Africa, Kenya, Politics, World

Politics 101: A Guide to Politics in Kenya

Kenya is a democratic country that holds general elections every 5 years. Just like in every democratic setting, the winner takes it all, meaning losing can be tough. Having gained independence in 1963 from the British, Kenya has held several elections and that has made it possible for a pattern to form on who or how candidates clinch the seats. These are the fundamentals to consider for your chances of getting elected into a public office in Kenya. Here is a guide to Kenyan politics.

Keeping Your Promises is Unrealistic in Kenya

Many of you get ideas from the political books, hence believing that democracies are built on policies and manifestos. This holds true, even in Kenya. The only difference is that our politicians don’t get beyond the writings and readings of their original promises. They just strive to draw the most glamorous picture of what they may achieve when elected. Even if it means finding a way of telling the electorates you will make it rain daily if needs be. Just find a way of acting in a convincing manner and, sure enough, the seat is yours to lose.

For example, Uhuru Kenyatta promised laptops to first graders when, in some regions, some kids were studying under trees without any access to power. Or better, wait for your opponent to unveil their manifestos and then find a way of beating it. The best part is that no one will be holding you accountable for your promises after you clinch the seat. Here’s why.

Be a Filthy Rich Politician

Even in as much as keeping your promises glamorous and unrealistic, don’t make it too obvious. Before you promise them daily rainfall on their farms, make it rain in their pockets first. Just a little cash per person would be enough to buy you votes. At some point, you might need to buy former influential powerhouses but now fading politicians in the region to show you’re game. Don’t be worried about your spendings as you will recover them in your tenure at the office. The fact that Kenyan politicians are the richest should be a confirmation to you that it’s a worthwhile investment.

Kenyan Politics: Have a Criminal Record

As peculiar as it might sound, it seems Kenyan voters have a fetish for criminals. It always seems like they are officially rewarding criminals. The current government was first elected into office with the leaders having cases pending at the International Criminal Court. Several governors and elected leaders have been implicated in big scandals and corruption. If you are going to be a criminal to get elected, be a big-time one. Most criminals find a way to becoming famous and then take advantage of the publicity when competing. When you keep your tendencies after getting the votes, make sure your voters will stand by you. They will be coming to your defense in every situation.

Don’t be an Independent Thinker

Age, profession, level of education or religious beliefs do not matter in Kenya because, at the end of the day, as long as you pledge allegiance to a political party you will stand by its beliefs no matter how ridiculous they might be. If you want to survive the political scene in Kenya, then be a sycophant. Some leaders have mastered the art to the point where they change political parties every election depending on the current political views of the majority.

Don’t be a Kenyan Kingmaker

Kenyan politics is majorly based on tribal alliances. This means that in order to ascend to the highest office in the land, candidates have to make deals. Most of these deals are always stipulated so that one supports the other and they will return the favor. Well, as history has it, no kingmaker has ever ascended to the top.

At independence, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga refused to take the presidency, instead preferring the back seat as a deputy, becoming Kenyatta’s kingmaker. Well, a few years into the ruling, they had differences and Kenyatta threw him out. In 1987 the then Attorney General, Chares Njonjo, helped Daniel Moi ascend to the presidency, but immediately after the attempted coup in 1982, he was discarded.

Raila Odinga helped Mwai Kibaki ascend to the office in 2002, by declaring the famous “Kibaki Tosha” slogan, with a deal that he would be next in power. Well, that never came to be as they fell out of favor in 2005 after the referendum. It, therefore, means that being a kingmaker might not be the way to ascend to the presidency in Kenya. Most people know that there are no permanent enemies in Kenyan politics.

Even though some politicians have been on their best behavior within the system, most never stay strong long enough. They either join the system or their influence is low. Always remember this important slogan when diving into Kenyan politics: politics is a dirty game

About Lewis Martin

Lewis is an avid reader who writes and believes in the beauty and power of the written word. He is aggressive in finding information and knowledge in different fields, and a supporter of the African rising story. Lewis also believes in a free world where people do what makes them happy. He is passionate about writing, and writes for different publications as well as blog at

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