In a country where a very large number of top politicians — including Josiah Mwangi Kariuki and Thomas Joseph Mboya — have been murdered in cold blood, we cannot simply dismiss as a cheap political gimmick the frequent allegation by many a Kenyan politician that “… my life is in danger …”
The latest allegation of that kind was made on Tuesday by Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho.
It raises a compelling question. Exactly who would want to kill Governor Joho and why?
The why part of the question is probably the easier to deal with. For in Kenya’s political phenomenon ever since we promulgated a new constitution several years ago, the governor of a county holds such powers as might provoke the murderous jealousy of many an ambitious young person.
On the other hand, however, whatever the trophy may be, murder — the taking of the life of another human being — is not a step any normal human person will take casually.
There must be something seriously wrong with your brain to push you to kill a human being in “one fell swoop”, as the Bard upon Avon would have called it.
The hideous fact remains, nevertheless, that, in all political situations throughout the wide human world, to fully eliminate one another from power — even by means of assassination — is a choice that has been open to all ambitious young people in all societies ever since the downfall of the mother regime and the rise of the father-based family structure many millennia ago.
William Shakespeare — that master observer of the tragedies (and comedies) to which over-ambition can lead in the human society — describes fascinatingly a number of examples, including Macbeth’s in Scotland and Julius Caesar’s in Rome.
Were he alive in our time and observing the Kenyan situation, he might produce marvellous theatre pieces on the tragic deaths each of Chiedo Moa Gem Argwings-Kodhek, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, Thomas Joseph Mboya and Robert John Ouko.
The point is that, if the perpetrators of these heinous crimes had known world history, it might have powerfully deterred their hands.
Why didn’t they know it? Probably because of the way we teach history in our schools.
It might probably sink deeper in us if we began by negatively stressing the tribalism that motivated England and France against each other in their colonisation of us.
For, almost as a matter of course, murders such as the present one do culminate in even more serious crises.
Because they were occasioned by the pin-headed ambitions of the leading individuals of certain tribes, the dastardly killings of both Mboya and Kariuki nearly threw this country into a social maelstrom from which it would have been well nigh impossible to recover our nationhood.
In many cases, however, both the circumstances and the perpetrators themselves leave gaping evidence in their wakes.
That was why it was easy to point a finger at the narrow-minded tribalism of a class of the community to which the individual Mboya killer belonged.
Thus, taking the human stage as a whole, it is extremely degrading both morally and intellectually that, in my country, tribalism remains the most probable motivation of Mr Joho’s assailant(s).
The pin-headedness — the mindlessness — of the perpetrators of such crimes should be immediately obvious to all and sundry because, through it, they deny Kenya — they remove from Kenya’s social service — some of the most brilliant minds and some of the most skilled hands available to Kenya.
The question is thus immediate. As we know from Western liberalism, even if we allowed the tribe to be the only driving factor in all our political competition, why — after so many tragedies from the small-mindedness of our tribal elites — do we continue to allow the tribe to function as the fulcrum of all our political competition?