by Wanja Waweru
A former Member of Parliament in the northern Gatundo district, Ann Wanjiko wa Kebi, ignited an online debate by calling out the ridiculous nicknames given to supporters of the Building Bridges initiative. (BBI).
In order to study and amend the current constitution, former President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga launched the BBI project in 2018, and although it was later shot down by the Supreme Court, it led to a heated political debate that divided the country.
In her Facebook post, Wa Kibe asked the question, “Apart from kuitwa tukunia, ni matusi ingine gani unakumbuka wale tulikua tunasupport BBI tuliekelewa?” (Aside from calling them beanbags, what other indignities do you remember us, BBI supporters, being called?)”.
Tukunia is a Kikuyu name that refers to bean bags.
Her post sparked a heated debate, with some of her fans remembering the names they called her.
The former MP for Nyeri Wambugu Ngungeri town responded with “#Ngati” (referring to a mean person). The BBI debate led to the formation of two rival political factions: Kieleweke, siding with President Kenyatta and Odinga, and Tangatanga, led by William Ruto, who was then Vice President.
The BBI controversy had a significant impact on the 2022 general election, with some candidates attributing their defeat to the initiative. Elijah Njoroge, also known as Kururia, ran as an independent and defeated Wa Kibe for the seat.
She ran for re-election as a candidate for the Jubilee Party. He was also defeated by Duncan Mathenge of the United Democratic Alliance, a party led by Mr. Wambugu Ngunjiri lost his seat.
Accusations that Kenyatta did not want to cede control have been at the center of the BBI controversy. However, he supported the plan, saying it aimed to right historical wrongs, encourage power-sharing among rival ethnic groups, and provide a platform for fair allocation of resources.
The Supreme Court ruled the proposal illegal in May 2021 due to the fact that the sitting head of state was not supposed to initiate the debate on amending the constitution.