NAIROBI—A new style of political campaign is gaining traction in Northern Kenya and Majority Leader of the National Assembly Aden Duale is behind the wheels.
Adapting the Deputy President William Ruto’s style, Duale is slowly introducing “philanthropic politics” with focus on Madrasas—Islamic schools— and mosques.
DP Ruto is known for his generosity in public events as churches remain his main beneficiaries.
On Friday during his tour of Dadaab and Fafi constituencies in Garissa County, Duale openly introduced the style for the first time, saying his main focus would be supporting Islamic religious institutions.
Madrasaas have been cash-strapped since aftermath of 9/11 when the United States authorities blocked Arab aid into the country on the pretext that it was meant to “support terrorism.”
“I want to tell my colleagues from Wajir and Garissa that the only way to survive in politics is to support Madrasas and Mosques,” he said in Somali in the company of several MPs from the region.
And true to his words, the Majority Leader has supported over 40 Madrasas in his Garissa Township constituency since 2013.
Local political observers believe his soft spot for Madrasas and Mosques was among the factors in his 2017 victory because the institutions were in bad shape.
In neighboring Wajir, Madrasas remain unsupported. The management of Al Fatah Institute, the biggest Islamic institution in the county has stopped construction of storied building due to lack of support. The proceeds from building is aimed at supporting the madrasa operations.
SOURCE OF CASH
The source of Ruto’s cash was severally questioned. However, Kieni MP Kanini Kega has reacted to the accusations, stating that the donations were profits from businesses operated by the leaders.
“People assume that we rely on our salaries but they are wrong. We have businesses that supplement our salaries and from the profits we get, we have money to donate,” he said.
Adow Kalil has covered the region for more than a decade as a correspondent for the Standard newspaper. He said in his entire career, instances of politcal leaders coming in aid of madrasas were rare.
“I have not seen such a move before,” Adow told Kulan Post, adding that the institutions were stable thanks to the Arab donors.
“Duale is perceived as someone committed to religion and this is helping him alot,” Adow added.
When asked if the new style would favour his political move, Adow maintained that several other factors would come into play.
Conspicuous for his several donations to Islamic institutions, Duale seems devising against KANU leader’s ambition to gain votes from Northern region, an area senator Gideon Moi seeks to appeal due to the shared culture of nomadism.
He severally evoked memories of atrocities allegedly commited by former President Daniel Arap Moi, among them Wagalla Massacre in Wajir, Malkamari In Mandera and Bula Karatasi Massacre in Garissa.
“Duale is successfully driving the narrative that Ruto is a friend who supports Islamic institutions and Gideon is the son of the infamous (President) Moi whose name echoes atrocities committed during his reign,” Yunis Dekow, a broadcaster from the region who covers Parliamentary news for a Nairobi based local radio, said.
“Legislators from the North Eastern counties support his bills in the floor of Parliament, an indication of his cordial relationship with them,”
Dekow observed, adding that, “The relations will work in the interest of Ruto’s 2022 ambition.”