The History of Kingpins in the Tribal Kenyan Politics

Towards every election cycle in Kenya , it’s not strange to hear the word Kingpin , who is purportedly the community’s soul decision maker in the political table , others call them community’s spokespersons , quite ironocal though ,as they rarely speak for the community but just a class of politicians .

It is also quite illogical to speak on behalf of five million people who never held a meeting and jotted down minutes to elect you to speak on their behalf. That notwithstanding , our political system is characterized with this kingpins who have been trusted to make key decisions on behalf of the community and for anyone to ascend into power , they have to hero worship the Kingpins, failure to this will translate to failure in their political ambition.

So just how did this begin ?

Upon getting independence from the British ,Kenya was a young nation with a majority of an illiterate population which was were deeply divided along tribal lines .In fact on the National Identification Card ,tribe was a major an identification tool . Thanks to these tribal and illiteracy factors , a few elites who had benefitted from the white man’s education ,and actively or passively fought for independence granted themselves the power to speak on the behalf of their own communities.

The citizens of these communities also thought that these individuals valued their interests and therefore gave them a go ahead to represent them . Along the years after independence , fallouts in the government became norm and whenever a kingpin was alienated from the government ,his community followed him .

Of course the government took advantage of this and punished such communities direly while rewarding communities whose kingpins stayed with the government. The government also tried to topple the kingpins with varried ideas , and tried introducing new kingpins , a tactic of divide and rule .

In the Nyayo era , this analogy of kingpinship cooled down , due to the autocratic method that the the head of state used to govern the country. However with the advent of multipartism , many parties were formed based on the tribes and this again gave rise to the kingpins .To date , Kingpins still exist among the major tribal grouping because of the huge vote basket that they carry along. The Kingpin theory exists among the Kikuyu ,Luo ,Kalenjin ,Luhya, The Coastal People and the Akamba .

In our subsequent publications , we will write about each of this communities and how they have faired on with their kingpins .

See you then !


By Lincoln Oyugi

Just as Isaac Newton died a virgin, I'll die a writer!

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