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Our problems can best be solved by democracy and not secession.

By KOIGI WA WAMWERESecession is being discussed as a solution to Kenya's political and economic problems.And because secession is highly divisive and hardly born without blood, we must discuss how problems that are being used as its justification can be solved outside its framework.

Since secession is divisive and violent, I think we need democracy more. Yet many Kenyans think progressive democracy is impossible in Kenya and only secession can solve their problems.

Because the Constitution allows self-determination, many Kenyans believe secession is demanded by the supreme law and is necessarily right. Yet, where people have seceded, it has mostly been as a last resort.

In solving problems, democracy should be given preference over secession or dictatorship.Though its proponents justify it on grounds of self-determination, secession is not equal to this constitutional principle.

Self-determination allows use of more democracy to boost national unity, as it should, or advocate secession and less democracy to solve political problems.SELF DETERMINATIONBut though institutionalised in the Constitution, self-determination cannot merely be to support and justify secession.

People can embrace self-determination and also uphold democracy and national unity, which are not anti-theses of self-determination.When our communities lived separately before colonialism, it was not because they preferred that they merely found themselves living that way and nobody had given them a choice of living together.

Indeed, when Africans were given a choice of living together or separately after Independence, our founding fathers opted for the former as they had no doubt that that would make them stronger.If African countries have lived together for 50 years, it was because of that Pan-Africanist wisdom and refusal by subsequent leaders not to undo the great decision.

In Kenya, the debate whether to splinter into different countries of one ethnic community called "majimbo" or secession or continue to live in a multi-ethnic country called Kenya was finally won by nationalists, who believed in unity rather than separation, disunity and ethnic balkanisation that secession promises to bring about.Strangely, majimboism which counties are creating by giving most resources and jobs to majority communities in ethnically dominant and monolithic countiesis being hailed as the most genuine devolution.

Should devolution kill nationalism through ethnic discrimination, so shall Kenya in counties and in Kenya die.While demanding secession, the advocates of separation say small communities suffer discrimination and oppression of negative ethnicity and dictatorship by big communities, which they believe only secession can cure.

NEGATIVE ETHNICITYThey argue that negative ethnicity and dictatorship are inherent and incurably embedded in big communities and, hence, only secession can liberate the small ones.But it is not only secession that can do that.

Indeed, it is not only members of small communities who suffer from discrimination, oppression or exploitation. Poor people of all communitiesbig or smallalso do.

Yet, neither the poor of big communities nor of the small ones can look up to secession for salvation. Only socialism, equal distribution of resources and democracy can liberate the poor of all communities.

And just as Independence did not automatically save Africans from the poverty of colonialism, so will secession not help the poor of communities that secede from Kenya. Such 'salvation' is a mere illusion.

To develop and end poverty and marginalisation, President Uhuru Kenyatta has invited East Africans to work, own land, do business and settle in Kenyaagainst the spirit of secession that counties such as Kiambu and Kilifi have embraced.Mr Wamwere, a former Member of Parliament, is an author and human rights activist.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Jan 7, 2018
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