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Kenya’s Past as Prologue

Christian Thibon
Marie-Aude Fouéré
Mildred Ndeda
et al.

Negotiating History for Negotiated Democracy in 2013 election: A Case Study of Kisii County, Kenya

Eric Rosana Masese

Texte intégral

Background information

1The 2013 National General Election in Kenya was held under two unique contexts, which were however intrinsically interrelated. It was the first election to be held after the 2007/2008 post-election violence and under the new constitution that was promulgated in August 2010. The 2007/2008 post-election violence was attributed to uneven distribution of national resources to various parts of the country, packaged in form of historical injustices (Waki, 2008; Wong, 2009; Veit et al., 2011).

2Consequently, to avoid the recurrence of this violence, the country took broad steps to address its root causes. Among these steps was the enactment of the new constitution in August 2010. The new constitution drastically altered the government structure by coming up with devolved units (counties) that have the sole purpose of decentralizing resources from the National Government.

3The management of decentralized resources at the county level was, however, to be done through popular participation. This means that local people would elect their representatives through popular suffrage (Westminster democracy) to be their representatives in decision making and more specific in managing decentralized resources.

4However, to ensure inclusivity in decision-making and management of resources among various social groups, most devolved units (counties) advocated negotiated democracy (Miruka, 2013; Kimutai, 2012; Oluoch, 2012; Psirmoi, 2012). Negotiated democracy in this case entailed sharingof county leadership positions among various social groups based on agreed formula. Therefore, using ethnographic data from 28 research participants, this paper discusses the factors that informed the sharing of leadership positions among various social groups in Kisii County in the 2013 National General Elections. To attain this, the paper discusses the Abagusii voting patterns and sharing of leadership positions through negotiated democracy.

Understanding the Abagusii voting patterns

5The Abagusii voting patterns for a long time has been attributed to clanism, other than political party affiliations (Ombongi, 1997; Ocharo, 2005; Moraa, 2013). Due to this, most candidates contesting the various political seats are always cautious on how to handle the clan factor. For example, in 2013 National elections, Miruka (2013) observes that clanism clearly emerged as a major factor in the choice of running mates for Kisii county gubernatorial seat and sharing of other county leadership positions by the two major political parties namely Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) under the Coalition of Reform and Democracy (CORD) and The National Alliance Party (TNA) under the Jubilee coalition. In ODM, James Ongwae (from Kitutu clan) who was contesting for gubernatorial seat picked his running mate from Bomachoge clan. Similarly, TNA’s P. Lumumba (from Bobasi clan) picked his running mate from South Mugirango clan.

6Among the Abagusii, a clan is an autonomous socio-political and economic entity made of various homesteads that share common ancestry. As an entity, it accords its members social identity and status that in turn determines their accessibility to community resources. In political discourse, this means that a clan that has its members in leadership positions has advantage over other clans in accessing community resources. This perception therefore makes the clan a unit for political mobilization and action.

7In political mobilization and action, clanism, is however, justified differently among people of different age groups. Among the old people clan based voting is attributed to historical happenings that have shaped social relationships among various clans. These historical happenings were mostly expressed in form of myths. According to 80 year old former civil servant Mr. Keroka and 70 year old former local political leader Mr. Okioma, the clan based voting system was attributed to a curse that befell members of the community as contained in Gusii myths. Mr. Keroka and Mr. Okioma explain:

When the Gusii people arrived in Kisumu from Mount Elgon, they were faced with many calamities like un-conducive environmental conditions that led to mass crop failure and demise of livestock. There was also an outbreak of human diseases, which unfortunately affected the Abagusii mother called Nyankomogendi making her extremely weak. Due to her condition, her siblings abandoned her at Kisumu and moved on to Kano plains where conditions were conducive for their sustenance. Feeling abandoned by her own children, she cursed them that they will multiply but they will never be united as a people.

8According to these two research participants, this curse is responsible for high population growth and disunity among Gusii clans up to date. Coincidentally, Akama (2006a) also noted that it is at Kano plains that the Abagusii‘s seven contiguous, but politically autonomous groups/ clans emerged. These groups/clans are Abagirango (North and South Mugirango), Abagetutu, Abanyaribari, Abanchari, Ababasi and Abamachoge. However, to Akama the emergence of various clans was motivated more by the desire for each social group to have power to control and access resources.

9Among the youth, clan based voting was attributed to patronage system in accessing socio-economic opportunities as narrated by a 28-year-old unemployed university graduate, Mr. Ntabo.

The current reality is that academic qualification is not a factor in getting formal employment. I graduated five years ago but I have not been employed since. This is because I have no one in a higher position who is close to me to assist me. Some of my friends who graduated recently have been employed because the current Member of Parliament hails from their clan.

10The above argument was further fortified by Mr. Nyabuto a 40-year-old businessman’s experience:

  • 1 Literally translated as whoever has his/her kin in any given place will always be assisted unlike t (...)

……… little did I know that the Abagusii were right when they said “oyo obwate omwabo obwatwa okoboko ochi nka, otabwati omwabo obwata omoraa mwomo1”. The former Member of Parliament hailed from my clan and gave me most supplying contracts within the constituency and my business did well. When he failed to recapture the sit, all the contracts were given to members of the clan where the new MP hailed from. In the upcoming elections, I will fight tooth and nail tomake sure the contestant from ourclan wins the seat.

11Mr. Ntabo and Mr. Nyabuto’s views show how patronage system motivates clan based voting. Ms. Moraa, a single mother aged 35 years old also narrated how public resources are distributed according to clans. She narrates:

It is a norm that when a member of parliament hails from your clan you will definitely be favored in resource allocations. Since our clan has never produced any leader, we are always allocated very few resources such as bursaries for our school going children……… even our roads are in dilapidating conditions.

12The importance of patronage system based on social identity as a motivator to clan based voting is evidenced when one examines the voting patterns of the three top senate candidates in 2013 national election in their respective constituencies. As shown in Table 1,each of the top candidates triumphed extremely well in his home constituency and clan. These candidates were: Hon. Christopher M. Obure (Bobasi), Hon. Prof Sam K. Ongeri (Nyaribari Masaba) and Hon. James O. Magara.

Table 1: Top three Senate candidates votes from the constituencies they hail from

Table 1: Top three Senate candidates votes from the constituencies they hail from

Key: Bold indicates the constituency where the candidate hails from

Source: IEBC Form 36 Senate Kisii County, 2013

13Clan based voting was also influenced by the desire of some clans to fight social exclusion. Social exclusion according to Duff (1995) is the inability to participate effectively in the economic, social, political and cultural life due to alienation and social distance from the mainstream society. In this case some clans such as the South Mugirango, Bonchari and Bomachoge voted in large numbers for Hon. James Magara who hailed from one of these clans as shown in Table 2. These three clans mostly felt socially excluded from other Gusii clans. This voting pattern by these clans was also evidenced during the first multiparty elections in 1992 (Ombongi, 1997). In this election these clans were the only ones that voted for opposition candidates in the then Kisii district.

Table 2: Voting in self perceived social excluded constituencies

Table 2: Voting in self perceived social excluded constituencies

Source: IEBC Form 36 Senate Kisii County, 2013

14According to 78-year-old former clan elder Mr. Ombasa, the Abanchari and South Mugirango for instance feel that they are socially excluded from other Gusii clans because of their historical background and dialect. Consequently, the area they inhabit is the least developed. Therefore voting for a candidate who hails from these socially excluded clans was perceived either as a sign of liberation or affirming their identity as other Abagusii clans or trying to access community resources by having one of their own in a leadership position.

  • 2 The Gusii lineage system followed patrilineal principles.

15Among the Abagusii, the Abanchari are socially excluded because the founder of the clan was a woman2 and thus they are regarded as the children of a woman (Monchari). Oral literature has it that Monchari married Omache Rachuonyo (a Luo man) because at the time of her marriage she already had two sons out of wedlock and therefore wouldn’t find a man from any Gusii clans to marry her. According to Gusii customs, it is shameful for a woman to conceive out of wedlock and any man who married such a woman was despised. Further, the community equally despises a woman who fails to get married. To lessen her shame of being a single mother and to help her sons get land, Monchari got married to a man from another tribe – a Luo, even though the community did not encourage such a marriage. Consequently, the Abanchari are not perceived as pure Gusii.

16On the other hand, the South Mugirango clan is socially excluded because of their dialect. According to Mbori (1994) there are two main regional dialects of Ekegusii language that can be distinguished as; the Rogoro (Northern) dialect and the Maate (Southern) dialect. The Maate dialect is spoken by the Gusii clans bordering the Luo and the Maasai ethnic communities i.e. Abamachoge and South Mogirango. The remaining Gusii clans speak the Rogoro dialect. The existing differences between the two Ekegusii dialects are, mainly, lexical and/or phonetic in nature. However, because the Rogoro dialect is spoken by majority of the Gusii clans, it’s taken as the standard dialect. Therefore those who speak the Maate dialect are socially excluded.

17Among the youth, social exclusion was perceived in terms of socio-economic development levels among various clans. In this case clans that perceived themselves as less developed in terms of road network, schools and hospitals in relation to other clans were regarded as socially excluded. This social exclusion was, however, attributed to failure of these clan members to occupy community recognized leadership positions. Ms. Nyaboke a 25-year-old single primary teacher, who hailed from South Mugirango explained:

Our place has no good roads and illiteracy levels are very high…… ..the most primitive place in the world is South Mugirango. A child can grow up to 18 years without ever stepping on a tarmac road! Our clan is disadvantaged because it has never had a leader in any powerful positions nationally since independence.…… . Just look at those clans that have had one of their members in senior leadership positions and see how developed they are. In my opinion, it’s better to vote for a leader from your own clan if you want development!

18Mr. Okioga, a 23-year-old vehicle mechanic from Bomachoge, also highlighted the association of community leadership positions and socio-economic development when he stated:

Since our clan has never occupied any leadership position in this community, there has been no meaningful development at all. All goodies from the government, even those meant for us are given to those clans whose members are in leadership positions. Our clan is totally excluded………… this will continue until one of our own is elected to such leadership positions

19The social construction of social exclusion as a cause of skewed socio-economic development among various clans was a major political campaign theme in 2013 national general election especially in the senatorial seat. According to Moraa (2013), Hon. Magara, for instance, campaigned on the ground that Hon. Obure and Prof. Ongeri had failed to unite the community through the politics of inclusion. Hon. Magara campaigned on this platform because he comes from one of the marginalized clans (South Mugirango) and therefore wanted to take advantage of the perceived marginalization among voters from these clans to his favour.

20The construction of clanism in terms of accessibility to resources in political mobilization did not in reality imply that every clan member had equal access to these resources. Instead this accessibility was mostly determined by social proximity to the elected leader and individual socio-economic status in the clan. For example, people who were perceived to be in higher socio-economic status were more likely to be favored by elected leaders in accessing community resources. However, this unequal access to resources among clan members was rationalized by perceived benefits of patronage system as narrated by Mr. Ochomba, a 27-year-old secondary school teacher:

When you have your clan member in an elected leadership position, it is not a must you benefit directly. Instead, he may help your close relative like your brother who may be close to him and this brother then will have power to help you. Also if for instance he builds a good road leading to his home you will definitely be using that road also. In short when your clan mate is in leadership position there are many ways you can access various benefits………… .

21The use of clanism as political mobilization strategy was normalized using various strategies. These strategies mostly centered on power relationships and social identity among various clans. Among the youth, for instance, stereotypes that clans had on each other were exploited to create group solidarity against the competing clan. This group solidarity was attained through emotional appeals to individual clan members to protect their collective social identity. This is clearly evidenced by the following interview with Mr. Onyoni, a male university graduate teacher aged 28:


In the senate position whom did you vote for?


Definitely our son from this area (meaning the candidate from his clan)


Why vote for him and not the other candidates?


Our neighbouring clan sees our clan as inferior and I voted for our son to

show them we are equally superior and we can rule them.


Is it the only reason why you had to vote for your candidate?


Absolutely yes. I have to protect our dignity as a clan!

22Among those aged 50 years and above, clan based voting was normalized through exogamy and patrilocal principles governing marriage. According to these principles, clan members were only allowed to marry from different clans and the bride relocates to live with the family of the groom. Due to this, the intermarrying clans viewed each other as enemies as recognized in the Gusii proverb; “Those we marry from are those whom we fight.”

23This hostility among clans can be attributed to the fact that members of a particular clan used to raid other clans for women. This forced the raided clan to defend itself as a way of self – preservation and respect (Masese, 2011). As observed by Mr. Ongau, a 60-year-old retired government accountant, it is this antagonistic tendency as reflected in marriage that makes a particular clan to vote in a certain way to demonstrate her supremacy over the other clans. Thus in any election this supremacy is seen in terms of clans competing over a “woman”. In this case the clan that wins over the others regards herself as superior and therefore has power to control them. Control in this context is equated to the kind of control a man exercises over his wife. In this control it is the man who is the sole custodian of resources and the decision maker.

Sharing of leadership positions3

  • 3 This study relied mostly on the leadership sharing formula by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The (...)

24Sharing of political leadership positions in the 2013KisiiCounty Elections among various clans was guided by political party affiliations but based on clanism. In this case the two major political parties, ODM and TNA came up with a power sharing formula that saw each clan assured of some leadership position in the county. For example, in ODM, the seat for the governor was allocated to Kitutu clan, Deputy Governor - Bomachoge, Women representative- Bonchari, county speaker - Nyaribari and county executive - South Mugirango.

25Further, this sharing of leadership positions was motivated more by historical happenings that have defined the relationship between various clans dating back to pre-colonial period and individual candidate perceived “development” credentials. According to Mr. Onserio, a 60 year old, retired civil servant and ODM strategist in the 2013 elections, the choice of governor from the Kitutu clan (Mr Ongwae) was motivated by the fact that during the pre-colonial and much of colonial period, the Gusii overall leadership position was held by members of Kitutu clan. According to Mr. Onserio, the last known Gusii prophet was from the Kitutu clan. Therefore, given the fact that the governor is the overall leader of the county, it was felt that such position should be given to the clan that has historically held such position.

26Mr. Onserio’s sentiments are also captured by Akama’s (2006b) observation that leaders or chiefs from Kitutu clan governed the Abagusii clans during the colonial period. These chiefs/ leaders presided over cases involving various clans and made some decrees that were binding to all clans. For example, in 1906 when bride wealth had gone so high beyond the means of young men, Mr. Ogeto the leader of the Kitutu clan summoned all leaders from other Gusii clans and decreed that bride wealth should be reduced from six cows to three cows, that is; one bull and not more than four goats. To enforce this ruling that came to be known as “the Ogeto ruling,” all clan elders performed magic-religious rituals binding everyone to abide by it. Accordingly, most clans adhered to “Ogeto ruling” fora long time.

27Similarly, in 1920 the rate of bride wealth had increased substantially to over eight cows. This again prompted Mr. Inchwari, a leader of Abagetutu clan to summon other Gusii clan elders for a meeting. In this meeting, it was agreed by all clan elders that bride wealth should be brought down to three cows and one bull. This ruling was commonly referred to as “the Inchwari ruling.

28Among the youth, the choice of candidates for various seats was however influenced more by individual development record in public sector than historical happenings. In this case individual development record meant using public appointments to pass benefits or privileges to individual members of various clans or skewing government development projects to all parts of the community. Consequently, those candidates who were perceived to have these credentials were favoured to contest for gubernatorial seat. Mr. Onchiri, a 29-year-old secondary school teacher and teachers’ union official in Kisii County explains:

As teachers in this county we had an onus task to advise our people on whom to vote for the gubernatorial seat and other county seats. The occupants of these seats are meant to foster development to all parts of the county. So as opinion leaders and professionals we advocated for a person who already had a proven record in assisting our people in the public sector. In this case, regardless of political or clan affiliation we preferred Mr. Ongwae from the Kitutu clan to contest for gubernatorial seat. Mr. Ongwae had proven capable of assisting all members of this community when he assisted many of our teachers when he was at Teachers’Service Commission in Nairobi. This principle was replicated in all county positions.

29The other factor that motivated the sharing of leadership positions was the individual candidate leadership qualities in the management of social, economic and political issues affecting the community at large. These qualities were perceived in terms of a candidate’s ability to embrace teamwork and consultativeness in decision-making. Among the youth these qualities were individualized to each specific candidate by examining their track record in dealing with social, economic and political issues affecting the whole community. Mr. Nyangau, a 30-year-old businessman and political activist elaborated further:

As a county, all we wanted were leaders who respected others people’s decisions and embraced team work in dealing with issues affecting the community. As a representative of the business community and the youth in the negotiating team of leadership positions, I can confidentially say that in the start we never cared about party affiliation or clan membership. All we did was to evaluate each candidate’s qualities. The good thing was that all those who were contesting county leadership positions had served in public offices. Using this criterion, most candidates who contested under the CORD coalition were preferred in various seats.

30Among those aged 50 years and above, individual leadership qualities were equally an important criterion for sharing county leadership positions. Unlike the youth, the old people perceived individual leadership qualities of each candidate as a collective representation of the behaviour of their clans. In this case, for instance, if a candidate was perceived not being a team player in dealing with issues affecting the whole community, it was taken to mean that the clan where he/ she hailed from never embraced such.

31This collective representation of individual leadership qualities to clanswas motivated more by political competition between the Jubilee and Cord coalitions in Kisii County. In the (2013) election, for example, the key point man for the Jubilee coalition was Prof. Sam Ongeri (Nyaribari clan) and Hon. Christopher M. Obure (Bobasi clan) for CORD coalition. Given the fact that most parts of Kisii county was pro- CORD coalition, it was felt that Prof Ongeri and his Nyaribari clan were not team players in issues affecting the entire community.

  • 4 Nyaribari clan was perceived to be pro-Jubilee coalition because Prof Ongeri was Jubilee key point (...)

32Consequently, to rationalize the CORD coalition sharing formula of county leadership positions, there was “invention of traditions” which aimed at galvanizing support for CORD county leadership line-up through social exclusion of “Nyaribari clan”4(Hobsbawn, 2004). This invention of traditions was done specifically by evaluating the past roles played by leaders from Nyaribari clan especially in delimitation of electoral boundaries and creation of new administrative units such as districts. This evaluation was meant to depict the Nyaribari clan as domineering and thus isolating any of their preferred candidates from assuming powerful county leadership positions as explained by Mr. Ongori, a 62 year old retired provincial administrator and opinion leader:

  • 5 Hailed from Nyaribari clan.
  • 6 Irianyi in Gusii dialect means south. However, in this context it was alleged that Nyachae wanted t (...)

The things that worked against the Nyaribari clan in the sharing of county leadership positions were many. There were allegations by members of Bonchari clan that in1986, influential individuals from Nyaribari had proposed to the Kenya electoral chairman, the late James Nyamweya5 to extend the borders of Nyaribari to Bokeira, the heartland of Bonchari. This move that was opposed by the late Hon. Dr Zachary Onyonka (MP Kitutuchache) and Bonchari MP Hon. Mark Bosire was to have the only airstrip in Kisiiunder Nyaribari. Another allegation was that in2012, powerfulindividuals fromNyaribari conspired to have Bonchari constituency phased out. This was to be done through amalgamating its boundaries with NyaribariChache by taking the large electoral areas of Kisii municipality under the political jurisdiction of Bonchari. Consequently, in 1996 president Moi created a new district out of Kisii district. The new district was to include: South Mugirango, Bomachoge and Bobasi constituencies. In this saga it was alleged that Hon. Simeon Nyachae, the influential Nyaribari Chache MP wanted the new district headquarters to be located in Kenyenya where he had his relatives and the district to be called Irianyi6. This was contrary to local members of the constituencies that made up the new district. The locals wanted the district headquarters to be at Ogembo and its name be Gucha because of the significance of River Gucha that traverses through the three constituencies.

33Other research participants such as Mrs. Kemunto, a 50-year old lady and chairperson of a local women self-help group alluded that the sharing of leadership positions was also influenced by earlier experiences some clans had among themselves in terms of leadership. In this case clans that had experienced antagonistic leadership earlier on were keen to avoid such situations from reoccurring. This was done by members of these clans pushing for leadership positions that gave them the “perceived” advantage over the other.

34According to Mrs Kemunto, for example, the Kitutu clan who share the jurisdiction of Kisii County headquarters with Nyaribari clan were very keen on the gubernatorial seat. Their keenness was motivated by the desire of reclaiming back the leadership position that they felt was taken from them unfairly by the Nyaribari in 1930. The referred case here is that of Chief Musa Nyandusi (Nyaribari) who easily outshined Mr. Onsongo (Kitutu) to become the chief of both Nyaribari and Kitutu clans.

35The antagonistic leadership relationship between the Nyaribari and Kitutu clans can also be traced back to 19th century. According to Akama (2006a) when the Sweta leader Mr. Oisera died around 1830, Mr. Onyangore, half-brother to Mr. Nyakundi, staked claim to inherit the Sweta leadership by virtue of being the eldest son of Mr. Oisera. However most of the Abasweta elders felt that Mr. Nyakundi had better leadership qualities than his half-brother who was accused of being arrogant and aloof. Consequently, the Sweta elders decided to annoint Mr. Nyakundi as the new Sweta leader. Feeling let down, Mr. Onyangore, and his supporters, mainly from the Nyaribari subclan, revolted against the leadership of Mr. Nyakundi. In the open hostility and feud that ensued, Mr. Onyangore and his followers broke away from the Kitutu clan to form the Abanyaribari clan. This leadership feud is still evident even today between the two clans though covertly.

36To show how leadership antagonism between clans influenced the sharing of leadership positions, Mr. Onchomba, a 60 year old clan elder from Bomachoge clan used the symbolism of four major mountains in Kisii County namely: Sameta (Bobasi), Manga (Kitutu), Gesere (Nyaribari) and Iberia (Nyaribari). According to Mr. Onchomba, Gesere and Iberia mountains are in Nyaribari and they directly face each other in close proximity. Because of this, the Abagusii believe that the two mountains are always in competition over which one of them is taller than the other as expressed in the metaphor, Iberia yachencha Gesere (Literally translated as Iberia criticises Gesere).

  • 7 The Kikuyu also believe that some mountains found within their community are reflective of the beha (...)

37This metaphor is commonly used among the Abagusii to make reference to people who are closely related but are always in constant conflict over power and recognition. In this context Mr. Onchomba argued that since the two mountains are in the same clan (Nyaribari) and close to each other but in constant conflict, it symbolizes the antagonistic nature of the clan members7. Hence, in the sharing of leadership positions, Mr. Onchomba argued that there was a strong urge among many clans to avoid leadership squabbles in the county, as it would retard development. Therefore it was important for key County positions of governor and Senate to be given to the clans that were perceived as less antagonistic. This is the reason why the seats of the governor and senate were allocated to the Kitutu and Bobasi respectively.

38To demonstrate the truism of this symbolism, Onchomba explains:

When President Jomo Kenyatta differed with his vice president Hon. Oginga Odinga; he wanted to give the seat to one of Omogusii sons. He therefore summoned Hon. James Nyamweya and Hon. Lawrence Sagini, from the Nyaribari clan, who were the senior most political leaders of Abagusii at that time to state house and informed them that he wanted to appoint one of them to the position of the vice president. He instructed them to agree among themselves who should be appointed. The two did not agree and instead started undermining each other both in private and public forums. This made President Kenyatta to bypass them and appoint someone else as his vice president. So the Abagusii lost a chance of leadership due to this rivalry. Similarly, when Hon. Simeon Nyachae was seeking the country’s presidency in 2002, it was Prof. Sam Ongeri who was leading the campaign against him at Gusiiland.

39In furtherance to this symbolism, Mr. Onchomba observed that in Gusii oral literature it was common for storytellers to start their story with “Once upon a time” and end it with the saying “Nkine nkinendeng’ane Emanga ne Sameta” (literally this translates to, May I grow and grow as tall as the Manga and Sameta mountains). This ending of stories was seen as significant in two ways: one, it demonstrated the desire of the storyteller and his/her audience to prosper in future by upholding the moral lesson of the story. Two, it symbolized the importance of a harmonious co-existence of various people despite their geographical difference.

40In relating this symbolism to the sharing of leadership positions in Kisii County, Mr. Onchomba narrated:

  • 8 Manga and Sameta are tall mountains which are located in Kitutu and Bobasi clans respectively.

The fact that every Gusii oral narrative ended by making reference to Sameta and Manga mountains8 is indicative of the accommodative nature of the two clans and where they are situated. This means that leaders from the two clans can work together without conflict and can easily accommodate other clans. Therefore the choice of the Kitutu and Bobasi clans to take the governor and senate seat respectively was governed by this.

41This invention of traditions among the old people was, however, a tactic meant to normalize the sharing of leadership positions as presented by the CORD coalition among the local people. This normalization was achieved by justifying the inclusion of various clans and the exclusion of Nyaribari clan in the sharing of leadership positions in the County. Further, it was also aimed at galvanizing support for CORD coalition among the old people who rarely supported community members of CORD coalition presidential candidate (Raila Odinga) in leadership position because of cultural stereotypes that are due to differences in ways of life. In this case, this tactic helped to localize CORD support by focusing more on the internal historical dynamics that have shaped social, economic and political relationships among various clans than cultural stereotypes.

42Among the youth, the rationalization of CORD formula of sharing county leadership positions was influenced by 2007/2008-post election violence. In this period, most youth who had moved to Rift valley for economic reasons incurred a lot of losses because their property was destroyed. Also, there was a perception that the government was favouring people from the president’s community in compensating those who were affected in the post election violence. Due to this, the support for CORD coalition among the youth was more of a protest to the government that was perceived to be inclined to the Jubilee coalition.


43Research on which this paper is based was made possible through the kind financial assistance of the Institute of French Research in Africa (IFRA). I also acknowledge all my research participants for their patience and time during the course of this study, so do all those who gave me valuable comments on this paper. However, I admit that I am solely responsible for all the opinions expressed and conclusions arrived in this paper.



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1 Literally translated as whoever has his/her kin in any given place will always be assisted unlike the one who does not.

2 The Gusii lineage system followed patrilineal principles.

3 This study relied mostly on the leadership sharing formula by Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The rationale for this is that it was the most popular leadership sharing formula during 2013 elections.

4 Nyaribari clan was perceived to be pro-Jubilee coalition because Prof Ongeri was Jubilee key point man in kisii County. Therefore excluding this clan was a tactic of curtailing the influence of Prof Ongeri in galvanizing support for Jubilee in other clans .

5 Hailed from Nyaribari clan.

6 Irianyi in Gusii dialect means south. However, in this context it was alleged that Nyachae wanted the new district named so because there was some local administrative unit in his constituency called Irianyi. Therefore the local people assumed that by calling the new district Irianyi, Hon. Nyachae wanted to have control over it just like he did in the local administrative unit in his constituency.

7 The Kikuyu also believe that some mountains found within their community are reflective of the behaviour of the inhabitants where they are located. See for example Thiong’o N (1967) Grain of Wheat. Nairobi: Heinemann Publishers.

8 Manga and Sameta are tall mountains which are located in Kitutu and Bobasi clans respectively.

Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1: Top three Senate candidates votes from the constituencies they hail from
Légende Key: Bold indicates the constituency where the candidate hails from
Crédits Source: IEBC Form 36 Senate Kisii County, 2013
Fichier image/jpeg, 14k
Titre Table 2: Voting in self perceived social excluded constituencies
Crédits Source: IEBC Form 36 Senate Kisii County, 2013
Fichier image/jpeg, 16k


Lecturer, Moi University, Department of Sociology and Psychology.

© Africae, 2014

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