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Kenya’s Past as Prologue

 | 
Christian Thibon
, 
Marie-Aude Fouéré
, 
Mildred Ndeda
, 
et al.

Twitting Votes: The Middle Class and the 2013 Elections in Kenya

Patrick Mbataru

Texte intégral

Introduction

1The 2013 general elections in Kenya were in canvas of a mixed background of high expectation and a lingering aftertaste of the 2008 chaos. The high expectation was that this time round the elections would exorcise the ghosts of the 2008 post election violence and the voters would vouch for economic performance, social welfare improvement, banish tribalism and further consolidate the voting process. These hopes were largely placed on the shoulders of the growing middle class which was seen as having no time for old style politics (Barkan, 2011). The 2013 vote was thought as the tipping point (Ong’ayo, 2012); either we backtrack into chaos or forge ahead into a more pervasive nationalism.

2Riding on the middle class-led civil movement that thrived in the 1980s, expectations in Kenya were that the level of civic consciousness especially among the youth would lead to a new political dispensation by pulling the lower classes to a level where voting would be decided on issues affecting the country. This paper asks and discusses if the efforts of the civil societies succeeded in aggregating political organization and mobilization at the national level and if it helped to consolidate concessional political values in the country.

3The 2013 election was largely an ethnic derived contest and despite the animated debate in social sites that created a veneer of issue based voting above ethnic considerations, the middle class to a great extent voted along ethnic lines. It is however emerging that creating ethnic blocks is giving way to much broader mobilization along regions. This paper analyses the question of the expanding middle class and its role in the electoral politics in Kenya. Specifically, the paper unpacks the commonly held image of the middle class before the 2013 elections in Kenya.

Middle class debate and Kenya expanding economy

4Public expectations in the 2013 general elections in Kenya would be ‘a middle class’ decision was largely based on the social media that so boisterously proclaimed that, ‘an issue based’ middle class cutting across ethnic lines was finally here to vote against ethnic identities (Ng’ethe, 2000). This was premised on the notion that there has finally emerged in Kenya a generation ‘speaking across politics… about issues and ideas’ (Smith, 2013). However, the elections revealed several things about the expanding Kenyan middle class. First, it is too fluid and amorphous to draw clear contours and inferences. Secondly, and most important is that lively, intellectual debates about issues like ‘equity’, ‘services’ and justice and framing twittered intentions masks the Kenya political intransitivity from ethnicisation and status quo.

5The expectation that the middleclass would make a difference in the outcome of election by channelling debate away from ethnic parameters attempted to create a false and polarised dichotomy between the so-called ‘issue based politics’ and enforcing one’s identity (Wolf, author interview, April 18, 2013), precisely because categories of public and private spaces are always juxtaposing if not conjoined. The subjects of development, equity, security, dignity, poverty, justice are mutually interacting and constantly so. There in, in these categories are embedded issues of negotiation, context (local or international?), constancy (are the issues immutable or flowing?). This does not deny though, the dualistic nature of Kenyan voting character; where the local vote is modern and the national vote traditional (Christian Thibon, author interview, April 17, 2013). The tensions of this polarity keep the Kenyan state at an edge.

6The 2013 World Bank report indicates that that between 1995 and 2005, the African middle class expanded from 18% to 28% (Mumo, 2013). The role of the middle class in popular NGO definitions is defined in economic terms (Melber, 2013). The indicators of this consumerism in Nairobi is the rapid expansion of high end consumer item shops like Truworth, Identity, 4u2, Mr Price, Angel and KFC. The Kenya middle class hippy image is reported US$ 715 million yearly on clothes alone.

7While the middle class growth indicates the general economic growth, this social stratum has been viewed by analysts as being risk averse and politically aloof (Viongozi, 2013). This prognosis is based on the premises that economic groups have little interest in change. In Africa, the middle class is therefore interested in the status quo because its very existence is symbiotic with that of the state. Change of guard is therefore resisted, to safeguard jobs and enterprise operated by the middle class hence the undercurrent that other than the ICC cases, a important and plausible push fact behind the election of Uhuru is the perennial fear by the central Kenya voter of losing economically, a fear that is borne out of the pedestrian belief that Moi used much state power to dismantle Kikuyu industry, a fear that Kasala rubbishes in her seminal work on political patronage and taxation, arguing that to the contrary, Moi and hegemonic incumbents benefit ‘enemy turf’ more than their ethnic bases precisely because enemies should be kept much closer (Kasala, 2004) than friends.

8There has emerged a new population of urban middle class conceptually hedging in the spreading information and communication technology, creating a new layer of activists of cosmetic nature (Manrique, 2011). The internet is simply a rapidly expanding frontier of urban space which is both socially differentiated and functionally interrelated beyond physical contiguity but which can also be seen as trendy escapism. The high expectation on the middle class overlooked the fact that convergence of experience in same space through computer mediated communication blurs the institutional separation of domains of activity and confuses codes of behaviour and the symbolic meaning, location of functions and the social appropriation of space in rapidly urbanizing countries (Castells, 1996). It confuses value and action.

9The middle class has always attracted interest as a subject of social-economic and political analysis. The contribution of the middle class to political process in Kenya especially in nudging down the drain of Moi clientelist state cannot be gainsaid. However what is controversial is if through the civil society, the middle class lead to an aggregation of political organization and consolidated concessional political values. This is important because in industrializing societies, the middle classes are expected to be protagonists of the civil society, in articulating and transiting ‘universal’ values while building broad, multiclass political coalitions (Braton, 2002). But this has not been the case as we see further below. The spirit of the civil society seems to have petered out after Moi. Braton (2002) also points out that ‘the emergence of a bourgeoisie prompts new forms of resistance from working people, women and the dispossessed.” The election primaries in January 2013 confirmed a sobering reality that these economically disadvantaged groups can always use the vote to protest against the rising consumerism in the background biting poverty, though the concreteness of this remains in the future. Currently, their vote goes to the one who confirms their existential alienation from the mainstream social and economic exercises.

10Debates referring to the ‘middle class’ invariably begs the question of definition. Even as it enters economic discourse of African studies, its definition remains inflationary and one that needs clarification otherwise “… it covers almost everything… thereby signifying little or nothing” (Melber, 2013). The resultant obtuseness of such a definition is obfuscated further by the relativity of geography, culture, and history. The behaviour of the American middle class is different from that of Singapore for example. Weberian middle class is different from the Kenyan middle class at the onset of the 21st century, yet in general, the contours of a real Weberian continuation of classes and status differences and status group conflicts. The conflict seen during the elections manifest such social stratification (Turner, 1998). This differentiation in time and space, lends the parameters characterizing this stratum controversial and difficult to pin debate upon. The middle class in Europe is not economically the same as that of Africa. We can look at some overarching parameters. Who exactly is characterised to be in the middle class? In economic terms, the definition of the ‘middle class’ often follows the parameters defined by the World Bank, where only social-economic, and by induction, political participation is averred. It is country specific and the defining constraints are mostly money-metric. In Kenya, the World Bank and consumer analysis put in this class people with a daily per capita expenditure of about three dollars.

11Historically, from the middleclass originated the modern economies of production. In economic theory, the middle class is behind the concreteness of basic notions like “comparative advantage’ and ‘opportunity cost’. Since this class supplies and scouts the means of modern production, it purveys the doctrine of private enterprise, the core of which is profit.

12In the early days of economic development, if the emerging positivistic values of middleclass, nudging the society away from the status quo, were antithetical to those of the crumbling feudal fallibility, in modern times, the positivistic ideals now fuse with the entrenching values of the status quo in emerging democracies and economies. Unlike the bourgeoisie bohemian view of politico-economic life, the Kenyan middle class exists in unashamed symbiosis with the sinews of the status quo. But the economic evolution is such that in the modern economic reality, social classes are so intrinsically intertwined with the owners of the means of production in the Marxian sense. These include also middle class members like politicians, priests, policemen, academicians, making the labour sector too fluid for class analysis.

13This delicate balance is punctuated in modern history by grand and not so grand revolutions. The ritual of democracy and suffrage is to vary the different scales of this balance, depending on the prevailing interest, or in case of Bourdieu’s political market view, the current demand and supply situation. In the case of Kenya, as in other African countries, the fears and perception of power with its possible instrumentalisation make the demand curve for political goods very steep.

14The social classes are in a large sense jumbled: there are the small and big factory owners who employ middle class and proletariats. There are the multinationals whose CEOs are equivalent of middle age landlords, supporting platforms with their own class strata. In Bourdieu’s market view of political process, class differences relate differently to diverse forms of capital because they are not linearly placed and neither do they lay in a single axis (Sayer, 2005). Currently, the middle class in Kenya is strong in economic capital but weak in other capitals. This however does not exclude the reality that the rise of elitism also leads to resistance from the low classes and the marginalized. The 2007 election violence was in many ways the expression of this. There is a real danger that this lack of uniformity could subvert democracy (Okuku, 2002).

15Indeed what is real in Kenya is not so much class struggle but status clamour. The social contract is broken, leading to a high degree of interpersonal and inter group conflict and competition as people struggle to master and control the economic resources uninhibited by cultural or other restraints. Turner (1998) says that in social, cultural and political terms, economic class is declining in importance as the primary or leading driver in social political life. Status rather than class is therefore the crucial axis of contemporary politics. The Kenyan middle class is in this sense not a defining class but a loose vehicle of achieving status. Those who aptly capture the aspirations of the majority low classes and are able to exploit old social crevises invariably retain power.

16It is modern symbiosis between the middle-income earners and the sinews of the status quo that characterises the middle class today as a gadget owning class. The personal automobile, the bungalow, the personal insurance, the mall shopping defines the outlines of this class. It is this seemingly union of consumer purpose that leads Smith (2013) to conclude that in the 2013 general elections, ethnic identity would be a lot less important and that this ‘educated middleclass cuts across ethnic lines… (boosted)… by migration and urbanisation, ’ (Ng’ethe, 2000). However, the interviews for this report confirm that the national bourgeoisie in Kenya has an inconsistent stance toward political progress (Kinyatti, 2008). Kenya’s expanding middle class has not homogenized in political thought to a level where it plays an important role in social life. Its main limitation is this lack of national agenda (Wolf, author interview, April, 18, 2013) and the crucial connexion with grassroots activism. This will probably change when the majority in the country are members of the middle class. Only then the blatant inequalities between the classes will reduce and become less important in defining the voting (Ossowski, 1963).

17This dualism posits the vacuity of consciousness of political-economic change. So long as the adult toys are easily sourced, the middle class votes for the status quo (Ong’ayo, 2012). These toys support a material lifestyle, spawning in itself various sub-cultures and economies thriving in bars, beauty parlours, car washing centres, which space in Kenya socialization, is informed by shallow political analysis framed upon ethnic beams. In the west the middle class was important in the democratic progress (Widner, 1993) and counteracts state excesses since itself is a natural outcome of democratisation and economic development, culture (Chol, 2013) which further permits associational life, an important ingredient of the middle class (Braton, 2002). In Africa, the political state is often trussed by the middleclass, who often owe their lifestyles to continue the existence of the bureaucrats, knowing very well what it means to lose power to their minnows in a zero-game situation. In this, both the state and the middle class led civil societies are predatory, each seeking gain from the other. This is because the very existence of the middle class is based on the same bases that give legitimacy to the modern state, the protection of private property. Capitalism led to an economic middle class which preyed on the state systems for further accumulation (ISS 2006). These predator elites easily hide in the amorphous and fluid cyber space.

18The middle class members can individually abstract themselves from the existential problems arising from the weakening of the social contract. This is done by outsourcing civic responsibility to ‘quick fix’ non-governmental and private organisations that provide alternative social services. Private schools and hospitals, water services and transport are the preserves of the middle class. They are substitute to poor services by the state and subsidize state failure (Swingvote2013, 2013). By outsourcing civic responsibility to private providers, the middle class has become irrelevant to political decisions making in Kenya and eventually given up its power to initiate change.

19This is neither a Kenyatta mark 1, nor a Moi era characterization. It is bequeathed from the colonial era. Kenyatta mark 2 and his predecessor Mwai Kibaki would only entrench this trend. Colonial policy on agriculture created a class based on access to land, where three classes emerged: European settler farmers, the middle class African farmer and the landless Africans (Muhula, 2009). The progeny of these forms the content and ingredients of the political incendiary in Kenya and informs that currency of ‘historical injustices’. The middle class in the 2000s Kenya is a replica of the settlers’ self-interest and profound sense of entitlement girded by shared aristocratic pedigree (Elkins, 2005). Only the expression of it differs. Virulent racist ideology becomes tribal ideology, while the elitist function of it is employed to mobilise the unemployed youth in competing and guarding the market dynamics of power. Colonial legacy and post independence bourgeoisies jostle for power and control of the state fuels present inequalities and tension.

Middle Class apathy as an expression of civil movement atrophy

20Circumstantial evidence suggests that participation of middle class members in the political process is lower than that of higher and lower classes. Both of these have the time. The former has also the money to induce participation of the later in political activities for pay. Among the middle class, the attitude is that political participation is for the idle, the poor (Ong’ayo, 2012) or the very rich. Being the key drivers of economic generation, the middle class member do not have the time for political participation, leaving it to the less economically endowed, malleable and less educated members of the society, which gives credence to the view that the primaries before the elections is where elections are won or lost and that this is decided by the poor youth majority from the slums.

21One of the reported hallmarks of the Kibaki administration is the expansion of the middle class. According to the World Bank, the country middle increased from 18% to 32% in the 10 year span of his rulemaking it one of the highest increments in Africa.

22In self-praise and objective analysis, economic change in Kenya is cited in superlative terms. Whether this has perceptibly changed the way the middle class will vote, that on account of what the Kibaki administration has ‘done for them’ was debatable before the election. Alarm bells begun to ring with the chaotic primaries in January 2013. As the epitomic battle for a break with the past, the middle class–if those participating in the cyberspace din is any indication of it-had campaigned for more urban and ‘mannered fellow’ (Gigo, 2013) for the Nairobi gubernatorial and senatorial contests. However, the voters chose those ‘who connected with them and their needs’ (Mugo, 2012). Immediately after the widely discredited primaries in early 2013, critiques stridently described the astute aloofness of the ‘so-called’ middle class. Online reviews observed that the chattering middle class were too busy on Twitter and Facebook to vote in the primaries (Kiberenge, 2013).

23The animated debate in the social media on how and who should lead Kenya did not translate into votes. Kiberenge gives one of the reasons for this non-commitment of the middle- class. Since the parties are based on the ethnic chieftaincy, anyone out of favour with the party chief would be disbarred as the party’s flag bearer. Since the middle class did not want to get mired in open tribal politics, they opted not to participate in the primaries, many viewing active political participation as the work of the politicians, NGOs and ‘the man on the streets’ (Swingvote2013, 2013).

24Theoretically and in economic perspectives, the opportunity cost of participating in the primaries is somehow lost to the middle class, hence the entrenchment of the trend where the whole exercise is left to non-middleclass actors and debate is delegated to the lumpen-proletariat and the upper-class boardroom deciders (Viongozi, 2013). The lower income groups, mostly unemployed youth from the poor areas, move out in large numbers, a situation plainly described by Kiberenge.

25The poor will also endure extreme weather conditions to nominate their preferred candidate. Often, the bait is a few hundred Kenyan shillings (up to £3.80; $5.80), which would not excite the middle class. Those in the middle class will often give up after a few minutes and then tweet their frustrations from the comfort of their living rooms or offices.

26Unlike the general election, the nomination day is not a public holiday. It would seem absurd to seek a day off to participate in party primaries. This is not the case with the poor, most of them unemployed. To be fair, though, most in the middle class are registered voters and will take part in the general election.

  • 1 Mr. Waititu lost the Nairobi gubernatorial contest to Evans Kidero, a middle class darling
  • 2 Both have been caught on camera as mobsters, with Waititu throwing stones to policemen and Sonko ha (...)

27On the practical side, being behind the service sector (teachers, lecturers, doctors and lawyers) the voters from the middle classes are likely to be on duty during the primaries. The fact that the elective culture of primaries is not deeply rooted in Kenya and the chaos occasioned by party financial constraints and indiscipline discourages many middle class voters from participating in the activity, leaving the electoral activity largely controlled by those who captures the imagination of the aspiration of the low class voters, a category gaining currency as ‘ma-hustler and ‘ma-sufferers’ both slung for the unemployed youth in the slums, who demographically, as we see down in this article used their vote in favour of the presumed champions of their suffering and hustling. In the 2013 campaigns, these ‘champions’ were epitomized by the candidatures of Ferdinand Waititu and Michael Mbuvi aka Sonko, who successfully used the ‘youth- takeover-leadership’ campaign call. Both Sonko and Waititu,1 the two bete noire of Nairobi city politics, were notoriously anti elitist in behaviour2 and campaigns. They successfully used the traditional perceptions of class crevices between the ‘ma-sufferers/hustlers’ and the middle class. This age-old age conflict is part of Kenyan history (Braton, 2002).

28Although the political process and the expression of it has been shifting, composing and recomposing since independence and before then, depending on the internal and external forces impacting on the state entity, the social-economic class crevices have remained. The apathy of the middle class in the primaries conceals not only the class differences but the atrophy of the civil society movement in Kenya. Much of the constitutional and civil rights changes in Kenya were consolidated by the civil society in the 1990s. Encouraged by the inherent weaknesses of Moi’s clientelist machine, and the epochal dismantling of the Soviet Union, the middleclass dominated civil societies steadily pressured Moi to allow political space expression. It appears that after the achievement made by the civil liberties and rights, (as well as associational politics), the civil societies lost the steam. Once Moi was out of the way, they lost the raison d’etre (Kihoro, 2012). Those left in the movement against old vice like corruption, tribalism and economic disparity were largely seen as discordant voices hence the general hostility against Maina Kiai, John Githongo and others even by their former colleagues then serving in Kibaki’s government.

29At best, there was muted silence by the middle class on pertinent issues that still kept the crevices between classes deep. Again this characterizes much of the Kenya post-independence history; as if the code of silence exists lest old ghouls of unresolved contested claims of the struggle over land come out (Anderson, 2003). The grassroots societies are gradually taking over the space previously occupied by the civil society.

30What we see are the same colonial crevices cast in the same harsh and polarised economic mould, in which capital has dual character; on one hand political protection and exclusion and on the other, having a global circulation that disregards localized privileges, (Lonsdale, 1985). This has obtained since when the Swynnerton Plan, in dying embers of British physical colonisation created a landed yeomanry on the one hand and a landless proletariat on the other (Maloba, 1996) especially in Central Kenya where propertied capital was designed for the repossession of productive assets from workers rather than by allocating resources to dependents (Lonsdale, 1985). It is this status quo that the middle class civil society would want to unravel or so the movement casted itself. Being creatures of pleasure, once Moi ceded the essential rights, the middle class had no other reason to continue the fight. Moi managed to retain power longer since the basic social economic architecture was not interfered with while the middle class enjoyed their associational rights. Kibaki’s state actually granted the middle class their dream land situation, where everything else continued well outside the political arena and where the private sector continues to function in the absence of political leadership (Mcconnell, 2010) or interference.

The outcome of the elections

31Subsumed in the electoral process in Kenya is the question or the rapidly expanding middle class. This study sought to find out the factors influencing political exercise of the middle class in the 2013 elections. By looking at the motivations behind participation or non participation of the middle class in the electoral process, the study hopes to lay bare the class contours that informed the outcome of the elections. With all its ambiguity, there was a general expectation that the Kenyan middle had come of age and coalesced politically in common consciousness hard enough to influence the outcome of the March 2013 general elections. I interviewed members of welfare associations patronised by the middle class in Nairobi. Some of the questions were based on the broad themes of economic performance, ethnicity and corruption.

32What emerged from the 2013 elections was that the middle class campaigned vigorously in the social media. There have emerged twitting intellectuals, analysts and activists for all types of Kenyan social, economic ills. This virtual activism, while posing as progressive, hardly impacted on the outcomes of the elections. If anything, the middle class loosened the old order by considerable mobilization of their material and intellectual power; it singularly failed to make a difference in the voting patterns in the 2013. There are several reasons for this.

33Firstly, demographically, the middle class in Kenya is still a minority class. It is estimated that this class makes only 25-28 percent of the Kenya population. It is therefore notable that its vote should be eclipsed by that of non-middleclass electors. The observation in this study is that this group votes, contrary to (self) accusation, but the ‘tyranny of numbers, ’ is wielded by non-middle classes, notably the lower income groups, or the non-twitting class, hence the observation by one interviewee that ‘those who come out to vote don’t have Facebook account… they tweet with their votes’ (Muhuhu, author interview, March 8, 2013).

34Secondly, the middle class has failed to pull the lower classes to a level where voting is decided on issues affecting the country. While middle class dominated civil society played a major role in challenging Moi’s monopoly of state power, it did not lead to an aggregation of political organisation and mobilization at national level which would have hopefully led to concessional political values. What has happened is that other political mobilisation axes have emerged, easily coalescing new forms of resistance and shrewdly manipulating expectations of non-middle classes, hence Gideon Mbuvi ‘Sonko’ ability to mobilise the youth vote, despite his notoriously cantankerous composure, to win the Nairobi senatorial sit. The same can be said of Ferdinand Waititu. Of the same political hew as Sonko, Mr. Waititu came second to Evans Kidero, the most middle class friendly candidate in the gubernatorial race. Those interviewed saw Waititu and Sonko as the best representatives of ‘poor people and their problems… identifying with common problems,” (Kimamo, author interview, March 7, 2013). Indeed, Waititu-Kidero’s contest brings us to the third reason.

35Thirdly, the 2013 election was still much an ethnic derived contest although it is emerging that creating ethnic blocks is giving way to much broader mobilisation along regions. Though it can be argued that Evans Kidero was a middle class creation, the volatile Nairobi vote was decided by the arithmetic of the parties and boardroom shenanigans. In the face of it The National Alliance (TNA) had two strong candidates in Waititu and Jimnah Mbaru, but the later had little grassroots support. In the supposed ‘issued based politics, ’ it was expected that Mbaru would win the primaries. Being a very successful businessman and well known champion of private accumulation through the stock market, he was seen as a natural choice for the non-Luo or non-CORD supporters. He performed poorly in the primaries, nonetheless. Waititu won for the TNA ticket. Ironically most middle class members interviewed portrayed Mbaru as ‘too aloof… detached and out of touch with the common man’ (Kanyoro, author interview, March 7, 2013). CORD on the other hand had only one strong candidate in Mr Kidero, who in the ‘issue based’ thinking would appeal across the board, to the middle class and the low classes. He won the gubernatorial contest for the city by a mere 50, 000 votes over Mr Waititu, spawning claims that the votes were rigged in his favour.

36Fourthly, the Kenya middle class is composed of professionals in different fields. The fledgling electoral process is not yet ingrained in the collective behaviour, especially the concept of primaries, which most middle class members did not think was important to participate in. Professional obligation comes first and this is much the same for both the employer and the employee, hence the common refrain by those interviewed that “I had to go to work”, “I could not get permission… even if I wanted to…” (Wachira, author interview, March 7, 2013).

Conclusion

37The view that the middle class will play the political gadfly in the 2013 general elections in Kenya was spurious. There was a pervasive believe by analyst, fuelled by the animated debate in the internet that Kenyan politics had somehow come of age. However, the suffrage countermanded the presumption that the elections would be decided around issues, an overarching reference to the expansion of the middle class in Kenya. Although the majority of the parliamentarians elected in 2013 are new, only time will tell if the crop of leaders the middle class campaigned for in the social sites were elected.

38The middle class hardly participated in the primaries, an electoral culture that is not entrenched in the Kenya politics. Most members of the middle class saw the primaries as of little importance, leaving the exercise to the lower and upper classes. The election outcomes is decided in the boardrooms by the upper classes and operationalised through bribery and manipulation of the lower classes. Several reasons can be adduced to explain middle class lack of impact on the electoral process. Furthermore, other political mobilization axes have emerged, easily coalescing new forms of resistance and shrewdly manipulating expectations of non-middle classes

39Demographically, the middle class in Kenya is still a minority class, making only 25-28 percent of the Kenya population. This vote is overshadowed by that of non-middleclass electors. Although the middle class votes, the ‘tyranny of numbers, ’ is wielded by non-middle classes, notably the lower income groups, the majority of whom participate in the elections largely as an exercise hoping to get some money or for lack of anything else to do.

40In addition, the Kenyan middle class is composed of professionals in different fields. The non participation of the middle class in the primaries and therefore the general minimal impact on political direction specifically in the 2013 general elections could be due to genuine reasons. Though the fledgling electoral process, is not yet ingrained in the collective electoral behaviour, most members of the middle class are busy professionals and job obligation comes first which is much the same for both the employer and the employee. Theoretically and in economic perspectives, the opportunity cost of participating in the primaries is somehow not lost to the middle class.

41In all, although the political process and the expression of it has been shifting, composing and recomposing even before independence, depending on the internal and external forces impacting on the state entity, the social–economic class crevices have remained. The animated debate in the social media on how and who should lead Kenya did not translate into votes. Kenya’s expanding middle class has not homogenized in political thought to a level where it plays an important role in social life. Its main limitation is this lack of national agenda and the crucial connexion with grassroots activism. This will probably change when the majority in the country are members of the middle class. Only then will the blatant inequalities between the classes reduce and become less important in defining voting.

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Notes

1 Mr. Waititu lost the Nairobi gubernatorial contest to Evans Kidero, a middle class darling

2 Both have been caught on camera as mobsters, with Waititu throwing stones to policemen and Sonko hack- sawing away a city council car cramp from his car, which was double parked in the city.

© Africae, 2014

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