Wednesday, July 30, 2008



July 29, 2008

Mr Dick Wathika, Makadara MP- Against the idea
Dr Thuo Mathenge, Spokesman for the Organizers


Q. What is the significance of making Raila a Kikuyu elder?

A. Every community has its own traditions and its own way of life. I do not know about other communities like Bukusu, Kuria or Mijikenda, but I know about the Kikuyu. I know there is a process to be followed. By being made an elder it would mean he gets the respect that is accorded elders of a certain age. It means the community can consult him in case of a crisis. He is expected to be a man with wisdom.

Q. How will this be viewed in the context of Raila’s political ambitions?

A. First it would mean the people of Central Kenya are warming up to him. It would mean that it would be easy to make statements on issues affecting the community and they would be acceptable. It has a huge meaning and relevance.

Q. Does the effort amount to a political gimmick?

A. It could be a mere political gimmick either by Raila or those behind it. I honestly doubt he would be taken seriously by the community by the mere fact that he has been made an elder. I do not think that the Kikuyu would automatically start consulting him on issues affecting the community. I think this is just another political gimmick.

Q. Does the Kikuyu community still maintain the tradition of honouring elders?

A. Elders are still there. Goats are still being slaughtered. Systems are still there but their relevance has dwindled over time because of rapid civilization and urbanization. We still have elders but their significance is not as prime as in the past.

Q. Do Kikuyu elders have a political role and where were they during the post-election violence?

A. They no longer have a political role. People have over the years mingled. The community is not run as it used to be because governments have replaced the customary role of elders. They do not have a lot of command. They used to be powerful when there were no governments.


Q. Why has the proposal drawn mixed reactions?

A. Because it is a political gimmick. Some people want to place themselves strategically to be relevant or the PM wants to use it to endear himself to the Kikuyu. I do not think he is interested in sorting out our problems. However, I am not opposed to people from different cultures mingling.

Q. Why are some people opposed to making Raila a Kikuyu elder?

A. Some people say it is a bad idea. Some people just want to find political relevance but certain rituals must be performed. But some support it because they think he is a courageous leader and Kikuyus admire courage.


Q. What is the significance of Raila being made a Kikuyu elder?

A. It doesn’t matter whether Raila is made a Kikuyu, Kuria or a Mijikenda elder because all these are ethnic groups in Kenya. We are not going to recognize him because he is Luo, but because he is a noble Kenyan, somebody who has contributed a lot to the country.

Q. How will this be viewed in the context of Raila’s political ambitions?

A. Our aim is not political. Raila has his way of playing politics. We are tracing our steps to the time of independence when Kenya was born and the kind of unity that existed. We are doing this because something terrible happened during the last General Election when communities rose against each other. We want to start national healing like at independence when all communities united to win freedom. Jaramogi Odinga supported Jomo Kenyatta and refused to form a Government until Kenyatta was released from jail.

Q. What rituals will be performed to make him an elder?

A. Raila is already a Kikuyu elder. He slaughtered a goat for Kiama (elders) before his son married from the Kikuyu community. When you marry from a community you become an elder in that homestead. We are just making it official.

Q. Does the Kikuyu community still honour elders?

A. It has been happening in the villages but it has not captured national limelight because of the oppression elders by the previous government. It is only the other day that Mau Mau was recognized. The Mau Mau were never given a chance to meet. The Kikuyu elders have been living in fear since colonial times.

Q. Why are some people opposed to the ceremony?

A. They are self-centered people who are thinking of their political survival only. I would like to remind them that it is the Luo/Kikuyu unity that brought independence to this country. It is also this unity that ushered in multi-party politics in 1992. I want to tell them that this unity could be used to defeat tribalism.

Q. Some have dismissed your initiative as seeking political mileage. Comment.

A. We are not here for political mileage. We are here to heal the injured relationship between communities.

Q. Some dismiss the fete as a ploy to sell Raila to Mt Kenya voters. True?

A. Raila is known nationally and internationally. People can see how he is working. He is not a tribalist. Raila supported President Kibaki in 2002 when he won his first term and also accepted to be PM in 2008 for the sake of the country. We have other leaders like Cabinet minister Martha Karua who we are supporting because of the way she has supported the people of Mt Kenya. We are asking the leaders from the region; Uhuru Kenyatta and Kiraitu Murungi, to work with others to unite Kenya.