Is Secession The Panacea To The Kenyan Problem?


Since the conclusion of the August 8 there have been talks on secession stemming from a petition that was allegedly drawn by Economist and NASA strategist David Ndii.

The secession talks are not new to the Kenyan political scenario but have in the past remained subtle discourses that often pass with time. However, renewed calls and the zeal buoying the same begs the question, is secession the panacea to the Kenya’s economic and political conundrums or rather a transfer of problems to another space.

Historical background

Historically Kenya has had various calls for secession, the first happened on the onset of Independence where the Somali of Kenya wanted to secede from Kenya and form part of Somalia. But this ambition was quickly crushed by Kenya with a bit of help from the British government hence leading to the creation of a 5 mile buffer zone. This happened barely two weeks after Kenya had become an Independent state.

Perhaps the more familiar call for secession was the one initiated by the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC). Their course was based on the injustices specifically on land that the coastal people had incurred from the  time of Independence, the people in this areas felt that they were squatters in their own country. Due to lack of a legal backing or perhaps a valid strategy, this  attempt to secede was quashed by the government that claimed that the leaders of the group were terrorists and hence the group slowly vanished and their course vanquished

The call by Coastal governors Hassan Joho and Amason Kingi seems to be an effort to resuscitate the course for secession. This will be an interesting spectacle to observe because not only is it politically instigated, no longer appealing to the supposed squatters but also to the political and some how elite class. The call for secession is also wide spread to counties that at the very instance laughed off the idea.

Secession and Self Determination

Although the right to self determination is clearly protected and highlighted under article 20 of the African charter for Human rights and silently pronounced in the Kenyan constitution under article 255,256 and 257 which stipulate the procedure for amendment of the constitution, it is unclear why people would call for secession the act of withdrawing and not self determination the spirit behind the secession.

Secession vs Devolution

A writer in a local daily aptly asked, in the quest for secession what exactly are we seceding from, the leaders or the people?

If at all our strongest point as a Nation,that is our cultural diversity has come to bite us after 54 years of independence, then would secession be the solution to our problem or it would just be a transfer of problems from one country to a new one? The 2010 Constitution gave us a perfect tool to curb the unequal distribution of resources but again  Kenya’s greatest weakness is embracing the act vis a vis the spirit. Devolution would be a powerful tool to decentralize power and remove the ‘its our turn to eat’ mentality that is deeply misconstrued with the presidency, a symbol of National unity.

In common parlance, before a quick and hurried resolve is made to secede the first question ought to be what are the reasons and are the reasons valid? Or is it an impulse by the current political elite seeking relevance ahead of “bigger” political ambitions and quest for power.

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Written by Merxcine Cush


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