What If Tuko Pamoja After All?

By now we have all read up on Forbes latest release on matters Africa, and those who are deemed most wealthy. Our homie, Uhuru Kenyatta, of the Tuko Pamoja fame, (or ICC..depending on the circles you roll in) made it onto the list.

I have a difficult time believing that this is the best pic they could find of him…but hey! Done a google image search…and….well…

I remember the indignation with which most of us responded to his Tuko Pamoja tagline that I believe is at the core of his presidential campaign. The ever philosophical RoomThinker was very articulate in this here open letter(blog) to Mheshimiwa.

So, in a nutshell, a guy owns at least 500,000 acres of prime land spread across the country. Yaani,(in other words), half a million acres of the Muthaigas, Nyaris, Rundas…if that’s what we define as ‘prime’ land…I tried to imagine the expanse of such land in my mind’s eye…even in broken down chunks…let’s just say, I’m still imagining.

The land was acquired by his father in the 1960s and 1970s when the British colonial government and the World Bank funded a settlement transfer fund scheme that enabled government officials and wealthy Kenyans to acquire land from the British at very low prices. ” [Forbes]


The Forbes list may have had a case of bad timing, adding salt to injury, given the status quo, with the Syokimau demolitions and scores of unresolved land disputes all across the country.

500,000 acres of land…how again is it that Tuko Pamoja?

Then I did a double take. I tried to put myself in Mheshimiwa’s position. We all agree that we don’t choose the families we are born into. That got me wondering, what if it was me? And since it’s clearly not, I quickly embraced another thought process altogether.

What would inspire the audacity behind Uhuru Kenyatta’s  ‘Tuko Pamoja’ tagline?

I tuned in for his appearance on Churchhill Live a couple of months back. His name and predisposition aside, the chap speaks the very same lingo we speak. He was careful to point out his normalcy in his interview. And frankly, who are we to refute his claims?

That he owns some ridiculous wealth,for a vast majority of us, there is no way ‘Tuko Pamoja’! But, I like to look at things from more than one perspective, so indulge me if you will.

I don’t think that he(Uhuru Muigai wa Kenyatta) woke up one day and ,on a whim,thought up the ‘Tuko Pamoja’ tagline…(I am waiting on a meetup with the chap and maybe someone can dig deep into this matter).

Let’s assess a number of ways in which the ‘Tuko Pamoja’ phrase may have us relate, shall we?

1. If any one of us was to be informed by our family that indeed we own a significant amount of Kenya’s land, would we then give it up, in the name of selflessness?

2. How many of us are striving towards just that, owning as much land,property,money…or other definition of wealth there is? How many of us are keeping our neighbour’s interests in mind as we go around, trying to acquire a-ka plot here and there?

3. How many of us are actively fighting against all the madness that is thrown at us on a daily in this country? We almost unanimously agree that the MPs(or MPigs) aren’t…but are we? Take a moment and think about it. Other than posting our fleeting indignation on twitter and facebook, how many of us are actually fighting these ills, patiently bearing the strain that is the path to justice, for a better tomorrow?


Here a number of ways that ‘Tuko Pamoja’ after all:
1. None of us is really doing anything to safeguard public interest, so….Tuko Pamoja.

2. We are all looking out for ourselves…the difference may be in scale(or acres of land we own as collateral), so… Tuko Pamoja!

3. We all want things to work out different come the post 2012 period…(I don’t think he,or any of the Ocampo Six are keen on being repeat offenders,seeing as they didn’t ponea ‘Bahasha Ya Ocampo’ …I refer you to the picture above,I highly suspect it’s off his recent sit-in inside Ekaterina’s courtroom…), whether we want a ‘good kind of different’ or not is a fate to be determined by our actions/inactions, words/silence… so,again,on that, Tuko Pamoja!

4. There’s that guy/girl, or guys/girls that we don’t want anywhere near Parliament,or any political office come 2013…so on that, definitely, Tuko Pamoja.

I could go on and on…(feel free to go on and on)…but you get the picture. I was definitely up in arms when I first heard Bwana Muigai using the ‘Tuko Pamoja’ phrase. But when I did a double take, I bit my tongue,and let my mind wander around the scenarios painted above..

What if, after all, Tuko Pamoja? What if, after all, Uhuru Kenyatta, or any other politician for that matter, resonates with the national pulse? We are a hypocritical lot, all of us, purporting that the members of the August house are sent from a special,amoral universe to influence our policies and governance. We have the leaders we deserve! One of these days, let’s inform ourselves some more on the roles of politicians, and the institution that is politics. Here’s one interesting find.

At this point, I insert the disclaimer that should probably be at the top of the post…this is neither an endorsement nor dismissal of Uhuru Kenyatta.

In my view, a politician only comes across as speaking for himself because the people he represents have either given in to apathy or allowed for a laissez-faire mode of action. So, which is it?

What if  Tuko Pamoja after all? (Discuss. 20 mks)

Author: Nanjira

Perched at the intersection of tech & governance, media, culture.

  • Mathew Ngao.

    In my opinion, Hatuko pamoja… at all! But that’s just in one way… and that’s why I agree, we are all seated at the same apathetic table feasting on corruption, tribalism ‘na kadhalika.’ But really, our difference lies in what drives us to this table. Some eat of this sorry mess because they are just tired of being hungry. By tired, I mean tired of that endless toil on their farms (yes, those X< < < < < < 500,000acre farms) that yields nothing but pocket change for their quality produce. They have tried education (the proverbial key to a future whose nepotistic door opens only to faces and families it recognizes) because somewhere down the line is a harsh realization that Kenya has its "owners"… and that their father is not one of them and neither was the grandfather. Tired of hawking in Nairobi because its senseless when you have to run away from yesterdays faithful customer because today s/he dons that faded city council askari uniform.
    Some however, are drawn to the table because they fear not an empty stomach, they fear a stomach that is not full. So they will eat anything, and they will do anything to make sure there is more to be eaten. This is not just greed its heartless determined greed. That is why when all the steak of corruption is eaten and everything is savored, they will eat their fellow table-mates…albeit shamelessly.
    Now back to this "tuko pamoja" thing… its true, it really is, we are together in this filth. Let us not however, allow ourselves to buy the lie that we dove into it together… we did not! It is unjust for us to expect the same tune that charms the cobra out of a hole, will charm a dragon (in its fiery massive size) out of the same hole. So mweshimiwa, hatuko pamoja! maybe wewe ndio uko na sisi but hatuko na wewe.

  • Ogolla Lorna

    Perhaps we’re over thinking this…perhaps he just meant that we are in the same location :D….


    Deep down, what i really wonder is what type of leader I would really like to have in office…and whether that leader I envision as selfless and visionary actually exists…

    Is there such a thing as a leader who will actually speak of the people…and bring us back to some sense of morally sensible means of governance…ie look at this for example: http://media.economist.com/images/na/2010w28/201028NAP427.jpg

    • Hahahaha!! maybe so….Tuko Pamoja geographically…just that even on that, he has an advantage of sorts…

  • “We all agree, we don’t choose the families we were born in to… If any one of us were to be informed by our family that we indeed own a significant amount of Kenya’s land, would we then give it up in the name of selflessness?”

    A.) This is someone who calls himself a national leader, he is not under any circumstances you and I, he is an elected MP and therefore he is sworn under oath to act in the interests of this country. If the interests of this country call for our soldiers to risk their lives then for Zeus’s sake and don’t excuse my language, he needs to be at the forefront of land reforms. Even if that entails him losing 100 000 of 500 000 acres.

    B.) If all four estates worked as they should, and we had systems in place constitutionally and legally that ensured that our interests were safeguarded, then we would not need to rely on the whims or feelings of our leaders to grant us with what we rightfully deserve. And if the fourth estate called out rubbish as it were, as opposed to Sunday night PR highlights on what our politicians own, and comedy show interviews, you and I would be in a much better place. How about a show on ‘500 000 acres destroyed my life? Or ‘Ha ha-Kenyans are punked with MP Salary increases’?

    C.) We do not have the leaders we deserve, we all voted in good faith for our interests. These included basic rights such as better roads, equality, clean water education etc. which they all promised. They may have done this by saying they were our tribal brothers therefore more likely to do so, or that they are our sisters, and they too understand how hard it is to be a woman in this country, or that they are young and they will… You get my drift? We voted for someone to make our lives better and they did not. This is a democracy, we safeguard our country’s collective interest through a vote and safe and peaceful protests. There are strikes, food protests and our turn out at the polls to show that Kenyans are not just twiddling their thumbs and being apathetic.

    Now what are the facts in moving forward for a better Kenya?

    A.) The World Bank and a majority of international bodies have called out for land reforms in LDC’s because this will be required for development and it’s a basic human right. See http://www.networkideas.org/feathm/may2002/ft03_Land_Reforms.htm

    B.) Land reforms have worked before, we will not turn into Zimbabwe if it’s done right, see examples here http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/international/slot1_122405.html?_r=1

    C.) What systems do we require in order to function well as a country, with or without the people we elect (‘better’ leaders, died with Mahatma) read the Belgian example here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13725277 and here http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/145664#.TsTnqGNRW1s

    D.) How can we hold politicians accountable? This is one of my personal favorites http://factcheck.org/about/

    These are just my opinions…

  • How can there be a change in politics with the same actors? All those Rutos (ok, talking bout William not the other one), Odingas, Kenyattas? Being a friend of second chances, i will not stricly say there can’t. But it needs visible efforts. Uhuru grew up in incredible wealth which was not gained legally. His fatherly friend Moi accumulated it the same way. Im sure Uhuru knows. Well, im not saying that he has to give it back, thats up to him. But as long as he has not given it back (or even partially) i am doubting that he is able or even in the position of naming all the injustices that happen in the past. All this wealth Is like a moral heavyweight tied to his foot. And these injustices have to be named or even changed to really go on, e.g. to realise a land reform.
    To make a long story short: He is simply not in the position to say Tuko Pamoja.
    But are we?

  • Jon

    I like how you chose to look at it. But, truth be told, there is no way Tuko Pamoja. By the virtue of his pedigree, the man can not relate to the plight of the ordinary mwananchi not even that of the middle class. True, none of us choose which family to be born into, but he was born into the elite and has lived as the elite all his life. The guy is practically untouchable. And he can NOT claim to be self-made.

    The fact that he has managed to garner massive support from youth whose lives couldn’t be more diametrically opposed to his own says a lot about his political skill. As you say, he speaks our lingo, he comes across as the guy you’d have a beer with at your local. But he IS a politician, that’s just what they do.
    And as you say, maybe the people have already given in to apathy and are not concerned with changing the status quo. These are the same people who disseminate the “Tuko Pamoja” campaign all over our cities and towns.

    The other side of the presidential race is no different.

    I’m of the opinion he should have chosen a different campaign tagline.

  • Team Uhuru

    Nanjira, thank you for the post on “Tuko Pamoja” and especially for trying to interrogate it further instead of taking it at face value.

    A number of things to point out:

    Do you have to be poor to appreciate the problems that the poor in our country face? Do you have to be unemployed to know that it is a bad thing for our nation? Do you have to have your house destroyed to empathise with those whose house are being demolished in Syokimau? The answer to all this is no. In the same line of thinking, while we empathise and pass blame whereas we are not the one’s afflicted, why not extend the same courtesy to Uhuru who though not poor and not unemployed is still bothered and seeks to correct these. Are we not together in that regard. In our need to see Kenya a better place. Can he not say “Tuko Pamoja” to signify that he, like you and I understand the problems of this country and that is what he seeks to make better?

    The context within which ‘Tuko Pamoja” should be understood matters because the easiest thing for people to do and especially detractors is to claim that he is the son of a former President and hence hatuko pamoja. As a country, we are not all born of the same ilk. That being the case, it does not mean that we are not one as a country. Tuko Pamoja traverses a lot of things and hence should be looked at as an ideology even without Uhuru as a reference point. Tuko Pamoja because we all want the best for our children, Tuko Pamoja because we want the leadership that will deliver the best for our children, Tuko Pamoja because even though we are not of the same ilk, we empathise and seek to uplift those less fortunate in whichever way we can. What Uhuru has done is say Tuko Pamoja because he knows he is best placed to address these issues. Please indulge us by viewing at this exclusive interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftu1P8RrA5g&amp;

    Lastly, we should all ask ourselves one question? If Uhuru was a very poor man seeking the Presidency of this country and using “Tuko Pamoja”? Would you tell him hatuko pamoja as someone from the middle class society? I bet you would say I feel you, not because you are poor but because you understand and empathise and want the best for every Kenya.

    Tuko Pamoja 🙂

    • This information comes at the wrong time for Uhuru. Here is a man accused of funding a small army to massacre others, and then we see he is one of the richest people in Africa yet millions of Kenyans live in abject poverty.

      Uhuru does not need to be poor to be pamoja or rich to govern. What I believe the people want to see is more philanthropic activity on his part. Donate a piece of land here, settle some squatters there but then the question begs, when will the hatuko pamoja sentiment die? When you give up everything?

      Uhuru’s tuko pamoja phrase does not mean anything anyone wants it to be. It simply means he wants us to be one country with one dream, which is a good thing as it is what he country needs now.

      Maybe its time to change the slogan to something else.. But whatever you pick, someone will fault it.

      Team Raila 🙂

  • We are not pamoja of course, I think Uhuru has his background and we can only do so much to vilify him or anything about his or his family’s wealth. What he should spend time doing is being honest to the core about what he is, where he comes from, the wealth he has and how he plans to really make us all equal; without Tusker featuring of course.

    It will help a great deal, not if he threw away his wealth but if he indeed extended some of his wealth (acquired questionably) to worthy causes in significant ways and those who are really need of a ‘savior’. I could be shallow today but thats my 2 cents.

    • It really flabbergasts me though, the expectation that we place on these our chosen leaders…and the laissez faire approach we apply in keeping them in check. Has anyone asked him to give up said land? the new constitution has provisions that can enable the public to reclaim said land, especially if its usage or barrenness affects the nation’s economic well-being…as to whether we’ll employ that route, I eagerly await, and that is why we are all wrong to judge the man by the acres of land to his name, and solely on that basis,dismiss his slogan.

  • It might do us good to remember that we may be very few,those of us silently protesting to UK’s mantra: ‘#TukoPamoja’