There are a lot of valuable lessons about Kenya’s politics and economy that can be drawn from the relationship between the Kalenjin Community and William Ruto particularly now that it has soured so bad, that a section of the community’s leadership is coming out, looking him in the eye, pointing fingers at him and telling him in the face how badly he has messed them up.
They may not realise it, but the 24 Nyayo years that the Kalenjin were ‘in Kafamen‘ for real, were a curse in disguise because instead of teaching them to fish, Mzee Moi gave them fish. Army and Police lorries would comb the villages looking for unemployed youth to cart away and offer employment in the security forces. Many more were offered employment in the civil service and parastatals, all on a silver platter. The rest were content to stay put in the villages and farm.
The result of this spoon feeding approach is that the only Kalenjins that ever ventured out of the Rift Valley were salaried employees. After the massive retrenchment of redudant staff at Posta and other parastatals as well as the downsizing of the civil service under the structural adjustment program of the early 90s, a huge many of them moved back home to farm. And when Kibaki came in and replaced a huge number of them with his Kikuyu kinsmen, the entire community’s economy was reduced to just one option ~ farming.
That is why there are exactly two thousand and twenty two Kalenjins in Nairobi and other towns across Kenya, outside the Rift Valley. And that is also why anyone who messes with agriculture in Kenya is messing the Kalenjin big time. But then again, it ain’t all agricultural activities. They are engaged almost exclusively in Dairy and Maize farming.
After the Kenyattas bought all the small Kalenjin owned milk processing companies in the Rift Valley and then proceeded to use the resultant monopoly status to reduce the farm gate price for milk farmers to the lowest ever paid, Dairy farming in the Rift Valley ceased to be an economic activity worth writing home about. They raised the matter in some weak meek inaudible mumbling, but were told to zip up their mouths lest they fouled the Kenyattas’ mood and they chose not to ‘rudisha mkono’.
The Kalenjin believe that they cannot survive outside government. Having been conditioned by the ‘Nyayo error’ to survive on government handouts and favours, and having tasted 10 years ‘out here in the cold’ with us the ‘Kenyan political Eskimos’ they were so desperate to get back into ‘Kafamen’ that they were willing to sing ‘tano tena’ even when it was obvious that they were being led down a ruinous path. They just needed to cling on cor another 5 years and they would handed the sword, they were told.
Meanwhile, Ulliam was making his billions. Tonnes of fake fertilizer and imported maize, an NCPB scandal, rotting maize and such other catastrophic events seem to have woken them to the reality that 2022 was just a Carrot dangled to fool them into ceding their economic power to political conmen who are now telling them to switch to Avocado farming. My appeal to them though is that before they quit farming maize, they do just one last season, but instead of doing the ‘kawaida’ maize, they plant only the maize variety used to make Popcorn.
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