Barack Obama’s historically trip to Kenya and African union headquarter in Addis Ababa mid last year was characterized by two major factors; homosexuality and denouncing the elite of long serving leaders. Even though, media coverage was focused on his statement on homosexuality little was covered on his denouncing of long serving leaders other than a short video clip of his address at the congress of African union. And from the applause's and laughter, it was evident the congress had heard the message loud and clear, but 8 months from that historically appearance and speech, Uganda is in the limelight for both pre and post elections chaos, that involve old rivals that seem to have just renewed they more than 10 years rivalry.
With echoes of celebration all around the continental, people are geared to choose leaders from all corners, but what factors really characterize African elections, it is personalized fights that are turned into national fights that divide Africans on ethnic, tribal and religious lines that can escalate into serious violence. In this edition we will look at the struggles of power between four figures that can be streted back to the 60s or 80s
President Museveni and Besigye
And it’s no doubt that African elections are indeed chemical elections and politics of tear gas characterized by kungu-Fu and takwaedo on the rival opposition leaders by the police and military wings. And if the is one politician that has faced a lot of such situations is Besigye an opposition leader who has been once been beaten by state security like a common criminal without rights who claim Besigye incited violence. But what violence can he incite when most of his time as opposition leader have been characterized by house arrest, exile, endless court courts and assault to mention a few. Indeed what Besigye has and will experience comes as no shock to most Africans because opposition leaders dance to the same rhythm by incumbents overall the continental, but what makes Besigye’s case surprise is that he was once a personal doctor to the incumbent president Yoweri Museveni in the 1980s. this means the incumbent might has had a relationship in the past when they were both rebels, but what led to a harass relationship; it is a good business turned sour, leadership and democracy turned dictatorship or just a friendship that was ordained in hell. The answer to the latter, lies in the hands of the Ugandan people who love their country and look forward to a better tomorrow.
And not long ago, a Museveni and Besigye show down was observed, no doubt Besigye deserves a Guinness Book of Record recognition for the ‘Most arrested before and after an election’, because that’s what he has experienced this year and I challenge the people of Uganda to question the intentions of their leading politicians because Uganda is bigger than personal battles turned national agendas.
President Kenyatta vs Odinga
One cannot understand why Kenyan politics is dominated by the Kenyatta’s and Odingas or tribal clashes between the luos and the kikuyu, but that can be answered with a close look at Kenya pre and post-independence. Before independence, the greatest tool the colonial masters used to prevent any uprising was to divide Africans on tribal lines and keep each tribe suspicious of the other, but after 1963 Kenyans were united and gained they independence in 19 December 1963 with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as president while Jaramogi Oginga Odinga as vice president.
Now it is important to understand that both Kenyatta and Odinga were explosive figures that represented two powerful political tribes of the kikuyu and Luo that are sworn rivals but with Kenyatta and Odinga these two political tribes’ rivalry was put aside for the sake of freedom from the British. But this union was short-lived due to conflicting policies after the Kisumu massacre that created instability in the Luo community followed but the assassination of two prominent politicians which initially created more tensions.
With Odinga out in the cold as a fugitive opposition leader in the 1966 with his Kenyan people union (KPU) denouncing the government of Kenyatta heated exchange of words was the norm between them, which later led to Kenyan people union being banned and its leaders arrested in 1969 and Kenya became a’ de fecto’, single party state. Though the one party state statue was verified through amendment of the constitution by Kenyatta’s successor following his death in 1978. And this marked Jaramogi journey in the wilderness of the opposition which his son, Raila inherited after his death in 1994.
Curse or blessing the dominance of the two families has seen the Kenyatta’s being a major force while the Odingas are seeking to be a force, but will 2017 be a victorious year for the Odinga or maybe the curse of poor finishing will take effect. Raila like his father has criticized Kenyatta’s tactic in dealing with corruption, but is Raila and Besigye power-hungry attention seekers or they have the will of the people at heart.
President Salva Kiir vs Riek Machar
President Uhuru Kenyatta vs Raila Odinga
President Yoweri Museveni vs Besigye
President Alassane Outtara vs Laurent Gbagbo
The list is endless, but it is important to understand how a personal battle can turn out to be a national battle.
President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar
After several years of guerrilla warfare, which killed atleast a million of people and more displaced, South Sudan became an independent country in July 2011 after a referendum that saw her break away from Sudan. With a lot of hope and happiness of a better future filled the hearts and faces of the newly independent state with they country being labelled a ‘model of 21 century democracy’.
With a record of having Africa’s longest running civil war, south Sudan is no stranger to negative news such that in 2013, it made worldwide headlines when the president Kiir fired his whole cabinet and accusing his deputy Machar of planning a failed coup which led to war among the loyalists of the latter.
With both leaders fighting their personal battle on the tribal lines the president hails from the Dinka and the Nuer tribes back Machar and the Dinka and Nuer are the country’s biggest ethnic groups, the Dinka being the biggest at 36% and the Nuer at 16%. Furthermore, the Dinka and Nuer tribes are well known longtime rivals whose rivalries began in the 19th century over land and resources, hence it is no surprise they rivalry has been renewed in the 21st century.
Even though, President Silva and Machar are highly regarded as freedom fighters, it is important to understand that both the president and his deputy are architecturers of the present violence and I believe the people of South Sudan are held hostages to instability caused by the two leaders. And the same applies to the crisis in Burundi where the leadership has held the people hostage all in the name of governance. And to name a few possible personalized fights turned national issues watch out for President Kabila and Moises Katumbi and not forgetting President Zuma and Julius Malema and it is true that in politics the are no permanent enemies, but the impact of these personal battles may or has led to loss of lives.
It is important to understand that this article does not discourage competition, but speaks out against competitions that uses tribalism, violence and ignorance as raw materials for competition. I believe an elections is a competition which is inspired by constructive arguments and competitive ideas and the will to serve not an appetite of violence and thirst of blood of innocent souls.