The Unyielding Spirit: Why Kenyan Youth Must Maintain The Leaderless Approach To Deal With Ruto

By Steve Biko Wafula / Published July 2, 2024 | 8:20 am



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In the annals of history, the call to arms has often been heralded by a singular, resounding voice—a leader who emerges to galvanize the masses, to steer them through tumultuous seas toward a distant, glittering shore. However, in the face of unprecedented modern challenges, it becomes increasingly clear that the power of collective action, free from the shackles of a centralized command, may hold the key to true and lasting change. As I delve into this argument, I find the most potent exemplars not in the annals of our own rich and storied past, but in the contemporary struggles that mirror our own.

Consider the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. What began as a small encampment in Zuccotti Park, New York, burgeoned into a global protest against economic inequality. The movement eschewed traditional leadership structures, operating instead through general assemblies and consensus-based decision-making. Critics decried this as a recipe for chaos, yet it was precisely this lack of hierarchy that made the movement resilient and inclusive. The message of economic injustice resonated across borders and demographics, drawing in voices that might have otherwise been silenced under a more rigid framework.

In Hong Kong, the 2019-2020 protests against the extradition bill showcased the remarkable power of leaderless resistance. The protestors adopted the motto “Be water,” inspired by Bruce Lee’s philosophy. By remaining fluid and adaptable, the movement was able to outmaneuver a formidable state apparatus. Traditional hierarchies were replaced with a decentralized approach, utilizing technology to coordinate and communicate. This adaptability made the movement difficult to suppress, as there was no single figurehead to target, no central structure to dismantle.

Read Also: Article 58 Of The Constitution Of Kenya: State Of Emergency

Kenyan youth stand at a similar crossroads. The specter of centralized power looms large, with the potential to stifle the very essence of their struggle. To appoint a leader is to paint a target on a single back, to offer the adversary a focal point for their repressive tactics. It is to risk the co-optation of the movement, as history has shown that charismatic leaders can sometimes succumb to the lure of power, becoming indistinguishable from the very systems they once opposed.

In contrast, a leaderless movement embodies the principles of democracy and equality. Each voice carries weight; each participant is both a leader and a follower. This collective ownership fosters a deeper commitment to the cause, as individuals are not merely following directives but are actively shaping the course of their struggle. This decentralized model of activism mirrors the democratic ideals that the youth of Kenya strive to uphold, promoting a more inclusive and representative form of protest.

The Arab Spring offers another compelling case study. In Tunisia and Egypt, movements that began without clear leaders were able to harness the power of social media to organize and mobilize. While these movements did eventually see the rise of prominent figures, their initial success lay in their ability to draw in a diverse array of voices and perspectives. The initial lack of a centralized leadership allowed for a broader base of support and a more flexible approach to organizing.

Furthermore, the environmental movement led by Extinction Rebellion exemplifies the strength of decentralized activism. Founded in the United Kingdom, this movement employs a horizontal structure, encouraging autonomous local groups to take action in their communities. This model has enabled the movement to grow rapidly and adapt to different contexts, spreading its message across the globe without the constraints of a top-down hierarchy.

Kenyan youth, in their quest for justice and equity, must draw lessons from these global movements. The path forward lies not in the hands of a singular leader but in the collective strength of a united, leaderless movement. This approach offers a bulwark against the tactics of repression and co-optation that have historically undermined social movements.

The leaderless model fosters innovation and resilience. Without a centralized command, the movement can adapt swiftly to changing circumstances, employing diverse tactics to achieve its goals. This fluidity is crucial in a rapidly evolving political landscape, where the ability to pivot and respond to new challenges can make the difference between success and failure.

Moreover, the leaderless structure empowers individuals to take ownership of the movement. This sense of agency is vital in sustaining momentum, as participants feel a personal stake in the outcome. It transforms passive followers into active agents of change, each contributing their unique skills and perspectives to the collective effort.

The potential for internal divisions and power struggles is minimized in a leaderless movement. Without a singular figurehead, the movement is less susceptible to factionalism and infighting. This unity of purpose is essential in maintaining a cohesive front against a well-organized adversary.

As we look to the future, the youth of Kenya must recognize the inherent strength in their collective voice. The leaderless model is not a rejection of leadership but an embrace of a new form of leadership—one that is distributed, democratic, and resilient. It is a model that aligns with the values of justice, equity, and inclusion that underpin their struggle.

Therefore, the Kenyan youth must heed the lessons of global movements and embrace the power of collective, leaderless action. It is through this approach that they will find the strength to challenge entrenched systems of power, to outmaneuver repressive tactics, and to build a movement that is truly representative of their aspirations. The unyielding spirit of the Kenyan youth, when channeled through a decentralized and inclusive movement, holds the promise of a brighter and more equitable future. Let them rise, not as followers of a single leader, but as a united front, each voice contributing to the chorus of change.

Read Also: The Great Betrayal: Kenya’s Parliament, Highest Paid Yet Most Corrupt And Inept In The World




About Steve Biko Wafula

Steve Biko is the CEO OF Soko Directory and the founder of Hidalgo Group of Companies. Steve is currently developing his career in law, finance, entrepreneurship and digital consultancy; and has been implementing consultancy assignments for client organizations comprising of trainings besides capacity building in entrepreneurial matters.He can be reached on: +254 20 510 1124 or Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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