more popular a politician is, the higher the chances of appealing to people. Kenyans have a queer habit of voting politicians basing on popularity and widely accepted public view without basing their decision on more personal capabilities and characters. “Better the devil you know, than the angel you don’t”, is very true to Kenyan politics.

People are hardly moved by a new entrant to politics even if his promises are more achievable and makes sense, as long as he/she is not popular, there is an uphill task of building popularity before people look in his/her direction. This may mean through numerous public appearances and maintaining public attention, distributing money or anything that will make people associate closely with him/her etc
Public opinion polls is also a key player towards enhancing politicians popularity as it incites people to want to know more about "the most popular" politician or aspirant and reasons for his/her popularity. Resilience in some politicians also has enhanced their popularity due to their ability to bounce back into politics even after a major political failure or blunder. What about political acrobatics?, witty politicians?, etc Kenyans can judge them by their actions.
Political heavyweights in Kenya also have a crucial role in shaping Kenyan politics.


The more humorous you are to Kenyans, the more people will talk about you and the more popular you will become. Some politicians have managed to stay popular to their followers due to being able to engage the masses in a more humorous manner. People are highly social beings who wish to feel close and more attached amongst them.
One obviously enjoys the company of a humorous friend or lover or whoever it is; in politics it is not different in any way.

Politicians who have mastered the art of eliciting laughter, amusement and to bring out the non serious side of politics will have much following than someone the opposite. It is common to find politicians even making fun of themselves in public, quoting their fellows jokingly, cracking jokes etc in order to get and keep the people hooked up to the end. In public relations, lack of humor spells doom for your career. Humor in general is also a nice recipe for euphoria.


What is to entice? This is to make someone do something by offering something desirable, akin to temptation. This could also be called a game of sugar-coated promises. In making promises, politicians are so nice at it even people will hardly question how achievable are his promises.

People will run wild, get ecstatic and talk endlessly when they are promised wonderful development offers should they vote someone. The modern Kenyan society is plagued by insecurity, lack of jobs, inequitable distribution of the national cake, historical injustices e.g. in lands, etc. Politicians take advantage of the situation that people will obviously be moved when they promise to magically put an end to their woes once they get to the parliament. The more hyperbolical and embellished the promises are, the higher the chances of enticing people to vote for them. Unfortunately many politicians do not seem to deliver as per their promises and this is evident by the way people talk evil of their constituency MPs. Very few fulfill their promises.

Same case applies to the fact that most politicians will more readily engage the youth and women by promises. Women are promised more empowerment and gender equality while youth are promised jobs among others. It is a simple psychological game, once women are excited, the rest it is a matter of time before the rumor mill takes over. Same applies to the youth, due to their energy; it is easy for them to sway the public towards a certain direction.

Religious enticement also plays part in politics. Why then do politicians go to campaign in churches and Muslim gatherings? it is because they know how easy it is to reach many people via a church and mosques. So they will take their promises to churches and convince people to vote them. Same case applies to Islam. Muslims are easily engaged when you promise them more recognition for their religious law in relation to civil penalties and rules [Kadhi court laws]. The fact that many Muslim are to be found in coast province, it is easy to conclude that getting a good support from the Muslim it is easy to win over the rest of coastal people.


Politicians know each other very well and are often quoted stripping each other in public in order to appear cleaner than their counterparts. They will incite public against each other through a supposition of i.e. lands and public property grabbed and looted, accusations of nepotism against their opponents, accusations of scandals against their opponents etc.

Also some politicians receive threats in order to give up the race, obviously being intimidated by their opponents. Intimidation may also assume forms of public bragging of achievements and developments met in comparison of their opponents etc. By taking rallies to areas where they are very popular may also give an impression of massive following and this is meant to intimidate their opponents. What about quoting opinion polls analysis?


This is by far a very effective way of engaging Kenyans politically and since there are major tribes and religions that are found in certain regions; winning over people by regions especially for the presidential hopefuls it is very crucial. 
A Graph of Provincial population by figures (Click to enlarge)

Coast province is more into tourism so any promises on enhancing tourism is highly welcome to the coastal people. Rift Valley, Central, Eastern and Western provinces are more into agriculture and the most effective ways to entice them is through showing them that your government will have a positive contribution towards agriculture. 

Northern Kenya is mostly inhabited by pastoral communities, same for some parts of southern Rift Valley province. So any policies that seem to favor their major economic activity will win them over.

Moreover, why do politicians major their campaigns in the mostly inhabited regions? Or regions where they have tribal affiliations? They would like to secure their strongholds and backyard votes before going to hunt for votes from other regions.

As it is, I would like to urge Kenyans to vote entirely guided by their decisions and avoid being swayed by popular opinions, trends, herds or any political or social element whatsoever, and in this way, we will be sure we are voting for the right and most eligible leaders in our land. The change begins with you and your vote.

What are the other games that are played in Kenya Politics that you know? Let us know.

Related article:

KENYA INSECURITY: The Gathering Storm!



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