Saturday, 29 December 2012

Your Vote will only Employ Politicians

This week there was a flare up of violence in Tana River and Baragoi districts. Since it was also the week of Christmas, what were instead given priority in the media are Christmas messages from our political gods. Yes gods, because we worship these beings so much that while our fellow citizens are being cut to pieces by “cattle rustlers” we watch in adoration how our politicians went to church and prayed.

Let’s face it we are lost without the political rhetoric.  It just mesmerizes Kenyans to talk of providing employment by simply being in power and we just swallow it whole. Never mind that ALL these presidential candidates have been in government at some point in the last 10 years. Never mind that some are still ministers. Never mind that none of them have ever directly increased employment for the populace even in their own constituencies nor do they have any tangible economic plan.

Obviously when they are talking about increasing employment by being in office, they mean for themselves. All the promises made in the next 3 months will make even the greatest skeptics among us believe in the wonderland they claim they will create. Luckily I will still be here to help the brokenhearted face reality soon after the vote, when the electorate goes back to being insignificant.

I blame religions and whoever brought those religions here for the way these Africans think. Our indigenous beliefs were based on a universe we lived in, where if you get swallowed by a giant fish you die, simple, factual, dead, reality.  Along came a missionary with a bible that taught us that a man can be swallowed whole and live to tell the tale. Ever since then, anything that comes out of the mouths political class has the exact same effect of bending reality, such that if you just believe, then Kenya will change into heaven on earth.

Of all the promises that come of out the politician’s mouth, the most denigrating is the promise of employment. First of all, these politicians are standing, as usual, on a tribal platform. Thus the promise of employment is specifically directed at their tribesmen. Let’s just examine this for a minute. The tribesman has never been employed by his politician in the first place, despite electing him to MP and thereafter seeing him become a minister. So it’s the most defiling lie ever to come out of the politician’s mouth, because it corrupts the truth of his plain refusal to employ his tribesmen. I say refusal, because obviously when in power the politician simply hires his cronies and not the tribal voter. They don’t do anything that will lead to more viable jobs for the general population. Jobs to them are farces like digging trenches just because you are a “Kijana” yet you have a degree.

You can tell that we are being mesmerized because every single channel except KBC has a live broadcast of a political rally each weekend. We are so “high,” so drunken with the rhetoric that even foolish comments slip past us. Anything that the politician says is golden. They are “human” after all. That a politician needs to say he or she is human, oh my, it’s like they have just discovered that fact.

We rushed, last minute to register as voters, to the relief of the IEBC. The rhetoric is foolish, the voters are even more so.  For starters, we can’t count.
 12 million people with the power to elect into office their tribesmen who have promised day and night to employ all of us, and we think we are intelligent. 290 MPs, 47 Senators, 47 Governors and their deputies, one President and his deputy and all the county representatives in Kenya cannot be able to employ 12 million voters. Come on! 

If such a feat was possible, it would have happened by now.  We would rightly call that a miracle, performed by our “gods”. 

If a nation, of so many different cultures only finds a commonality in divisive politics then truly we are a doomed failed state. It is our divisive and separatist nature that prevents us from responding humanely when our fellow citizens are attacked mercilessly in their homes in the dead of the night. We allow ourselves the comfort of indulging in meaningless tribal politics when our neighbors sleep in the rain and wake up to find their children dead. Worst of all, is how we allow ourselves the pleasure of fantasies like being employed by virtue of a single vote.

It is hard work, and no other way, that will get our people into employment. When you vote you will only give some politician a job. So please, snap out of the haze, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Only zombies and snakes are charmed for so long, if you are human you can discard the ridiculous ideas that the politician is trying to sell you. Economic empowerment is about you, as an individual, getting up and going out there and creating opportunity for yourself, no one will give you that opportunity, the world owes you nothing and you are entitled to nothing, regardless of ‘historical injustices’ regardless of your past, regardless of your tribe. You, dear Kenyan, must make it happen for yourself. That is the cold hard reality. We, as citizens, must expand our economy ourselves.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Blessing of Coalitions

 It was the shortest lived marriage in the history of politics. Barely 2 weeks after announcing that UDF had joined the Jubilee Coalition, the party left in a huff after a gentleman's agreement was not honored. Not surprisingly, UDF officials were so offended that they vowed to go join the CORD coalition. In short, back to ODM.

Looks like a coalition is only valid when you get what you want. In any case, other than tribal and personal interests what real political ideology were these politicians using to glue themselves together?
Its no secret that democracy cannot work in Africa. We are just too culturally and politically uncooperative define our politics with unifying concepts like democracy. In fact, when multi-party politicking first cropped up, the former President Moi stated that it was just going to be a bunch of tribalists seeking political office in an opportunistic manner. Never was the professor of village politics more right.

You'd have to be completely blind not to notice the obvious tribal calculations behind these coalitions. Still, one has to admire the brazen nature of the Jubilee coalition. even without UDF, the coalition represents the exact same "pentagon" individuals of ODM in 2007, with the addition of Uhuru Kenyatta.

Its really sad that in the formation of these tribal "marriages" so much callous talk is used by politicians. Its a real pity that disparaging remarks that raise tensions in a country that was on the brink of terrible violence only 4 years ago are still to be heard from these leaders.
I blame the media on this one. Why give so much air time to so much hot air? What this country needs is to black out the sort of village dramatics that are causing neighbor to rise against neighbor over a person they will never meet.

I appreciate coalitions. Very much so, in fact Kenya should just have one grand coalition called the Orange-URP-UDF-TNA government of Kenya or ORANGUTAN for short.
ORANGUTAN would be just perfect for this country, because each and every tribal interest would be included in the national plan, and of course the Orangutan leaders would naturally be statesmen for once and not just tribal leaders.

Surely this country is in dire need of Orangutan thinkers, people whose intention is to merge together their interests in order to serve the nation of Kenya. When I envision such a wonderful one party state, I can only admire how diligently our dear Orangutans would watch over resources, in order not to let the other tribe steal or corrupt away national resources meant for all.

I am all for coalitions, marriages, if only it will drive this nation forward and help bring cohesion and peace. So hurray for Orangutans, and may our leaders bless us next year with simian governance!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

IEBC Principally to Blame for Poor Registration

Let’s talk about planning. Clearly IEBC does need a lesson in planning. It’s been 2 years since the commission was formed, during which time, a countdown presumably had begun. So it’s really rather ambitious and actually a bit ridiculous for the IEBC to expect to register 18 million voters in just one month in a country whose majority population live in the rural areas.

Oh yes, they say they conducted civic education. They bought the BVR kits. So why aren’t people registering to vote? It’s not the IEBC’s fault they claim. A huge part of being the body in charge of conducting elections is the charge of being responsible for how the electorate responds to the elections. Being responsible means taking responsibility for how things turn out.

If the claim is that citizens simply are not responding, then the situation should have been looked into long before the registration process begun. Unless the dear commissioners were on Mars during the last election it’s obvious that one of the repercussions of that debacle is that many Kenyans would feel that voting is akin to invoking violence. It’s the sort of voter apathy attached to the swindling of a nation through a botched electoral process.

It’s no secret that much of the population lacks confidence in the ability of IEBC to deliver a free and fair election because of the many failures by IEBC to stick their own timelines. The BVR kits came in too late, now the voter registration exercise is to take place in just under one month and already the admission is that they are way below the target.

Let’s forget about the ghost voters for a second. If an organization wishes to reach 18 million people there should be a more consistent and workable mechanism for that to happen. Given the circumstances that most Kenyans live in, it was too ambitious a goal to expect to reach all 18 million within one month.
If this registration exercise is anything to go by, then the IEBC is really not going to be ready to handle 6 elections running at the same time. Apart from the presidential candidates and their deputies, most Kenyans have no real inkling on the other posts or who to vote for. 

Interestingly enough, the very same politicians who have spent the last 2 years discrediting the IEBC are now urging people to register to vote. Yet the damage has already been done. Once again, the IEBC should have responded immediately certain allegations were made to maintain their own integrity. It was a terrible start to a general election already, and it’s getting worse. 

It’s not helpful at all that democratic values are ignored while urging people to register.  The number of insults pitted against those who haven’t registered is growing, as though that should motivate them.  The manipulative slogans such as “Bad leaders are elected by people who don’t vote” simply add fire to the situation.

IEBC fails to recognize one fundamental fact. Voting isn’t mandatory in Kenya. It’s a choice, and a lot of Kenyans are choosing not to vote. They are doing so because they no longer believe in an election that can either end up being violent, or a process that can easily lose its integrity. The belief that the election will lack integrity is rooted in the fact that IEBC itself lost its valuable integrity during the voter registration exercise.
To underscore this loss of integrity, rather than take responsibility for the poor voter turnout, the IEBC blames the nation.  Yes it is our fault as Kenyans because we don’t go and register. But it’s also IEBC’s fault for not rallying up the people, ensuring that they clearly understand the process and the need for their democratic participation without manipulative language, bullying insults and ridiculous timelines.

Two years ago, Kenyans in the Diaspora believed they would also participate in this crucial election. They were assured of this by the IEBC. Sadly, a few months to the election they are let down by the same IEBC. That is an attitude about planning and taking responsibility for the fate of a nation but at the same time, refusing to acknowledge that you are responsible. 

IEBC needs to recognize that their inconsistency in planning, in communicating to the public and in execution of their mandate has gravely injured their reputation and this, fundamentally is the reason why people are reluctant to respond to the call to register their vote.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Coalitions That Will Define Kenya's Future

Not so long ago, families would seal the fate and future of their young children by agreeing to marry off their children at a very early age. It was a survival tactic, one that ensured the future of not just the children involved but the entire family as well. the pre-arranged marriage was always fruitful, even loving as the couple deemed themselves destined to be together.

There was a time in this country, when family, and community would come first in any agreement between two parties. There was a time when the life and future of the people was foremost in the minds and hearts of community leaders. Sadly that time seemed to have been pre-colonial. It is only our pre-colonial elders who rightly endorsed leaders, to be entrusted to protect community interests.

Ever since the "wabeberu" left our country's future in the hands of our political leaders, very little thought has been given to the development or direct interests of the community without firstly the personal considerations of the politician taking place.

Perhaps this was the best way they could ensure that their own western interests were kept safe, by encouraging a political class that ultimately were as selfish as the British, only that the British did it for "God and Queen".

The idea that our founding fathers were socialists is truly laughable. Immediately that independence was won, it was wrested from the true community leaders and the people were instantly forgotten.
Too often we lament how we are still developing nation nearly 50 years after independence.

Yet isn't it obvious why this is so, why we remain a backward, ignorant and manipulated lot? Here are some hard hitting facts. We, as a country, are a bunch of unashamed, unsavory bigots. We are proudly tribal and ethnically inclined at every turn.

There is not a moment when one's last name does not matter. Our tribalism is such a phenomenon that even foreigners are forced to take up the disgusting practice of asking which tribe one is from.
I suppose it would be necessary, for the sake of distinguishing between one negro and another.

More importantly, our pointless, meaningless obsession with our tribes and ethnicities has provided the perfect platform for the slightly intelligent and very shrewd politician. All they have to do, is yell their tribal philosophies once every 5 years and they will permanently stay in power. As for development, of course its all centered around personal development for the political class.

This week was the saddest in Kenyan history. This was the week when tribal coalitions defined the future of leadership and governance in Kenya. It was a simple, obscene formula applied. 3 large tribes form one coalition, and 2 large tribes form the other. The rest of the country's ethnicities would have to cast their lot with either coalition or form their own. Its a tragedy. There can be no democracy if defined by ethnic affiliation rather than democratic principles, nationhood and issues of development for all.

Its not idealism to want or desire a better system to pick leaders. Certainly, this form of tribal elections based on tribal coalitions is not democracy as expressed in our constitution. One is left to even wonder what then is the point of holding elections, if the leaders we shall have are chosen in a boardroom and based on one's tribe rather than by democratic nomination and by issues.

Some have said repeatedly, that "Bad leaders are chosen by people who don't vote." So I have to ask, who then chooses tribal leaders? isn't it people who vote for the "lesser evil"? Aren't tribal leaders, leaders who refuse to develop their country or their community, picked by tribal bigots endowed with votes? Isn't it a farce of a democratic process to call for free and fair elections when one is forced to choose between tribal leaders?

I admire the rabid irrationality now present in this country. Never before has ethnic tension been so high, never before have we seen so much tribal chauvinism openly displayed by even the ordinary person. How the "wabeberu" must be laughing now. Look at these africans, how well divided they are.

What was done in just a few years of colonial segregation was perfected beyond measure by our political leaders. Tribal sentiments, and tribal coalitions are a weapon used very effectively to divide the people of Kenya along their most basic and primitive survival identities.

You may wonder why these leaders do not develop the nation, once in power. Isn't it obvious? You, the average Kenyan, must remain basic, ignorant, and primitive so that you can also become bloated egotistical bigots who are the easiest to manipulate. In other words, not only is it not in their interests monetarily to develop their communities, it is also in their interests that you remain a bigot who spews tribal sentiments at the drop of a hat. That way, the same political class can remain in power into infinity.

These coalitions are not the first in Kenya, and they certainly won't be the last. In fact they herald the new system of governance with a foreboding ethnic approach that will forever mark our nation's history. As long as we remain tribal and bigoted, we will remain slaves to our own backward and oppressive mentality courtesy of our political leaders, into perpetuity.