Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Zimbabwe Army Coup?

My Facebook Post: Listening to various commentaries on BBC this morning on the situation in Zimbabwe, there is a great pointer to the fact there has been a military coup. One MDC MP even observes that the ousted VP Emerson Mnangagwa might have a hand in the coup. It is alleged Mnangagwa met the army general Chiwenga. The analysis is that the military cannot allow Grace Mugabe to succeed the husband because she didn't take part in the liberation war. Grace is the architect of the fall of Mnangwagwa. This is just a prelude to what will happen after Bob is gone. Murky! #Zimbabwe#ZANUPF

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

#KenyaElectionDiaries: One Election; Two tales

I had gone to refill my cooking gas at Githurai when the news that Uhuru Kenyatta had been announced as winner in the re-run elections broke. Jubilant tunes and dance broke. Matatus and Bodaboda hooted, men, women and children whistled in delight. The Kenyan flags where being sold at 50 bob. The jubilee flags were free! They all danced in jubilation. I met a former security guard of USIU who was rather gloomy and unperturbed by the celebration. I asked him subtly what the celebration was all about. He grinned and said "Uhuru wao ameshinda". The few people I interacted with spoke to me in Kikuyu. I smiled and told them "Tano tena" As I drove off towards the now crowded Githurai roundabout they chanted "Tanzania Tuko Pamoja" when they saw my car registration. I put on the hazard lights and hooted as I drove off! #KenyaElectionDiaries

Monday, 30 October 2017

Lazaro Nyalandu Ajiondoa CCM

Kutoka Ukurasa wa Facebook wa Lazaro Nyalandu 

NIMEAMUA kujiuzulu NAFASI yangu ya Ujumbe wa Halmashauri Kuu ya Chama Cha Mapinduzi CCM, pamoja na nafasi zote za Uongozi ndani ya Chama kuanzia leo, Oktoba 30, 2017.
HALIKADHALIKA, asubuhi ya leo nimemwandikia Spika wa Bunge, Mh. Job Ndugai, Mb., barua ya kujiuzulu nafasi yangu ya UBUNGE wa Jimbo la Singida Kaskazini kupitia tiketi ya CCM, nafasi ambayo nimeitumikia kwa vipindi vinne mfululizo tangu nilipochaguliwa kwa mara ya kwanza mnamo mwaka 2000 hadi Sasa.
AIDHA, Nimechukua UAMZI huo kutokana na kutorishwa kwangu na mwenendo wa hali ya Kisiasa nchini, ikiwa ni pamoja na ukiukwaji wa HAKI za Kibinadamu, ongezeko la vitendo vya dhuluma wanavyofanyiwa baadhi ya watanzania wenzetu, na kutokuwepo kwa mipaka ya wazi kati ya MIHIMILI ya dola (Serikali, Bunge, na Mahakama) kunakofanya utendaji kazi wa Kibunge wa Kutunga Sheria na wa Kuisimamia Serikali kutokuwa na uhuru uliainishwa na kuwekwa bayana KIKATIBA.
VILEVILE, Naamini kwamba bila Tanzania kupata Katiba Mpya Sasa, hakuna namna yeyote ya kuifanya mihimili ya dola isiingiliane na kuwepo kwa ukomo wa wazi na kujitegemea kwa dhahiri kwa mihimili ya Serikali, Bunge na mahakama ambayo ndio chimbuko la Uongozi Bora wa nchi, na kuonesha kwa uwazi kuwa madaraka yote yatokana na wananchi wenyewe, na kwamba Serikali ni ya Watu kwajili ya Watu.
MIMI Naondoka na kukiacha Chama Cha Mapinduzi CCM, nikiwa nimekitumikia kuanzia ngazi ya Uenyekiti wa UVCCM Mkoa, Ujumbe wa Kamati za Siasa Wilaya na Mkoa, Ujumbe wa Kamati ya Wabunge Wote wa CCM na Mjumbe wa Halmashauri Kuu ya CCM TAIFA, kwani nimejiridhisha kuwa kwa mwenendo wa hali ya kisiasa, kiuongozi na kiuchumi uliyopo Tanzania Sasa, CCM imepoteza mwelekeo wake wa kuisimamia Serikali kama ilivyokuwa hapo awali. AIDHA, Naamini kuwa, kama ilivyotokea kwa mihimili ya Bunge na Mahakama kutokuwa na uhuru kamili, bila kuingiliwa kiutendaji kwa namna Moja au nyigine, CCM nayo imekuwa Chini ya miguu ya dola badala ya chama kushika hatamu na kuikosoa Serikali inapobidi kama yalivyokuwa maono ya Baba wa TAIFA MWALIMU Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
HIVYOBASI, kwa dhamira yangu, na kwa uamuzi wangu mwenyewe, nikiwa na haki ya KIKATIBA, natangaza KUKIHAMA Chama Cha Mapinduzi CCM leo hii, na nitaomba IKIWAPENDEZA wanachama wa Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo CHADEMA, basi waniruhusu kuingia MALANGONI mwao, niwe mwanachama, ili kuungana na CHADEMA na watanzania wote wanaopenda kuleta mabadiliko ya kisiasa na kiuchumi nchini kwa kupitia mfumo wa ki demokrasia na uhuru wa mawazo.
VILEVILE, nimemua kujiuzulu KITI Cha Ubunge, Jimbo la Singida Kaskazini kuruhusu kufanyika kwa UCHAGUZI mwingine ili wananchi wapate fursa ya kuchagua ITIKADI wanayoona inawafaa kwa majira na nyakati hizi zenye changamoto lukuki nchini Tanzania. Ni imani yangu, kamwe hayatakuwa ya bure maneno haya, wala uamuzi huu niufanyao mbele ya Watanzania leo ili kwamba, SOTE kama TAIFA tuingie kwenye mjadala wa kuijenga upya misingi ya nchi yetu. Ni maombi yangu kwa MUNGU kuwa Haki itamalaki Tanzania. Upendo, amani na mshikamano wa watu wa imani zote za dini, mitazamo yote ya kiitikadi za Kisiasa, na makabila yote nchini uimarike. Tushindane ki sera na kuruhusu tofauti za mawazo, lakini tubaki kama ndugu, na TAIFA lililo imara na nchi yenye ADILI.
Lazaro S. Nyalandu.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Reflections from the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) Conference, Accra, Ghana [October, 2017]

Nicodemus Minde
United States International University Africa

The conference [October 12-14, 2017] was an excellent opportunity to debate the Africas standing in global politics. The conference stimulated my interest in the discussion around African studies, Africas agency in international relations and place of local agencies in conflict management and peacebuilding. The panel that I presented was titled The future of Peacebuilding: Security, governance and transitional justice in post-colonial Africa. This panel among other things debated the potency of Western-led and state-centric approaches to peacebuilding and transitional justice in Africa. In my paper presentation Peacebuilding through Transitional Justice in South Sudan: Challenges and Prospects, I critiqued the liberal peace thesis in the peacebuilding agenda in South Sudan. I also critiqued the timing of transitional justice in post-conflict South Sudan arguing that it was rushed. Building on the thematic area of our panel, I also looked at the role of the local agency in peacebuilding. The resulting discussion was on the need for a careful balance between Western approaches to peacebuilding with those that we refer as traditional.

I participated in many other panels which among other things looked at decolonizing academia, deconstructing and reimaging educational systems, democratic consolidation and discourses of development. All panels managed to stimulate debate and discussion on the place of Africa in global politics. For me the best debate came from Emeritus Professor Jacob Gordon of University of Kansas who presented on the role of ASAA in African Studies. Prof. Gordon averred that unless ASAA develops its capacity it cannot influence anything in the global arena. He challenged the role of ASAA and prescribed ways it can be able to resuscitate African intellectualism.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Worth Sharing: [“Who Are We and Whose Are We?”: Professor Ampofo’s Inaugural Address at Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences]

Often, when people talk about identity they refer to individual identity. Recently, however, the focus is shifting to look more closely at the concept of national identity and its impact on individual identity. In her inaugural address as a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, a Co-Editor of this Blog, spoke on how some aspects of national identity are impacted by the dwindling image people have of themselves as Ghanaians. Her lecture touched on some aspects of national identity such as food, language, architecture, clothing and artefacts which are significant for a people’s national identity, including Ghanaians. She suggested what others are doing and some of the specific ways in which we can re-claim a people’s national identity.
Language, an embodiment of a people’s culture and identity was one of the issues Professor Ampofo discussed at length. Like most African countries, Ghana has many local languages. It is therefore surprising that not even one of these languages is legitimized as a national language. She noted this lack of respect and attention given to Ghanaian languages and suggested this was implicated in the country’s dire socio-economic status. She observed that the insistence on the use of foreign colonial languages, English and French, cuts out a huge portion of the population who are most fluent and comfortable in their own local languages. She sees the exclusion of Ghanaian languages as a reflection of the negative attitude towards local things. This echoes a point made severally by our friend and colleague, Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’oWhile the issue of selecting one local language as a national language still remains a thorny issue, the fact that other African countries like Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya have been able to do this is a reminder to any doubters that an official national African language is possible.
On architecture, Professor Adomako Ampofo was surprised that architectural designs that favour the local climate have been abandoned in favour of those that do not suit the warm and humid climate in the tropics. During a period when there is no electricity, a visit to most of these buildings with so-called “modern” architectural designs will leave one wondering whether the goal of putting up the building was to simply showcase the architect’s ability to design a sophisticated edifice, or for the building to be used as a working or living space. This is due to the unbearable heat one has to endure during such “unforeseen” times, as if the architect had forgotten which part of the world they were designing the building for! Most Ghanaians who grew up in their grandmother’s village houses well remember that even without air conditioners, all one needs to do is open the windows and the house is filled with enough breeze to make one wrap him/herself in a blanket, especially at dawn. The secret to this is simple: the houses were built in such a way that the windows are positioned in the direction of the wind to enhance circulation in the rooms and to enhance the passage of the wind. Some houses, also had sophisticated technologies such as water reservoirs beneath the building. Harvesting water beneath the house and strategic positioning of windows in the design of the house, greatly contributes to the cool temperatures within these so-called “primitive” houses.
Professor Ampofo expressed regret that such fine architectural styles have been abandoned in place of western ones. In most parts of Ghana now, especially the urban areas, putting up concrete buildings with glazed windows and doors is seen as a sign of prestige. These glass windows, however, contribute to heat retention and result in a high demand for ceiling fans and air conditioners with a resultant increase in demand for power to run these electrical devices in homes and offices.
The significant connection between food and culture is embodied in the saying “you are what you eat.” The definitive attribute of food in addition to its health value cannot be lost on anyone. Food has always been an important aspect of culture. Professor Ampofo wondered why with all the healthy food we have in Ghana the nation spends billions of Ghana Cedis importing polished rice. Let’s conveniently forget about the fact that it has been scientifically proven that the locally grown rice is much healthier. Professor Ampofo was also astounded as to why people would prefer to patronize junk food imported from abroad rather than consume the nutritious locally prepared foods available. All these, she saw as a loss of part of our identity as Ghanaian.
With respect to clothing, she pondered why local fabrics and designs have been abandoned for foreign imported clothes and designs. She also questioned why our monuments are being left to the vagaries of the weather when they are an important aspect of our history and identity. The destruction of some significant Ghanaian artworks and the absence of museums of art and culture to preserve those that remain is of huge concern to her since with time, all traces of the artistic background will be lost and replaced by European or American ones.
Professor Ampofo however believes there is still hope; all is not lost for the reclamation of Ghanaian identity. As Maya Angelou once said “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Ghanaian culture has faced some challenges and might have lost some of its gloss but as Maya Angelou says if we face the reality of the challenge with courage, the future will be better than the present. Professor Ampofo concluded her presentation with a call for a return to the country’s indigenous ways of doing things and a perfection of these indigenous ways as a way of positioning them as sustainable substitutes to the current options available.
Shared from CIHA Blog.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Book Review: Julius Nyerere by Paul Bjerk

In a short and precise volume, Paul Bjerk succeeds in debating the legacy of Nyerere in six short chapters. The book deals with the highs and lows of Nyerere’s illustrious political career and balances this in a manner befitting a great African statesman, says Nicodemus Minde. 
Paul Bjerk has taken keen interest in the study of Tanzania’s postcolonial history and in particular he has written about the country’s foreign policy and national building agenda with an emphasis on the leadership of Tanzania’s founding president Julius Nyerere. He is the author of Building a Peaceful Nation: Julius Nyerere and the Establishment of Sovereignty in Tanzania, (1960-1964) – which captures the very essence of national building in the formative years of Tanzania’s independence. Having been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Iringa in Tanzania, Bjerk builds on his previous studies of the country by writing a short, succinct biography of Julius Nyerere.
The book generally highlights the personal life of Nyerere, who was fondly known as Mwalimu – Swahili for teacher. The political story of Mwalimu has been told in many platforms including books, articles, monographs and documentaries. Bjerk, through conversations with Nyerere’s childhood friends tells of Mwalimu’s early life, growing up as a chief’s son. Nyerere’s mother was the fifth wife of Chief Nyerere Burito and as such educating the child of a fifth wife was not always a priority. However, after been convinced by another chief, Nyerere’s father sent his son to school. The author points to the early political socialisation in primary school, secondary school and the Catholic Church which influenced Nyerere’s thinking. Nyerere’s egalitarian principles were shaped by his mentor, Father Richard Walsh, who was the headmaster of St. Mary’s Secondary School in Tabora. His university education at Makerere College in Uganda and at Edinburgh, Scotland further shaped his philosophy of socialism. Upon his return home after completing a master’s degree at Edinburgh, Nyerere planned to venture into active politics where he became a member of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA).
The book situates Nyerere’s role in Tanzania’s political trajectory from the 1950s up until the independence in 1961. The Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) succeeded TAA and became the official political organisation that worked towards Tanganyika’s independence. Away from the lionisation often associated with Nyerere, Bjerk highlights Nyerere’s political suppression of dissenting voices such as those of Zuberi Mtemvu (pp.54-55). Nyerere’s decision to suppress his critics was justified on grounds of inclusivity and equality – a foundation of his philosophical underpinnings. Mtemvu was a proponent of the Africanist ideology which was pushing for a more aggressive policy of Africanisation (p.56). Nyerere’s vision was to build a united nation.
In exploring Nyerere’s contribution to the Tanganyika-Zanzibar Union in 1964, the author captures the intrigues and intricacies of the union formation. The book explores the then global interests and the interplay and power struggles between Zanzibar President Sheikh Abeid Karume and Nyerere. The book also highlights Nyerere’s power consolidation through overt and covert means. In particular, the author draws our attention to the way Nyerere managed to curtail voices that criticised government policy and also that questioned the workings of the Union (p.99).
A statue of Julius Nyerere in Dodoma
Photo credit: Pernille Bærendtsen via Flickr( http://bit.ly/2kEvFtg) CC BY-SA 2.0
Nyerere’s philosophic beliefs anchored in the Arusha Declaration of 1967 that birthed Ujamaa and Self-Reliance or what Nyerere referred to as African Socialism is well addressed in the book. Bjerk situates his analysis of Ujamaa and self-reliance in Nyerere’s vision for national building and through a subtle analysis of Tanzania’s diplomacy and foreign policy. For example, the book looks at the break in relations between Tanzania and Britain in 1965 which was in protest of the latter’s passive policy toward Southern Rhodesia. It was after this that Nyerere turned to the Chinese who helped in constructing the Tanzania-Zambia railway.
The author also looks at Nyerere’s forays in Africa between 1978 and the 1990s including Tanzania’s ousting of Uganda’s Idi Amin, the Tanganyika – Zanzibar Union question and the frosty relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nyerere’s voluntary retirement from the presidency in 1985 meant that he took the elder statesman mantle. Nyerere’s aura as statesman and his shadow was ominous especially in the domestic political party discourse. Nyerere spoke almost prophetically on the dangers of corruption in the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). Mwalimu’s sunset years saw him play a role in the Burundi peace mediation. The world mourned Nyerere when he died at a London hospital in October 1999 and his legacy as the author sums up was one of a man of “rare integrity, intelligence and commitment” (p.148).
In a short volume, Bjerk succeeds in debating the legacy of Nyerere through six short chapters. The book recognises the highs and lows of Nyerere’s illustrious political careers and balances this in a manner befitting a great African statesman.
The book, despite being a biography of Nyerere, draws parallels to contemporary Tanzania’s leadership. The leadership of President John Magufuli has often been mirrored to that of Nyerere due their ostensible nationalistic goals. This book offers that opportunity to understand Tanzania’s political culture and history through the life and times of Mwalimu Nyerere.

Nicodemus Minde (@decolanga) is a PhD student in International Relations at the United States International University – Africa (USIU- Africa)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Political and Ethno-Demographic Calculations in NASA’s Endorsement of Governor Mandago

All politics is local. It is kitchen sink time ahead of the anticipated general elections in Kenya on 8 August. The two leading political outfits Jubilee and NASA are crisscrossing the country in attempt to win the hearts of people. Incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta snubbed the president’s debate citing it as a “waste of time” much to the chagrin of the Kenyan people. His die-hard supporters have however, defended his decision. His close competitor Raila Odinga chose to attend the debate and with the latest Infotrak showing he has a one-point lead to President Kenyatta, he will definitely be buoyed and confident going into the elections. A corresponding Ipsos poll however, shows Uhuru in the lead. Much of the campaign message after the debate has been about the decision of Uhuru to skip the debate.

Despite this spin, one interesting thing happened during NASA’s campaign in Uasin Gishu county. In an area known to be the bedrock of Jubilee support, it is largely expected that NASA will get very few votes. However, with the local ethno-demographic and political play, NASA has seen an opportunity to eat-into the Jubilee votes.

Ethno-demography in Uasin Gishu County

Incumbent governor Jackson Mandago who won the Jubilee nominations in April, 2017 is facing a tough reelection. His closest and fiercest opponent is Zedekiah Kiprop Bundotich alias Buzeki who is an independent candidate. These two had actually squared off in the Jubilee nominations with Mandago defeating Buzeki – who felt aggrieved and decamped and is now running as an independent. Buzeki is known to be wealthy and as the story goes, enjoys the support of the Deputy President William Ruto – the Rift Valley kingpin. A recent poll by Infotrak indicates that Buzeki (54%) is ahead of Mandago (42.1%) in the governor’s race. Buzeki has been gaining momentum since his decision to run as an independent.

In June, the Star Newspaper wrote an analysis of the battle-royal between the two – saying that Buzeki was no storm in a teacup. The analysis indicated that Mandago, who is an ethnic Nandi – the majority in the Kalenjin tribe is a poor orator and lacks charisma to pull crowds. The ethno-demography is further evidenced in Buzeki who is a Keiyo – another subtribe of the Kalenjin and married to a Kikuyu. The historicities of the ethnic politics in Rift Valley and Kenya are known to play a key factor in elections. Kenya’s political culture is read through ethnic mobilization and balkanization. That notwithstanding, the interplay between the Nandi-Keiyo/Kikuyu in Uasin Gishu is threatening the reelection of Mandago. Deputy President William Ruto has pleaded with Buzeki to drop his bid but Buzeki remains adamant that he wants the governorship position. Mandago has “accused” the Kikuyus in Uasin Gishu of supporting his opponent – something he says is not good for Jubilee unity. Reports indicate that a Kikuyu interest group in the county would prefer Buzeki, their in-law to safeguard their interests.

NASA Prey in Uasin Gishu

The continuing ethno-demographic mobilization in the county has enticed the opposition NASA – who like the proverbial grasshopper fight that benefits the crow. Earlier, there was talk that a Buzeki withdrawal from the rest would have forced his supporters to vote for NASA. However, with Buzeki still in the race, NASA has decided to wade in. Speaking in Eldoret, NASA leaders pledged support for Mandago. “If I was voting here in Eldoret, I would have voted for Mandago,” said NASA running mate Kalonzo Musyoka. On his part, Moses Wetangula said that he stood with Mandago because he was “oppressed”. Bomet governor Isaac Rutto also weighed in sending greetings to Mandago much to the jubilation of the crowd. The thinking of NASA is that a section of Jubilee leaders is backing Buzeki and not Mandago.

NASA game plan

NASA’s endorsement of Mandago can be analyzed in three ways. Firstly, NASA and indeed Mandago, believe that William Ruto is supporting Buzeki. They say the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Through this endorsement, NASA sees an opportunity of receiving presidential votes in Uasin Gishu from Mandagao supporters. What will it take to have Mandago supporters, who are also Jubilee supporters to vote for Raila Odinga of NASA? This remains highly unlikely. Jubilee has found it hard to sell its six-piece voting pattern especially in areas that it enjoys massive following such as in Central Kenya and in Rift Valley. However, on the ethno-demographic balance, NASA could receive rebel votes from Mandago Jubilee supporters as well as from other NASA allied tribes living in the county. The script here is again focused on 2022 succession politics of DP William Ruto – who wants to have his “men” ahead of his anticipated 2022 presidential bid.

Secondly, with the tightness of the elections as predicted by two polls Infrotrak and Ipsos, the game plan for NASA seems to also focus on a potential runoff. If Buzeki wins the race, Mandago livid and disfranchised supporters will be inclined to vote for Raila Odinga in the runoff -  thus tipping the scales in favor of NASA. This is a futurist calculation which NASA hopes to cash on in the event there is a runoff.

Governor Mandago and William Ruto 
Thirdly, NASA’s endorsement of Mandago’s is a crafty attempt to eat into Rift Valley votes having already done so with the inclusion of renegade Bomet governor Isaac Rutto. With the ethno-demographic interplay, it is expected that NASA will eat into the Jubilee stronghold of Rift Valley. Aware that the electoral dynamics change every day, it remains to be seen if the new-found NASA love for Jubilee’s Mandago will yield any success.    

Monday, 10 July 2017

Campaign Songs and the 2017 Elections in Kenya

With the Kenyan elections at fever pitch you must have heard NASA’s campaign song “Tibim” and Jubilee’s “Tano Tena”. I look at how the campaigns have been shaped by the songs adopted as campaign songs by the two-leading political entities in Kenya.

Since the wave in the reintroduction of multiparty electoral politics in Africa in the 1990s, the world has been treated to the ups and downs that have come with multiparty elections in Africa. Africa has come a long way in electoral politics. Nic Cheeseman in his book Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures and the Struggle for Political Reform brings out the challenges to democratic consolidation in Africa citing the examples of numerous states. I have taken much interest in elections and election studies in Africa, reading numerous works by both Western and African scholars who analyze the road to democracy in Africa. Particularly, I have been a keen follower of the Kenyan electoral process since 1997 when I was still in Primary School in Lukenya Academy. Having spent my entire formative years in Kenya, I have observed the electoral process since 1997 when President Daniel Moi was reelected. The 1997 elections were interesting, and as a young man, I recall the party symbols that were used. Moi and his party KANU had the ‘jogoo’ as the party symbols while Charity Ngilu’s SDP had the clock. She was a phenomenon then, people referred her “Masaa ya Ngilu”. Raila Odinga who ran on the National Development Party (NDP) had the symbol of a tractor – and people called him “Tinga”.

The elections of 2002 were historic in Kenya. With the merger of the opposition under the NARC umbrella, they were able to oust Moi’s project Uhuru Kenyatta. Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as president on a wheelchair at a memorable occasion in Uhuru Park. It was my final year in Primary School and the mood around the country was electric. The election in 2007 was followed by the unfortunate descent into election violence. ODM Party candidate Raila Odinga contested the election outcomes leading to reprisal communal attacks in many parts of the country. The 2013 elections ended up at the Supreme Court, where Raila Odinga’s coalition CORD unsuccessfully contested the outcome.

Siasa Kenya

Despite the ethnized nature of Kenyan politics, one interesting thing is the fanfare that characterizes the electioneering process. I have not known a day in Kenya where politics is not discussed. The end of an election in Kenya is the start of politicking and planning for the next election. There is never a dull moment in Kenyan politics. As part of my literature review for my PhD thesis, I have gathered a lot of material on elections and electoral politics in Africa. One text that has drawn me to the Kenyan elections in Multiethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaigns written by Leonardo Arriola. The book looks at patronage politics, ethnic cleavages and democratization in Africa. Its analysis touches on the asymmetry between post-colonial Africa and the ethnic mobilization in countries in Africa. Kenya falls under this analysis of ethnic balkanization and ethnic mobilization in the form of coalitions. The rise of ethnic coalitions in Kenya is a testament of the deep lying ethnic issues in the country. Party populism in Kenya is based on how much an ethnic leader can marshall his tribesmen and those of other tribes’ people to outdo the others.

Creativity in Campaign Songs

Despite the doom and gloom, Kenyan politics remains interesting especially on the creativity in the campaigns. The 2017 elections have been made more interesting by the campaign songs. Campaign songs add to the glitz and glamor of elections. The two major coalitions Jubilee and the National Super Alliance (NASA) have incorporated campaign songs that mobilize the electorate. Whereas campaign slogans are aimed at capturing the attention of people during campaign rallies, campaign songs generally radiate the mojo of the electorates. Jubilee’s campaign slogan is “Tuko Pamoja” which translates to we are together while that of NASA is “Mambo Yabadilika” meaning Change.

The two parties don’t have official campaign songs but some local artists have crafted campaign songs that have been adopted by NASA and Jubilee in their campaign trail. Tanzania’s ruling party CCM is known to have good campaign songs which were composed by the Tanzania One Theatre (TOT) Band. In the 2015 elections for instance, CCM outdid its closest rival Chadema with the hit song “CCM Mbele kwa Mbele”. By all means, the song must have been the song of the year in 2015. It spoke to the CCM supporters and also lambasted the opposition in very crafty manner. “CCM ni ile ile, oh ni ile ile… mwaka huu watatukoma,” these were some of the lyrics that galvanized the CCM base.

Nasa Tibim, Raila Tibim!

NASA has several songs that it has adopted for its campaign. Going by their coalition slogan “Mambo Yabadilika” the NASA coalition has adopted Hellena Ken’s gospel song with the same title to signify their change message. The song by Hellen Ken has been popularized by the NASA coalition and it is now synonymous with them. Going by the change theme, a Luhyia artist Amos Barasa has released the song “Bindu Bichenjanga” singing about change. The glitzy Luo song “Tibim” by Onyi Jalamo has so far been the most reverberant NASA campaign song. “Tibim” song recognizes all the NASA leaders led by its presidential candidate Raila Odinga, running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula among others such as the Nairobi governor Evans Kidero. These songs add to the glitz and fanfare at rallies before the leaders make their speeches. Artist Lawi has also added to the list of the NASA songs as well as Sweet Star, the Kalenjin artist who has a Kalenjin remix Tibim song. The NASA team has also used Tanzania’s hit song “Muziki” by Darassa featuring Ben Pol to respond to Jubilee’s attacks with Raila telling off President Kenyatta “Blah Blah sitaki kusikia” then he dances as the song rolls on. Raila, popularly known as “Baba”, “Tinga”, “Agwambo” or “Jakom” or “Joshua” has had many songs by his tribesmen which idolize and praise him. One example is that by lady Maureem titles “Raila Jakom”. Kamba artist Ken Wa Maria has also sung a song praising Kalonzo Musyoka titled “Kalonzo ika nesa” which is sang in campaign rallies before Kalonzo speaks.  

Kenyan top leaders share a joke 


Jubilee, Tano Tena!

Kikuyu Gospel artist Ben Githae has released a campaign song in praise of Jubilee and its leaders incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. The song “Uhuru na Ruto Tano Tena” is a reminder of the much Jubilee has achieved in their first term in office and urges people to reelect them. The song in Swahili highlights the successes in the Jubilee administration. I have also come across a song by Kamande wa Kioi, a popular Kikuyu artist who sings praises to Uhuru Kenyatta. The song “Uhuru ni witu” sang in Kikuyu was a prayer request to have Uhuru freed from the ICC yoke before his election in 2013.

Onyi Papa Jay 2007 Song

However, the best campaign song has to be Onyi Papa Jay’s ODM song of 2007. The song combined Swahili and Luo lyrics to capture the process leading to the 2007 elections. The song gives a historical analysis of the formation of the ODM party. Combining Swahili and Luo narratives, the song gives details of the 2005 referendum that was won by the Orange team. The ODM team was led by the then Pentagon of Raila, Ruto, Mudavadi, Nyaga, Balala and Ngilu. Using Raila’s football commentary analogy, Onyi Papa Jay passionately narrates how ODM was going to beat PNU in the elections.


Campaign songs are important in mobilizing electorate around an agenda ahead of an election. Songs generally are an important medium of cultural expression in all societies. The campaign songs in Kenya explain the nature of Kenyan political landscape which is largely ethnic. However, the songs have also been embraced by the ethnic communities that make up the specific coalitions.   

Nicodemus Minde
Nairobi, Kenya
10 July 2017