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David Ndii: Why I’m leading push for self determination

David Ndii, an economist and popular columnist with Saturday Nation, has caused a stir after posting a controversial document on social media.

Captioned simply “petition for self-determination” the document appears to suggest and support a secession of some tribes in Kenya from the ‘main’ tribes.

In part, the petition reads: “We the people of Western Kenya (Luo, Luhya, Tesos, Kisii, Kuria), Coastal Kenya (Swahilis, Mijikendas, Pokomos, Giriamas, Taitas, Tavetas,) North West Kenya (Turkana, Pokot)…intends to file a communication/complaint with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul…to grant us our human rights of self-determination of forming our own state…”

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights or the “Banjul Charter” is an international human rights instrument that intends to protect human rights and basic freedoms in Africa.

RIGHT OF EXISTENCE

Article 20 of the Banjul Charter declares that “All peoples shall have the right to existence…they shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.”

Kenya is among the 53 states that have signed and ratified the Banjul Charter.

As expected, the document posted by Ndii has elicited a lot of reactions, and has sparked debate among Twitter followers who have reacted by either commenting, liking or retweeting.

“I tweeted it because I am the one who triggered the debate through my column. People have been referring to my column and even adopted some of the language I used- that of Kenya being a ‘cruel marriage’,” Dr. Ndii, who heads Nasa’s technical team, said in a telephone interview with Nairobi News.

But that was not his first attempt.

Dr Ndii is one of the most controversial Kenyan columnists, churning bi-weekly columns that spark national debate on matters economy, politics and governance.

ETHNICALLY POLARISED

In one of his most popular columns dubbed “Kenya is a cruel marriage, it’s time we talk divorce” published in March 2016, the economist calls for a secession into a “Mt. Kenya Nation” and a “Luo Nation” arguing that Kenya is “more ethnically polarised and angry than ever before”.

Here is an excerpt of the much-talked about article: “When people find that they cannot live together they part company. Kenya is for the most part an abusive relationship. It is about time we start talking about ending it. This ought not be a difficult conversation.”

Indeed, a difficult conversation, one that Dr. Ndii hopes that his Twitter post will help Kenyans finally have a much-needed conversation about “Identity Politics”.

Ndii denies being behind the petition.

He says he got wind of the petition while having a political conversation within his “political circles” when one acquaintance, an international law expert, mentioned that some young Kenyans had approached him to draft the petition.

“I thought it was interesting, so I told my friend to email it to me. I had a look at it and I tweeted it,” says Dr. Ndii.

Although the tweet, which has since gone viral has received barbs and bouquets- in equal measure- Dr. Ndii remains unperturbed and unfazed by the euphoria surrounding the social media posting.

“For me, it is not a big deal…also, this is not a peculiar matter. Read carefully and you will find that those institutions actually exist for that purpose,” he says.