“This man is declared an elder by the Kipsigis council of elders”!
Kenya has always mistaken the ancient regimes with the modern systems. One of the worst blunders is the use of the council of elders for political use. It all started during the retired president Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi regime. It was fashionable to declare a politician an elder of a community in order to make such leader more acceptable. This has so far happened only to men leaders and almost silent on women leaders until, Hon. Ann Waiguru was anointed by Kerinyaga elders as a leader. Such occurrences are not very popular in Kenya. It is more popular to anoint a man as an elder as it happened recently to the Governor of Bomet county, Hon. Isaac Rutto who is vying to defend his second term.
He was anointed by Gipsigis community elders as an elder. The same elders have in the past done the same to retired president Mwai Kibaki, to Deputy President William S. Ruto among many others. Another leader who has enjoyed such roles is Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga by several communities in Kenya. He has been declared by council of elders as an elder. President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta has been anointed severally as an elder by various communities in Kenya. Similarly, retired former president Daniel Arap Moi also enjoyed such rights. His predecessor, the first president Jomo Kenyatta also enjoyed such rights by his admirers from his community and other communities.
The prominent question in this blog story is about the meaning of “elder” in Kenya. Do politicians understand what an elder is and what his or her role is supposed to be? I have my own doubts. Severally, the practice has been put in place for political gains other than providing moral leadership. Some communities do it to seek goodies from the state or to ensure that the one in power gives them privilege. Unfortunately none of this is the case in Kenya.
Now what is the meaning of the council of elders? Do they really understand and get the cultural meaning of the council of elders? How does one become a member of how does one qualify to be an elder? Who gives the council this kind of power? The Council of Elders is not even articulated in the constitution. The same constitution does not even spell-out the role of chiefs after the position of paramount chiefs was expunged from the law.